Saturday, June 14, 2008

The "moral" state

The Road to Serfdom, F. A. Hayek:

As soon as the particular effects are foreseen at the time a law is made, it ceases to be a mere instrument to be used by the people and becomes instead an instrument used by the lawgiver upon the people and for his ends. The state ceases to be a piece of utilitarian machinery intended to help individuals in the fullest development of their individual personality and becomes a “moral” institution—where “moral” is not used in contrast to immoral but describes an institution which imposes on its members its views on all moral questions, whether these views be moral or highly immoral. In this sense the Nazi or any other collectivist state is “moral,” while the liberal state is not.

Thus, the collectivist state becomes moral at the expense of individual morality, while the liberal state avoids morality and thereby gives individuals the opportunity to be moral.

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