3. The three levels of action required by the reforms: theoretical, historical and ethical

Elsewhere, I have developed the thesis that there are three different levels of approach to each political, economic and social situation: a theoretical level, a historical level and an ethical level (7) . According to this conception, the analysis and interpretation of social phenomena can and should be made from these three points of view.

Thus, following this model, it is easy to understand how any erroneous policy always arises as the result of a chain of factors which correspond to each of these three levels. In fact, behind any policy which is harmful to society, there are usually, at a strictly theoretical level, serious scientific errors and fallacies. Effectively, false theories are continually being used to justify the most harmful interventionist policies. Sometimes, these theories emerge independently, by chance, and policies are subsequently adopted as a consequence of the theoretical and methodological errors committed. On many other occasions, however, erroneous theories are constructed ad hoc in order to justify certain policies which have been decided previously.

At a historical level, in other words, the level of the practical every day situation, one of the most important factors which stimulates mistaken policies is the intervention of the pressure groups or privileged lobbies which benefit from them. Thus, the existence of certain persons or social groups who are to be specially privileged or favoured as a consequence of the harmful political measure taken must be added to the errors in the theoretical foundations.

Finally, at an ethical level, it should be noted that the harmful policies that result from theoretical errors and the malicious support of certain privileged pressure groups are practically inevitable when the moral principles of the social body, in other words, the basic behavioural rules which guide it, go into crisis. To express differently, the only line of defense left for any society in which theoretical errors and privileged pressure groups arise is for its leaders and citizens to uphold a series of guided behaviours of a moral nature. If this last barrier or moral brake disappears, the society will be lost and will fall victim to the demagogic, interventionist and harmful politicians who will always find an erroneous theoretical justification and the support of some privileged lobby.

The above considerations will enable us to undertake, as a contrast, a parallel analysis of the strategy necessary to ensure that what we today feel to be impossible to achieve will be politically viable in the future, that is to say, the elimination of interventionist policies, replacing them by others more consistent with free market ideals. Thus, we will propose a series of specific measures and actions which should be undertaken at each of the three levels (theoretical, historical and ethical) in order to break through what today seems to be the insurmountable barrier of the politically impossible in relation to reforms with libertarian content.

Jesús Huerta de Soto
Professor of Political Economy
King Juan Carlos University of Madrid, Spain


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(7) Jesús Huerta de Soto, “Conjectural History and Beyond”, Humane Studies Review, Vol. 6, No. 2, Winter 1988-1989, p. 10.