|The Road to Serfdom: Text and Documents--The Definitive Edition (The Collected Works of F. A. Hayek)
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An unimpeachable classic work in political philosophy, intellectual and cultural history, and economics, The Road to Serfdom has inspired and infuriated politicians, scholars, and general readers for half a century. Originally published in 1944—when Eleanor Roosevelt supported the efforts of Stalin, and Albert Einstein subscribed lock, stock, and barrel to the socialist program—The Road to Serfdom was seen as heretical for its passionate warning against the dangers of state control over the means of production. For F. A. Hayek, the collectivist idea of empowering government with increasing economic control would lead not to a utopia but to the horrors of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.
First published by the University of Chicago Press on September 18, 1944, The Road to Serfdom garnered immediate, widespread attention. The first printing of 2,000 copies was exhausted instantly, and within six months more than 30,000 books were sold. In April 1945, Reader’s Digest published a condensed version of the book, and soon thereafter the Book-of-the-Month Club distributed this edition to more than 600,000 readers. A perennial best seller, the book has sold 400,000 copies in the United States alone and has been translated into more than twenty languages, along the way becoming one of the most important and influential books of the century.
With this new edition, The Road to Serfdom takes its place in the series The Collected Works of F. A. Hayek. The volume includes a foreword by series editor and leading Hayek scholar Bruce Caldwell explaining the book's origins and publishing history and assessing common misinterpretations of Hayek's thought. Caldwell has also standardized and corrected Hayek's references and added helpful new explanatory notes. Supplemented with an appendix of related materials ranging from prepublication reports on the initial manuscript to forewords to earlier editions by John Chamberlain, Milton Friedman, and Hayek himself, this new edition of The Road to Serfdom will be the definitive version of Friedrich Hayek's enduring masterwork.
- The Road to Serfdom
Great writer & book. Must read for anyone that desires to understand economics and politics....more info
- Wake up America
It's been over 40 years since I read Hayek's Road to Serfdom so I have decided to reread it. If you want to know what "a redistribution of wealth" means to you, you will find the answers here and they are not good. When you listen to what the present administration is saying and the policies that they are creating it should become very freightening to every American who loves Liberty. We are on the verge of losing our freedoms. America you had better come out from under the ether and wake up. You are creating a government that will eventually control every aspect of your life and it will be your own fault....more info
- Hayek's "Road to Serfdom" (1944) the philosophical basis of libertarian economics and Reagonomics
Review: Hayek's "Road to Serfdom" (1944) the philosophical basis of libertarian economics and Reagonomics
Why read the book?
I've been listening a lot of libertarian economists lately (mostly through the podcast EconTalk http://www.econtalk.org) who often refer to Friedrich Hayek's "The Road to Serfdom" as an "inspirational" book. The Road to Serfdom is probably one the most influential books on neo-conservatism and libertarianism. This book has significantly shaped Milton Friedman's ideas and the political ideologies of 'Reagonomics' and 'Thatcherism'. Thomas Sowell of the Hoover Institute has called Friedrich von Hayek "the central pioneering figure in changing the course of thought in the twentieth century." The National Review ranked the book #4 on its List of the 100 Best Non-Fiction Books of the Century (http://www.nationalreview.com/100best/100_books.html) So I decided to read The Road to Serfdom Fiftieth Anniversary Edition as it was available for free in the UCLA library
The "Road to Serfdom" is a polemic against socialism. Hayek's central thesis is that all forms of collectivism lead logically and inevitably to tyranny. He makes the assertion that individual decisions are better than collective decisions. Hayek was convinced that if every individual freely pursued his own personal objectives, the outcome would be the best possible for society as a whole. The basis of the decision-making is the notion of "competition." He believed that "through competition, not through agreement, we gradually increase our efficiency."
"It is necessary in the first instance that the parties in the market should be free to sell and buy at any price at which they can find a partner to the transaction, and that anybody should be free to produce, sell and buy anything that may be produced or sold at all. And it is essential that the entry into the different trades should be open to all on equal terms and the law should not tolerate any attempts by individuals or groups to restrict this entry by open or concealed force."
Ironically (and illogically) he also states that in order for individual decisions to work we must make collective decisions in the form of rules of law in order for "free markets" to work:
"The functioning of competition not only requires adequate organization of certain institutions like money, markets, and channels of information--some of which can never be adequately provided by private enterprise--but it depends, above all, on the existence of an appropriate legal system, a legal system designed both to preserve competition and to make it operate as beneficially as possible."
Hayek further believes that government regulation is perfectly acceptable in a free market system:
"To prohibit the use of certain poisonous substances or to require special precautions in their use, to limit working hours or to require certain sanitary arrangements is fully compatible with the preservation of competition. Nor is the preservation of competition incompatible with an extensive system of social services--so long as the organization of these services is not designed in such a way as to make competition ineffective over wide fields."
Hayek also seems to rant against ideology and laissez-faire capitalism in spite of the book entirely consisting of ideology and simple minded ideas: "probably nothing has done so much harm to the liberal cause as the wooden insistence of some liberals on certain rules of thumb, above all the principle of laissez-faire capitalism".
In conclusion, Hayek makes a philosophical argument that a society should be run based on individual competition but states that we can only do this by setting up a framework based on collective agreement of the rules of law. There is no acknowledgment that if some decisions must to be made through collective agreement that there can be other decisions that are better made through collective decisions or a mix of both?
The discussion focuses on a normative belief that markets are efficient without discussing whether they are desirable. There is no acknowledgment of the inherent non-equality of market-based decisions. Hayek was a student of Ludwig von Mises, another theorist widely admired by American libertarians. Mises argued that the market reflects the people's wishes better than the electoral system, because we vote only every few years but vote every day with our pocket. Of course, when every dollar represents a vote, the rich have far votes than the poor.
The fundamental problem with Hayek philosophy seems to be a blind belief in markets. Rather than looking which decisions are best approached with market based approaches and which are best approached with collective decisions he simply states an ideology that competition is better than agreement while stating that competition can't work unless there is some basic agreement.
One should note that this view is different and more extreme than Adam Smith. Adam Smith embraced competition and self-interest but with restraint, arguing in The Wealth of Nations (1776) that an individual "by pursuing his own interest frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it." Stating that competition and self-interest are "frequently" desirable --not "always" or even "generally." In The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759), Smith conceded that "the wise and virtuous man ... is willing that his own private interest should be sacrificed to the public interest." Smith understood that individual interests could sometimes conflict with the common good. Hayek rejected this kind of moderation.
It is clear that some decisions must be made collectively. Laws that are required for a "free market system" can only work if made collectively. Hayek proposes a philosophy that "through competition, not through agreement" that we have a "more efficient" society without acknowledging that we can't have fair competition without agreement. Clearly competition can be healthy and unhealthy. Clearly there must be some forms of collectivism to establish some basic rules in society. Simply labeling collectivism as "bad" and individual competition as good is far to simple mined for me to accept.
- Why Good Intentions Do Not Mean Good Outcomes
I read this book while in high school, many people thought that I was radical and was being taken in by ideas that sounded great but never worked in principle. Essentially I was surrounded by people who approved of government expansion, as long as it was in their interest, this included fellow students and teachers, who in lectures about US history and government espoused the greatness of the government and those presidents who contributed the most to its expansion. This book readily refutes many of the claims that government expansion is not bad so long as the people helming the expansion are benevolent.
It has become to be interesting to watch the news after reading this book, you will instantly see claims to more regulation of the lives of others and appointing people from academia to run these operations. If ever someone questions this arrangement, such as with the Fed, people will either claim that they do not know enough about the area being regulated or that the examples they point to of regulation gone wrong was an anomaly, enlightened and well-written legislation will solve the problems that may arise from regulation. But through reading this book you realize that the very nature and incentive structure of the bureaucratic system leads even the most well-meaning individuals to stray and even those that do not face the inevitable negative consequences that develop when the government tries to defy economic laws and limit the freedom of its constituents.
This book should be required reading for those in high school (maybe even middle school, but many would not have the historical or vocabulary necessary to understand much of the book) and above. It was relevant in its time, yet it is even more relevant now, because then the fight was obvious, the enemies clear, and the motives and goals of all involved clearly defined. Now the enemies are those who wish us well, those who believe they are doing good when they are actually doing the most harm. The enemies of freedom today, more than ever, use gradual erosion, much like boiling frog, of liberty until waking up one day, we realize much of our freedom is gone. Hayek discusses concepts like these and more, it is a testament to his understanding of the workings of government and the incentives that go along with in addition to understanding basic economic principles that make this work so timeless.
This edition is indeed the definitive, it corrects some of the citation errors in the original and provides many footnotes that help with some of the references Hayek makes to lesser known historical figures, works and events. The index is well done and helps greatly in finding those concepts you want to look over. The Preface to the Original Editions, Foreword to the 1956 and the Preface to the 1976 editions are welcome, they provide added insight, such as what the author wished to change and why he left certain elements the same across the editions. The introduction is something else, a great summary of what Hayek went through to publish this book and what lead him down the path to publishing the book while also putting the book into a historical context and explaining its continued relevance. It is a wonderful look at the history behind the book itself and Hayek as well. Lastly, the Appendix provides several reads that are insightful, the introduction to the 1994 edition by Milton Friedman is welcome. Bruce Caldwell has done a brilliant job with this edition, I find it hard to see anyone making a better edition, this is indeed the definitive.
People, scenarios, governments - these all change with time, but the basic laws underlying economics and the workings of government do not. Just because people want to end poverty, hunger, unequal distribution of wealth and other malaises of modern life, does not mean using force and the government will cure them. As Hayek noted, "Is there a greater tragedy imaginable than that, in our endeavour consciously to shape our future in accordance with high ideals, we should in fact unwittingly produce the very opposite of what we have been striving."...more info
- manna for the mind!
Hayek's insights into the flaws of socialism and the types of minds that socialism attracts are timeless. At times I thought he was talking about America in 2009! Far from a capitalism- or individualism-worshipping book, Hayek acknowledges that, yes, the free market is imperfect and produces inequalities, but it is the least imperfect and most just economic model we can follow. New to me was Hayek's observation that the Nazis were not the first socialist party to rise to power in the Weimar Republic. It was the Social Democrats and their patronage of the lower classes that angered the middle class, which turned to the Nazis to return them to their previous position of prosperity. The difference between socialist parties is not necessarily along the Left-Right spectrum, but between the value they wish to posit with their economic planning. Before they focus on destroying each other, they team up to face off against individualism. Hayek also expounds on the negative moral consequences of socialism, which rings incredibly true, especially when looked at the moral degradation of Europe today.
This book is a must-read!...more info
- A Must Read
This book is a classic and a mandatory read for anyone interested in the fundamental forces at work in an economy. In a sense it is just as much a book on sociological and psychological behavior in the marketplace as it is about economics, and it is not a tough, high esoteric read as many such books are. The reader should keep in mind as he goes through the book that Hayek was writing it for an English audience in the years immediately following WW II, but it is still applicable to an American audience of the 1940's and today. Make sure to read the prefaces and introductions to earlier publications of the book before reading the text itself....more info
- Attacking the wrong problem.
In my review of Hayek's popular Road to Serfdom, I will first respond to some of the reviewers. I see this as a necessity because I doubt they are giving you a clear interpretation of this book. It is akin to news media outlets having a "no-spin" zone.
Dear beloved MacKenzie,
I know your alignment - you are a Mises institute lackey no doubt. So it is quite clear that you discard empiricism as it relates to this topic. However, I will not meet you on your own imaginary turf, seeing as this is the only way your type can successfully debate a given topic. So, the evolution of the Capitalist mode of production spans centuries and has been solidified through both war and peace, failure and success. On the other hand, the Soviet Union broke any institutional continuity. Let me generically clarify what this means - the continuation of institutions, like the institution of Law for example, would be an essential part of any type of Socialist order as it is THE essential part of the Capitalist counterpart. The Capitalist mode of production which we currently enjoy was not a spontaneous event, just as markets do not form spontaneously. The precursors are apparent - the molding of institutions and the fostering of immature mercantilism clearly required some willingness on the part of given authorities. Continuing then, you seem to believe that things are the way they are magically, and forget that the building of the foundations of systems which you now take for granted claimed more lives than any Socialist experiment. It is hard to see how any break in continuity, in ANY system, carrying the goals of progress can instantaneously succeed without major external and internal pressures and problems. What I find quite ironic about your general stance is that noone expects the innate goodness of people to make a Socialist order work other than the people who attempt to shatter the Socialist theories.
"So-called market socialism does in fact rely on politicized central planning in the critical area of planning future investment. It is therefore subject to the same kind of long run inefficiency as Soviet style Socialism."
Excuse my language, but what the hell are you talking about? Where does this inefficiency you speak of come from? There is a litany of work that runs counter to this conclusion, not to mention empirical evidence - Microsoft having a five year plan in accordance with that of the Chinese Governments' is quite readily used here. Stick to the topic and try not to spew the propaganda that your mind so readily devours. This is a critique of potential political side effects of centralization, it has no sound economic critiques.
To conclude, this book attempts to show how centralization leads to more centralization until all freedom is taken away and only a police state remains. Hayek's criticism of Socialism in this work relies on the building of logical foundations given certain assumptions, or the lack thereof, and is within the realm of political philosophy. Do not expect an economic analysis from this. This work is a political and philosophical one, and does bring up some interesting ideas. Personally, I have found them to be very broad, contradictory, and ultimately less explanatory than I at first thought. However, if you have not yet read this...whatever alignment you may be...you should definitely pick it up due to the impact it has had on contemporary thought. Just be wary of conclusiveness without reading other works which spurred Hayek to write this, such as Capital. ...more info
- The road to serfdom
This new edition includes a foreword by Bruce Caldwell explaining the book's origins and publishing history and assessing common misinterpretations of Hayek's thought. Caldwell has also standardized and corrected Hayek's references and added useful explanatory notes.
Hayek's central thesis of "The road to serfdom" is that all forms of collectivism lead logically and inevitably to tyranny, and he used the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany as examples of countries which had gone down "the road to serfdom" and reached tyranny.
The book has many worthy observations. For example, all people are different by their mental development (which is also influenced by family environment and education, not counting the physical differences of the brain and endocrine system) and thus the classes of the society are needed at least to give more developed people to fully put into action their potential. Liquidation of social classes will also liquidate the abilities of more developed individuals. The same is on the international level. Consider international planning. Whichever honest and democratically open panning system will be adopted, it will be opposed by less developed and poorer nations, because they will see it as ignorance or oppression of their interests. This is obvious - the needs and goals of poor or underdeveloped countries cannot match the goals of rich or developed countries; as the interests of more educated people cannot match the interests of less educated ones.
Many people came to a conclusion that the wealth, in some extent, depends on a level of education. The problem is that not all the people in equal extend incline to the education, to their self-improvement. This is because of the differences of their needs, habits, abilities, capabilities, and so on. Leo Tolstoy in his novel "Resurrection" arose a question of how to improve the level of education: from inside of each individual or from outside? Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Should first the level of education in the society be risen which yields a revolution (dialectic transition of quantity into quality) or the revolution should make the environment to foster the education. Hayek doesn't explicitly raise this issue, but brings parallel between delegation of decision making in managing an enterprise and managing the state. Hayek thought that if a company boss makes all decision making solely by himself and doesn't give the work (of decision making) back to the people (see Ronald Heifetz's publications), it is similar to the states with totalitarian government. Such a dictatorship, enterprise-wide or country-wide, can be used in particular circumstances, but should not be used in all cases as the absolutely correct way of management, according to Hayek.
- Definitive Indeed!
This new edition of the RTS is worth buying even if you already own an earlier edition. The editor has included important material on how this book was developed and interpreted.
As for the book itself, the Road to Serfdom explains focuses on the rise of totalitarianism in twentieth century Europe. Yet it also made a more general argument concerning the incompatibility of democracy and comprehensive central planning. Hayek argues that the pursuit of socialist ideals leads to totalitarianism. While socialist ideals seem noble to many, those who persist in realizing these ideals will find it necessary to adopt coercive methods that are incompatible with freedom. Thus socialists must choose between their egalitarian goals and the preservation of individual liberty.
Hayek describes how Europeans came to expect progress, and became impatient for faster progress. The liberal reforms of the 19th century delivered unprecedented economic progress. Much of this was directly due to scientific discovery. The role of free competition in promoting scientific discovery was less obvious. Europeans increasingly came to believe that scientific planning of society itself could accelerate greater progress.
Europeans also changed how they thought about equality and freedom. Insistence upon freedom from want displaced the yearning for freedom from coercion. Democracy came to be seen as a means of realizing an increasing number of social goals, rather than as a means of preserving freedom. To Hayek, these were dangerous errors. Democracy could only work effectively in areas where agreement upon ultimate ends could be attained with little difficulty. A democratic government could enforce general rules of conduct that applied to all equally (i.e. free speech and free association). Democracy can never produce agreement over policies that affect specific economic results. One always gains at the expense of others in such matters. Such Economic planning places impossible demands upon democracy. This is because pursuit of specific ends requires timely and decisive action. Democracies move too slowly to attain specific ends, so arbitrary powers of government will grow. A planned economy will ultimately require acceptance of dictatorship. This is a dire consequence, as it is the worst sort of tyrants who are most adept at wielding dictatorial powers.
Some might say that these arguments are unduly pessimistic. Hayek points to the examples of Hitler and Stalin to support his case. Of course, these are worst case scenarios. Have not England, Sweden, and the US adopted large welfare-regulatory states without such tyranny? This is a fair point, yet we should remember two things. First, Hayek claimed that centralized control of the economy would destroy freedom ultimately, but gradually. Second, Western nations have not yet gone as far in planning their economies as did Russia and Germany in the 1930's. The fact that we have yet realized the horrible results of Stalinism implies neither that were are safe from despotism in the future, nor that our present situation is entirely satisfactory. One can easily argue that we have already started on the wrong path. For instance, Hayek's chapter on `The End of Truth' applies to modern political correctness.
Hayek wrote this book not only to warn people about the limits of democracy and the incompatibility of planning and freedom. This was the start of his project concerning the abuse of reason. His warning is also about the tendency to overestimate the abilities of even the best and brightest individuals. Not even the best and brightest can comprehend modern societies. Socialists who favor comprehensive planning, and even modern liberals and conservatives who want to plan part of society, proceed on a false assumption concerning human reason. Ultimately, Hayek makes a strong case for limited constitutional government. To expect more of democracy than what Madison and Jefferson intended invites disaster.
The Road to Serfdom is a profound defense of commercial society and limited government. The RTS also is where Hayek started his 'abuse of reason' project. To fully appreciate Hayek's genius in the RTS, one should read his subsequent books in this project- The Constitution of Liberty and Law Liberty and Legislation V1-3.
The RTS has its critics, mainly on the left. Due to its insightful nature the Road to Serfdom has produced hysterical responses from the left. Leftists despise the RTS simply because it strikes at the core of both democratic-socialist or Marxist beliefs. Some serious scholars have attacked the RTS (i.e. Farrant and Levy) but their objections are misguided. The Road to Serfdom stands out as a true classic, as timeless as it is insightful. Read it completely and repeatedly....more info
- What a wonderful book.
I always am skeptical about experts and their predictions so it was a delight to read Hayek's thoughts in 1944 about the problems with the prevailing economic theories. Life becomes the "answer key" about who was right and who was wrong. I started reading the book because of its historical importance but ended up enjoying Hayek's conversational and relaxed style. Thoughtful and balanced with the right mix of personal and societal examples. It seems that he would have been a wonderful teacher....more info
- "All that is gold does not glitter"
This definitive edition has been edited and provided with a Foreword and Introduction by Bruce Caldwell who retained the prefaces and forewords of earlier editions. The text has been enhanced by explanatory notes and new appendices that are listed at the end of this review.
Even after six decades, The Road To Serfdom remains essential for understanding economics, politics and history. Hayek's main point, that whatever the problem, human nature demands that government provide the solution and that this is the road to hell, remains more valid than ever. He demonstrated the similarities between Soviet communism and fascism in Germany and Italy.
The consensus in post-war Europe was for the welfare state which seemed humane and sensible for a long time. Now it is clear that this has led to declining birth-rates amongst native Europeans, mass immigration from North Africa and the Middle East, and a tendency to exchange their ancient cultural values for multiculturalism and moral relativism which is just another form of nihilism as the French philosopher Chantal Delsol observes.
In this timeless classic, Hayek examines issues like planning and power, the fallacy of the utopian idea, state planning versus the rule of law, economic control, totalitarianism, security and economic freedom. He brilliantly explains how we are faced with two irreconcilable forms of social organization. Choice and risk either reside with the individual or s/he is relieved of both. Societies that opt for security instead of economic freedom will in the long run have neither.
Complete economic security is inseparable from restrictions on liberty - it becomes the security of the barracks. When the striving for security becomes stronger than the love of freedom, a society gets into deep, deep trouble. The way to prosperity for all is to remove the obstacles of bureaucracy in order to release the creative energy of individuals.
The government's job is not to plan for progress but to create the conditions favorable to progress. This has been proved by the impressive economic expansion under Reagan and Thatcher and by the amazing growth of the Asian Tiger economies, and most recently India since it started implementing sensible economic policies. Everywhere entrepreneurial energy is unshackled, massive improvements follow.
Nowhere is this more obvious than in the contrast between phenomenal growth in formerly communist countries like Estonia or Poland or even the economic health of the UK as measured against the stagnant economies of Germany and France during the first years of the millennium. Old Europe would have benefited by a Thatcher and the French would have welcomed Polish plumbers instead of being resentful.
Hayek warns against utopian yearnings that are exploited by politicians, the stealthy way in which welfarism diminishes individual freedom, the totalitarian impulse and different types of propaganda. As pointed out by Chantal Delsol in Icarus Fallen, lack of personal responsibility leads to perpetual adolescence where citizens conflate desires with rights. Defining this process as the "sacralization" of rights, she shows that freedoms are then transformed into entitlements.
What a pity people don't learn; what a blessing we have in The Road to Serfdom as a reminder and a warning. The new Appendix of Related Documents include: Nazi-Socialism (1933), Reader's Report by Frank Knight (1943), Reader's Report by Jacob Marschak (1943), Foreword to the 1944 American Edition by John Chamberlain, Letter from John Scoon to C. Hartley Grattan (1945) and Introduction to the 1994 Edition by Milton Friedman. The book concludes with an index.
- Great service
The book arrived almost immediately, in better shape than promised. Seller followed up to confirm receipt. I was very satisfied with this vendor and would recommend them without hesitation. MOM...more info
- As revelant today as in 1944
Without question one of the finest books every written in the realm of economics and politics. This is required reading for all whom love liberty and freedom....more info
- My Former Colleague
This edition of Hayek's classic work, "The Road to Serfdom," is edited by my former UNC-Greensboro colleague, Dr. Bruce Caldwell. Bruce's introduction to Hayek's work (more than 30 pages long) is worth the price of the book. Nobody knows Hayek's work better than Bruce Caldwell. "The Road to Serfdom" was written by Nobel-Prize Winning Economist F.A. Hayek during World War II. Hayek's description on "the road" is as relevant today as it was in the early 1940s. Be sure to get this "Bruce Caldwell edition."
Michael Beitler, Ph.D.
Host of "Free Markets With Dr. Mike Beitler"
Author of "Rational Individualism" Rational Individualism: A Moral Argument for Limited Government & Capitalism...more info
- The Road to Serfdom
This book by F.A. Hayek is eye-opening and terrifying in this age of Obama and Socialism (which is a code word for Marxism and Communism). In the book, you learn of the reasons for the failure of socialism and why it always fails and always will fail....more info
- Too bad we aren't taking this advice
Friedrich Hayek, the Nobel prize winning economist, wrote this brilliant classic as a critique of government intervention and manipulation in markets. I am neither an economist nor a political scientist, but I was led to this book after watching with horror the recent outrages that are consciously being inflicted on us by our elected officials, most recently the bailout and socialization of the two giant mortgage lenders, Freddie and Fannie. I couldn't remember that I ever received any share of the loot when those companies were making huge profits and their CEOs were earning tens of millions per year, but now I find that our elected officials have written a blank check in my name, the taxpayer, to bail out these companies' losses and stupidity, and then handed the check to a group of unelected officials (and, surprise, surprise, those two companies spend hundreds of millions on congressional lobbying). Privatize the gains, socialize the losses: sounds like a win-win situation for somebody.
This kind of disastrous socialism is exactly what Hayek critiques in devastating form in this book, specifically government control of the economy. Apparently, they say, this book has been very influential, but a layman could certainly never tell by looking around. Hayek was writing from the perspective of a central European who had recently witnessed first-hand the unfolding development of National Socialism (Nazism) in Germany, and he is warning that the exact same attitudes and policies that had been followed in Germany were uncritically being followed by the Allies, merely at a few years distance.
He begins by recollecting the ideals of old, classic liberalism, "the forgotten road". Of course, in Hayek's context, "liberal" means the true, historic liberalism of limited government, free markets, and private property, not "liberal" in the bastardized sense somehow hijacked by Leftists to mean unlimited government, socialized markets and massive forced wealth redistribution. He looks at the rise of collectivist thinking versus individual (it's all for the greater good); the problems of central planning in a democracy (someone in power makes the economic decisions for everybody else); the downfall of the Rule of Law (government is no longer bound by fixed rules announced beforehand but instead possesses arbitrary power limited only by its own discretion); the inextricable link between centralized economic planning and totalitarian regimes (if we're going to follow a plan, someone's got to force everyone to follow it); the problem of deciding how the society's production will be distributed; a chapter showing that "nothing is more fatal than the present fashion among intellectual leaders of extolling security at the expense of freedom" (Republicans apparently didn't get the memo); how in a socialized economy the worst individuals inevitably rise to the top (Really? Can it be? Obama and McCain?); the necessity of manipulating truth in a socialized society; and the fact that Nazism was a direct outgrowth of socialism and socialist ideology.
The relevance of the points enumerated above does not require comment. We are running madly down the road to serfdom, which is the road of socialism. Unfortunately for those of us who are being dragged along against our will, history is not neutral, and we will suffer the consequences of other peoples' decisions, just as the Jews in Germany did and the Russians in the Soviet Union did. Socialism has always led to poverty and oppression, and freedom, on the rare occasions it has been tried, has produced unparalleled prosperity. Hayek shows in detail why. We've decided to give socialism another try. God help us....more info
- Why are we still talking about this?
Back in 1944 it was still up for grabs which political/economic system was going to become dominant so Hayek came along and said "Hey everybody, Fascism and Communism are both sides of the same Totalitarian coin, and Totalitarianism sucks because then you have no control over your own life. So let's all get down with the Liberal Individualism. The uncertainty might be a bit unpleasant at times, but an ugly reality is preferable to a gilded delusion".
So, there you have it. Hayek likes Individualism and dislikes Collectivism and in this here book he tells you why.
-1 stars for the overwrought, needlessly verbose, 19th century philosopher writing. It was a real chore to read. So boring I fell asleep every ten pages....more info