Read The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich A. Hayek Online


A 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 England in the spring of 1944—when Eleanor Roosevelt supported the efforts of Stalin, and Albert Einstein subscribed lock, stock, and barrel to the soA 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 England in the spring of 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 inevitably 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 attention from the public, politicians, and scholars alike. The first printing of 2,000 copies was exhausted instantly, and within six months more than 30,000 were sold. In April of 1945, Reader's Digest published a condensed version of the book, and soon thereafter the Book-of-the-Month Club distributed this condensation to more than 600,000 readers. A perennial best-seller, the book has sold over a quarter of a million copies in the United States, not including the British edition or the nearly twenty translations into such languages as German, French, Dutch, Swedish, and Japanese, and not to mention the many underground editions produced in Eastern Europe before the fall of the iron curtain.After thirty-two printings in the United States, The Road to Serfdom has established itself alongside the works of Alexis de Tocqueville, John Stuart Mill, and George Orwell for its timeless meditation on the relation between individual liberty and government authority. This fiftieth anniversary edition, with a new introduction by Milton Friedman, commemorates the enduring influence of The Road to Serfdom on the ever-changing political and social climates of the twentieth century, from the rise of socialism after World War II to the Reagan and Thatcher "revolutions" in the 1980s and the transitions in Eastern Europe from communism to capitalism in the 1990s.F. A. Hayek (1899-1992), recipient of the Medal of Freedom in 1991 and co-winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics in 1974, was a pioneer in monetary theory and the principal proponent of libertarianism in the twentieth century.On the first American edition of The Road to Serfdom:"One of the most important books of our generation. . . . It restates for our time the issue between liberty and authority with the power and rigor of reasoning with which John Stuart Mill stated the issue for his own generation in his great essay On Liberty. . . . It is an arresting call to all well-intentioned planners and socialists, to all those who are sincere democrats and liberals at heart to stop, look and listen."—Henry Hazlitt, New York Times Book Review, September 1944"In the negative part of Professor Hayek's thesis there is a great deal of truth. It cannot be said too often—at any rate, it is not being said nearly often enough—that collectivism is not inherently democratic, but, on the contrary, gives to a tyrannical minority such powers as the Spanish Inquisitors never dreamt of."—George Orwell, Collected Essays...

Title : The Road to Serfdom
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ISBN : 9780226320595
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 320 Pages
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The Road to Serfdom Reviews

  • Cami
    2019-03-25 00:17

    This book captures the frustration of classical liberals (as opposed to modern liberals) when they see collectivist policies enacted despite the overwhelming evidence that socialism brings about disastrous results.Having grown up and lived in Austria during World War I and later moving to Great Britain, Hayek was particularly frustrated when he saw Britain and the United States making the same mistakes of the Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Hayek argues that collectivism eventually leads to tyranny. Central economic planning gives too much power to the government, which essentially puts that power in the hands of a small group rather than in each individual.My favorite quote: “Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word: equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude.”Hayek’s thesis is very pertinent today in that when the federal government does meddle too much with the free market it causes problems and then those problems ironically are seen as the failing of the free market and not the ineptitude of government.

  • Stephen
    2019-04-06 19:13

    6.0 stars. On my list of "All Time Favorite" Books. One of the most important books ever written and most concise, brilliant, scathing and impressive argument against the "planned economy" that has been, or likely ever will be, written. Hayek, while always being respectful to the adherents of the idea that state control over resources and goals is the right approach, nevertheless absolutely destroys each and every argument and rationale alluded to by such people. His general thesis that socialism, communism, fascism will inevitably lead to totalitarianism and the loss of freedom for the individual is demonstrated without skipping logical steps or leaping to a conclusion not supported by the preceding argument. It is powerful, powerful stuff. His conclusion is that the only way to truly create and just and free society is to re-adopt the "classic liberalism" of the 19th century (more closely linked today with libertarianism). Government should be limited and exist only to (1) protect the people in time of war or national emergency and (2) provide "the rule of law" which means basic rules that apply equally to everyone (i.e.,no special treatment, no unfair treatment)and that do not change and allow competition and the market to decide the success or failure of individuals. This does not guaranty anyone success or failure, but rather guaranties everyone the "opportunity" for success or failure. While such a system is not without flaws that may at times lead to abuses that people of good conscience may find objectionable, Hayek makes a powerful case that it is the only system that provides the opportunity for success to everyone. Any change to the system that modifies this (i.e., grants special assistance or rules to benefit one group) necessarily hurts another group and this kind of intervention leads to the determination by a small group of people without all necessary factual evidence (as no group can ever be fully informed of all of the variables that go into how a society operates) based on its "opinion" of what the correct result should be. This imposing of the values and morals (which all opinion is derived from) of one person or a group people on society necessarily is done at the expense of the morals and values held by others. Hayek argues that such an action is fundamentally flawed. HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION!!!

  • Trish
    2019-04-10 23:31

    I tried to read this several times, beginning back when I almost convinced myself I might be able to understand (read: respect) what Republicans were thinking. I'm sorry to say that is over, at least for now. If we can lie, cheat, and steal our way to power, what difference does it make what is just?I made some notes before I gave up. Putting them here in case I ever get back to this in time to challenge Paul Ryan personally.This book has gone through so many editions, it is worth noting which one is referenced. Bruce Caldwell, Professor of Economics at Duke University, wrote the introduction to this 2007 edition, published, as ever, by the University of Chicago Press. It is said current Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan gives out copies of this book to his staff when they begin working for him The staff must discuss the book in small groups like bible study because—I guaran-f-ing-tee you—a young and busy staff in D.C. will not know what the heck Hayek is talking about, much less apply it to the U.S. economy in the context of the world.The ideas in this book began as a memo to the director of the London School of Economics in the 1930s, which then became a magazine article, and then, during WWII, became a monograph of its own. When it was published in the United States—was it 1944?—it became a surprise popular hit, though hated by the intelligensia.I skimmed the book only. Words like “freedom” are bandied about with great earnestness—freedom from coercion—and I can’t believe we are still talking about this in 2017. No, I am not going to go back and fight these arguments all over again. We spent much of the twentieth century watching one insufficiently great man after another tell us they’ve got our backs. In the end, after a lifetime of hard knocks, we find that, no, in fact, corporations took care of themselves and cared about us only insofar as we needed enough money to buy their product. We discovered that corporations really needed rules and regulations to do the right thing because they defined their responsibility more narrowly than we did. After all, they were responsible to shareholders, not customers, not citizens who give them space, water, energy, raw materials. I’m tired of replaying this argument over and over because over and over we discover that corporations don’t actually do the right thing.p. 20 “If you have any comprehension of my philosophy at all, you must know that one thing I stand for above all else is free trade throughout the world.” p. 28 “A final criticism has sometimes been called the “inevitability thesis” or the “slippery slope” argument: Hayek is claimed to have said that, once a society engages in a little planning, it is doomed to end up in a totalitarian state….Any departure from the practice of free enterprise, any joke that reason and science may be applied to the direction of economic activity, any attempt at economic planning, must lead us remorselessly to serfdom…”

  • Howard Olsen
    2019-04-14 01:21

    Finally got around to reading this libertarian/conservative classic. It's short, but deep, combining economics, politics, sociology, and a short history of Socialist thought, to create the greatest critique of the collectivist impulse that you can read. Hayek's message is blunt: despite the freedom and liberality that is western man's birthright, there is an inevitable clamor for order and equality that arises from the intellligensia and the wealthy. This clamor leads to the demand-often in the guise of "a new freedom"-for stronger government regulation and guidance of economic activity. But the increase of government activity in the private sphere makes people so dependent on government largesse that the recipients are reduced to a modern form of serfdom-forever tied to the government that can determine whether they eat or starve. Hayek was writing during WW2, so much of his critique centers on the National Socialism of the Germans, but he makes clear that the Marxists and Laborites were just as bad. Hayek's analysis of German thought is especially interesting, inasmuch as he traces a tendency towards planning and collectivization in Germany going back decades. Rather than the modern cartoon villian portrait of Hitler that we now know, Hayek portrays that Nazis as simply finishing an effort to nationalize the German economy that began in Bismark's time and was the overarching goal of that nation's political, scientific, and capitalist elite. Hayek's arguments are often subtle and academic, but he pulls no punches, and is eminently quotable. a must read for anyone who cares about politics, and its intersection with economics

  • Marcus
    2019-04-13 19:15

    The Road to Serfdom is not an anti-government book, it's definitely not a libertarian or pro-laissez-faire capitalism or even a pro-democracy book. It's purely and simply an anti-socialism book. And, just to be clear, to Hayek, socialism primarily means central-planning. It's chapter after chapter of reasons why socialism, despite it's apparently noble goals, both will not work in the practical sense, and how it tends to lead to totalitarianism.Hayek's arguments are level-headed and logical. He is careful not to insult his opponent and goes out of his way to point out their good intentions. Despite the fact that The Road to Serfdom is currently being championed by conservatives, Hayek calls himself a liberal and the book is written with fellow liberals in mind. There is no contradiction. Definitions, especially in the world of politics, have a way of changing. For Hayek liberalism was tantamount to freedom and liberty. Today the definition of the world "liberal" has shifted. In economics, liberalism is now a synonym for equality, and significantly, not equal freedom for all, but rather equal, or at least more equal, distribution of resources. In a time when on one hand the accusation of socialism is bandied about as a slur and on the other there is a strong anti-capitalist movement that champions the same socialism, it's useful to understand not only what socialism really is, but what the implications for society are. They might not be what you think.

  • Bookshark
    2019-04-01 23:31

    The historical analysis upon which this book depends amounts to nothing more than extremely poor scholarship masquerading as thoughtful contrarianism. Hayek's conflation of Nazism with Socialism merely because they have similar names in German is an example of stupidity on the level of mistaking the PATRIOT Act for patriotism or the Ministry of Peace for peacefulness. This distracting error is unfortunately the foundation of the entirety of his argument. His theory of authoritarianism consists of extrapolations from misplaced assumptions about Nazi Germany and disproven projections about the direction the U.S. & Britain are heading in the post-war era. His quaint economic theory tells us little about contemporary authoritarian regimes and even less about modern social democracy. In sum, don't bother.

  • j. holt
    2019-03-31 22:34

    There is an old cartoon (found here) which summarizes the logic of this work rather perfectly. Essentially, the government gets involved in your life, they dictate how you live, then they kill you. The notions in this text are trifling at best.Hayek never confronts the fact that a lack of some centralized body somewhere making decisions for you does not mean an end to governance. Clearly, businesses govern. They also plan. To take this power away from a centralized and (at least ostensibly) publicly accountable body and to diffuse this power throughout the business community is not to rid oneself of governance. It simply means that businesses are the government.If we are to acknowledge the quite obvious tendency for capital to move toward those with the most capital, that is, for businesses to develop into monopolies and oligopolies, then one might see that Hayek's model accomplishes nothing less than the restoration of the same feudal structures he's supposedly warning against.His argument, if taken to the same disparate conclusions as the one's he takes communism and socialism to, would result in the ownership of all land by a handful of oligarchs. We would then tend their land for a pittance. We would be serfs.

  • sologdin
    2019-04-18 18:13

    Introduced by Chicago don Milty Friedman, who assures us that “the free market is the only mechanism that has ever been discovered for achieving participatory democracy” (xi). Preach it, Brother Milt! So-called 'collectivism' had been burying purported 'individualism,' apparently, in Padre Fred’s 1944 analysis, but was unexpectedly checked by the time of Frere Milt’s semicentennial celebratory gala binge. Fra Milt is pleased to report that Father Fred was dead wrong in his predictions that collectivist statism was taking over the UK, mostly because “central planning was sacrificed rather than individual liberty” (xiii) (i.e., parliamentary procedure kept the sky from falling), but also because collectivism is “mired in bureaucratic confusion and inefficiency” (id.). That latter cliché is not rigorously evidenced, but is taken as a postulate of market fundy-triumphalism. ‘Confusion’ is of course cipher for public due process and ‘inefficiency’ the normal code for unions plus intentionally non-profit. Gubmint nevertheless grew and tried to regulate bidness, usually at the behest of “special interest groups” (xiii), the cryptograph for ‘not rich people.” Despite Hayek being 100% wrong about statist takeover, Brother Milty confirms that “Hayek’s central insight” is correct: “coordination of men’s activities through central direction and through voluntary cooperation are roads going in very different directions: the first to serfdom, the second to freedom” (xiii-xiv), because medieval economics is characterized precisely by state planning and public ownership of the means of production. (Also NB: coordination of activity centrally through a large corporation is presumably perfectly acceptable!) Fra Milt concludes with charm: “The bulk of the intellectual community almost automatically favors any expansion of governmental power so long as it is advertised as way to protect individuals from big bad corporations, relieve poverty, protect the environment, or promote ‘equality’” (xv-xvi). NB: the same topos found in objectivism, which traffics in similar rhetorics of mendacity; Milt objects to the expansion of state power when the object is to protect 'individuals,' when they are to be protected from corporations--manifestly not an 'individualist' position.This text is ripe for a derridean reading from the “Outwork,” the preface to end all prefaces ( Dissemination ), considering the guest intro here, the 1976, 1956, 1944 prefaces, and author’s introduction proper, all preceding the text itself. It’s a parade of horribles. 1976 preface concedes, in a moment of rare candor, “I was myself uncomfortable about the possibility that in going beyond technical economics, I might have exceeded my competence” (xxi). Well, quite. Notes an equivocation: “At the time I wrote [1944], socialism meant unambiguously the nationalization of the means of production and the central economic planning which this made possible and necessary” (xxiii); however, “socialism has come to mean chiefly the extensive redistribution of incomes through taxation and the institutions of the welfare state” (id.). 1976 backs away from the thesis that “any movement in the direction of socialism is bound to lead to totalitarianism” (xxiv). A concession that there is no necessary connection between ‘socialism’ and ‘totalitarianism,’ no matter what Papa Freds thinks they mean on a given day. If anyone thought that Freds meant that any step toward socialism leads to totalitarianism, however, we might excuse their apparently erroneous belief on the basis of the 1956 preface, wherein Big Poppa admits that his audience is already against fascism and communism (which he identifies as substantially identical, in a standard reckless construction), and that “democratic socialism is a very precarious and unstable affair” (xxxii), revealing the true polemical target, and associating by the bye New Deal policies with totalitarianism by implication even though “hot socialism is probably a thing of the past” (id.). Notorious lets us know his ideological roots pretty plainly in 1956: “But in Britain, as elsewhere in the world, the defeat of the onslaught of systematic socialism has merely given those who are anxious to preserve freedom a breathing space” (xliv). 1944 preface affirms that his argument is “derived from certain ultimate values” (xlv). Preface does not disclose them, but his lebensraum reference in 1956 clears it up for me.Author’s own original introduction opens with epigraph from Lord Acton, rightwing fan favorite, that “Few discoveries are more irritating than those which expose the pedigree of ideas” (3). With that kind of arrogance, the reasonable reader can assume that the text will lay out the intellectual pedigree of socialist doctrine. As it happens, the text examines almost no socialist doctrine of any flavor whatsoever. It does eventually get around to laying out a thesis regarding the “socialist roots of Nazism” (183-198), which links Marxism to Hitler through figures such as Sombart, Plenge, and others; it’s the strongest part of the text, as it is at least specific--but my five-year old daughter could do better. The entire section relies upon equivocations; Pops is not content with his original definition of ‘socialism,’ as we have seen.The book’s purpose: “Few are ready to recognize that the rise of fascism and Nazism was not a reaction against the socialist trends of the preceding period but a necessary outcome of those tendencies” (6). So, the causal relation is allegedly socialism --> fascism. If the Acton epigraph is aimed at democratic socialists/social democrats, as per the 1956 preface, then this causal relation is not much concern, even if it is assumed arguendo to be true. That is, it’s not at all irritating anyone with the pedigree of socialism to point out that fascism is its alleged evil offspring. It doesn’t make any sense, unless Bigg Poppa is expecting us to accept a non distributio medii or affirmed consequent fallacy. Later, pedigree for coercion and lack of freedom of thought is located in “the French writers who laid the foundations of modern socialism” (28), without reference to any particular writer or text, except Saint Simon, who is quoted slightly as wanting to treat disobedient persons as cattle, which is not exactly an idea that arises exclusively (or even) in socialism (cf. Ottoman governance theory).Entire volume relies on an equivocation fallacy, broadly maligning ‘socialism,’ no matter how that term is defined (as hinted by the 1976 preface). The conflict between Nazis and commies is “the kind of conflict that will always arise between rival socialist factions” (11). Doggfather is not interested, yet, in substantiating this puerile equivalence, but rather prefers to point out that “German socialists have found much support in their country from certain features of the Prussian tradition; and this kinship between Prussianism and socialism, in which in Germany both sides gloried, gives additional support to our main contention” (11). Noted: socialism shares a continuity with ‘prussianism,’ which must be a reference to Bismarck or whatever else in the deep history of Germania that the Doggfather wishes us to infer with neoliberal psychic powerz.Begins the argument proper with the contention that ‘we’ are unwilling to consider the ‘crisis’ as the result of a “genuine error on our part and that the pursuit of some of our most cherished ideals has apparently produced results utterly different from those which we expected” (14). We should therefore “not forget that this conflict has grown out of a struggle of ideas within what, not so long ago, was a common European civilization and that the tendencies which have culminated in the creation of the totalitarian systems were not confined to the countries which have succumbed to them” (id.). This is a curious admission for Atomic Dogg to make. The current crisis (WW2, surely, but more, perhaps) is the result of “most cherished ideals” and grew out of the common civilization, of which prussianism seems to have been a part. No problem. It’s not like extraterrestrials started the war or zombies took over (objectivism’s position on zombies & socialism notwithstanding). If all that is true, then why dogmatically state that everyone is unaware of “not merely the magnitude of the changes which have taken place during the last generation but the fact that they mean a complete change in the direction of the evolution of our ideas and social order” (15-16)? I suppose “our ideas” are not the same as “our most cherished ideals,” then? Apparently all of the evil altruists (sorry, hard not conflate this with Ayn Rand) “have progressively abandoned that freedom in economic affairs without which personal and political freedom has never existed” (16). This last point is dogmatically stated throughout the text, and never evidenced with any rigor. Never mind the fact that it all grew out of civilization or progressively developed; we are solemnly informed of “How sharp a break not only with the recent past but with the whole evolution of Western civilization the modern trend toward socialism” (16), which is something that must be measured by reference to the “longer historical perspective” back to the Bible and the bloody Romans, which are held up as exemplars of ‘individualism’ along side Montaigne, Erasmus, Pericles, and Thukydides. Heh, yeah. So, never mind that you just said right before thisthat the crisis grew out of European civilization, progressively developed, is rooted in prussianism--now it’s some sort of epistemic ‘break’ from the entire tradition of the West. (As an aside, is anyone actually persuaded by argumentum ad antiquitatem?) Confirmed thereafter in his concern to “show how completely, though gradually and by almost imperceptible steps, our attitude toward society has changed” (24) (NB: the ‘steps‘ aren‘t shown). Mmkay. Revise and resubmit when you get your story straight, P-Funk.Not only is Stalinism worse than fascism (31), but marxism led to fascism (32), fascism is the stage reached after communism fails (id.), and all the fascist leaders began as socialists (id.). Fascists and communists are the same, compete with each other for the same personnel, and hate each other as heretics (34). Socialism transitioned to fascism so easily because they are so closely related (35). And so on. It’s a mess, and it’s thoroughly mendacious. That last point, for instance, is simply, manifestly erroneous; at which point did a state with socialism (as Big Poppa defined it in 1944--state ownership of the means of production with central planning (37 (a mere 3 pages later))) exist, and then transition to fascism? The answer was never in 1944, and remains never now. The errors are so coarse, the confusions so gross, that it can only be intentional misrepresentation, as no one is this stupid. Cites de Tocqueville for the proposition that democracy and socialism have only equality in common, “while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude” (29), which is offered as self-evident fact, without any substantiation whatsoever. Eventually throws this proposition under the bus, however, as ‘democracy’ is not very interesting to Thug Life except as a truncheon to beat leftists. We see this, not only in the prefatory remarks regarding social democrats, but also in the inane expansion of the target from ‘socialism’ to ‘collectivism,’ which includes ‘liberals’ (as understood in the US) (39). Collectivism is defined childishly as marked by central planning (39), which planning is to be opposed because ‘inefficiency’ (41), but also because “it is impossible to assume control over all the productive resources without also deciding for whom and by whom they are to be used” (46). (Gang Starr heads all the way down this slippery slope with “And whoever has sole control of the means must also determine which ends are to be served” (101)). Both of these objections are unevidenced by Doggfather, principally because they are completely false, but even were they true, Pops is too indolent to think through the details of the argument, preferring to sweep grandly and generally all manner of facts and whatnot under the newly whitewashed rug.Individualism is “this recognition of the individual as the ultimate judge of his ends, the belief that as far as possible his own views ought to govern his actions” (66). Individuals should “be allowed, within defined limits, to follow their own values and preferences rather than someone else’s; that within these spheres the individual’s system of ends should be supreme and not subject to any dictation by others” (id.). This is a quaint kindergarten notion, a solipsism that is thoroughly depoliticized, ahistorical, a fantasia. Any market participant should know that an individual is unable to dictate terms to the market, for, as you just fucking said, the market “enables entrepreneurs […] to adjust their activities to their fellows”: “the price system will fulfill this function only if competition prevails, that is, if the individual producer has to adapt himself to price changes and cannot control them“ (56 emphasis added). The economic participant is always already governed by the external; Big Poppa is not interested in this implosion, of course, but it dicks up the primary basis for his preference for private property. He shrugs away the obvious objection in canards such as how in the market system “no person’s view about what is right and desirable overrules that of others” (113). ORLY?!Total obfuscation in comments such as “German anti-Semitism and anti-capitalism spring from the same root” (154), which is as apodictically false as can be. We also see that no cliché is left undefecated in “a movement like that of National Socialism or communism can probably be compared only to those of the great religious movements” (164).Our antenna should alert on unevidenced proclamations that those with authority for an economic plan will inevitably “impose their scale of preferences on the community for which they plan” (73). It is outrageous in its hubris, in its cynicism--but also in its hypocrisy: for which capitalist allows notice & comment on corporate policy? Delegation of economic authority to a public planning board will result in “arbitrary decisions” (74), leading to the completely candid confession that “Democracy is essentially a means, a utilitarian device for safeguarding internal peace and individual freedom,” and is “by no means infallible or certain”--for “there has often been much more cultural and spiritual freedom under an autocratic rule than under some democracies” (78). And out with it: “A true ‘dictatorship of the proletariat,’ even if democratic in form, if it undertook centrally to direct the economic system, would probably destroy personal freedom as completely as any autocracy” (78-79). This contempt for democratic polity is revealed in Bigg Poppa’s legal illiteracy (like Rand, he has no law, and accordingly errs in his discussions of it), such as when he suggests that the ‘rule of law,’ “stripped of all technicalities […] means that government in all its actions is bound by rules fixed and announced beforehand--rules which make it possible to foresee with fair certainty how the authority will use its coercive powers” (80 emphasis added). Any reference to ‘technicalities’ regarding the law should disqualify the utterance, and probably the utterer--because law is ‘technicality.’ His notion that ‘everything should be known beforehand’ is also manifestly erroneous; plenty in law applies retroactively.Reader can thus only laugh when Biggy Freds suggests that central planners will not want to “be fettered by democratic procedure” (97). (Didn’t you just tell us that democratic procedure doesn’t matter, and what matters is private property?) Ultimately, the ‘individualist’ position here, as found in Rand’s ‘objectivism,’ is profoundly illiberal, retaining only a preference for markets and private property (both Rand and Pops will not be completely committed to markets, of course, and will allow differing degrees of monopolization). This makes the argument here structurally identical to fascism, and therein lies the principal stupidity of Pops’ argument; he had defined socialism as central planning over state ownership of the means of production. Fascism however never got to either prong of that definition. Fascism did have anti-liberal components, regarding liberalism as too much too soon; fascism attempts to arrest history, to turn back the clock. Whereas the fascists would undo liberalism’s egalitarianism while retaining property and markets, the socialist proper position is that liberalism is not enough too late. This set of basic distinctions is manifest in the most basic writings on the subject (cf. Paxton’s Anatomy of Fascism, Griffin’s Modernism and Fascism, Lemkin’s Axis Rule in Occupied Europe, Neumann’s Behemoth). Pops doesn’t care about any of that. Pops only cares about property.It’s a sad commentary on the world that this, one of the worst books ever written, is also considered one of the most important. It’s actually embarrassingly bad, especially in its most famous bits, such as the dogmatic assertion that the price system under competition is “an apparatus of registration which automatically records all the relevant effects of individual actions and whose indications are at the same time the resultant of, and the guide for, all the individual decisions” (55)--this argument simply removes the mystery one step, and then is, without more, declared efficient and just. This “automatic coordination” is graceful, whereas central planning is “incredibly clumsy, primitive, and limited in scope” (id.)--nevermind that the alleged efficiency in the market mechanism is based precisely on pricing participants out of the market, which may not matter for irrational luxury goods, but when it results in market starvation (or market famines, as in Victorian India or Ireland, or during the general crisis of the ‘30s) , that’s a bit different. Automatic coordination is deprivation and death, but because it’s papered over with woad-warrior FREDUM!!1, it’s the fault of the deprived or the decedent, who obviously wasted their freedom.I have only commented on the lowest of the low points. The lowest point, probably, is the crude suggestion that “one of the surprising features of the political emigration from Germany is the comparatively small number of refugees from the Left who are not ‘Jews’ in the German sense” (203). This is deception beyond measure, as the German left had been destroyed just after WWI and then again by the NSDAP in the ‘30s; the suggestion here is accordingly outrageous, and the suggester scum of the earth, considering that the surviving leftists in germania during WWII were sweating it out in concentration camps or acting as part of the armed resistance. So fuck you, Pops, and fuck Brother Milt, and fuck Ayn Rand, just because.Recommended for readers who experience the horror inspired by the idea of everything being directed from a single center, persons who claim as a virtue that under one system we shall know less, and those who believe that it is not difficult to deprive the great majority of independent thought.

  • Mike (the Paladin)
    2019-03-28 02:27

    The temptation here will be to try and say too much. This is a short book, though it is thickly packed. I won't try to relate here what the author relates in the book. I will try to say a few words about the book and recommend it.This is the same book that was released in England in 1944, but it is a new edition and thus has a new intro by the author. If you can get this edition I recommend it for the intro. This book was written during (near the end of)WWII and thus will be in some ways a bit dated. This is not in all ways a bad thing. The author expresses an opinion that the central idea argued against in this book is no longer the main threat to "liberty" or "freedom". This he states as "hot socialism". It might also be called overt socialism. He feels this has been superseded by more subtle forms. I think however this is not totally so. I also think That if read with an open mind the reader will see in action many of the things the author warns of as possibilities I'll probably mention one or two as examples below.A main reason I recommend that you find the newer edition and read the intro is language. Words mean things and words change meaning. It must be remembered that this book is not only aimed at the English, it's aimed at citizens of England in the early and middle twentieth century. In America today the word "conservative" means to most who consider themselves conservatives the conservation of the rule of law and the individual rights laid out in the U.S. Constitution. Historically conservatism has referred to the preservation or conservation of the special rights, powers and privileges of a ruling class. Today in Russia the word conservative means those who wish to conserve the Soviet system (a fact which appealed greatly to some news people in America who were of the politically left persuasion. At the time of and just after the fall of the Soviet Union they seemed to love referring to the Communist party in Russia as the conservatives). So, in this book when Dr. Hayek uses the word "conservative" this school of thought would actually be much closer to socialism and what he refers to as "collectivist thought" than otherwise. By the same token the "Liberal" today in America tends to mean those who are of a socialist bent. Not so here. The author is using the word in the European, historical way, as in "nineteenth century liberal thought". Dr. Hayek wonders in his intro why Americans Libertarians have allowed the loss of this word to the political left (and indeed have actually begun using it). He believed that it was an essential word for the arguments. When in this book Dr. Hayek uses the word "liberal" and the phrase "liberal thought" the position he's referring to is much closer to American conservatism than liberalism. There are other ideas and words that will be slightly different or even new to some. Understanding of language is very important here.In the book's discussion of the world much that is current to WWII will be in the forefront but the ideas are still applicable. His discussion of (for example) the "rule of law" is universal. America was set up under "the rule of law". Our legislature is constrained by our Constitution as to what new laws it can pass and what actions it can take by laws and rules laid out establishing the nation and said legislature. The rule of law is in a very real sense all that stands between any people and despotic and/or totalitarian rule. (Side note, this past year an American legislator said that congress could pass any law it wished with no restriction. This past week the President of the U.S. signed a law that "at least says" the American military can detain any person without warrant, charge or attorney. No Habeas Corpus, apparently no recourse... Yesterday he made an illegal appointment claiming the Senate was in recess, yet the Senate isn't in recess. This is not the rule of law and it will be "more than interesting" to see if it's allowed. If so, we're in trouble.).I recommend this one. While it isn't the easiest book it's not really difficult either. It simply requires a bit of thought (and willingness to think of course) and understanding of what the author is saying.

  • Mel
    2019-04-17 00:17

    1/2 star not simply for Hayek's preachy, condescending tone, but because this book was the catalyst for the gutting of the State by the flying monkeys of the Chicago School under Milton Friedman. From Pinochet's Chile to Thatcher's Britain to post-Soviet Russia, Hayek's callous version of individualism and "competition" gave a veneer of legitmacy to an explosion of untramelled human greed in which millions of people lost any security of income or employment whilst a few within the charmed circle of power were enriched outrageously. In fact, outrage is the only appropriate response to this book.

  • James
    2019-04-02 21:37

    This is one of the foundational books for my personal philosophy. Along with his other works, the thought of Friedrich von Hayek is basic to my own indivdualist world view. In this book Hayek contends that liberty is fragile, easily harmed but seldom extinguished in one fell swoop. Instead, over the years “the unforeseen but inevitable consequences of socialist planning create a state of affairs in which, if the policy is to be pursued, totalitarian forces will get the upper hand.” He asserts that liberty has developed from an a posteriori recognition of humans’ inherent limitations – particularly the restrictions of their knowledge and reasoning. Most importantly, no planner or group of planners, however intelligent and well resourced, can possibly obtain and process the countless bits of localised and tacit information required such that a government plan meets its objectives. Only price signals emitted in an unhampered market enable harmony and efficiency to arise spontaneously from many millions of individuals’ plans. Hence government intervention in the plans of individuals, even if undertaken by men of good will, inevitably leads to loss of liberty, economic stagnation (at best) and war and impoverishment (at worst). Needless to say, his message is even more relevant today than when he wrote this masterpiece more than half a century ago. This is among my favorite works of philosophy and economics.

  • Jason
    2019-03-25 19:28

    Hayek creates a facile equation of fascism and communism, and argues that any political or economic system that is not laissez-faire capitalism is tyranny. Hayek's seemingly deliberate misreadings of history left me unconvinced, and very uneasy with the libertarian movement, if this is to be taken as a representative text.

  • Andrea
    2019-03-31 18:22

    Hayek is a huge figure in economics and of immense influence on neoliberalism, and reading this I was struck by just how deeply and completely neoliberalism goes as a theoretical framework. I know many would not agree with that (though many would), but Thatcher claimed him as her own and that is enough for me. There are also those conversations in the Mount Pelerin Society with Milton Friedman. It fascinates me that this resonance is true not just of the ideas, but also in the way language is used and in its underlying sense of victimisation, a sense that continues even as so many neoliberal policies have waxed victorious over Keynsianism across the world. The Road to Serfdom was written in 1944; I found it so chilling to see the same arguments in so much vogue today used in the context of WWII, Hitler, and Stalin. The chill comes from the fact that so little of the rhetoric has changed in over sixty years, and that really, Hayek saw the world in the same stark black and white that George W. Bush did, and both benefited greatly from it. Below are what I believe to be some of the principle strands of thought found here that were entirely familiar with present day rhetoric:- Socialism inexorably leads to fascism, liberalism is the only alternative- Glorification of the individual but a fear of the masses- Necessity of limited democracy - Money as the measure of all things- Competition in a free market as the best regulator of society- Growing the total wealth rather than redistribution of wealth as the solution to poverty (trickle-down economics)- A return to ‘traditional’ individualist values- The sacredness of private property- The selfishness of organised labour- Necessity of government intervention to favour the marketWhat struck me most forcibly was undoubtedly this claim: "Few are ready to recognise that the rise of Fascism and Nazism were not a reaction against the socialist trends of the preceding period, but a necessary outcome of those tendencies” (p 4). This equation of socialism with fascism seems only to have grown through the years, you have only to witness the immense outcry against “Obamacare”. I wondered where the hell that came from, now I know. Hayek sets Socialism up essentially as a straw man by first equating it with some brand of what I would call Stalinism (though I’ll never deny that too many calling themselves socialists supported many of these totalitarian ideas), and then insisting that any kind of government effort to achieve a more just world will lead to totalitarianism. To disagree with a critique of an Orwellian system of mind control is something I would never do; to claim that there are only two choices before us, totalitarianism or Hayek’s vision of liberalism, is equally absurd. But going back to the “Obamacare” debacle, that is clearly what many people think.Hayek in some ways comes off as the more reasonable and kinder face of liberalism when you look through the ages; life for him is not brutal, nasty and short, and he insists that liberalism does not argue that all men are egotistic or entirely selfish (and I use ‘men’ deliberately, the only woman mentioned in the book is the poor plain girl with the futile wish to be a salesgirl in a shop). Men are simply limited in their knowledge and imagination, and it is impossible for them to agree on any but a handful of very general things. This agreement can never stretch to values of any kind. Sad but true.Read on and there is a darker side to this. Side by side with the glorification of individual choice and freedom, there exists also the characteristic contempt for the masses. Hayek says on page 168:"Probably it is true enough that the great majority are rarely capable of thinking independently, that on most questions they accept views which they find ready-made, and that they will be equally content if born or coaxed into one set of beliefs or another. In any society freedom of thought will probably be of direct significance only for a small minority”. This of course means that any kind of mass movement requires organising the worst elements:"It is, as it were, the lowest common denominator which unites the largest number of people” (p 142). In spite of his statement that democracy cannot exist without capitalism, he wants it in its most limited form. He states tellingly: “We have no intention, however, of making a fetish out of democracy . . . . Democracy is essentially a means, a utilitarian device for safeguarding internal peace and individual freedom. As such it is by no means infallible or certain" (p 73). Thus it is not ‘the people’ who should ultimately control things, but something else. And again there is no room for alternatives here, there is only a stark choice between totalitarianism and the market (never mind that people control and manipulate the market in myriads of ways, just look at centuries of stock market scandal). Hayek argues that in claiming man’s ability to regulate his life and society, one “fails to see that, unless this complex society is to be destroyed, the only alternative to submission to the impersonal and seemingly irrational forces of the market is submission to an equally uncontrollable and therefore arbitrary power of other men" (p 210). Money becomes the measure of all things, the only way we can be motivated to our full potential and know what to value. He writes on page 129, "It is not merely that if we want people to give their best we must make it worth while for them. What is more important is that if we want to leave them the choice, if they are to be able to judge what they ought to do, they must be given some readily intelligible yardstick by which to measure the social importance of the different occupations…” This yardstick is salary. It is absurd to me that I should view a Wall Street trader as a thousand times more valuable to society than any teacher, fireman, nurse, or even the latest winners of the Nobel Prize in physics, but so Hayek argues. Competition becomes the great regulator, the only possible regulator in the face of human fallibility. Hayek equates competition with justice in that neither favours one person over another, and success is based only on capacity and luck. Even he is forced to admit that this more true in theory than in fact given a system of private property and inherited wealth, but in spite of this, competition is the best we can hope for. And indeed, under a competitive system and with money as the measure of all things, we are able to find the perfect tool for recording all individual actions and guiding them, and that is prices. So precise a tool is it, Hayek compares entrepreneurs to engineers watching the hands of a few dials and adjusting their activities to the rest of humanity. To rely on anything other than competition to regulate society, even for the best of ends, will inexorably result only in fascism as it substitutes a moral rule of law (controlled by a democratic majority and we’ve already seen where that will end given the lowest common denominator belief) for an arbitrary and predictable one. I’m beginning to understand the zealousness of neoliberalism’s proponents, it’s like a rewriting of the Lord of the Rings really, a saga of good against most absolute evil. And everybody hates fascism.Rounding it up, we have trickle-down economics: “Perhaps no less important is that we should not, by short-sighted attempts to cure poverty by a redistribution instead of by an increase in our income, so depress large classes as to turn them into determined enemies of the existing political order” (p 214-15), and what is undoubtedly a good line: “It may sound noble to say: damn economics, let us build up a decent world--but it is, in fact, merely irresponsible” (p 215). We have the return to traditional values: “If we are to succeed in the war of ideologies and to win over the decent elements in the enemy countries, we must first of all regain the belief in the traditional values for which this country stood in the past, and must have the moral courage stoutly to defend the ideals which our enemies attack” (p 224). The values are familiar too, as compassion and kindness are thrown out the window in favour of “independence, self-reliance, and the willingness to bear risks, the readiness to back one's own conviction against a majority, and the willingness to voluntary co-operations with one's neighbours” (p 218). Of course there is the sacredness of private property as the most important guarantee of freedom, not just for those who own it, but somehow for those who do not. Organised labour is bad and constraining capitalism only hurts everyone. “To the worker in a poor country the demand of his more fortunate colleague to be protected against his low wage competition by minimum wage legislation, supposedly in his interest, is frequently no more than a means to deprive him of his only chance to better his conditions by overcoming natural disadvantages by working at wages lower than his fellows in other countries” (p 231). I’ve read this so many times before it’s as though it has been copied verbatim into every report and article justifying the existence of exploitation around the world. The necessity of limited government intervention to favour the market is here too (which David Harvey would argue is one thing distinguishing neoliberalism from liberalism), as he argues strongly against a pure laissez-faire position, though you could argue that the interventions we have seen are rarely to make “the best possible use of the forces of competition as a means of coordinating human efforts”. It’s not just ideas, but attitudes that have continued strong. The way that the right-wing always perceives itself as the underdog, as under attack. Hayek bemoans the fact that socialism is dominant while liberalism is in fact the motor of progress, so taken for granted that people can no longer recognise it. As he states, “It might be said that the very success of liberalism became the cause of its decline” (p 19). There might have been some truth when he was writing, but the rhetoric continues long after the years of Reagan and Thatcher completely turned it around. There is also the same clarion call to sacrifice, “It is essential that we should re-learn frankly to face the fact that freedom can only be had at a price and that as individuals we must be prepared to make severe material sacrifices to preserve our liberty”, when the growing gap between rich and poor since these policies have become victorious make it so clear just whose sacrifice is required. It is hard to see why sacrifice should still be necessary after so many decades of it. The good times never arrived for most people I’m afraid.The interesting things that don’t quite mesh with the neoliberal world today? He does admit that some kind of basic safety net may be necessary, even a good thing, as long as it doesn't inhibit competition. There is also the railing against monopolies. Hayek argues that they also lead to totalitarianism, not quite purposefully but in effect. I think possibly he might not be happy with the giant corporations we see today, it’d be an interesting question and one I’d quite like to ask him. The outcome of policies self-described as neoliberal has, in effect, been the death of competition; I would claim that this is inevitable in a system where the only measure of value is wealth and the only regulatory mechanism is competition, but it would be interesting to hear Hayek’s response. And the ultimate irony? He also states quite clearly that democracy works best in very small nations, smaller even than the UK…what would he make of America, the country which has done more to promote his views in theory than any other?

  • Hamidur
    2019-04-12 18:19

    I've recently started reading economics books by liberal/neo-liberal/libertarian-capitalist writers to better understand their points. But I'm finding them not much superior than the arguments I come across from "anarcho"-capitalists and right wing libertarians on the internet.For one thing, Hayek lumps the Nazis with socialists and communists because they're all "collectivists." Never mind the fact that fascists speak about "class collaboration" when socialists are interested in the class struggle in society. Never mind the fact that one of fascism's central tenet is nationalism and socialism/communism/anarchism are vehemently anti-nationalist ideologies. Never mind how Hitler arrested 11,000 socialists for "illegal socialist activities" in 1936 or how he had special concentration camps just for leftists. Never mind this from Hitler's book where he very clearly says that his intention was only to crush the Left while appropriating their symbols:We chose red for our posters after particular and careful deliberation, our intention being to irritate the Left, so as to arouse their attention and tempt them to come to our meetings—if only in order to break them up—so that in this way we got a chance of talking to the people— Hitler, Mein Kempf Facts and history getting in the way of the narrative wouldn't be great for Mr. Hayek, would it? No, this is the same kind of tactic that was used by Friedman in Capitalism and Freedom and it's the same tactic used by neo-feudalist, free market ideologues today: set up a false dichotomy between the free market and a totalitarian state, knock over state control, and claim you've won the argument against evil socialism. The fact that there are socialists who want the workers controlling the means of production rather than the state is not even glanced at because then it becomes difficult to make simplistic, tired arguments.I'm also amused by how easily these economists make bombastic claims such that the free market is the only way for individuals to be free, without bothering to go into any of those pesky—and rather philosohical—details about what economic freedom really means. Is it simply the freedom to choose which master one works for today? Or is it the freedom for the worker to have autonomy and engage in voluntary associations with his workers rather than be part of a top down, hierarchical structure that is the capitalist workplace?Another important theme of the book is Hayek railing against central planning. I couldn't help but wonder whether he was aware that one argument leftists make against capitalist workplaces is that they're simply the state writ small, existing as extremely centralized, hierarchical structures with no democratic control. I'll copy what the Anarchist Library wrote on this because it captures the essence of the argument perfectly:... private property is the state writ small, with the property owner acting as the “sovereign lord” over their property, and so the absolute king of those who use it. As in any monarchy, the worker is the subject of the capitalist, having to follow their orders, laws and decisions while on their property. This, obviously, is the total denial of liberty (and dignity, we may note, as it is degrading to have to follow orders). And so private property (capitalism) necessarily excludes participation, influence, and control by those who use, but do not own, the means of life.I don't see much difference between this tyranny and tyranny of the state. The only major difference is that one is free to leave and find himself another job. But for the vast majority of the workers, working for a boss is the fate since the system demands a class of workers. One or two individuals might find a better job and might even become a boss themselves but it's not possible for everyone to become a boss. So what freedom is it if you get to choose which master you serve today? Surely, having the freedom to choose one lord over another wouldn't have been that big of a deal to a feudal peasant.Philosophically void, should be read only to understand that the ideology of libertarian-capitalism/liberalism stands on but a shaky foundation, supported by pseudo-intellectual nonsense from the modern day preachers of capitalism.

  • Douglas Wilson
    2019-03-21 19:18

    What a fine book. What a timely book. Those who want to understand Obamonomics need to read this. Those who have read it already should probably read it again. The political world is divided into two main groups -- those who think controlling everything from the center is a good idea and those who do not. Each side of that divide has its variations, but those are the basic options. Those on the fascist side (control) have the hard totalitarians and the soft totalitarians, but that is basically a difference between those who want to hang you by the neck and those who want to smother you with a feather pillow. At any rate, those who love freedom need all the intellectual ammo they can get these days, and this book has plenty.

  • Jonny
    2019-03-27 19:19

    “We are today living out the dim echo—like light from a fading star—of a debate conducted seventy years ago by men (John Meynard Keynes and Friedrich Hayek) born for the most part in the late nineteenth century. To be sure, the economic terms in which we are encouraged to think are not conventionally associated with these far-off political disagreements. And yet without an understanding of the latter, it is as though we speak a language we do not fully comprehend.”- Tony Judt ‘What is Living and What is Dead in Social Democracy’Having read Judt’s lecture I was inspired to pick up the Road to Serfdom because it has been so influential and the ideas expressed in it have been so persistent. Many of these concepts have influenced economic policy since the time of Regan/Thatcher and Hayek’s ideas continue to permeate economic policy discussions to this day. Hayek’s thesis is made clear at the outset and he repeats it ad nauseam throughout the book. Perhaps he makes his arguments so forcefully because at the time of its writing (1944) the ideas expressed in this classic of “libertarianism/market liberalism” were widely seen as being discredited by the Great Depression and the subsequent collapse of all that was classically liberal in European society during the 1930s and 1940s. However, the world did not immediately move in Hayek’s direction. In the years following World War II most Western democracies adopted a great range of Social Democratic policies (progressive income taxes, generous social welfare provisions, and an attitude towards organized labor that saw them as equal partners in a tripartite structure with the state and business) that were generally accepted by the parties of both the center right and left. Hayek’s prominence rose in the 1970’s as neoliberal ideologies became ascendant. It is because of these developments that the main points of Hayek’s will be very familiar to most readers. For Hayek, the “planner” cannot see the infinite complexities present in the economy and the social world. Therefore, the planner—even the well meaning one—rules trough a kind of authoritarian imposition which distorts the self-correcting mechanisms of the market and often has unforeseen consequences. The origins of the worst authoritarianisms (e.g., Nazism, Stalinism) can be found within all such “planning.” At the outset Hayek admits that by socialism he only means industrial state gigantism associated with the central planning in the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. Hayek’s point is that whatever undesirable outcomes occur as a result of market social relations—he freely admits that “inequalities of opportunity” exist in capitalist society—things turn out worse when “the state” gets involved beyond the ways in which classical political economy (e.g., Smith, Ricardo) suggests. The state needs to establish a framework in which markets can flourish, but all central economic “planning”—whether done by democrats or dictators leads to “serfdom.” To be fair, in the preface to the 1976 edition he clearly states that he never argues that “any movement in the direction socialism is bound to lead towards totalitarianism” (xxi) although it has unforeseen consequences. Hayek is uninterested in examining malfunctions and the potential authoritarianism in markets themselves—they exist as a mystically perfect entity. It goes without saying that the realm of liberal freedom ends at the factory’s entrance. As Marx famously quipped, there will be “no admittance except on business.” Apparently, the private tyranny of a boss over their employee is of no concern. Although Hayek and Keynes are often popularly presented as antagonists, Keynes’s identification of the concept of “lack of effective demand” and his examinations of what happens when markets suffer from such deflationary spirals seems much more interested in examining the potential problems with markets as such. Although Hayek may have examined the functioning of markets in his technical economic work, it is notable that in The Road to Serfdom—his most widely cited text—the actual workings of markets are not examined in any detail. At several points in the text Hayek concedes that it is important that people do not starve, otherwise the state has no obligation to attend to the welfare of the less fortunate because to do so would involve the imposition of one universal moral code on the whole of society. Additionally, I read in Hayek only a lukewarm endorsement of democracy. Hayek claims that “democracy is essentially a means, a utilitarian device for safeguarding internal peace and individual freedom” (p. 70). This is the individual freedom is that found in the marketplace. This explains why Hayek’s disciples such as Milton Friedman could support Augusto Pinochet’s bloody dictatorship in Chile in the 1970s. Hayek seems willing to countenance democracy so long as it facilitates the accumulation of private wealth, which for him is the true essence of freedom. The Road to Serfdom is ultimately an extended argument against what Hayek identifies as “collectivism.” Unfortunately, many political discussions have been unable to move beyond this simplistic collectivist/individualist dichotomy. To me, a true democrat sees that the participation of the individual in a collective public sphere constitutes the lifeblood of democratic processes. Perhaps it is a testament to the contemporary power of neoliberal ideology that when discussing the basic duties of society to make sure that people don’t suffer too much privation he uses rhetoric that would not be out of place in speech given by Tony Blair or Barack Obama. In many respects, we have been living in a world constructed by policy makers under Hayek’s influence. The continual deregulation of the financial markets in the US that caused the 2008 crash in the past 30 years has created an massive amounts of wealth for a tiny sliver on the top of the income bracket while the real wages (adjusted for inflation) of most Americans remained flat even during the boom years. Bizarrely, no matter how spectacular the failures of these policies Hayek’s disciples claim that the problems that resulted from these crises arose from a failure to implement these policies more fully. The failure of their neoliberal utopia to emerge only means they need to push harder for its realization. However much I disagree with Hayek’s thesis, he presents it in a measured and articulate manner that shares none of the hyperbole of much of the current US libertarian movement. I think that if Hayek were alive today he would at least be reasonable enough to see that the Obama administration is a far cry from some authoritarian communist machine hell bent on crushing the system of free enterprise.

  • Chris Wells
    2019-03-29 21:39

    If "compassionate conservatism" means anything, than it surely means something like this. Hayek's thought no longer qualifies as hardcore libertarian because he believed in government welfare programs, albeit limited ones, as supplementary to the free market system for those unable to participate in it. Central planning was what he was really against, and he has a very convincing argument against putting economic planning in the hands of any government, no matter how benevolent it may seem to be at the time. His arguments for "liberalism" (old-school) are mostly pragmatic, based upon balancing power in society. Good food for thought at the very least.

  • David M
    2019-04-03 18:35

    (going to make an exception to my only-radicals rule. It's always important to know your enemies. It comes recommended by Perry Anderson.)

  • Shahab Samani
    2019-03-24 19:16

    متاسفانه ترجمه به اندازه ای بد و در انتقال مطلب گنگ و ناتوان است که امکان ادامه ی کتاب وجود ندارد. خیلی از کتاب های کلاسیک ، مهم و تخصصی در حوزه های مختلف این گونه در ایران نابود شده اند و دیگر خوانده نمی شوند . ترجمه ی بد باعث می شود که دیگر نه کسی کتاب را تا اخر بخواند و نه مترجم دیگری به فکر ترجمه دوباره کتاب بیفتد به این علت که به لحاظ اقتصادی معمولا ترجمه دوباره کتاب به صرفه نیست و در بازار با استقبال مواجه نمی شود و این غم انگیز است .

  • Aniruddha
    2019-03-24 20:15

    The Road to Serfdom is a book that has divided the post-war divided world. In developed countries that practice capitalism, Hayek's book created a stir although his influence was a shadow of the effect Keynes had on countries. No body said 'I'm an Hayekian now'. Hayek barely finds a place in my economics textbook. This book told me why he was never respected in his life. With all respect to Hayek and his intellect, this book falls short of being the ultimate attack on socialism it set out to be. In the end, Hayek has done more good than harm to the social democrats he chose to upset in this book. His attack on collectivism succeeded only temporarily in the USA and UK in the 1980's. And even this was only political success, economically and socially, two of the world' greatest countries UK and USA were destroyed by the so-called interpretation of this book by their harsh leaders. I will not blame this entirely on Hayek or the book but it just shows how ill-informed this book is.Socialism might be a thing of the past, Marxism may have crumbled but certainly collectivism remains. And not only does it remain, it will remain and must remain. Collectivism provided us with most of things we use everyday-roads, hospitals, schools etc. Planning saved our countries during war and famines. Yet Hayek chooses to attack it. He believes Utopia can never be achieved. His pessimism of the government is very high and seems very biased. Had he lived so see democratic socialism into the 21st century and the economic crises of 1995 and 2008, he'd have discarded this book himself. This book is a biased, capitalist-driven book full of vested interests. This book will go down as one of the least academic and most controversial books of all time-one that enriched a few and destroyed many.

  • Vu K
    2019-04-12 02:31

    Nhân mùa khai trường năm học mới (2016-2017) thì châm ngôn của cá nhân mình được lấy cảm hứng từ quyển sách này cho những ai cắp sách đến trường, nhất là các bạn mới bắt đầu ôm cặp vào Đại học chữ to, không phải là Dạy thật tốt, học thật tốt, 5 điều Chủ tịch Hồ Chí Minh dạy thiếu niên, nhi đồng, hay lời căn dặn trở thành người công dân tốt, có ích, ngắn gọn là:Trước khi trang bị cho mình kiến thức, hãy là (một con) NGƯỜI TỰ DO.Và học hỏi kiến thức để giúp mình được là và mãi là (một con) NGƯỜI TỰ DO.Cũng như chỉ là (một con) NGƯỜI TỰ DO mới giúp ta lựa chọn kiến thức cho cả cuộc đời về sau.

  • George Mazurek)
    2019-04-03 00:36

    A must read for every liberal, socialist or communist ;-)

  • Mostafa
    2019-04-12 22:12

    امتیاز کتاب: 4امتیاز ترجمه: 0 در باب ترجمه‌ی اثر شاید بیشترین ظلمی که می‌شد به یک نویسنده و فرد شهیری همچون فون‌هایککرد این بود که با این ترجمه ضعیف و افتضاح سعی در شناساندن او به خوانندگان ایرانی کرد. کتاب به نحوی یک ترجمه‌ا‌ی ضعیف، گنگ و نامفهوم دارد که قطعا اگر نویسنده فون‌هایک نبود و کتاب نیز جزو کتاب‌های مشهور و محبوب به شمار نمی‌رفت خواندن آن تا پایان، کاری طاقت فرسا به شمار می‌رفت. گویا مترجمان از ترجمه تنها کلمه کلمه ترجمه کردن را دریافته اند و نه فهم و ساختاربندی درست جملات و انتقال مفهوم به خواننده.ای کاش روزی مترجمان قهارتری اقدام به ترجمه این اثر فاخر و ارزشمند نمایند. در باب کتاب و نویسنده‌ی بزرگ آن؛ فردریش فون‌هایک مجله فوربز در یکی از شماره‌های خود نوشت: تقریبا نیم قرن، اکثر افراد باهوش چاب کتاب راه بردگی را به ریشخند گرفتند اما جهان اشتباه کرد و هایک پیروز شد. این جمله خود بهترین معرفی برای این اثر فاخر و شخص فون‌هایک است. فون‌هایکی که این اثر را به تمامی سوسیالیست‌های احزاب تقدیم کرده است. در زمانه‌ای که جهان تحت آماج حملات افکار چپ‌گرایانه، ناسیونال-سوسیالیستی و فاشیستی قرار داشت و همه خبر از پایان آزادی و اقتصاد آزاد می‌دادند فون‌هایکِ بزرگ آزاده ماند و آزادی را توصیف و تبیین نمود. فون‌هایکی که حتی با افرادی همچون کینز هم سر سازگاری نداشت و به نقد توصیه‌های اقتصادی او می‌پرداخت. او در دهه 40 این کتاب را به تالیف در آورد و همچون سلف خویشلودویگ فون‌میزس خبر از فروپاشی نظام‌های سوسیالیستی می‌داد. او به لیبرالیسم نه در معنای قرن بیستمی آن بلکه به معنای قرن نوزدهمی آن باور داشت و آزادی و کرامت انسانی را مهم‌ترین موضوع به حساب می‌آورد. وی در قرن بیستم در باب سنت انديشه اقتصادى و نقش دولت و حدود آن بر مبانى عينى در رشته های انتخاب اجتماعی و اقتصاد بخش عمومى صحبت‌ها و تالیفات بسیاری انجام داد و در 1974 نیز موفق به کسب نوبل اقتصاد شد. او مدافع بازار آزاد بود و از آن به عنواننظم خودجوش (کاتالاکسی)یاد می‌کرد. کلمه‌ای که در یونانی از آن به عنوان معنای «دشمن را دوست ساختن» یاد می‌شود. فون‌هایک معتقد است بازارهای آزاد در نهایت صلح، امنیت، رفاه و آزادی را برای فرد و جامعه به ارمغان می‌آورند.فون‌هایک در این کتاب تاحدود بسیاری به بیان اندیشه‌های سیاسی و اقتصادی خود می‌پردازد و از مضرات اندیشه‌های سوسیالیستی و نظام برنامه‌ریزی متمرکز سخن می‌گوید و تیغ نقد خود را بر آن‌ها می‌کشد. نظام و اندیشه‌ای که او حتی ریشه‌های ناسیونال-سوسیالیسم هیتلر و فاشیسم موسولینی را در آن جستجو می‌کند و نشان می‌دهد که جمع کثیری از رهبران نازی‌ها و فاشیست‌ها در جوانی از اندیشه‌های سوسیالیستی برخوردار بودند و نقطه اشتراک و اجماع رژیم‌های کمونیستی، فاشیستی و ناسیونال-سوسیالیستی نه تنها ضدیت و مخالفت آنان با آزادی بشر نیست بلکه تخاصم آن‌ها با لیبرالیسم نیز هست. او هیچ نسبتی را بین دموکراسی و سوسیالیسم نمی‌بیند و با نقل قولی از توکویل نشان می‌دهد کهدموکراسی اساسا نهادی فردگرا است و یک تعارض سازش ناپذیر با جمع‌گرایی و سوسیالیسم دارد. او هیچ آینده‌ی روشن و بهشتی برای سوسیالیسم متصور نیست و می‌گوید پایان آن چیزی نیست جز بردگی، استبداد و توتالیتاریسم. این صحبت‌ها شاید در دهه 40 برای مردم دنیا و حتی قشر دانشگاهی چندان مورد توجه نبود اما پایان قرن بیستم و با فروپاشی نظام‌های کمونیستی پیشبینی‌ها و سخن‌های هایک بر همگان آشکار گشت.هایک وجود یک چهارچوب قانونی برای یک نظام رقابتی موثر و کارآمد را ضروری می‌شمرد و لازمه‌ی این چهارچوب، طراحیِ منطقیِ آن و سازگاری دائمی آن با شرایط است. او مخالف جدی برنامه ریزی انحصارگرایانه دولتی بود و نتیجه آن را چیزی جز به ضرر کارگران، سرمایه‌گذاران و نابودی تولید نمی‌دانست. او زمانی برنامه‌ریزی و رقابت را با هم ترکیب‌پذیر می‌دانست که این برنامه‌ریزی «برای» رقابت باشد و نه «ضد» آن.هایک همانند دیگر لیبرال‌های قرن نوزدهمی مخالف سرسخت قدرت دولتی بود و معتقد به دولت حداقلی بود زیرا می‌دانست که اگر قدرت نامحدود به دولت واگذار شود مستبدانه‌ترین قواعد نیز به قانون بدل می‌گردند و برای افراد لازم‌الاجرا خواهند شد. شاید به همین دلیل بود که اعتقاد داشت اگر نبض اقتصاد دست دولت باشد نافرمانی و مخالفت با دولت که کارفرمای یگانه است به معنای مرگ با گرسنگی آرام است.هایک فردگرا بود اما نه آن فردگرایی که از آن به عنوان غرور فکری و خودمحوری یاد می‌شود بلکه آن فردگرایی‌ای که به معنای تواضع و تحمل عقاید دیگران است.بی‌شک هایک اندیشمندی بزرگ و موثر برای تمام نسل‌ها و قرن‌ها خواهد ماند و به گفته‌ی خویشاگر در اولین تلاش برای ایجاد جهانی پر از انسان‌های آزاد شکست بخوریم، باید دوباره تلاش کنیم. این اصل راهبردی که سیاستِ آزادیِ افراد تنها سیاستِ پیش‌رونده است، امروزه نیز به اندازه قرن نوزدهم واقعیت دارد.

  • Amy Sturgis
    2019-03-22 21:37

    Hayek's The Road to Serfdom was both prophetic and influential in its day, and its message is as timely now as it ever was. He offers a compelling warning that the collectivism required for centralized planning is incompatible with democracy and the individualism on which it's built. In so doing, he provides key insights into economic concepts rarely discussed or understood today in mainstream conversations, such as how the price system works as a means of conveying information, how the rule of command is diametrically opposed to the rule of law, and how the increased complexity of our system demands a technique based on decentralization and automatic, impersonal coordination. Hayek's work is both profound and humane, and it deserves fresh revisiting in the twenty-first century, where its lessons are all too needed and applicable.

  • John
    2019-03-28 21:15

    Hayek's analysis of socialism is insightful, prophetic, and chilling. It is a difficult book to read, but very rewarding. It is clear that we take for granted the freedoms we were given by our founding fathers and abdicating them to the socialist planners will lead to dire consequences. We must all wake up before the socialists in our midst lead us to totalitarianism--something that may be difficult to imagine, but most certainly in our future if we continue upon our current path.

  • Clif
    2019-03-29 20:28

    Friedrich A. Hayek was a member of the Austrian School of economics. We've heard about that school in recent times because Milton Friedman advocated many of the ideas the school expressed, primarily the freedom to choose provided by a free market.This book is a warning to England, written during the closing days of World War II, that the policies of socialism being advocated at the time were the same policies Hayek has seen in Germany 20 years before.On first thought, one would wonder how socialism could be harmful. Isn't it all about spreading the wealth and trying to create a fair allocation of resources to all?In theory, this is true, but in application it would mean planning from above and the suppression of individual desires for the "common good". This planning would gradually extend into every nook and cranny of society as control and direction would be paramount. This contest between individual freedom and the supposed good of society as a whole extends back to Plato and was greatly developed by John Locke (for individual freedom or "natural law") and Thomas Hobbes (for the good of society and the control of individuals in his LeviathanHayek's writing is concise and illustrates how Nazi (National Socialist) Germany is the best example of the willing, in fact, enthusiastic, surrender of the self to the nation. He pleads with us to value the rule of law and to accept that it is a result of our laws protecting the individual that society cannot be given a direction but must move unpredictably into the future. (he avoids a critique of the USSR as it was an ally of England at the time of writing). He denies that the developments in Germany were simply a product of WWI or Hitler. The mindset was being built for many decades, exemplified by the admiration of the dedicated and obedient public servant in Germany along with the mystic elevation of the nation as almost a deity for which the individual should eagerly sacrifice all.As important a read today as it was in 1944, The Road to Serfdom is a reminder that we must trade our freedom if we choose to prize security above all. The two cannot be had in equal measure, one must be sacrificed for the other. The best solution, in Hayek's view, is the protection of our right to be treated equally under the law; that it must be blind. No perfect justice can be achieved, but with individual freedom intact we are best armed for the pursuit of what justice is possible.

  • Jud Barry
    2019-03-28 20:26

    OK, I'll admit that I finally broke down and read this book because of Glenn Beck. I've heard about this book for so long from conservatives who say that it shows how contemporary liberalism is Hayek's "road to serfdom."Balderdash. If you read this book, you'll see that Hayek wrote at the end of World War II to warn about the dangers of centralized, planned economies, as opposed to economies based on competition. That's it.Hayek is not against "big government." In fact, he says a lot about the things governments need to do in order for competition to work! He is in favor of government relief programs. He is in favor of a minimum wage! This guy is a liberal! Yes, there are those who will say Hayek is a "traditional" liberal as opposed to a contemporary one, but the ideological connection is still there--and is still strong, in many ways.Here's what Glenn Beck says: "We were on the right track, but clearly we've fallen off the wagon. A few years ago I started asking, how'd we get here? How did this happen to us? No one had answers. I started reading history, and it didn't take long for me to realize that we'd completely disconnected ourselves from history, making us incredibly vulnerable to repeating the mistakes of the past. And look at what we're doing! We have a government car company, government banks, we're talking about government oil companies, government is hiring all the workers. We are there, gang! And as Hayek so clearly demonstrated, this road only leads to one destination."Regardless of what you think about whether there's a "government car company" or the rest of it, Hayek's book is *all* about competitive vs. planned economies. It is not about whether there should be government interventions designed to provide a temporary shield against the inevitable--and sometimes dangerous--wobbles of a competitive economy.So it's not Hayek that lends credence to what Glenn Beck is after. Maybe it's Ayn Rand? Do I have to read Atlas Shrugged now?

  • William
    2019-03-28 21:25

    Hayek, an Austrian who moved to Britain in the 1930s, sounded as clear a set of warnings for Britain and America in 1944 against the dangers of creeping socialism as Alexis de Tocqueville had done for France and America 100 years previously. Hayek saw the danger for Britain contained in the Fabian socialism of H.G. Wells et al. based on how the welfare programs begun in Germany under Bismarck led to the disaster of "National Socialism" under Hitler.De Toqueville had seen the same trends in France in the early 1800s, when he warned against the "passion for equality." In fact, the trend that De Toqueville identified led to the Socialist revolutions that swept France and other European countries in 1848.More recently, we saw the socialism against which Hayek warned nearly destroy Britain's economy until its partial rebirth under the free market reforms instituted by Thatcher's government in the '80s, and the ultimate collapse of the Soviet Union caused by its own, brutal socialist vision. Today, in my view, China inevitably conceals much inner decay behind its shiny, state-controlled facade.Reading Hayek over 50 years later reminds us that the socialist threat never quite goes away no matter how often it is vanquished by events. The Road to Serfdom is a bracing call to vigilance if we are to retain our exceptional freedoms today and for future generations.

  • Johnny B. Rempit
    2019-03-29 02:23

    Ya, buku ini penting di dalam sejarah. Ia patut dibaca, difahami etc etc etc.Seperti yang saya agak, kandungan buku ini kering. 'Kering seperti tulang'. Pernah tak anda dengar perumpamaan itu dalam BM? Tak pernah, bukan? Sebabnya ialah perumpamaan itu lebih sesuai digunakan dalam bahasa asalnya. 'Dry as a bone'. Mengapa saya menyentuh perkara ini? Sebab kualiti penterjemahan buku ini ke BM amatlah tidak memuaskan. Seolah-olah si penterjemah tiada daya imaginasi. Contoh paling ketara ialah penggunaa perkataan 'perlindunganisme'. Protectionism, kalau dalam BI. Saya terpaksa berhenti membaca seketika untuk ketawa.Kini saya terpaksa cari buku asal di dalam BI supaya saya boleh memahami betul-betul apa yang Hayek cuba hendak sampaikan walaupun saya tahu yang buku itu juga 'will be dry as a bone'.2 bintang sebab kualiti terjemahan, bukan sebab kandungan.

  • Bryana Johnson
    2019-03-22 21:28

    It took me many months to finish reading Hayek’s classic work on economics and totalitarianism. It certainly isn’t for the faint of heart, but I consider it well worth the effort. Writing during World War II, Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek explores the sinister ramifications of centralized “planning” in the economic sphere and delves into the nature of socialism. He explains why socialized systems are dishonest and totalitarian in nature and warns of a creeping acceptance of collectivist thinking in Western cultures. Perhaps most importantly, he makes the case for The Rule of Law.