The work of Friedrich A Hayek presents a compelling theory of the normative basis for constitutionalism and other related notions, such as the rule of law. It is difficult, however, to avoid a sense of incongruity when seeking to apply Hayekian notions within the context of the modern administrative state. Hayek is widely regarded as a conservative figure, although he famously rejected the label. A comparison between Hayek’s theory and modern modes of governance makes Hayek seem more radical than conservative, since deep reforms would be needed to instantiate anything like his preferred model. How radical, then, is Hayekian constitutionalism? That is the question I explore in this article.
The article begins by unpacking the normative foundations for Hayek’s theory of constitutionalism. I then examine the wider implications of the theory for politics and governance, focusing particularly on the role of the state in securing important social goods. I argue that Hayek provides a nuanced account of the place of the rule of law in social governance. However, his account of constitutionalism turns out to have more radical implications than he acknowledges. The article concludes by examining the relationship of Hayekian constitutionalism to the anarchist tradition in political philosophy. I suggest that Hayek’s arguments, considered in light of the striking failures of the contemporary corporatist state, give us reason to question his commitment to statism. Hayekian constitutionalists may have to become reluctant anarchists.Crowe's 'Law Without the State' in (2014) 30(2) Policy 7-11 asks -
Could there be law without the state? This strikes many people as a strange question. Law is so closely associated today with the edicts of government authorities that it is hard to disentangle the two ideas. This article begins by exploring the conception of law that underpins this mindset. It offers an alternative understanding of law that makes it possible to conceive of a legal order without state authority. The article then asks what legal institutions might look like in the absence of the state and discusses some challenges to law in a stateless society. I argue that it is at least plausible to think that stable sources of legal order could be maintained in a stateless environment. This conception of law without the state provides a useful framework for thinking critically about the limitations of current state-centred legal institutions.