Hayek and Gibraltar

5 04 2015

The blog of the Economic History Society has published a summary of some interesting research on an obscure chapter in the career of F.A. Hayek.

In 1944, the celebrated economist Friedrich Hayek was commissioned by the British Colonial Office to undertake a report on the economy of Gibraltar. His conclusion was that the government of Gibraltar should use market forces to relocate working class Gibraltarians into neighbouring Spain. Yet despite the libertarian credentials Hayek had established via his work of the same year, The Road to Serfdom, such a policy would have moved Gibraltarians into the dictatorship of General Franco.

The blog post is based on research by Chris Grocott of the University of Leicester Management School. Dr Grocott recently published: ‘Compromising Liberty: Friedrich Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom in Practice’, Economy and Society.

I’m a big fan of many of Hayek’s ideas, but I will admit that he had a disturbing soft spot for dictators in the Spanish-speaking world. For Hayek’s relationship with the Pinochet regime, see here.  As a naturalized British citizen who was sheltered from the Nazis, Hayek should have had more sympathy for the British subjects in Gibraltar who did not wish to live under Spanish rule, particularly the rule of Franco. Hayek’s 1944 paper on Gibraltar seems like the height of hypocrisy.

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