Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

Whyte, J.
The invisible hand of Friedrich Hayek: Submission and spontaneous order
(2019) Political Theory, 47 (2), pp. 156-184.

DOI: 10.1177/0090591717737064

Friedrich Hayek’s account of “spontaneous order” has generated increasing interest in recent decades. His argument for the superiority of the market in distributing knowledge without the need for central oversight has appealed to progressive democratic theorists, who are wary of the hubris of state planning and attracted to possibilities for self-organization, and to Foucaultians, who have long counseled political theory to cut off the King’s head. A spontaneous social order, organized by an invisible hand, would appear to dispense with arbitrary power and foster creativity and individual liberty. This article challenges this view by highlighting the centrality of submission to Hayek’s account of spontaneous order. It shows that Hayek struggles to obscure the providentialism underpinning the account of social order he derives from Adam Ferguson and the Scottish Enlightenment. Nonetheless, his own account of spontaneous order relies on faith in the workings of the market, and submission to unintelligible market forces. © The Author(s) 2017.

Author Keywords
Adam Ferguson; Friedrich Hayek; Michel Foucault; Spontaneous order; Submission

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