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Hayek’s Volunteers in Ukraine – Econlib

Even more impressive than Ukraine’s will to fight is the vast network of volunteers that underpins the armed forces and the defense of the country. At the Kyiv School of Economics, Tymofiy Mylovanov, its president, told me how in the first weeks of the war the school had formed a group of some eighty friends abroad—partners at global consulting firms, for example. They raised money with which the school bought flak jackets, medical kits, and helmets to distribute to soldiers at the front. When I asked him how many people had volunteered in one capacity or another across the country, he said that the numbers must run into the hundreds of thousands, but that it was impossible to know for certain.

This is from Tim Judah, “Ukraine’s Volunteers,” New York Review of Books, January 19, 2023. It’s an informative and inspiring article. It gives example after example of volunteers in Ukraine helping out some of the victims of Putin’s invasion and also helping out Ukraine’s military.

Reading through it, I thought of Friedrich Hayek and his famous 1945 article “The Use of Knowledge in Society.” The people in Judah’s account act on the basis of decentralized information and pivot quickly when circumstances change. This is so different from how governments typically act, whether in war or peace.

One example:

Oleksiy Goncharenko is a deputy from Odesa in Ukraine’s parliament. Before the invasion he had set up a network of centers aimed at, among other things, improving education in small towns, where children have fewer opportunities than those in big cities. When the invasion started, they pivoted to helping the war eort. At the center in Odesa I saw dozens of people, mostly elderly, diligently making white winter webbing to drape over bunkers, tanks, and artillery as camouflage. Some whose families have fled are lonely and bored and want to help; here they can, but that is not the case with everyone. Polina Kolupailo, a retired eighty-year-old seamstress who was sewing cushions for soldiers, said she had plenty of family in Odesa but wanted to make a contribution toward Ukraine’s victory and came every day. The two other women at her table had jobs and dropped in after work.

Read the whole thing.

HT2 Jeff Hummel.

Rayna Prime

Rayna Prime

Rayna Prime Editor