Last of the Whigs

"Last of the Whigs," Commentary, April 1960.  (A review of The Constitution of Liberty, by F.A. Hayek.)


Professor Friederich Hayek, who is usually thought of as a conservative and laisser-fairist, can be more accurately regarded (and clearly defines himself) as the last surviving Whig. As is generally the case, the last of the line is not its most perfect or most vigorous representative. Professor Hayek’s Whiggery has too much the shrillness of doctrine, too little the calm assuredness of a living faith. In political theory, it is much easier to be right than to be relevant; and the greatest temptation for the critic is to rest in self-righteousness. This temptation Professor Hayek is not immune to; he too often gives the impression that he considers reality to be one immense deviation from true doctrine. Nevertheless, The Constitution of Liberty is a book that is noble in its proportions, often profound in its insight, learned in its commentary, and usefully provocative in its argument.

Commentary Magazine