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The Constitution of Liberty

The Definitive Edition

From the $700 billion bailout of the banking industry to president Barack Obama’s $787 billion stimulus package to the highly controversial passage of federal health-care reform, conservatives and concerned citizens alike have grown increasingly fearful of big government. Enter Nobel Prize–winning economist and political theorist F. A. Hayek, whose passionate warning against empowering states with greater economic control, The Road to Serfdom, became an overnight sensation last summer when it was endorsed by Glenn Beck. The book has since sold over 150,000 copies.

The latest entry in the University of Chicago Press’s series of newly edited editions of Hayek’s works, The Constitution of Liberty is, like Serfdom, just as relevant to our present moment. The book is considered Hayek’s classic statement on the ideals of freedom and liberty, ideals that he believes have guided—and must continue to guide—the growth of Western civilization. Here Hayek defends the principles of a free society, casting a skeptical eye on the growth of the welfare state and examining the challenges to freedom posed by an ever expanding government—as well as its corrosive effect on the creation, preservation, and utilization of knowledge. In opposition to those who call for the state to play a greater role in society, Hayek puts forward a nuanced argument for prudence. Guided by this quality, he elegantly demonstrates that a free market system in a democratic polity—under the rule of law and with strong constitutional protections of individual rights—represents the best chance for the continuing existence of liberty.


Striking a balance between skepticism and hope, Hayek’s profound insights are timelier and more welcome than ever before. This definitive edition of The Constitution of Liberty will give a new generation the opportunity to learn from his enduring wisdom.


Read an excerpt: "Why I Am Not a Conservative."
An audiobook version is available.

688 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2011

The Collected Works of F. A. Hayek

Economics and Business: Economics--General Theory and Principles

Political Science: Classic Political Thought


"In an age when many on the right are worried that the Obama administration’s reform of health care is leading us toward socialism, Hayek’s warnings from the mid-twentieth century about society’s slide toward despotism, and his principled defense of a minimal state, have found strong political resonance. . . . The notes [to this edition] make clear the extraordinary breadth and depth of Hayek’s erudition and his ability to wander far beyond economics into history, philosophy, biology, and other fields."

Francis Fukuyama | New York Times Book Review

Table of Contents

Editorial Foreword

Introductory Essay

The Constitution of Liberty: Editions and Translations

A Note on the Notes

Editor’s Acknowledgments

Liberty Fund Editions Cited




Bibliographical Abbreviations



PART I.           The Value of Freedom

One                  Liberty and Liberties

Two                 The Creative Powers of a Free Civilization

Three               The Common Sense of Progress

Four                 Freedom, Reason, and Tradition

Five                  Responsibility and Freedom

Six                    Equality, Value, and Merit

Seven               Majority Rule

Eight                 Employment and Independence


PART II.           Freedom and the Law

Nine                 Coercion and the State

Ten                   Law, Commands, and Order

Eleven              The Origins of the Rule of Law

Twelve             The American Contribution: Constitutionalism

Thirteen            Liberalism and Administration: The Rechtsstaat

Fourteen           The Safeguards of Individual Liberty

Fifteen              Economic Policy and the Rule of Law

Sixteen             The Decline of the Law


PART III.         Freedom in the Welfare State

Seventeen        The Decline of Socialism and the Rise of the Welfare State

Eighteen           Labor Unions and Employment

Nineteen          Social Security

Twenty            Taxation and Redistribution

Twenty-one     The Monetary Framework

Twenty-two     Housing and Town Planning

Twenty-three   Agriculture and Natural Resources

Twenty-four     Education and Research


Postscript: Why I Am Not a Conservative

Analytical Table of Contents

Index of Authors Cited

Index of Subjects

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