Friedrich August von Hayek (1889-1992) was an economist of the Austrian School noted for his defense of free-market capitalism against left-wing economic thought. Hayek and his close associate Ludwig von Mises were seen as the counter-point to the prevailing economics of John Maynard Keynes in the immediate post-war era, who was seen by them as a 'socialist'.
Hayek turned in 1944 to the political arena with his Road to Serfdom, a polemical defense of laissez-faire capitalism against socialism, which influenced people across the political spectrum. His subsequent political activities include the foundation of the libertarian Mont Pelerin Society with von Mises in 1947, whose original membership included several socialists.
Hayek's work was initially ignored in the Keynesian mainstream which then dominated economics, but interest in his writings began to increase after his 1974 Nobel award and became prominent during the 1980s and 1990s with the triumph of economically neo-liberal right-leaning governments and leaders in the United States (Ronald Reagan) and Great Britain's (Margaret Thatcher, the British prime minister from 1979 to 1990 (she was an outspoken devotee of Hayek's writings).
Hayek's work has had huge political impact, serving as the intellectual underpinning of many of the right-wing and libertarian think tanks that have formed since 1947. However, Hayek sought to distance himself from the political right in his essay Why I am not a Conservative (1960).
Organisations with close ties to Hayek, either via the Mont Pelerin circle, or less directly, include:
- Atlas Economic Research Foundation & Atlas Group
- State Policy Network
- Competitive Enterprise Institute
- Cato Institute & Heritage Foundation
- Institute of Economic Affairs
- Fraser Institute & Institute for Humane Studies
Persons with close ties to Hayek
- Wikipedia entry on Hayek
- Bruce Caldwell, Hayek's Challenge: An Intellectual Biography of F.A. Hayek, The University of Chicago Press, 2003
- Curriculum Vitae, Nobel e-museum, accessed January 2004
- What academics and supporters of Hayek say about his legacy: http://www.hayekcenter.org/friedrichhayek/hayekquote.htm
An important new addition to the current explosion of Hayek-inspired scholarship is Bruce Caldwell's Hayek's Challenge.