The Constitution of Liberty  

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"in 1930 a German legal scholar, in a detailed study of the effects of the "efforts to realize the socialist State, the opposite of the Rechtsstaat," was able to point out that these “doctrinal developments have already removed all obstacles to the disappearance of the Rechtsstaat, and opened the doors to the victory of the fascist and bolshevist will of the State.” The increasing concern over these developments which Hitler was finally to complete was given expression by more than one speaker at a congress of German constitutional lawyers. But it was too late. The anti-libertarian forces had learned too well the positivist doctrine that the state must not be bound by law. In Hitler Germany and in Fascist Italy, as well as in Russia, it came to be believed that under the rule of law the state was “unfree,” a “prisoner of the law,” and that, in order to act “justly,” it must be released from the fetters of abstract rules. A “free” state was to be one that could treat its subjects as it pleased." --The Constitution of Liberty (1960) by F.A. Hayek

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The Constitution of Liberty is a book by Austrian economist and Nobel Prize recipient Friedrich A. Hayek. The book was first published in 1960 by the University of Chicago Press and it is an interpretation of civilization as being made possible by the fundamental principles of liberty, which the author presents as prerequisites for wealth and growth, rather than the other way around.

The Constitution of Liberty has notably been held up at a British Conservative Party policy meeting and banged on the table by Margaret Thatcher, who reportedly interrupted a presentation to indicate, in reference to the book, that "This is what we believe".

The Constitution of Liberty was placed 9th on the list of the 100 best non-fiction books of the twentieth century compiled by the biweekly conservative magazine National Review.

A postscript is included, entitled "Why I Am Not A Conservative."


  • 1960. The Constitution of Liberty, University of Chicago Press. Template:ISBN
  • 2011. The Constitution of Liberty: The Definitive Edition, Ronald Hamowy, ed., v. 17, The Collected Works of F A. Hayek. University of Chicago Press.


Part I – The Value of Freedom
1. Liberty and Liberties
2. The Creative Powers of a Free Civilization
3. The Common Sense of Progress
4. Freedom, Reason, and Tradition
5. Responsibility and Freedom
6. Equality, Value, and Merit
7. Majority Rule
8. Employment and Independence

Part II – Freedom and the Law
9. Coercion and the State
10. Law, Commands, and Order
11. The Origins of the Rule of Law
12. The American Contribution: Constitutionalism
13. Liberalism and Administration: The Rechtsstaat
14. The Safeguards of Individual Liberty
15. Economic Policy and the Rule of Law
16. The Decline of the Law

Part III – Freedom in the Welfare State
17. The Decline of Socialism and the Rise of the Welfare State
18. Labor Unions and Employment
19. Social Security
20. Taxation and Redistribution
21. The Monetary Framework
22. Housing and Town Planning
23. Agriculture and Natural Resources
24. Education and Research

Postscript: Why I am Not a Conservative

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