Saturday, January 5, 2008

Today's Quote: "We do not intend to be deceived again"

From Renaissance: The Rebirth of Liberty in the Heart of Europe by Vaclav Klaus:

We started our Velvet Revolution, our systemic change, our fundamental transformation of the entire political, social, and economic framework--not a reform, not perestroika--with a clear positive vision of the society we wanted to live in. We had a vision of a free, open society; we knew that after dismantling the communist institutions the resulting institutional vacuum had to be filled with an alternative mechanism that would create social cohesion and make possible the coordination of human activities. We learned from Hayek, Popper, and other liberal and conservative thinkers that the evolution of human institutions, and especially the evolution of such complex systems as society, proceeds more by means of "human action" than of "human design"; that we must find the optimum balance between intentions and spontaneity, between the constructivism of political leaders and the unforeseeable behavior of millions of free citizens pursuing their dreams, hopes, and preferences; and that no sophisticated masterminding of such a process is possible or necessary.
Politically, our approach was based on something very close to British conservatism. We were directly influenced by you; we were inspired by the Thatcherite revolution in British politics two decades ago, by a political style based on a strong vision, on clear, transparent, and widely understandable ideas, on courage and persuasiveness; we were impressed by your success in achieving a dramatic resolution of an eternal human issue: placing the individual first and the state second.
In the field of economics and economic policy we were influenced more by American than European authors, by Milton Friedman, by the Chicago school, by James Buchanan and his public-choice school, by the criticisms of Keynsianism and, of course, by our own understanding of the irrationality, inefficiency, and inhumanity of a command economy. Because of that, we had no dreams about mixed systems, about third ways or different vintages of perestroika. That was our main reason for arguing strongly against popular (on the Continent) concepts like "social market economy," which in our country, and I guess in yours as well, is a term used by the opposition.

Finally, our approach to society and social mechanisms was influenced mostly by Hayek, by his ideas about government interventionism, about constructivism and social engineering, about the dangerous "pretense of knowledge," about the logic of an "evolutionary order," about the "fatal conceit." We learned a lot, and we do not intend to be deceived again.

I am deeply convinced that with such an approach we have found the best way to create a free, individually responsible, and moral society. We are sometimes accused of forgetting to mention adjectives other than "free." However, I believe that it is sufficient to guarantee freedom--individual happiness is up to each of us.

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