Criticism of "unlimited democracy" by a Nobel laureate

Hayek, Friedrich August, Austrian-British economist (1899-1992). "Notes for lectures". Autograph manuscript signed ("F. A. Hayek").

No place or date.

8vo. 3 numbered pp. Signed on the final page, signature and title added later in black ink.


Fine notes for three lectures on political philosophy and economics prepared by the Nobel laureate Friedrich August Hayek. The first, titled "The Miscarriage of the Democratic Ideal", corresponds with the title of a chapter in Hayek's last major work of social philosophy, "Law, Legislation and Liberty" (1973-79), which laments the far-reaching powers of democratic government: "The present forms of democratic government suffer from a mistaken design. It was erroneously believed that the opinion of the majority was a sufficient check on governmental powers. Therefore all the checks intended to limit the powers of government have been removed. The result is unlimited democracy which can govern more arbitrarily than all constitutional governments of the past [...]".

The other two lectures address "The Generation of Wealth", stressing the importance of adaptation and labour division, as well as "The Signals of the Market", criticizing some of the greatest minds of economics, including Adam Smith and Karl Marx, for having overlooked the key function of prices as signals of an evolving market.

The 1974 Nobel committee that awarded Hayek and Gunnar Myrdal their joint medal in Economics pointed to "their pioneering work in the theory of money and economic fluctuations and for their penetrating analysis of the interdependence of economic, social and institutional phenomena".

In excellent condition.


Stargardt, Marburg, 617 (1979), lot 405. Sotheby's New York, 26 June 1998, lot 454.