This week I found chapter fourteen quite interesting, as this was a chapter which I felt that I ready understood everything he was saying…Yeah! One of his points I found very interesting was one that was a part of our regular (1pm) SWEET meeting last week.
This was his fourth point, “The third requirement of true law is equality.” This really reminded me what we were talking about, Ed was mentioned that we need an equal starting point for (in terms of opportunity) for maximum gain. This type of logic was kind-a freaking out the Austrians in the room (pretty much the whole room). Austrian prospective which with time I feel if I were to express it in the least number of words, it the basic gut feeling of “just please leave it alone.” After reading this and thinking about an earlier chapter where Hayek states that we need equality under the law which will in effect mean that we will have unequally because people are all unique by nature (If we wanted equality we would have unequal laws). Ed’s comments made more sense perhaps the basic view of having a system with equality under law is one which is more universal than one thinks as it fits in to many of economic schools of thoughts views. I do find this interesting though because equality and justice though important to concepts of liberty are outside the realms of realms of economics, as we deal with asking the question of what is efficient rather than what is equitable or fair.
Lastly, since I don’t really know how to end this since I am still mulling over this in my mind. I will wrap this up with a quote from Hayek on this topic from the chapter.
“Yet, though equality before the law may thus be one of the ideas that indicate the direction without fully determining the goal and may therefore always remain beyond our reach, it is not meaningless.”
This quote brings up an interesting point equality of the law is important, but is the whole concept nothing more than a giant hamster wheel? If it doesn’t lead us to the “goal” what does? Is this the culmination of characteristics (that “does”/is needed) even attainable? Yes, we want “liberty and justice for all”, but how can we take a book of political philosophy and develop a function out input characteristics to come up with the output of liberty? I would like to think so, but at the same time as I go further in to my studies I find more and more on how theory and reality are not forged together but are characterized by a stringent discontent.
PS a little randomness about Montequieu:
Hayek cited Montequieu as proponent of a government of law as the essence of liberty (p 194) \. This is totally a side note and completely unrelated to Hayek’s point, but hey I know very little about political philosophers so when I actually recognize a name it’s kind of a big deal. In high school I did a report Montequieu for AP government. Obviously, as one can deduce from his name he was a French dude...a French dude with attitude and some weird views to boot. What I remember as particularly strange about Montequieu was how he thought that a country’s political structure and promise was dependent of the area’s geographic latitude and climate. I really could not believe this guy (“really”) I mean come on he thought that good political governments could not ever work in countries by the equator as these where characterized by hot tempers and that the perfect place on his scale was can you guess…France. Yep Montequieu an interesting guy.