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  • Friedrich von Hayek: The Road to Serfdom

    It seems every day there are more calls for government intervention to relieve us from the infliction and anguish caused by our current economic woes. Those who call for more government centralization and planning reason that doing so can dispel hardship and decline. Yet rarely do they consider that central planning doesn’t work precisely because it counters the variable paramount to guide societal and economic complexities: freedom.

    In his indispensable 1944 classic, The Road to Serfdom, Friedrich von Hayek imparts his sage insight:

    Economic control is not merely control of a sector of human life which can be separated from the rest; it is the control of the means for all our ends. And whoever has sole control of the means must also determine which ends are to be served, which values are to be rates higher and which lower, in short, what men should believe and strive for.

    Sometimes it is argued that our modern economy is too complex to go without central planning, so sacrificing personal freedom is justified for the greater good. Hayek dispels this notion:

    This argument is based on a complete misapprehension of the working of competition. Far from being appropriate only to comparatively simple conditions, it is the very complexity of the division of labor under modern conditions which makes competition the only method by which such coordination can be adequately brought about.

    Today, infringement of liberty in pursuit of central planning has left Americans distrustful of the very government that was erected to protect that liberty, which is why Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom is Amazon’s number one best seller.

    Because central planning is deeply unpopular to Americans, those who advocate it will rarely say so in those terms. Rather, Hayek explains:

    It is a revealing fact that few planners are content to say that central planning is desirable. Most of them affirm that we can no longer choose but are compelled by circumstances beyond our control to substitute planning for competition. The myth is deliberately cultivated that we are embarking on the new course not out of free will but because competition is spontaneously eliminated by technological changes which we neither can reverse nor should wish to prevent.

    Recall that during his campaign, then Senator Obama rhetorically evaded any hint of embodying a central planner: “Change doesn’t come from Washington. Change comes to Washington.”

    After being elected, however, Hayek’s wisdom proved correct when President Obama insisted that unavoidable circumstances justified taking over 60 percent of the auto industry. In addition to the takeover of the auto industry, the left insisted that uncontrollable circumstances compelled nationalization of much our health care sector. Moreover, we are currently told by the left that circumstance requires cap and trade legislation, and that the circumstance of “environmental emergency” gives justification to nationalize BP.

    But if central planning were the solution to our current problems, then why is it that those economies that are more economically free tend to have more prosperity, better overall quality of life, more political and social progress, and better environmental protection?

    Hayek clarifies why freedom best guides the complexities of the marketplace:

    This interaction of individuals, possessing different knowledge and different views, is what constitutes the life of thought. The growth of reason is a social process based on the existence of such differences. It is of its essence that its results cannot be predicted, that we cannot know which views will assist this growth and which will not – in short, that this growth cannot be governed by any views which we now possess without at the same time limiting it. To “plan” or “organize” the growth of mind, or, for that matter, progress in general, is a contradiction in terms.

    At a time when trust in government is at a low, every American would be better off reading Hayek’s timeless reminder of why freedom is so significant, and, ultimately, why believing in central planning to alleviate anguish puts us on a Road to Serfdom.

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    18 Responses to Friedrich von Hayek: The Road to Serfdom

    1. thomasstarish says:

      I appreciate the concern which is been rose. The things need to be sorted out because it is about the individual but it can be with everyone.The initiative taken for the concern is very serious and need an attention of every one. This is the concern which exists in the
      society and needs to be eliminated from the society as soon as possible.
      The people are loosing their moral while becoming modern. The society needs to be attentive that moral.

    2. West Texan says:

      Folks who survived the Soviet's harsh centrally planned hell tend to move as far away from such collectivist societies toward the libertarian's extreme ideological academia. Ayn Rand is a prime example of this phenomenon. May I suggest reading the federalist and anti-federalist papers instead. The information within these founding commentaries are just as applicable to today's technological world as they were with the horse of 18th century America. It's a wisdom beyond compare.

    3. Kindlemonk, Northern says:

      Hayek's book is so popular that the publisher is having trouble keeping up on printing it. If you want to read it right now, though, the electronic version for Kindle is available. That in itself reinforces Hayek's views. Amazon took a technology that had been foundering for years, the e-book, and made it a thriving market. Central organs setting standards and deciding what will and will not be available as e-books, the government model, would eliminate that market overnight. Learn from the 20th century. Learn from the Soviets and the Europeans. There is still enough resilience in this country to bounce back, but if we allow ourselves to complacently watch as free enterprise is ground under the boot of petty dictators we will go down the dark, downward path.

    4. Shirley, Texas says:

      This is exactly why we watch Glenn Beck nightly. He is very educational and gives you the foundations on which to build your opinions and sound reasoning. We have already ordered and read the book by Hayek because Beck featured this data last week.

    5. Drew Page, IL says:

      The Road to Serfdom provides the explanations of why socialism doesn't work.

      Politicians like Mr. Obama and his liberal, 'progressive' allies would have us believe that big government is the answer to any and all problems. The most recent example of this was Barney Frank's defense of the Democrat party before a group of college students, "We are disappointed too that we couldn't all goals, but give us more authority and we will". Giving these people more power and authority would be akin to giving an alcholic more booze.

      Take a look at the state of the European economy, not just Greece, but of England, Italy, Spain and France. The are all socialist democracies, with millions living off the dole, in government high rise housing projects, with their "free" medical care — and unable to meet their bond obligations and pay their bills.

    6. Roni, North Carolina says:

      Are we on our way to Serfdom? With the condition our country has been placed in by a "community organizer" with very little experience in even that field, we are defiently on a sliding slope toward Serfdom. Sitting back waiting for the next guy to take care of the business at hand, or expecting the government to take care of ALL our needs is a dangerous attempt at restoring what we once experienced in our country. Taxes in the state of North Carolina is totally out of control and rising. The Federal government has us in a bankrupt status and continues with worthless stimulus checks. Unemployment is at it's highest, yet the President tells us he and his administration has developed over 400 thousand jobs. Those jobs are for government workers, and once the census is over, even more people will be unemployed. His answer for all Americans was the nortorious health care plan which will in fact leave 35,000 plus people without insurance. It seems for as long as he remains in office, we the people have no choices. We must abide by his rules, wheather we agree or disagree. This administration as said during the campaigning, will certainly go down in history…if in fact there is a history. Requirements of a natural born American is to love the country enough to fight for it. It is time we stand up against the most corrupted Administration known to ever exist, and fight back against their evil, smoke and mirrors, back room deals.

    7. Dennis Social Circle Ga. says:

      He who controlls the money controlls all of us. Well the dems and obama are getting controll more each day, they have taken controll of business, banks, and our very thoughts. They are in the process of tellin us how to seek health care, how to heat and cool our homes, what kind of vehicle we need, how much money we can make {for them} when to blow our nose and wipe our butts. I can not wait untill pelosi, reid and obama place a tax on the air we breath, oh wait, that is what “cap and trade” is about after all we leave “carbon foot prints”. They all talk about the cli9mate and how we are destroying it because of fossil fuels, how much more damage do they cause by flying all over the world and country. I will venture to guess that Air Force 1 has more mile since 1/20/09 than President Bush put on in 8 years. Pelosi has spent more onn going home each week than most us will make in a life time. They are all to faced about this whole mess. I still think we are on the verge of a complete take over, and a dictatorship by obama and clan.

    8. Jerry Porter, Freder says:

      Thank God for Friedrich von Hayek and The Heritage Foundation. We need all the ideas and help that can be muster in order to counter Obama and his henchmen. Our precious freedom and liberty are at stake because for the first time in our history since the Civil War the gravest threat is from within. As that great philosopher Pogo once said "We has met the enemy and he is us!"

      Sadly we won't pay the piper—-it shall be our descendants in future generations. Our brilliant Constitution and Federalist Papers are as valid today as they were over 200 years ago in that struggle against King George. Are we as courageous as our founders? Defeat the regime of internal liberal/progressive radicals. God save us!

    9. Tom Amlie, Mount Joy says:

      You can also read it online at mises.org. At the "literature" tab they have a wealth of free-market writings available for free to read on-line.

    10. Ardath Blauvelt, NH says:

      It is astounding that people don't understand that capitalism and freedom are two sides of a coin; you can't have one without the other. The Dems/Progressives/Liberals/Socialists will try to pretend otherwise — as do the Chinese.

    11. Sheila Byrne says:

      Mr. Hyek's book should be here any day. I am looking forward to it.

    12. JimMcCoole, Zephyrhi says:

      Back during the 60's, a man names Peter Drucker wrote a book in which he defines what he called the "Peter Principle." That's when someone keeps getting promoted until he reaches "…his own level of incompetence." Obama has perfected the "Peter Principle," and has now finally reached it, by first becoming a mediocore 'community organizer', and then through political connections and a habit of stabbing people in the back, worked his way up to state senator, US Senator, and finally, by using people stronger than himself, made it all the way to "Oil Disaster Guru Extraordinair." What a "PHONY."

    13. Michael Dolin, Rockv says:

      What this country needs is a total clewan up of the whole government and that means everyone of those blood sucking freedom grabbing bastards. If not at the ballot box then in a revolution of the French style to be followed by an appropriate reign of terror.

    14. Pingback: The Absurd Report » Friedrich von Hayek: The Road to Serfdom

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    17. john seurynck says:

      I would like 6 copies of "The Road to Serfdom" to share with my conservative and my socialist friends. Please advise. thanks john

    18. Don Kaufman says:

      is the (Readers' Digest) abbreviated version available on Kindle? You sent my dad one and he's ordered several more, but I like to keep my notes in the cloud. (Kindle)

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