Radicalising Hayekian Constitutionalism
University of Queensland Law Journal, Vol. 33, No. 2, pp. 379-389, 2014
11 Pages Posted: 22 Jan 2015
Date Written: 2014
The work of Friedrich A Hayek presents a compelling theory of the normative basis for constitutionalism and other related notions, such as the rule of law. It is difficult, however, to avoid a sense of incongruity when seeking to apply Hayekian notions within the context of the modern administrative state. Hayek is widely regarded as a conservative figure, although he famously rejected the label. A comparison between Hayek’s theory and modern modes of governance makes Hayek seem more radical than conservative, since deep reforms would be needed to instantiate anything like his preferred model. How radical, then, is Hayekian constitutionalism? That is the question I explore in this article. The article begins by unpacking the normative foundations for Hayek’s theory of constitutionalism. I then examine the wider implications of the theory for politics and governance, focusing particularly on the role of the state in securing important social goods. I argue that Hayek provides a nuanced account of the place of the rule of law in social governance. However, his account of constitutionalism turns out to have more radical implications than he acknowledges. The article concludes by examining the relationship of Hayekian constitutionalism to the anarchist tradition in political philosophy. I suggest that Hayek’s arguments, considered in light of the striking failures of the contemporary corporatist state, give us reason to question his commitment to statism. Hayekian constitutionalists may have to become reluctant anarchists.
Keywords: Hayek, constitutionalism, rule of law, liberty, statism, anarchism, Ratnapala
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