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  • Hayek Quote Bleg

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on October 4th, 2010 (All posts by )

    For years and years I have been quoting Hayek as saying:

    Capitalism depends upon values which it did not create and cannot replace.

    I am sure I read something by him that was very close to this at some point. I thought it was from The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism, but when I looked in there, I found the concept but not the pithy summary.

    The sentence comes pretty close to summing up my whole political philosophy, and I did not originate it.

    Does anyone know where I got it?


    12 Responses to “Hayek Quote Bleg”

    1. Serenity Now Says:

      I believe you may be referring to the following: “Capitalism presumes that apart from our rational insight we possess a traditional endowment of morals, which has been tested by evolution but not designed by our intelligence.” – Hayek in S. Kresge and L. Wenar, ed., ‘Hayek on Hayek: An Autobiographical Dialogue’ (Routledge, 1994), p.62.

    2. mark Says:

      Great line. Could say the same thing about western civilization.

    3. Lexington Green Says:

      SN — that is close. Thank you. He said it different ways in different places. I am trying to find the short version, which I do not think is just my summary.

    4. sol vason Says:

      “Capitalism depends upon values which it did not create and cannot replace”

      The word “capitalism” can be replaced with any of the following, and the sentence retains it profunity: Communism, Socialism, Islam, Christianity, Liberalism, Libertarianism, War, Prostitution, Politics, Charity, Prosperity, Poverty. Our core values, which Maslow arranged in a pyramid (sans eye), are the product of evolution; all the rest (-isms etc) are merely adaptions to changes in our environment.

    5. Lexington Green Says:

      Sol, I don’t agree. Hayek talks about cultural norms which develop over time which are not biological, and some cultures have developed more advantageous ones. The biological bedrock is the same for everyone, yet different groups of people facing roughly identical natural constraints perform very differently. Hayek was talking about that.

    6. Charles Cameron Says:


      I don’t suppose you were thinking of this?

      America has sucked the human marrow from Europe, broken open the treasure-houses of its own fields and mountains, and taken out wealth which it did noit create and cannot replace. The process has seemed to work so well that we have grown proud of it.
      “In the Ranks of the Unpropsperous”, from Brotherhood of Painters, Decorators and Paperhangers of America, vol 31, 1917 p 142

    7. shannon Love Says:

      I’ve heard that before but I thought it was Max Weber. I thought it was part of his whole argument about the role of Protestant beliefs in the development of capitalism.

      I would look in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism

      Of course Hayek said something many things very similar.

    8. nohype Says:

      The quote sounds a lot like Schumpeter. His Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy is largely an elaboration of that quotation.

    9. J. Scott Says:

      Lex, I don’t have my copy handy, but this looks like something Michael Novak said in The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism.

    10. Lexington Green Says:

      Hayek, Weber, Schumpeter and Michael Novak. A distinguished pedigree indeed.

      I am starting to think that the quote, in that form, may be an amalgam formed in my little brain, and not an exact quote.

    11. Mrs. Davis Says:

      Then take credit for concision.

    12. Lexington Green Says:

      OK, I take credit for concision.

      But I want to be able to attribute it to Hayek.

      Not surprisingly, more people pay attention to him than to me.