The Road to Serfdom

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Hayek, Friedrich A.. 1976. The Road to Serfdom: A Classic Warning Against the Dangers to Freedom Inherent in Social Planning. University of Chicago Press.

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Description

(1944) Friedrich von Hayek's comically failed prediction of the coming totalitarian socialist state in western nations.

Links

Fanatical, Not Reasonable: A Short Correspondence Between Walter E. Block and Milton Friedman (on Friedrich Hayek ’s Road to Serfdom) [More...]
Milton Friedman did not like Walter Block's review of Friedrich von Hayek's The Road to Serfdom. Friedman is very harsh: "you are a fanatic who finds it absolutely impossible to understand the thinking of anybody other than himself." Block is a smarmy, absolutist gasbag in response.
The Road to Serfdom (Comic Book) [More...]
Friedrich von Hayek's propaganda simplified for the masses. A comically failed prediction of the coming totalitarian socialist state in western nations.
Why the Worst Get on Top -- in Economics and as CEOs [More...]
"Hayek’s critique of democratic government has proven to be the most monstrous blood libel of the post-World War II era -- falsely declaring that democratic government must end in tyranny and the mass murder of its own people."

Quotations

Libertarians have been Chicken Littling us about the road to serfdom for at least seventy years. It is about time we stop taking them seriously.
John Jackson, "Frank Chodorov: Scrappy Libertarian, Crappy Oracle"
On the natural interpretation, shared by everyone in mainstream economics from Samuelson to Stigler, this book [ The Road to Serfdom ], which argued that the policies advocated by the British Labour Party in 1944 would lead to a totalitarian dictatorship, was a piece of misprediction comparable to Glassman and Hassett's Dow 36000. So what is going on in the minds of the buyers? Are they crazy? Do they actually think that Hayek was proven right after all? Is there a defensible interpretation of Hayek that makes sense? The answers are "Yes", "Yes" and "No".
John Quiggin, Hayek's Zombie Idea
The most effective way of making people accept the validity of the values they are to serve is to persuade them that they are really the same as those which they ... have always held, but which were not properly understood or recognized before. The people are made to transfer their allegiance from the old gods to the new under the pretense that the new gods really are what their sound instinct had always told them but what before they had only dimly seen. And the most effective way to this end is to use the old words but change their meaning.... Few traits of totalitarian regimes are at the same time so confusing to the superficial observer and yet so characteristic of the whole intellectual climate as the complete perversion of language, the change of meaning of the words by which the ideals of the new regimes are expressed.... If one has not one's self experienced this process, it is difficult to appreciate the magnitude of this change of the meaning of words, the confusion it causes, and the barriers to any rational discussion which it creates... And the confusion becomes worse because this change of meaning of words describing political ideals is not a single event but a continuous process, a technique employed consciously or unconsciously to direct the people. Gradually, as this process continues, the whole language becomes despoiled, and words become empty shells deprived of any definite meaning, as capable of denoting one thing as its opposite and used solely for the emotional associations which still adhere to them.
The Road to Serfdom The Road to Serfdom, p. 157-159.
Where, as in the case of sickness and accident, neither the desire to avoid such calamities nor the efforts to overcome their consequences are as a rule weakened by the provision of assistance — where, in short, we deal with genuinely insurable risks — the case for the state’s helping to organise a comprehensive system of social insurance is very strong…. Wherever communal action can mitigate disasters against which the individual can neither attempt to guard himself nor make provision for the consequences, such communal action should undoubtedly be taken.
Friedrich von Hayek, "The Road to SerfdomThe Road to Serfdom" p. 134.
Hayek supported social insurance, even in The Road to Serfdom [...] He made clear that compulsory contributions to a system of social insurance were compatible with a free society. Hayek rejected laissez-faire capitalism and insisted that a free society was also compatible with various forms of economic regulation [...]
Elizabeth Anderson, "Thomas Paine’s “Agrarian Justice” and the Origins of Social Insurance"
Hayek’s critique of democratic government has proven to be the most monstrous blood libel of the post-World War II era -- falsely declaring that democratic government must end in tyranny and the mass murder of its own people.
Bill Black, "Why the Worst Get on Top -- in Economics and as CEOs"
Economists claim that their work should be evaluated based on predictive success. Von Hayek was made a Nobel Laureate in 1974, three decades after his prediction that democratic states were headed to tyranny and mass murder of their own citizens. In those three decades of experience in the nations he focused on (Western Europe, the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand) – and the forty years since his award – this happened in zero nations. He is batting zero for 70 years in roughly 30 nations with, collectively, thousands of elections. What he claimed was inevitable has never occurred.
Bill Black, "Why the Worst Get on Top -- in Economics and as CEOs"