Edited and written by David Gordon, senior fellow of the Mises Institute and author of four books and thousands of essays.

Did Hayek Write His Last Book?

Summer 1998

Jeffrey Friedman
Critical Review 11,no. 3(Summer 1997), pp. 407-67

At last Jeffrey Friedman has said something interesting! One footnote in this ponderous mélange discloses important information. Friedrich Hayek, according to Friedman, did not write his last book, The Fatal Conceit. The book was "apparently" written by the book's editor, W.W. Bartley, III. There was "little noticeable input from Hayek, who was mortally ill. What Bartley characterized as confused and mostly unusable notes and passages by Hayek, some of which ended up in the book's Appendices, apparently served as the basis of Bartley's efforts to complete a manuscript: the products of Bartley's labors were allegedly reviewed by Hayek" (p. 463, n. 9).

Mr. Friedman, who in 1986 worked as Bartley's research assistant, doubts that Hayek exercised much supervision. Passages that Friedman composed about Foucault, Marcuse, and Habermas appear verbatim in the book's text. Surely Friedman is right that a mentally alert Hayek would not have adopted Friedman's work unchanged as his own. Friedman suspects that "Hayek may never even have seen these words, although they were published under his name" (p. 463).

If Friedman's claim is right--a matter that requires further investigation--it is ironic that Bartley himself discounted Karl Marx's Economic Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 on the grounds that these were jottings and notes pieced together by editors.


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