Friedrich A. Hayek gilt vielen als Ökonom und mit seiner Theorie der Katallaxie und seinen Arbeiten zur freien Marktwirtschaft hat er große Beiträge auf dem Feld der Ökonomie geleistet. Aber Hayek ist auch ein Liberaler und als solcher ein Philosoph der Freiheit, der viel dazu beigetragen hat, zu klären, was überhaupt auf dem Spiel steht, wenn Staaten bürgerliche Freiheiten einschränken:
- We are concerned in this book with that condition of men in which coercion of some by others is reduced as much as possible in a society. This state we shall describe throughout as a state of liberty or freedom. These two words have been also used to describe many other good things of life. It would therefore not be very profitable to start by asking what they really mean. It would seem better to state, first, the condition which we shall mean when we use them and then consider the other meanings of the words only in order to define more sharply that which we have adopted
The state in which a man is not subject to coercion by the arbitrary will of another or others is often also distinguished as ‘individual’ or ‘personal’ freedom, and whenever we want to remind the reader that it is in this sense that we are using the word ‘freedom’, we shall employ that expression. Sometimes the term ‘civil liberty’ is used in the same sense, but we shall avoid it because it is too liable to be confused with what is called ‘political liberty’ – an inevitable confusion arising from the fact that ‘civil’ and ‘political’ derive, respectively, from Latin and Greek words with the same meaning.
Even our tentative indication of what we shall mean by ‘freedom’ will have shown that it describes a state which man living among his fellows may hole to approach closely but can hardly expect to realize perfectly. The task of a policy of freedom must therefore be to minimize coercion or its harmful effects, even if it cannot eliminate it completely.
It so happens that the meaning of freedom that we have adopted seems to be the original meaning of the word. Man, or at least European man, enters history divided into free and unfree; and this distinction had a very definite meaning. The freedom of the free may have differed widely, but only in the degree of an independence which the slave did not possess at all. It meant always the possibility of a person’s acting according to his own decisions and plans, in contrast to the position of one who was irrevocably subject to the will of another, who by arbitrary decision could coerce him to act or not to act in specific ways. The time-honored phrase by which this freedom has often been described is therefore ‘independence of the arbitrary will of another” (Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty, p.11-12).