Kruddy the Hayek Slayer

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Kevin Rudd is starting to remind me of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In season three Buffy battled the Mayor of Sunnydale, a polite, quietly spoken politician who formed a pact with demons to ensure his own survival. Rudd also has demons to fight. Chief among them is the Austrian economist Friedrich von Hayek — the Big Bad in Kruddy’s season one.

Australia is sitting on top of the hellmouth of the market — a powerful force capable of annihilating altruism, destroying the family, and devouring babies. As the chosen one, Kruddy’s job is to keep a lid on the hellmouth and prevent his enemies from summoning up the undead spirit of Friedrich August von Hayek. Although in a physical sense he died before season one began, von Hayek’s spirit continues to animate the Mont Pelerin Society, the shadowy cult he founded in 1947. If the hellmouth is opened and Hayek’s spirit summoned, chaos and pain will be unleashed upon the world.

Kruddy’s problem is that many of the good citizens of our antipodean Sunnydale don’t realize that the Mayor in league with the forces of darkness. As a result, Kruddy and the Scooby gang must fight the demons on their own. Yesterday, in an act of bravery worthy of the slayer herself, Rudd descended into the demons’ lair — the Centre for Independent Studies.

The Centre’s founder, Greg Lindsay, is now the high priest of the Mont Pelerin Society — the Bulletin once described him as "the most influential man in Australia." But evil must be fought and Kruddy came armed with thirteen pages of speech each bristling with footnotes referencing the cult’s sacred texts (pdf).

So yes, I’m making fun. But despite the drama, Rudd’s speech is interesting and well researched. There are a few minor errors and a rather dubious attempt to link Hayek to neoconservatism, but there’s nothing that undermines the main thrust of his argument. There’s an edited version of the speech in Friday’s Financial Review.

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Mark Bahnisch
15 years ago

Does this mean that Hayek turned into a very large snake at the end of his life?

Sorry, Don, been on a bit of a watch every episode of Buffy binge the last few months.

Don Arthur
Don Arthur
15 years ago

And I was worried that everyone was over Buffy.

Fred Jones
Fred Jones
15 years ago

Hayek is one of the great thinkers of our time and his ideas are responsible for much of the economic prosperity we enjoy today.

Mark Bahnisch
15 years ago

Joss Whedon is one of the great directors of our time and his ideas are responsible for much of the best tv we enjoy today.

Sorry, Don, you started it :)

Tony Harris
Tony Harris(@tony-harris)
15 years ago

Other good stuff alongside the Rudd piece, a retrospective on Hungary 1956 and the Melbourne Olympics by Martin Krygier complete with a photo of a Hungarian water polo player eye gouged in the game vs Russia.

A good rejoinder from David Macarhur to a piece of fluff written by Benson and Strangroom against relativism – sheesh, if we depended on their arguments…!

Don Arthur
Don Arthur
15 years ago

Rafe – Yes there was some good stuff in the AFR Review. Who’s your favourite Buffy character?

Mark Bahnisch
15 years ago

I’d wager it’s Spike.

Nicholas Gruen
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Nicholas Gruen(@nicholas-gruen)
15 years ago

The Rudd piece is really good IMO. A cut above many other politicians’ contributions to discussion about political philosophy (who rarely rise above the rehearsal of cliches). As you say Don there are some inaccuracies and I’m not sure I agree with it all. But he’d really engaged with Hayek in a way that energised his own thinking. I also admire him for walking into the lions’ den (CIS) to deliver it. Rafe or someone, I’d be interested in a report on how it went down?

Matt
15 years ago

Kevin Rudd clearly discovered von Hayek searching wikipedia one day, as any well-read 2nd year undergraduate politics major would know that neoconservatives and those that share von Hayek’s views come at economics from a completely different approach. Unfortunately in Australia, the term neoconservative has become a catch-all phrase by the left who have little interest in reading or understanding of political philosophy.

Sinclair Davidson
Sinclair Davidson
15 years ago

By politician standards Rudd has put a bit of work into his speech, but I was underwhelmed. The AFR summary was a good read on the train, and I was sufficiently inspired to read the footnoted version. I don’t think Hayek is the basis of right-thinking in Australia. If only. Linking Hayek’s thought to Howard government policy (as opposed to some rhetoric) is very dubious – as Don indicates. I also think Rudd hasn’t spent enough time reading books by Hayek, as opposed to reading books on Hayek.

Don Arthur
Don Arthur
15 years ago

Matt – Rudd does acknowledge that Hayek’s approach differs from that of the neoconservatives. But that doesn’t stop him from this rather odd attempt to make the two compatible:

What relevance, if any, does Hayekian neo-liberalism have to the neo-conservative agenda on foreign policy

Tony.T
15 years ago

This Hayek is starting to get on my tits. Who the hell is he that he warrants such a fuss? Does he have a good wrong-un? No. Can he kick both feet? No. Has he ever been in a fight with Warren Oates? No. All he’s ever done is host Saturday Night Live; and SNL hasn’t been any good since Bill Murray left.

Mark Bahnisch
15 years ago

On Matt and Sincs’ points – I think part of Rudd’s problem is that he relies very heavily on David McKnight’s Beyond Left and Right which isn’t either original or particularly good as a reading of Hayek – it’s really just the standard not very thought out anti neo-liberal rhetoric.

I used to have fun when I taught political economy leading a seminar on Hayek a week after we did Mill.

Hayek is well worth engaging with – he’s a rigorous thinker and people on the Left shouldn’t be afraid of engaging with anything that’s intellectual quality. A critique of him would much more worthwhile if it really were a critique of him.

Don, Strauss could do the Dracula role at the beginning of series 5.

Tony Harris
Tony Harris(@tony-harris)
15 years ago

#6 #7 Sorry guys, I am a blank on Buffy. My TV watching mostly consists of Futurama and a bit of football (oval shaped). I’ll try to find time to check the links in the post in case that will help.

Vee
Vee
15 years ago

Catallaxy goes on and on about Hayek in levels above my understanding but a quick wikipedia view just tells you he’s nothing more than a stereotypical libertarian – what’s the big deal?

As for Rudd, are you suggesting he’s a pubescent girl?

Now on to things that matter – Joss Whedon is the greatest screenwriter and director of his generation. He hasn’t done much work overall but he has a cult following and the fables (for the wont of a better word) told in his stories are so simplistic and so complex at the same time. No other writer/director has been able to convey that, not Scott/Abrams/Shymalan/Scorsese/etc.

skepticlawyer
15 years ago

Vee, suggest you actually read some Hayek, not just what other people say about him. He’s not a simple liberatarian – his support for certain forms of welfare marks him out from the likes of Rothbard and Nozick, for a start.

Scott
Scott
15 years ago

Buffy is crap. Whedon’s real masterpiece is Firefly.

skepticlawyer
15 years ago

Shiny!

Among the best SF ever made, IMHO.

Patrick
Patrick
15 years ago

And Nozick in turn marked himself out by being anything but simple in any field he touched!

Darlene
15 years ago

The implication of Rudd doing battle with demons (I hated Buffy) is that he isn’t one himself.

Wouldn’t trust him as throw as I could throw him (which would be no distance at all).