Rowman and Littlefield International

Engaging Enemies

Hayek and the Left

By Simon Griffiths

5 Reviews

Engaging Enemies examines how key thinkers on the British left have responded to the work of Friedrich Hayek, one of the gurus of Thatcherism, and attempts to rethink socialism in response to neoliberalism.

Hardback ISBN: 9781783481064 Release date: Oct 2014
£75.00 €105.00 $119.00
Paperback ISBN: 9781783481071 Release date: Oct 2014
£24.95 €34.95 $40.00
Ebook ISBN: 9781783481088 Release date: Oct 2014
£24.95 €34.95 $38.00

Pages: 202


Friedrich Hayek was a founding figure of the neo-liberalism that flourished in the 1980s. Yet, despite his antagonistic relationship with socialism, his work became a surprising source of inspiration for several influential thinkers on the left. This book explains the left’s unusual engagement with Hayek and reflects on its significance.

Engaging Enemies uses the left’s late discovery of Hayek to examine the contemporary fate of socialism and social democracy. Did socialism survive the twentieth century? Did it collapse with the fall of the Berlin Wall as Hayek claimed? Or did it transform into something else, and if so what? In turn this allows an examination of ideological and historical continuity. Was the left’s engagement with Hayek part of a wider break with a period of ideological continuity that marked the twentieth century, but which did not survive its ending? As such, the book is also a study of how ideologies change with the times, incorporating new elements and jettisoning others.

The left’s engagement with Hayek was also influential on party politics, particularly on the ‘modernization’ of the Labour Party and the development of New Labour.
Engaging Enemies concludes with a discussion of the wider role of the market for the left today and the contemporary significance of the engagement with Hayek for Labour in the wake of the 2008 economic crisis.

1. Hayek and the left: A paradoxical claim?/ 2. The Rise and Fall of Market Socialism / 3. Revisionism Revised / 4. ‘A new kind of knowledge’: Social Movements and Pluralism / 4. ‘Comrade Hayek’?, Or the Revival of Liberalism? / 5. Responses to the New Right: the Significance of the Engagement / Bibliography / Index

Simon Griffiths is senior lecturer in politics at Goldsmiths University of London. He was previously a Visiting Research Fellow at the Centre for Political Ideologies in Oxford. He divides his time between academia and public policy and was formerly Senior Policy Advisor at the British Academy and Senior Research Fellow at the Social Market Foundation. He has written numerous policy reports and published journal articles in Contemporary Politics and Journal of Political Ideologies.

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5 Reviews

[T]his work, made of six concise but straightforward chapters, offers an engaging argument about the liberal roots of contemporary left thought. It not only narrates a recent history of socialist ideas, but also attempts to show how ideas and political thinkers may have a concrete impact on policies of their time. [It] brings new perspectives to questions that many left thinkers constantly raise, notably when attempting to understand the ambiguous path that many European so-called left governments have taken in recent years.

LSE Review of Books

[A]n important work that shows the challenge but also the great value of genuine intellectual engagement across ideological boundaries. The discussion of the four thinkers’ engagement with Hayek provides significant insights into the development of contemporary socialism and social democracy. Although the book is centered on the British experience, it will have value for all those interested in the ideological and empirical political-economic debates of the twentieth century and how they will inform the political economy of the twenty-first century.

The Review of Austrian Economics

This book makes an original and valuable contribution to our understanding of the complex ideological history of the twentieth century. It is well written and manages to combine clear exegesis of the relevant ideas with pointed discussions of the context in which they emerged. [I]t will prove insightful and useful to those interested in the study of political ideologies and in the history of British political thought, as well as to students of Hayek’s work.

Contemporary Political Theory

Hayek has long been regarded as the exclusive property of the political right. But as Simon Griffiths shows in this important and insightful study, Hayek also attracted the attention of some on the political left, who used his ideas to rethink some long-standing positions on markets and the role of the state. Griffiths provides a searching critique of this engagement, and asks whether it still has relevance in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crash. He provides a fresh and illuminating perspective on how ideas influence contemporary politics.

Andrew Gamble, University of Cambridge

Simon Griffiths’ book illuminatingly and innovatively opens up the debate on Hayek. Hayek claimed to be a liberal, and his critics asserted that he was a conservative. Yet, as Griffiths intriguingly shows, Hayek’s aversion to planning was absorbed in diverse ways by British left-wing intellectuals and political activists, who came to acknowledge the role that markets and spontaneity had to play. The result is a subtle and inventive study that explores the broad reach of Hayek’s towering influence in his later years. Not least, one of its most important findings is to demonstrate the permeability of conventional ideological fault-lines. In so doing, Griffiths locates himself firmly amidst a new generation of scholars who understand the intrinsic adaptability of political ideas.

Michael Freeden, Emeritus Professor of Politics, University of Oxford

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