Was ist besser für eine Gesellschaft: Die Planung wirtschaftlicher Prozesse, die Vorgabe wirtschaftlicher Ziele und die Umverteilung der Ergebnisse wirtschaftlicher Aktivität oder der freie Wettbewerb? Friedrich A. Hayek hat vor rund 75 Jahren eine Antwort auf diese Frage gegeben, die heute fast noch aktueller ist als sie es 1944 war:
“It is significant that one of the commonest objections to competition is that it is ‘blind’. It is not irrelevant to recall that to the ancients blindness was an attribute of their deity of justice. Although competition and justice may have little else in common, it is as much a commendation of competition as of justice that it is no respecter of persons. That it is impossible to foretell who will be the lucky ones or whom disaster will strike, that rewards and penalties are not shared out according to somebody’s views about the merits or demerits of different people, but depend on their capacity and their luck, is as important as that in framing legal rules we should not be able to predict which particular person will gain and which will lose by their application. And this is none the less true because in competition chance and good luck are often as important as skill and foresight in determining the fate of different people.
The choice open to us is not between a system in which everybody will get what he deserves according to some absolute and universal standard of right, and one where the individual shares are determined partly by accident or good or ill chance, but between a system where it is the will of a few persons that decide who is to get what, and one where it depends at least partly on the ability and enterprise of the people concerned and partly on unforseeable circumstances. This is no less relevant because in a system of free enterprise chances are not equal, since such a system is necessarily based on private property and (tough perhaps not with the same necessity) on inheritance, with the differences in opportunity which these create. There is indeed a strong case for reducing this inequality of opportunity as far as congenial differences permit and as it is possible to do so without destroying the impersonal character of the process by which everybody has to take his chance and no person’s view about what is right and desirable overrules that of others.
The fact that the opportunities open to the poor in a competitive society are much more restricted that those open to the rich does not make it less true that in such a society the poor are much more free than a person commanding much greater material comfort in a different type of society. Although under competition the probability that a man who starts poor will reach great wealth is much smaller than is true of the man who has inherited property, it is not only possible for the former, but the competitive system is the only one where it depends solely on him and not on the favours of the mighty, and where nobody can prevent a man from attempting to achieve this result. It is only because we have forgotten what unfreedom means that we often overlook the patent fact that in every real sense and a badly paid unskilled worker in this country has more freedom to shape his life than many a small entrepreneurs … or a much better paid engineer or manager in Russia”