Hayek’s Critique of Democracy

Hayek’s Critique of Democracy

June 27, 2021 Off By Felso

Democracy is essentially a tool, a method that aims to protect internal peace and individual freedom. In this respect, it is not error-free or absolute.

Hayek states that democracy is a truly admirable institution, but even the most ardent democrats would not favor its unlimited expansion. Extending the vote to children, non-residents, insane and many other groups is far from beneficial. Likewise, expanding the scope of voting issues as another way of expanding democracy is not always beneficial.

Often majority decisions will be less wise than individual decisions. Majority decisions are content to consider events more crudely and to think less about the consequences.

The duty of a politician in a democracy is not to make new opinions popular in the distant future, which may be the opinion of the majority, but to reveal the opinions of the broad masses.(2)

Some form of limitation of power is essential. It is the law and the laws and the separation of the legislative and executive. However, Hayek does not see the separation of powers as sufficient. According to Hayek, the important thing is that the powers (legislative-executive) are taken under control. In this respect, the greatest disaster is unlimited government, and no one is equipped with the ability to have unlimited power and rule. (3)

The principle of the rule of law emphasizes that the coercive power of the government should not be used outside of compliance with the general rules, that the rules should be known and certain, that people should be treated equally, that is, the laws should not be applied by taking individuals into account.


(1) The most detailed discussion of democracy on Hayek’s part can be found in Chapter 7 of The Constitution of Liberty.)
(2) Hayek,The Contitution of Liberty, p. 112. 1944, (Zikr. Butler; Ibid., p. 163..)
(3) Hayek, Friedrich A. Von; Law, Legislation and Freedom, Rules and Order, (Trans. Atilla Yayla), Türkiye İş Bankası Kültür Yayınları, Ankara, 1993.sh. 207.