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Quotation of the Day…

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… is from a scholar who thankfully and most appropriately lived long enough to see the collapse of the Berlin wall [2] and its attendant affirmation of the wisdom of his life-long project of warning us to beware of the pretense of knowledge: F.A. Hayek.  Specifically, today’s quotation is from page 84 of the 2011 Definitive Edition of Hayek’s 1960 book, The Constitution of Liberty [3]:

The benefits of freedom are therefore not confined to the free – or, at least, a man does not benefit mainly from those aspects of freedom which he himself takes advantage of.  There can be no doubt that in history unfree majorities have benefitted from the existence of free minorities and that today unfree societies benefit from what they obtain and learn from free societies.  Of course the benefits we derive from the freedom of others become greater as the number of those who can exercise freedom increases.  The argument for the freedom of some therefore applies to the freedom of all.

Soon after the wall fell Pepsi made a commercial featuring scenes of the rejoicing that took place in Berlin during those marvelous days in November 1989 [4].  Some self-righteous “Progressive” – I forget who and where – complained with contempt that (I paraphrase from memory) “people didn’t destroy the wall to get the freedom to drink Pepsi!”  When I heard or read this complaint about Pepsi’s commercial, I thought to myself ‘Wrong: the freedom to drink Pepsi – being, as it is, part of a much-expanded freedom to engage in consensual capitalist acts of all sorts – is precisely the most important reason why the wall fell.’

Let’s all today, on this 25th anniversary of that joyous event, each raise a glass (of Pepsi or of pilsner or of Petrus or of whatever) to freedom – and to Hayek, Mises, and the relatively small number of wise and humane scholars who, unlike too many other, more ‘scientific’ scholars, always understood the absurdity and inhumanity of socialism.

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