By David Selbourne
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Extra resources for Against Socialist Illusion: A Radical Argument
Indeed, the lingering expectation that the socialist alternative can be revived around the old political constituency, and around the old constellation of socialist ideas, however refurbished as 'workers' self-management' or the politics of a glib 'participation', needs to be firmly resisted. To promote illusions which have already failed, or projects which time and circumstance are in the process of disqualifying, is merely to block the path for genuinely new forms of radical critique of our world and its institutions.
Likewise, says Hayek in The Road To Serfdom, 'nothing has done so much harm to the liberal cause as the modern insistence ... 46 Thus, though the left may insist that the individualism of the right seeks merely to legitimate the 'entirely selfish actions of individuals', 47 the right itself insists, as Milton Friedman puts it, that 'self-interest is not myopic selfishness'. Rather, it is 'whatever ... interests the participants, whatever they value, whatever goods they pursue'. 4 H Indeed, according to Hayek, the right's notion of individuality 'does not assume, as is often asserted, that man is egoistic or selfish, or ought to be'.
49 Cant this may also seem, or be; but even if dishonest, such a definition of the ethic of laissez-Jaire gets clean away from left categorizations of it as 'inhuman'. 50 And even if it be argued by the left that 'the opportunity of knowing and choosing between different forms oflife' 51 does not exist in practice for more than a privileged minority in a world ruled by capital, the left knows that it also does not exist in that 'real' socialist world which is nominally ruled by labour. Moreover, socialist conceptions of freedom do not themselves gain any greater legitimation by transposing the argument to the 'deformities' wrought in popular consciousness by 'market values'.