One of the more frustrating elements of the various differences among Austrian economists and libertarians is a recurring meme by which the major cleavage is described as a difference between "Rothbardian anarchists" and "Hayekian classical liberals." In his recent review of the new collection of Rothbard essays, Reason's Brian Doherty suggests exactly this division.
I think this is a false dichotomy that needlessly exacerbates the existing differences. If we are seriously to pursue the "Rizzonian Peace," participants and observers are going to have to, as our friends on the left would say, deconstruct this binary. The fact is that what we really have is a 2x2 matrix (at least!), in which there are Rothbardian minarchists (e.g., Ron Paul and other natural rights defenders of constitutionalism) and Hayekian anarchists (e.g., the contributors to this blog among many others).
We all know that Hayek was no anarchist, but two points are worth making about "Hayekian anarchism."
1. The argument is that the force of Hayek's own analyses point in the direction of a stateless society even if he, himself, didn't take them all the way there. I think this argument is especially relevant when we take into account the ways in which public choice economics has developed in the last few decades and then take seriously the tremendous growth of scholarship on the evolution of rules, norms, and institutions over that same time. Toss in the work of the Ostroms and others on the important role for civil society, which expands the analysis beyond just the state and the market, and you have the ingredients for "Hayekian anarchism," for lack of a better name. (Perhaps "consequentialist anarchism" works better?)
2. There is a story about Hayek from the 1970s that may or may not be apocryphal, and I suspect some of our more senior commenters can verify this, that is relevant here. Supposedly when he was engaged in a conversation about anarchism with a bunch of young libertarian academics (presumably at Menlo Park) in the 1970s, Hayek said something like the following "Look, I'm an old man now and I came to my classical liberalism in a different era, so I can't accept where you all are now. But, if I were a young man today, I suspect I might well be this type of anarchist."
Again, that's at least how the story has been passed down. I bring this up because it suggests that Hayek saw the anarchist implications of his own work even if he couldn't go the next few steps.
I raise this whole topic because I think continuing to promulgate this false dichotomy creates needless tension within the Austrian community, at least among those interested in radical libertarianism. Far too often in recent years we've seen the Rothbardians criticize the more Hayekian elements of both Austrian economics and libertarianism for being "too statist" or being "beltway insiders" etc.. No doubt, there are Hayekians who would give the state some significant role - of course so did Hayek - but that is not a necessary feature of being a Hayekian.
Part of preserving the peace is going to have to be finding those places on which the various groups within both movements can find common ground.
My point here is that there is far more common ground on what the ideal size (or non-size) of the state is than the simple dichotomy would suggest. If people, especially students, are interested in radical libertarianism and anarcho-capitalism, there are arguments and scholars exploring those questions from both Rothbardian and Hayekian perspectives. One need not throw away one's radicalism because one finds Hayek more intellectually interesting than Rothbard, and Rothbardians should work harder to see in Hayek not a set of political conclusions but a framework for analysis that points beyond Hayek's own politics to something far more radical.
The fact of the matter is that this was the research program of Don Lavoie and the chance to study and forward radical Hayekian libertarian anarchism was a key piece of what brought Pete, Dave, and I to GMU to work with Don in the mid-80s and has motivated our work since then. The false dichotomy obscures the whole Lavoie-inspired research program of our generation and of the generation of scholars that Pete is producing following in Don's footsteps at GMU (e.g., Pete L. and Chris and many others).
So I'm gonna keep calling people on it when I see it as that little dichotomy obscures far more than it enlightens. (Bonus observation: isn't it interesting how Mises disappears in all of this? In my view, you can't BE a Hayekian anarchist without a really good Misesian understanding of how the process of economic calculation etc. works, as I have argued before.)
Addendum: I meant to also mention that one reason that the radical nature of our Hayekian research program perhaps gets lost is that we do find ourselves arguing in the world of the second best from time to time (e.g, the debates over the Fed and monetary policy). I don't think it's inconsistent to make an argument that one government policy is better or worse than another while still believing that government being not involved in that area at all is the ideal result.