2013년 3월 15일 금요일

[발췌: Hayek's] On Being an Economist

출처: F.A. Hayek, The Trend of Economic Thinking: Essays on Political Economists and Economic History (Routledge, 1991)
자료: 구글도서 ;

※ 발췌(excerpts):

of which CHAPTER 2: On Being an Economist [1] [*]

[1] An address delivered to the Students' of Union of the London School of Economics, February 23, 1944. The address was presumably delivered at Peterhouse, Cambridge University where the LSE was lodged during the war. This essay has not been previously published.ㅡEd. 
[*] According to this review of another book which contains the same text of Hayek, this was a lecture by Hayek at the LSE in February 1944.

(...) There is at least one kind of happiness which the pursuit of most sciences promises but which is almost wholly denied to the economist. The progress of the natural sciences often leads to unbounded confidence in the future prospects of the human race, and provides the natural scientist with the certainty that any important contribution to knowledge which he makes will be used to improve the lot of men. The economist's lot, however, is to study a field in which, almost more than any other, human folly displays itself. The scientist has no doubt that the world is moving on to better and finer things, that the progress he makes today will tomorrow be recognised and used. There is a glamour about the natural sciences which expresses itself in the spirit and the atmosphere in which it is pursued and received, in the prizes that wait for the successful as in the satisfaction it can offer to most. What I want to say to you tonight is a warning that, if you want any of this, if to sustain you in the toil which the prolonged pursuit of any subject requires, you want these clear signs of success, you had better leave economics now and turn to one of more fortunate other sciences. Not only are there no glittering prizes, no Nobel prizes[3] andㅡI should have said till recentlyㅡno fortunes and no peerages,[4] for the economist. But even to look for them, to aim at praise or public recognition, is almost ( ... ... )

(... ...) wrong. The point I want to make is merely that when after the usual interval of a generation or so their ideas began to take effect they produced a state of affairs which, I believe, even the most extreme protectionists would agree to be greatly inferior to the conditions of near free trade they had attacked. It may be true that some little protection, or some little flexibility in exchange rates, judiciously administered, may be better than free trade or the gold standard. I don't believe it, but it may be true. But this does not exclude that the advocacy of these modifications may have most regrettable effects. The attack against the principle, or perhaps half-truth, of the free-trade doctrine has certainly had the effect that the public forgot even a great deal of the elementary economics it had learned, and became once more ready to assent to absurdities which 70 years ago it would have laughed out of court.

I have just referred to the interval of a generation or so which usually elapses before a new opinion becomes a political force. This phenomenon will be familiar to the readers of Dicey's ^Law and Opinion^,[7] and I could add many further instances to those given there. But it is perhaps specially necessary to remind you of it, because the unique rapidity with which, in our own time, the teaching of Lord Keynes has penetrated into public consciousness may a little mislead you about what is the more regular course of things. I shall presently have to suggest an explanation of this exceptional case.

Another point to which I have indirectly referred already, but on which I must dwell a little, is the fact that in our field no knowledge can be regarded as established once and for all, and that, in fact, knowledge once gained and spread is often, not disproved, but simply lost and forgotten. The elements of the free-trade argument, at one time nearly understood by every educated man, are case in point. The reason why in our field knowledge can be so lost is, of course, that it is never established by experiment, but can be acquired only by following rather difficult process of reasoning. And while people will believe a thing if you just tell them 'it has been shown by experiment'ㅡalthough they may understand nothing about itㅡthey will not accept in the same manner an argument, even though that argument may have convinced everybody who has understood it. The result is that in economics you can never establish a truth once and for all but have always convince every generation anewㅡand that you may find much more difficult when things appear to yourself no longer so simple as they once did.

I cannot attempt here more that to touch upon the inexhaustible subject of ^Economics and the Public^, a subject on which Professor W.H. Hutt of Capetown has written a thoughtful book, which contains many wise things and some not so wiseㅡand which I strongly recommend to your attention.[8] There are very interesting points in this position as economists, such as the special difficulty, in our field, to distinguish between the expert and the quackㅡand the equally important fact of the traditional unpopularity of the economists. You probably all know the remark of Walter Bagehot[9] that the public has never yet been sorry to hear of the death of an economist. In fact, the dislike for most of the teaching of the economists in the past has built up a picture of the economist as a sort of monster devouring children. There is little to justify it in the facts. One of the great liberal politicians of the early 19th century (Sir James Mackintosh[10]) has said that "he had known Smith slightly, Ricardo well and Malthus intimately and found them about the best men he had known". I can to some extent confirm this. As you perhaps know I have amused myself at times to dig into the history of economics, and during the past 25 years I have had the opportunity to know not only a good many economists of this and the past generation but also to compare them with scholars in other fields. And I must say I have found them on the whole a surprisingly nice, sensitive and sane lot of people, less crotchety and mad than other scientists. Yet they still enjoy a reputation worse than almost any other profession and are imagined to be particularly hard, prejudiced, and devoid of feeling. And it was, and still is, the most eminent of economists in an academic sense, towards whom these reproaches were most frequently directed, while nothing is easier than for a crank to acquire the reputation of being a friend of people. Things are in this respect still very much the same as they were in Adam Smith's time, and what he said about the relation of an M.P. to monopolies applies very much to the relation of the economist to the practical 'interests'ㅡand not only the capitalist interests: "The member of parliament", you will find it said in the ^Wealth of Nations^,[11] "who supports every proposal for strengthening this monopoly (of house manufacturers), is sure to acquire not only the reputation of understanding trade, but great popularity and influence with an order of men whose number and wealth render them of great importance. If he opposes them, on the contrary, and still more if he has authority enough to thwart them, neither the most acknowledged probity, nor the highest rank, nor the greatest public services, can protect him from the most infamous abuse and detraction, from personal insults, nor sometimes real danger, arising from the insolent outrage of furious and disappointed monopolists."

Before I pursue this subject of the effect of public opinion and political bias on the work of the economist I must for a moment pause to consider the various reasons and purposes which make us study economics. (...)

(... ...)

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The reason why I think that too deliberate striving for immediate usefulness is so likely to corrupt the intellectual integrity of the economist is that immediate usefulness depends almost entirely on influence, and influence is gained most easily by concessions to popular prejudice and adherence to existing political groups. I seriously believe that any such striving for popularityㅡat least till you have very definitely settled your own convictions, is fatal to the economist and that above anything he must have the courage to be unpopular. Whatever his theoretical beliefs may be, when he has to deal with the proposals of laymen the chance is that in nine out of ten cases he answer will have to be that their various ends are incompatible and that they will have to choose between them and to sacrifice some ambitions which they cherish. This is an inevitable consequence of the type of problems with which he has to deal: problems which are well described by the lines of Schiller that
With ease by one another dwell the thoughts
But hard in space together clash the things.

The economist's task is precisely to detect such incompatibilites of thoughts before the clash of the things occurs, and the results is that he will always have the ungrateful task of pointing out the costs. That's what he is there for and it is a task which he must never shirk, however unpopular and disliked it may make him. Whatever else you may think of the classical economists you must admit that they never feared being unpopular.
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( ... ... )

I trust you will forgive me if I seriously suggest that the danger of such intellectual corruption, of concession made to the desires of gaining influence, is today greater from what are known as the left or progressive parties than from those of the right. The forces of the right are usually neither intelligent enough to value the support of intellectual activities, nor have they the sort of prizes to offer which are likely to influence honest people. But the fact that, whatever may be true of the country as a whole, the 'intelligentsia' is predominantly left means that you are certain to have much greater influence, and therefore apparently chances to be useful, if you accept the sort of views which are generally regarded as 'progressive'. There are now, and probably always will be, any number of attractive jobs, such as various sorts of research or adult education, in which you will be welcomed if you hold the right kind of 'progressive' view, and will have a better chance of getting on various committees or commissions if you represent any known political programme than if you are known to go your own way. Never forget that the reputation of being 'progressive' adheres almost always to people or movements which have already half succeeded in converting people. [15]


There can be no question that in resisting the inclination to join in with some popular movement one deliberately exclude oneself from much that is pleasant, profitable and flattering. Yet I believe that in our field more that in any other this is really essential: if anyone, the economist must keep free not to believe things which it would be useful and pleasant to believe, must not allow himself to encourage wish-dreams in himself or others. I don't think the work of the politician and the true student of society are compatible. Indeed it seems to me that in order to be successful as a politician, to become a political leader, it is almost essential that you have no original ideas on social matters but just express what the majority feel. But I have perhaps said already more than enough about the external temptations and I want to say only a few more words about the internal ones, the seductive attraction exercised by the pleasantness of certain views. Here, too, there has recently been a great change of attitude. While the classical economists were perhaps a little too apt to feel 'that is too good to be true', I believe this attitude is still a safer one than the feeling that the conclusions of an argument are so desirable that they must be true.

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I can illustrate this position only from my own experience and that will probably be different from yours. From all considerations other than the purely scientific one I have every reason to wish that I were able to believe that a planned socialist society can achieve what its advocates promise. If I could convince myself that they are right this would suddenly remove all the clouds which to me blacken all the prospects of the future. I should be free to share in the happy confidence of so many of my fellow men and to join with them in the work for a common end. As an economist such a situation would indeed have a double attraction. As I am again and again reminded by some socialist colleagues, our special knowledge would secure us a much more important position and I might rise to be a trusted leader instead of a hated obstructionist. You will probably say that of course it is only pride which, once I have staked my professional reputation on a certain view, now prevents me from seeing the truth. But it was not always so. And I have indeed been mainly thinking of the extremely painful process of disillusionment which led me to my present views.
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You will probably not have the experience in the same connexion, but I am sure that, if you do not regard your economics just as a given instrument to achieve given ends, but as a continuous adventure in the search for truth, you will sooner or later have a similar experience in one connexion or another. It will be for you as well as a choice between cherished and pleasant illusions on the one side and the ruthless pursuit of an argument which will lead you almost certainly into isolation and unpopularity and which you do not know where else it will lead. I believe this duty to face and think through unpleasant facts is the hardest task of the economist and the reason why, if he fulfils it, he must not look for public approval or sympathy for his efforts. If he does he will soon cease to be an economist and become a politicianㅡa very honourable and useful calling, but a different one, and not one which gives the kine of satisfaction we expect when we embark on an intellectual pursuit. It is this choice about which I wanted to talk and of the necessity of which I mainly wanted to warn you. There are, as you will realise more and more, many self-denying ordinances which the economist must pass on himself if he wants to remain true to his vocation. (...)

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