Another unintentional argument for Hayek’s spontaneous order

The institutionalization of the Standestaat did not proceed smoothly. It was the result of almost continuous internal and interstate conflicts. Its ultimate beneficial results in strengthening the independence of towns and in providing a legal-constitutional basis for state power were neither anticipated nor necessarily desired by many of the participants in the conflicts, who would have preferred to gain absolute power. But benefits there were: Arbitrary government power was reduced; separation of powers between church and state were formalized; disruptive local feudal lords were controlled; highly specialized legal codes to regulate economic and fiscal exchanges were developed; and finally there began to emerge a loyalty to state structures which went beyond faithfulness to any particular king or ruling house. (186)

This is from sociologist Daniel Chirot’s 1985 article (pdf) “The Rise of the West” in the American Sociological Review. Hayek is not cited in the bibliography. I am reminded of this old tweet by economist Bill Easterly…

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2 thoughts on “Another unintentional argument for Hayek’s spontaneous order

  1. Quite true. Perhaps Hayek was an ideological author indeed. He used the theory of complex phenomena to build the foundations of his political thought. Nevertheless, there is a lot of “unintended” good theory in his writings. His name has to endure its own hero’s journey to transfigure him into a trustworthy theoretical source.

    • Thanks Federico.

      It’s a shame that Hayek has to endure such a journey (even if it’s a hero’s one). When I first read him in college his writing stood out to me so clearly, and his arguments pierced my brain so sharply, that I have a lot of impatience for people who cannot or will not read his work the way they do with guys like Foucault or Keynes.

      One of my many shortcomings, I suppose…

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