Another reward to our loyal friends: These are notes for the chapter in Krisis devoted to the Austrian School, Hayek particularly. I hope you enjoy this. Cheers.
In conclusion I want for a moment to go back to the point from which I started and restate the most important conclusion in a more general form. Competition is essentially a process of the formation of
opinion: by spreading information, it creates that unity and coherence of the economic system which we presuppose when we think of it as one market. It creates the views people have about what is best and cheapest, and it is because of it that people know at least as much about possibilities and opportunities as they in fact do. It is thus a process which involves a continuous change in the data and whose significance must therefore be completely missed by any theory which treats these data as constant,” (I&EO, p.105).
To the accepted Christian tradition that man must be free to follow his conscience in moral matters if his actions are to be of any merit, the economists added the further argument that he should be free to
make full use of his knowledge and skill, that he must be allowed to be guided by his concern for the particular things of which he knows and for which he cares, if he is to make as great a contribution to the common purposes of society as he is capable of making. Their main problem was how these limited concerns, which did in fact determine people's actions, could be made effective inducements to cause them voluntarily to contribute as much as possible to needs which lay outside the range of their vision. What the economists understood for the first time was that the market as it had grown up was an effective way of making man take part in a process more complex and ex-
Individualism: True and False
tended than he could comprehend and that it was through the market that he was made to contribute "to ends which were no part of his purpose."
The antirationalistic approach, which regards man not as a highly
rational and intelligent but as a very irrational and fallible being,
whose individual errors are corrected only in the course of a social
9. Cf. Schatz, Ope cit., pp. 41-42, 81, 378, 568-69, esp. the passage quoted by him
(p. 41, n. 1) from an article by Albert Sorel ("Comment j'ai lu la 'Re£orme sociale,'"
in Relorm~ social~, November 1, 1906, p. 614): "Quel que fut mon respect, assez commande
et indirect encore pour Ie Discours de la methode, je savais deja que de ce
fameux discours il etait sorti autant de deraison sociale et d'aberrations metaphysiques,
d'abstractions et d'utopies, que de donnees positives, que s'il menait a Comte it avait
aussie mene a Rousseau." On the influence of Descartes on Rousseau see further
P. Janet, Histoire de la sci~nce politiqu~ (3d ed., 1887), p. 423; F. Bouillier, Histoir~
de la philosophie cartesi~nne (3d ed., 1868), p. 643; and H. Michel, L'ldh d~ fetat
(3d ed., 1898), p. 68.
Individualism: True and False
process, and which aims at making the best of a very imperfect material,
is probably the most characteristic feature of English individualism.
lts predominance in English thought seems to me due largely
to the profound influence exercised by Bernard Mandeville, by whom
the central idea was for the first time clearly formulated.10