Technology and Freedom: The Virtuous Circle

Policy Backgrounders | Government | Regulations

No. 158
Friday, January 10, 2003
by James K. Glassman

Conclusion: The Unknowable Future

All of the worries about government attempts to thwart technology come down to this: those who wield government power fear change and unpredictability, and thus they fear the technologies forged in a free market crucible. In the end, those who love freedom are those with the foresight and courage to embrace the unknowable future. "Competition," said Hayek in a speech in Chicago 34 years ago, "is valuable only because, and so far as, its results are unpredictable and on the whole different from those which anyone has, or could have, deliberately aimed at. Further... the generally beneficial effects of competition must include disappointing or defeating some particular expectations or intentions."45

"Competition is valuable only because, and so far as, its' results are unpredictable said Friedrich von Hayek."

With such vast possibilities - so many combinations to try - technology will inevitably disappoint and defeat and benefit and thrill. It is why the party of technology is the party of freedom and, in Hayek's wonderful phrase, the "party of life." 46 But as Hayek knew, the urge to limit freedom, to control and coerce others, lives on. To oppose these threats in the realm of technology is the most urgent item on the agenda of the party of life.

James K. Glassman is a resident fellow of the American Enterprise Institute. He is the host of and writes a syndicated column for the Washington Post.

NOTE: Nothing written here should be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the National Center for Policy Analysis or as an attempt to aid or hinder the passage of any bill before Congress.

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