I've just returned from traveling for a week in Italy. We began in Lecce at the annual conference for Storep, Associazone Italiana per la Storia dell'Economia Politica, where I gave an invited plenary lecture in their "celebration" series. The conference was wonderful. Highlights include a trip to a castle in nearby Otranto, where Luigi Pasinetti and Alessandro Roncaglia celebrated the work of Paolo Sylos Labini. The same evening, former Summer Institute presenter, Paula Tubaro, was awarded the best dissertation award, while former SI participant, Michele Alacevich, received the best young scholar paper award. (Good to know we pick good students!)
I was invited to speak on Mill and I gave a talk entitled, "Did Mill Ruin Classical Liberalism? Hayek on Discussion and the Constitutional Order in J. S. Mill". (The title was meant to be provocative. The short answer is No!). The question that is puzzling me is this. Mill was by many accounts the great classical liberal of the 19th century. Hayek was the great classical liberal of the 20th century (at a lecture I attended a year ago, James Buchanan said that Hayek's most significant contribution was the work to preserve classical liberalism in the 20th century at a time when its survival was unsure.) And Hayek knows Mill as few others have known Mill. The work I'm doing on his edition of the Mill-Taylor correspondence (which will be published by the U of Chicago as part of the collected works of F A Hayek) provides a case in point. Yet Hayek is very critical of Mill both in print and in his interview with Buchanan, where he refers to the "delusion" that he traces back to Mill, that democratic government is enough to limit government power. So, what is it about Mill that so incensed Hayek? This is the question I'm trying to address and the lecture presented some (very) preliminary thoughts -- the answer, I suggest, lies in Mill's position on discussion and reform. You can see the powerpoints here: did_mill_storep.pdf.