Yesterday while eating out at Tokyo Express on a very lovely pre-valentines dinner date. For about five to ten minutes my boyfriend and I ignored our fantastic food and stared at the T.V. Normally, we both are not fans of the news, but we watched intently as Egyptians were all working together cleaning up the areas which they had been utterly destroyed only a few days ago. Complete strangers were helping each other move out burned up cars from the street and they were all smiling intently with looks with satisfaction. I believe that the current events in Tunisia and Cairo fit in well with a lot of what Hayek is mentioning and by watching this process I see first-hand the application of a society knowing so much more than the “expert” President Mr. Mubarak ever could know resonates deep done in my core much more than any example given in the text.
In chapter four, Hayek starts his discussion by presenting two main schools of thought in the realms of looking at liberty and how these developed in the 18th century... One of these is the French tradition, which believes, “In pursuit and attainment of an absolute collective purpose.” The French tradition is often referred to by Hayek in this section as having an emphasis on human design. The other school of thought which Hayek notes it on the right train of thought though it is dying is one which was built up on theory by British (actually, mostly Scottish :) philosophers, known as the British principle of liberty where it is obtained by “freedom in spontaneity and the absence of coercion.” The focus of this principle is referred to human action.
Human Action vs. Human Design
I feel that both of these schools of thought are very much alive today. I feel that in living in America we actually are presented with both outlooks. Naturally, people really don’t like to be controlled however we have all at some point have probably felt like we have been used as pons in a scheme of some one else’s design. When one is been coerced and is aware of it they then find them self-filled with feelings of disgust (unless they are that 5% of the population who enjoys being coerced for whatever reason..but we’ll leave this group out of the example). However, at the same time we have all probably at one time or another used our freedoms to just act and pursue our own dreams. Somehow magically an order stems from the chaos of each individual acting for them self and we get a sense of the British school of thought presented reflecting on theory such as Adam Smith’s invisible hand of the market place.
I will try to for here on out avoid using normative thought, as to which of these schools are better or worse and why, as this is something thoroughly presented by Hayek and one can just read it in the chapter. Instead I would just like to express that both schools of thought on freedom are alive and definitely can be looked at as being on a spectrum. We have human action on one end and human design on the other. What is amazing is the situations in front of our eyes, like the velvet revolutions in the 1990’s and what is currently occurring in Egypt is when an area dramatically shifts it school of thought to another in a short time frame.
In the end it’s all tied to the people. Like Hayek brought up about how the Roman constitution worked better than anything of its time was that it was constructed by many over multiple generations. I feel that when we see the people being held down until they act (protests are a good example of spontaneous order) and then something happens to shift how the philosophy of the society’s construct relating power upon spontaneous acts of people rather than a focus on control of them.