This is a Friedrich Hayek interview by Bernard Levin at the University of Freiburg which was broadcast in May 1980. Hayek was, in my professional opinion, one of the greatest economists of all times. We are wonderfully privileged to be able to watch videos of his brilliant exposition on the web. I am also impressed by Mr Levin; he does his job as the interviewer magnificently.
I recommend turning on the captions. It will be helpful to follow the arguments.
Levin: … Now all this must presumably, in your philosophy, be directed to an end. It’s not gain, and material improvements are not, I imagine, ends in themselves. They are an end, an important end but it can’t stop there. What lies beyond it for you?
Hayek: Well that depends on the individuals. Our task, the common task, is to provide means for the greatest variety of purposes. And I want to leave to individuals a maximum of means for their individual purposes. And I think that implies that nobody else decides for them for what purpose they are to use it. … The compulsory powers of the government are solely directed to providing the people with means which they can use for their own purposes. That is my fundamental conception.
Hayek goes on to say about liberty: “I certainly came to understand what liberty means by studying economics … as something that the law gives us by protecting us against the violence of others, including government. But I believe what originally was for me an economic approach stands the test of its general validity. It’s more easy to see in the economic field. It’s a very curious phenomenon in the world that the revival of liberalism which did not start among the economists is now due to the economists.
One of the most important part of the interview starts around 20:00 minute mark. Enjoy.