On the one hand, people who claim neoliberalism exists say that Hayek thought capitalism and free markets could aid democracy, but if not, well too bad!
But on the other hand, people who claim neoliberalism exists say that Hayek was predicting an inevitable slide into servitude (rather than hypothesising about potential risks).
Which one is the true one?
The reason I don’t trust the usual lines of assertion and rhetoric regarding Hayek and Friedman is that people try to have it both ways. They want to associate Hayek and Friedman with the pernicious ‘Washington Consensus’ of crony capitalism, but they also want to be taken seriously as people acquainted with the writings of Hayek and Friedman.
But everyone who has read even a little Hayek and Friedman knows that they were at best deeply sceptical, and at worst pretty critical, of continental-level or global-level crony capitalist institutionalism.
As you can see already, I am not defending this or that element of what they have written; that’s not the point here. I am merely pointing out that any association of scholars sceptical of global-institutional/continental-institutional ‘crony capitalism’ with the very same objects of their scepticism, or even criticism, can only ever stem either from cynicism, a lack of intelligence, or a lack of serious acquaintance with their writings.
And this is really not a grey area at all. Have you read the chapter near the end of ‘The Road to Serfdom’ where Hayek lays this all out fairly neatly?
Ultimately, the myth of neoliberalism risks severely discrediting intelligent and rational critics of globalist crony-capitalism; just as 9/11 Truthers, anti-vaxxers, and Ickean lizard-hunters risk imperilling the cause of non-interventionism.
The Vast Neoliberal Conspiracy is a busted spunk, and it needs to be binned, if people have the merest whit of ethical seriousness about the substantial limitations of globalist crony capitalism.