“The effect of Socialist doctrine on Capitalist society is to produce a third thing different from either of its two begetters- to wit, the Servile State” -Hilaire Belloc, The Servile State1913: 3d ed., 1927
I wanted to discuss another little passage from Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom today.
“We have progressively abandoned that freedom in economic affairs without which personal and political freedom has never existed in the past. Although we had been warned by some of the greatest political thinkers of the nineteenth century, by De Tocqueville and Lord Acton that socialism means slavery, we have steadily moved in the direction of socialism. And now that we have seen a new form of slavery arise before our eyes [referring to Nazi Germany], we have so completely forgotten the warning that it scarcely occurs to us that the two things may be connected.
“How sharp a break not only with the recent past but with the whole evolution of Western civilization the modern trend toward socialism means becomes clear if we consider it not merely against the background of the nineteenth century but in a longer historical perspective. We are rapidly abandoning not the views merely of Cobden and Bright, of Adam Smith and Hume, or even of Locke and Milton, but one of the salient characteristics of Western civilization as it has grown from the foundations laid by Christianity and the Greeks and Romans. Not merely nineteenth and eighteenth century liberalism*, but the basic individualism inherited by us from Erasmus and Montaigne, from Cicero and Tacitus, Pericles and Thucydides, is progressively relinquished……
…….. During the whole of this modern period of European history the general direction of social development was one of freeing the individual from the ties which had bound him to the customary or prescribed ways in the pursuit of his ordinary activities. The conscious realization that the spontaneous and uncontrolled efforts of individuals were capable of producing a complex order of economic activities could come only after this development had made some progress. The subsequent elaboration of a consistent argument in favor of economic freedom was the outcome of a free growth of economic activity which had been the undesigned and unforeseen by-product of political freedom.” (Italics are mine.)
- F.A. Hayek, The road to Serfdom, pg.16-19
* Remember at this time the word liberal referred to those in favor of a free market individualism.
Are we ready to give up such a heritage? Are we ready to trust the political impulses of Barack Obama and his cronies over the great thinkers of the ages and the benefits of the free market that we can see with our own eyes? Are we ready to give up the freedom we have for a system that has FAILED every time it has been tried?
I would also like to call attention to the last sentence that I italicized. It is easy for our opponents to claim that our capitalist tendencies come from greed and nothing more. I do find it frustrating that our way of living has become called capitalism, when that is merely an outgrowth, and a way of describing the system of market a free society is able to produce under a laissez faire government. But the free society is the point, and offers many opportunities for pursuing life, liberty, and happiness beyond just the pursuit of capital.