A Plea for Choice

Letter From Myself

It is heartening to learn that economic growth is largest in countries where the government is least meddlesome. Such information is of great significance to the utilitarian argument for liberty, for it hurts the Marxist where he bleeds the most: in showing the material superiority of capitalism, which is constantly denied in the Communist press.

To Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, however, this is rather beside the point. To him, and to people like me, efficiency and abundance do not provide a sufficient argument for capitalism; in fact, they may even serve to obscure the more basic elements of the system of natural liberty.

I find it disturbing, for example, to read that Friedrich von Hayek believes that "the whole argument for freedom, or the greater part of the argument for freedom, rests on the fact of our ignorance." Hayek's line of thinking has severe limitations. For clearly he is led to admit that "if we were all-wise, or if any one person among us were allwise, the argument for freedom would become very weak indeed." This implies that freedom is merely a means to other ends, such as prosperity and scientific knowledge, even "the common good."

To be sure, the argument from ignorance is brought to the defense of the market by Adam Smith in his Wealth of Nations. It is also important to William Godwin, an early British anarchist who, in his Enquiry Concerning...

Join now to access the full article and gain access to other exclusive features.

Get Started

Already a member? Sign in here