Hayek’s Environmentalism

Hayek was a clear-minded thinker who was pre-occupied with departures from liberalism (with a small ‘l’, that is sensu 19th Century). He famously debunked the notion that fascism is a natural end-point of capitalism, holding rather than fascism is a form of socialism.

Thinking about institutional responses to anthropogenic climate change, I was struck today by the following paragraph in one of Hayek’s most famous contributions:

“Nor can certain harmful effects of deforestation, or of some methods of farming, or of the smoke and noise of factories, be confined to the owner of the property in question or to those who are willing to submit to the damage for an agreed compensation. In such instances we must find some substitute for the regulation by the price mechanism.” – F. A. von Hayek (1944) ‘The Road to Serfdom’

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