Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Road to Serfdom

I have a borrowed copy of the 50th Anniversary Edition of "The Road to Serfdom" with an introduction by Milton Friedman. My husband was about to return this copy by the time I saw it floating around here so he may have to wait till I finish, I say may because I already plan to go out and get my own copy. I'll write a 'book report' when I'm done, but along the way I'm finding little gems I'd like to share.

The theme is Hayek's warning that going down the path of Socialism leaves a country susceptible to totalitarianism, dictatorships, fascism, etc. Published in 1944, with the rise of Nazi Germany as a backdrop, Hayek sets forth to explain how many of the socialist ideals the British and Americans are accepting could lead us down the same path.

Here is an interesting and timely quote from the 1956 preface:

" It is for this reason that I rather hope that the time may now be more favorable in America for a serious consideration of the true argument of the book than it was when it first appeared. I believe that what is important in it still has to render it's service, although I recognize that the hot socialism against which it was mainly directed-that organized movement toward a deliberate organization of economic life by the state as the chief owner of the means of production- is nearly dead in the Western world. The century of socialism in this sense probably came to an end around 1948. Many of it's illusions have been discarded by it's leaders, and elsewhere as well as in the United States, the very name has lost much of it's attraction.

[Oh how I wish that were true!-L.P.]

........If few people in the western world now want to remake society from the bottom according to some ideal bluepoint, a great many still believe in measures which, though not designed completely to remodel the economy, in their aggregate effect may well unintentionally produce this result. And, even more than at the time that I wrote this book, the advocacy of policies which in the long run cannot be reconciled with the preservation of a free society is no longer a party matter. The hodge podge of ill-assembled and often inconsistent ideals which under the name of Welfare State has largely replaces socialism as the goal of the reformers needs very careful sorting out if its results are not to be very similar to those of full fledged socialism. This is not to say that some of it's aims are not both practicable and laudable. But there are many ways in which we can work toward the same goal, and in the present state of opinion there is some danger that our impatience for quick results may lead us to choose instruments which, though perhaps more efficient for achieving the particular ends, are not compatible with the preservation of a free society. The increasing tendency to rely on administrative coercion and discrimination where a modification of the general rules of law might, perhaps more slowly, achieve the same object, and to resort to direct state controls or to the creation of monopolistic institutions where judicious use of financial inducements might evoke spontaneous efforts is still a powerful legacy of the socialist period which is likely to influence policy for a long time to come."

I will bring you more great quotes and information as I go through the book.


  1. I'll have to check that book out. Those who are leading us to socialism know exactly what they're doing. They also know it would be rejected if they called it what it is. They have been successful in changing the meaning of words (hello Orwell) miss-educating, and portraying themselves as moderates. I have to wonder how many people even know what socialism is? Or fascism for that matter.

  2. At points I thought I was reading the morning paper. This is a very deep book.

    Don't you believe that it was a big plan? It had to have been in order for this to be done so swiftly. The time was ripe for the building up of this moment that we are witnessing. I just wish we weren't witnessing it.

    I am sad to the core about it. Literally sad for my kids.

  3. I think it's a plan for some people...Those who want the power, but the majority who go along with it are just trusting the good intentions of their leaders and their emotions without looking at the track record. This may be more who the book is aimed at.
    Speaking of word definitions, at the time the book was written, the term 'liberal' meant basically a free market capitalist who doesn't want government interfrence in thir life. Go figure!

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Thanks Jon, Now all my legions of liberal readers are going to be hugely offended. But I will clear up that I don't think all Liberals are dumb, I'm sure many are much smarter than me. (that doesn't make you right though), however, you only have to see so many ditsy up-talking high school girls spewing vague liberal philosophy to know that not only do they feel massivley smart, but the older or more experienced liberals around them with flatter them profusely for their wisdom.