The Weekly Winston: The Hayek Connection

We know from the work of historian Paul Addison that Churchill was at least passingly familiar with Hayek’s 1944 classic, The Road to Serfdom, but there are indications from early in Churchill’s career—around the time he was attacking socialism—that he instinctively understood Hayek’s famous critique of centralized and dispersed knowledge in his equally important  1945 essay “The Use of Knowledge in Society.” As Churchill put it in a speech in 1908:

I reject as impracticable the insane Socialist idea that we could have a system whereby the whole national production of the country, with all its infinite ramifications, should be organized and directed by a permanent official, however able, from some central office.  The idea is not only impossible, but unthinkable.  If it was even attempted it would produce a most terrible shrinkage and destruction of productive energy.