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The “Great Society” and the “Open Society”: Liberalism in Hayek and Popper*

  • Richard Vernon (a1)
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1 Hayek, F.A., Law, Legislation and Liberty, vol I: Rules and Order (London 1973)

2 Ibid., 2, 148

3 Popper, K.R., The Open Society and Its Enemies, vol. I: The Spell of Plato (London 1962), 202–3

4 For a discussion of the significance for liberal thought of the notion of “society,” see Minogue, K., The Liberal Mind (New York 1963), 140–64

5 Hegel, G.W.F., The Philosophy of Right, English translation (London 1967), 126 ff.

6 Cf. Hyppolite, J., Studies on Marx and Hegel, English translation (London 1969), 7281

7 The Wealth of Nations (London 1964), vol 1, 12

8 Rules and Order, 20: see also Hayek's, Studies in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (London 1967), 96105

9 Rules and Order, 20, 37: cf. Popper, K.R., Conjectures and Refutations (New York 1963), 124, 342

10 Rules and Order, 35 ff.

11 Studies in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, 160 ff; Lippmann, W., The Good Society (Boston 1937)

12 Rules and Order, 14, 41

13 Wallas, G., The Great Society (New York 1928), 239

14 The Great Society, 289 ff.

15 For a discussion of some relevant issues, see Cropsey, J., “On the Relation of Political Science and Economics,” American Political Science Review LIV (March 1960), 314

16 The Open Society and Its Enemies, 161–2.

17 Ibid., 174: Rules and Order, 32–3

18 Here, it should be noted, Wallas is again exceptional, for he retained a preference for “community” and contended that the mediated relationships of civil society should give way to immediate ties of solidarity or “love” – a contention which the other theorists tend to dismiss as nostalgie de la boue: The Great Society, 150 ff.

19 The Open Society and Its Enemies, 163

20 “The Structure of Power in American Society,” British Journal of Sociology, 9 (1958), 29–41, reprinted in Political Sociology, ed. Pizzorno, A. (Harmondsworth 1974), 123

21 See Hume's, “Of the Original Contract,” Social Contract, ed. Barker, E. (London 1960): also Coleman, S., “Is there Reason in Tradition?” Politics and Experience, ed. King, P. and Parekh, B. (Cambridge 1968)

22 The Open Society and Its Enemies, vol 2, Hegel and Marx, 93–4; institutions are “as a rule, the indirect, the unintended and often the unwanted by-products” of action (emphasis in original), but “to-day, things may begin to be different, owing to our slowly increasing knowl-edge of society.” Unintended consequences are discussed in a more positive light (the adjective “unwanted,” one notes, is dropped) in Popper's, more recent Objective Knowledge (Oxford 1972), 106 ff.; but no political conclusions are drawn from this.

23 Rules and Order, 55

24 “Towards a Rational Theory of Tradition,” Conjectures and Refutations, 120–35. The title of this essay, which suggests the concerns of Hume, or Burke, or Hayek himself, is misleading; it would be more aptly entitled “The Tradition of Rationality.”

25 The Great Society, 4

26 See, for example, Gorz's, André distinction between “internal repetition” and “external pressure” in Socialism and Revolution, English translation (New York 1973), 82. I offer this merely as an example of the kind of distinction which we must be in a position to make.

27 H. Bergson, The Two Sources of Morality and Religion, English translation (New York n.d.), especially 266 ff.

28 “It would seem appropriate to consider the common good of a state or nation as merely an area, among many similar areas, in which the common good of the whole civilised society achieves greater density” ( Maritain, J., The Person and the Common Good, English translation [Notre Dame, Indiana 1966], 55).

29 Durkheim, E., The Division of Labour in Society, English translation (New York 1964), especially 70–132. Cf. Lukes, S., Emile Durkheim (London 1973), 140 ff.

30 Cf. Cuvier, G., Le Règne animal (Paris 1817), tome I, 54. The distinction between intelligence and instinct, which is fundamental to the dualism of open and closed, may perhaps be traced to Aristotle: see Metaphysics, book IV, 1046b.

31 The Great Society, 73–4, 81. Wallas contends, it is true, that the necessity of criticism increases pari passu, but a society in which criticism is needed is not the same as one in which criticism is the norm.

32 The Good Society, 29–30

33 Kuhn, T.S., The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Chicago 1962). Cf. de Tocqueville: “In order that society should exist, and, a fortiori, that a society should prosper, it is required that all the minds of the citizens should be rallied and held together by certain predominant ideas; and this cannot be the case, unless each of them sometimes draws his opinions from the common source, and consents to accept certain matters of belief at the hands of the community” (Democracy in America, English translation [New York 1961], vol. II, 8).

34 “Normal Science and its Dangers,” Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge, ed. Lakatos, I. and Musgrave, A. (Cambridge 1970), 4958

35 Ibid., 56

36 The Open Society and Its Enemies, vol. I, 163, emphasis added

37 Cf. Objective Knowledge, 122: after a scientific belief has been refuted, “the believer… perishes with his false beliefs.” Is the relevant political model, then, that of “democratic centralism”?

38 “Normal Science and its Dangers,” 57, and Objective Knowledge, 106 ff.

39 See, for example, the closing sentences of J. Benda, La Trahison des clercs (Paris n.d.), 167

40 See above, fn 6. The case for regarding the state, no less than society, as “unintended” is argued at length by Nozick, Robert, Anarchy, State, and Utopia (Oxford 1975), 15119

* An earlier version of this paper was read to a meeting of the Political Theory Seminar at the University of Western Ontario. I am grateful to my colleagues, and especially to Professors F.M. Barnard and S.J.R. Noel for their comments.

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Canadian Journal of Political Science/Revue canadienne de science politique
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