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9-Freedom's-Prophet-WSJ-7MAY99-A-18 - Prophet Freedom's By...

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By Enwrx J. FBulNnnJn. ,. It's hard to imagine now, but at one trme evenso ardent an anticommunist as Whittaker Chambers believed the West was on the losingside of history. If we didn't succumb to communism. certainlywe would be consumed by a home-grown form of so cialism. TheGreat Depression and two world wars had left few willing to refute theidea that big government was need- ed to order human soci- etv. Friedrich A. Hayek- born 100 years ago tomor- row-was willing to question the prevailing wisdom. His seminalwork, "The Road to Serf- dom,' published in 1944, chal- lenged the economic and potitical theories of his day by asserting that central planning and individ- ual freedom could not coexist. For penning such heterodox notions as "a policy of freedom for the individ- ual is the only truly progressiVe pol- icy,' Hayek earned a prophet's re ward: Fint hewas scorned, then ignored. Fortunately, Hayek lived to see his rep- utation restored, first in 19?4 when hewas awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Eco- nomic Sciences, and later when George Bush awarded him thePresidential Medal of Freedom. And althougtr his books re- main conspicuously absent from the re- quired-reading lists of most universities, this courtly Austrian-born British citizen remains one of our century's most influen.
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