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Can we live without social justice?

I am sitting in an office overlooking a concrete hulk of a building, the former Central Telegraph Office in London. Built to the orders of civil servants in the 1960s it is emblematic of a time long past, a time of government central planning for and on behalf of the whole population.

Friedrich Hayek [masked]) abhorred central planning, seeing attempts to plan for social harmony and justice as tyranny. In Law, Legislation and Liberty (1973) he elaborates the philosophical principles underpinning his earlier works, concerning himself with the conflict between a society which is intentionally ordered with one which is allowed to emerge of its own accord and the legal systems and principles which result. He strongly favours the latter, associated it closely with free markets, as opposed to the former more socialist approach. Although Hayek himself is often seen as aligned with a strongly right-wing position (and strongly right-wing governments such as that of Pinochet in Chile) his work fed more broadly into a shift in Western politics away from the so-called post-War consensus and to the era of neoliberalism.

That Central Telegraph Office building is scheduled to be demolished. It is to be replaced by an enormous, gleaming European headquarters for Goldman Sachs bank. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose?


Hayek, F, 'Rules and Order', Volume 1 of Law, Legislation and Liberty  (1973)



As ever, you're strongly encouraged to read the text in advance so that you can make a full contribution to the discussion.

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  • kevin l.

    Hi sorry for short notice but i can nt make this now. I hope to make the next one.

    February 12, 2014

  • Nathan C.

    Different Class will still be on this Wednesday, tube strike or no tube strike. We hope as many of you as possible can turn up.
    See you soon,

    February 10, 2014

  • John Jacob L.

    To my mind, the sensible area for discussion is which market paradigm is appropriate for which commercial activities (Please see earlier post).

    February 3, 2014

  • terence f.

    interesting and sad to miss

    February 3, 2014

  • John Jacob L.

    This issue is often characterized as ' Hayek v Keynes or as 'Free market v Central planning. But this shoots right past the more sensible, pragmatic position that some commercial activities lend themselves to a free-market approach (sometimes with a degree of central regulation) while others are best served by a central planning (sometimes regional planning) approach. 'Horses for Courses'.

    February 3, 2014

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