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Frank Knight, Worst-Case Theorizing, and Economic Planning: Socialism as Monopoly Politics

Frank Knight, Worst-Case Theorizing, and Economic Planning: Socialism as Monopoly Politics appreciate the worst-case logic underlying Knight’s political critique. Indeed, the situational logic operative in Knight’s critique of planning is rather more akin to Hayek’s critique of socialism in The Road to Serfdom than Boettke and Vaughn suggest (see, e.g., Knight 1938a, 868–69 and 1952, 414–15). Despite the apparent similarity in their respective analyses, however, Knight provides a logically more compelling political critique of planning than does Hayek. Indeed, whereas Knight’s worst-case (nascent public-choice type) critique of planning makes immediate intuitive sense, the situational logic posited in Hayek’s Road to Serfdom appears predicated on some rather unsatisfactory suppositions regarding planner type.1 Knight’s Worst-Case Insight: Socialism as Monopoly Politics Knight charged that socialists are entirely under the sway of best-case theorizing (the benevolent-despot assumption so despised by publicchoice theory). Best-case theorizing is essentially the view that the state, “conceived in the abstract as a benevolent and all-powerful agency— essentially as God rather than realistically as politicians—could order economic affairs rightly without generating new evils or incurring serious social costs” (Knight [1940] 1982, 159; emphasis added; cf. Knight 1938a, 868 and 1938c, 244). Best-case theorizing regarding planner type was endemic to both pro- and anti-planning sides during the socialist calculation debate http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png History of Political Economy Duke University Press

Frank Knight, Worst-Case Theorizing, and Economic Planning: Socialism as Monopoly Politics

History of Political Economy , Volume 36 (3) – Sep 1, 2004

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2004 by Duke University Press
ISSN
0018-2702
eISSN
1527-1919
DOI
10.1215/00182702-36-3-497
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

appreciate the worst-case logic underlying Knight’s political critique. Indeed, the situational logic operative in Knight’s critique of planning is rather more akin to Hayek’s critique of socialism in The Road to Serfdom than Boettke and Vaughn suggest (see, e.g., Knight 1938a, 868–69 and 1952, 414–15). Despite the apparent similarity in their respective analyses, however, Knight provides a logically more compelling political critique of planning than does Hayek. Indeed, whereas Knight’s worst-case (nascent public-choice type) critique of planning makes immediate intuitive sense, the situational logic posited in Hayek’s Road to Serfdom appears predicated on some rather unsatisfactory suppositions regarding planner type.1 Knight’s Worst-Case Insight: Socialism as Monopoly Politics Knight charged that socialists are entirely under the sway of best-case theorizing (the benevolent-despot assumption so despised by publicchoice theory). Best-case theorizing is essentially the view that the state, “conceived in the abstract as a benevolent and all-powerful agency— essentially as God rather than realistically as politicians—could order economic affairs rightly without generating new evils or incurring serious social costs” (Knight [1940] 1982, 159; emphasis added; cf. Knight 1938a, 868 and 1938c, 244). Best-case theorizing regarding planner type was endemic to both pro- and anti-planning sides during the socialist calculation debate

Journal

History of Political EconomyDuke University Press

Published: Sep 1, 2004

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