Many of the greatest things man has achieved are not the result of consciously directed thought, and still less the product of a deliberately coordinated effort of many individuals, but of a process in which the individual plays a part which he can never fully understand.
To be controlled in our economic pursuits means to be controlled in everything.
Human reason can neither predict nor deliberately shape its own future. Its advances consist in finding out where it has been wrong.
The system of private property is the most important guaranty of freedom, not only for those who own property, but scarcely less for those who do not.
Many who think themselves infinitely superior to the aberrations of Nazism, and sincerely hate all manifestations, work at the same time for ideals whose realization would lead straight to the abhorred tyranny.
Ever since the beginning of modern science, the best minds have recognized that "the range of acknowledged ignorance will grow with the advance of science." Unfortunately, the popular effect of this scientific advance has been a belief, seemingly shared by many scientists, that the range of our ignorance is steadily diminishing and that we can therefore aim at more comprehensive and deliberate control of all human activities. It is for this reason that those intoxicated by the advance of knowledge so often become the enemies of freedom.
It is only because the majority opinion will always be opposed by some that our knowledge and understanding progress. In the process by which opinion is formed, it is very probable that, by the time any view becomes a majority view, it is no longer the best view: somebody will already have advanced beyond the point which the majority have reached. It is because we do not yet know which of the many competing new opinions will prove itself the best that we wait until it has gained sufficient support.
...if we wish to preserve a free society, it is essential that we recognize that the desirability of a particular object is not sufficient justification for the use of coercion.
The history of government management of money has, except for a few short happy periods, been one of incessant fraud and deception.
[T]hose who are willing to surrender their freedom for security have always demanded that if they give up their full freedom it should also be taken from those not prepared to do so.
The [classical] liberal, of course, does not deny that there are some superior people -- he is not an egalitarian -- but he denies that anyone has authority to decide who these superior people are.
Unlike liberalism, with its fundamental belief in the long-range power of ideas,
conservatism is bound by the stock of ideas inherited at a given time. And since it does
not really believe in the power of argument, its last resort is generally a claim to superior
wisdom, based on some self-arrogated superior quality.
It is indeed probable that more harm and misery have been caused by men determined to use coercion to stamp out a moral evil than by men intent on doing evil.
From the fact that people are very different it follows that, if we treat them equally, the result must be inequality in their actual position, and that the only way to place them in an equal position would be to treat them differently. Equality before the law and material equality are therefore not only different but are in conflict with each other; and we can achieve either one or the other, but not both at the same time.
[The] impersonal process of the market ... can be neither just nor unjust, because the results are not intended or foreseen.
The successful politician owes his power to the fact that he moves within the accepted framework of thought, that he thinks and talks conventionally. It would be almost a contradiction in terms for a politician to be a leader in the field of ideas. His task in a democracy is to find out what the opinions held by the largest number are, not to give currency to new opinions which may become the majority view in some distant future.
There is perhaps no single factor contributing so much to people's frequent reluctance to let the market work as their
inability to conceive how some necessary balance, between demand and supply, between
exports and imports, or the like, will be brought about without deliberate control. The
conservative feels safe and content only if he is assured that some higher wisdom watches
and supervises change, only if he knows that some authority is charged with keeping the
I am certain that nothing has done so much to destroy the juridical safeguards of individual freedom as the striving after this mirage of social justice.
The greatest danger to liberty today comes from the men who are most needed and most powerful in modern government, namely, the efficient expert administrators exclusively concerned with what they regard as the public good.
Even more significant of the inherent weakness of the collectivist theories is the extraordinary paradox that from the assertion that society is in some sense more than merely the aggregate of all individuals their adherents regularly pass by a sort of intellectual somersault to the thesis that in order that the coherence of this larger entity be safeguarded it must be subjected to conscious control, that is, to the control of what in the last resort must be an individual mind. It thus comes about that in practice it is regularly the theoretical collectivist who extols individual reason and demands that all forces of society be made subject to the direction of a single mastermind, while it is the individualist who recognizes the limitations of the powers of individual reason and consequently advocates freedom as a means for the fullest development of the powers of the interindividual process.