-F.A. Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, Paperback edition, 1978, p.11-12.
Please note that complete and total freedom to do one’s will is not what Hayek means when he is talking about freedom. Also note that without competition (for example, in the choice of your employer), freedom becomes difficult, if not impossible, to obtain.
- “Liberty not only means that the individual has both the opportunity and the burden of choice; it also means that he must bear the consequences of his actions and will receive praise or blame for them. Liberty and responsibility are inseparable. A free society will not function or maintain itself unless its members regard it as right that each individual occupy the position that results from his action and accept it as due to his own action. Though it can offer to the individual only chances and though the outcome of his efforts will depend on innumerable accidents, it forcefully directs his attention to those circumstances that he can control as if they were the only ones that mattered. Since the individual is to be given the opportunity to make use of circumstances that may be known only to him and since, as a rule, nobody else can know whether he has made the best use of them or not, the presumption is that the outcome of his actions is determined by them, unless the contrary is quite obvious.”
- “By ‘coercion’ we mean such control of the environment or circumstances of a person by another that, in order to avoid greater evil, he is forced to act not according to a coherent plan of his own but to serve the ends of another…Coercion is evil precisely because it thus eliminates an individual as a thinking and valuing person and makes him a bare tool in the achievement of the ends of another.”
- “Nowhere is freedom more important than where our ignorance is greatest—at the boundaries of knowledge, in other words, where nobody can predict what lies a step ahead. Though freedom has been threatened even there, it is still the field where we can count on most men rallying to its defense when they recognize the threat. If in this book we have been concerned mainly with freedom in other fields, it is because we so often forget today that intellectual freedom rests on a much wider foundation of freedom and cannot exist without it. But the ultimate aim of freedom is the enlargement of those capacities in which man surpasses his ancestors and to which each generation must endeavor to add its share—its share in the growth of knowledge and the gradual advance of moral and aesthetic beliefs, where no superior must be allowed to enforce one set of views of what is right or good and where only further experience can decide what should prevail.”
- “There can be little doubt that man owes some of his greatest successes in the past to the fact that he has not been able to control social life. His continued advance may well depend on his deliberately refraining from exercising controls which are now in his power. In the past, the spontaneous forces of growth, however much restricted, could usually still assert themselves against the organized coercion of the state. With the technological means of control now at the disposal of government, it is not certain that such assertion is still possible; at any rate, it may soon become impossible. We are not far from the point where the deliberately organized forces of society may destroy those spontaneous forces which have made advance possible.”
- “Yet there can be no doubt that the discovery of a better use of things or of one’s own capacities is one of the greatest contributions that an individual can make in our society to the welfare of his fellows and that it is by providing the maximum opportunity for this that a free society can become so much more prosperous than others. The successful use of this entrepreneurial capacity (and, in discovering the best use of our abilities, we are all entrepreneurs) is the most highly rewarded activity in a free society, while whoever leaves to others the task of finding some useful means of employing his capacities must be content with a smaller reward.”