Friedrich Hayek

Wage Slavery and Its Defenders
***
Remarks about Friedrich Hayek,
an excerpt from the pamphlet
Arnold Petersen,
De Leon : Emancipator, 1946, reprint of 1967,
pages 40-44.

Wage Slavery and Its Defenders

Slavery has never lacked for hireling defenders, and wage slavery is no exception, as De Leon proved again and again. One after another they would appear, selling their services to the highest plutocratic bidder. Intellectual dishonesty was ever the outstanding characteristic of most of them, and many of them were incredibly stupid -- , or, at least, they presented argumentsso stupid that it seemed impossible for the next one to better the performance. And although their arguments rarely varied from those of their predecessors, whether advanced in defense of capitalism, or in attempted refutation of Socialism, they were generally hailed as new prophets, as the saviors of the capitalist slave system. Renegades, would-be Socialists, earned their hire -- and the contempt of all decent men -- as renegades and traitors have done from time immemorial. And neither the character of the sycophants, nor the stupidity or ineffectiveness of their defense of wage slavery, has changed in any essential degree since Marx's and De Leon's time.

One of the latest of these stupid or inept defenders is an Austrian hack named Hayek, who recently received glowing praise and loud acclaim from the plutocrats and their journalistic spokesmen, but who already seems to have been forgotten. Certainly, he is not worth the bestowal of much attention, yet a few words by way of illustrating the character and method of this latest wage-slavery defender may not be wholly amiss in a consideration of working class emancipation, and its foremost champion in this country, Daniel De Leon. The theme of the gentleman, his thesis, is that Socialism is an illusion when it is not a means of sending society on the "road to serfdom," to use his own phrase. Hg "proves" his thesis by completely ignoring Marxian Socialism, and by demonstrating that state control will enslave us all, a conclusion not disputed by Marxists. In so far as he mentions Marxism specifically, he does so by identifying it with every un-Socialist and anti-Socialist advocate and their reactionary schemes. He is a shallow thinker, and largely ignorant of social science. [1]

He attacks Socialist democratic collectivism as unworkable and then proceeds to prove his point by showing that state despotic collectivism won't work. He expresses abhorrence for economic planning by political boards and bureaus, as if these constituted the framework ol Socialism! He hails competition as the preserver of individual freedom, apparently oblivious of the fact that modern capitalism, with all its evils and contradictions, is the logical result of that competition, even as it has inescapably led to the present state of denial of individualism and freedom to the bulk of the population, the working class. In short, he argues for the preservation of the tree of capitalism while rejecting its logical, decayed fruit.

In this, of course, he is neither original nor unique. The "Socialism" he envisions is concerned with such exclusively capitalist elements as capital, prices, commodities, wages, and all the other attributes of a typical capitalist society. The fraudulent nature of such a line of argumentation should be obvious to any thinking person. He treats us to such banalities as this one: "There are few socialists today who believe that in a socialist society the output of each industry would be entirely shared by the workers of that industry [!]; for this would mean that workers in industries using a great deal of capital would have a much larger income than those in industries using little capital, which most socialists would regard as very unjust."!! And much more of such vulgar capitalist tripe. It is as if we were to visualize a defender of feudalism arguing against a proponent og capitalist principles by demonstrating capitalist principles could not possibly run feudal society, and that to attempt it would mean the enslavement or extinciton of the privileged feudal class! To which the revolutionary capitalist would have answered: "So what?" And so say we to the Hayeks and their capitalist masters.

He cites freely, and with great admiration, such renegades and plutocratic poodles as Walter Lippmann and Max Eastman. He has the impudence to refer to Eastman as "Lenin's old friend" -- Lenin, who probably never even heard of the mountebank, and who certainly loathed the type! He remarks that Eastman "found himself compelled to admit that 'instead of being better, Stalinism is worse than fascism' ...." Renegades are not generally supposed to feel themselves "compelled to admit" that which they eagerly strive to proclaim; and in any case it is interesting, to say the least, to learn that to prove Stalinism, i.e., anti-Marxism, "worse than fascism," is to prove that Marxism won't work!

And this shoddy argumentation, this arrant nonsense, is crowned with the idiotic statement that Fichte, Rodbertus and Lassalle are the "acknowledged fathers of socialism." Fichte was an eminent 18th century German philosopher, but as remote from Marxian Socialism as the 18th century is from the 20th! Rodbertus was a German who claimed priority in one of Marx's greatest discoveries in economic science, but who was proved a fool and a false pretender by Frederick Engels! And Ferdinand Lassalle (his other virtues notwithstanding), who was the collaborator of Bismarck, and the very antithesis of Marxism, hence of modern scientific Socialism! These three, the "acknowledged fathers of socialism." !!!

Aside from naming these three "acknowledged fathers of socialism," Mr. Hayek also designates them as "the most important ancestors of National Socialism" -- i.e., Nazism. It is utterly stupid to speak of any person in the past as an "ancestor" of Nazism since Nazism is nothing else than capitalism in its rotten-ripe, decadent stage. But naming these three at the same time "ancestors" of Nazism and "fathers" of Socialism, the Austrian sycophant seeks to establish that Nazism and Socialism spring from the same roots! The ignorance revealed in calling Fichte, Rodbertus and Lassalle "acknowledged fathers of socialism" proves this "professor" of the latest "Austrian School of Economics" a charlatan and an irresponsible windbag.

Of such is the kingdom of capitalism, and these are its major prophets -- the "mountainous" intellects on the dreary level plains of the "system of free enterprise" ! These are the defenders of capitalist wage slavery, now as in the days of De Leon who, as foremost champion of working class emancipation, encountered the same or similar gentry and routed them as the paid hirelings of plutocratic wage slavery.

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FOOTNOTE

[1]

Since this address was prepared, a reply to Hayek's stupidly sycophantic effort has appeared. In a book entitled "Road to Reaction," the author, a British professor of political science, has neatly and correctly summed up the charlatanism of the now thoroughly deflated Austrian hack writer in the following characterization: "Hayek's apparatus of learning is deficient, his reading incomplete, his understanding of the economic process bigoted, his account of history false, his political science is almost nonexistent, his terminology misleading, his comprehension of British and American political procedure and mentality grossly defective; and his attitude to average men and women is truculently authoritative." ("Road to Reaction," by Dr. Herman Finer, Visiting Professor of Political Science, Harvard University.)