Road to Serfdom

Topics: Totalitarianism, Socialism, Planned economy Pages: 32 (10652 words) Published: October 13, 2012
The Road to Serfdom
with The Intellectuals and Socialism FRIEDRICH A. HAYEK
the condensed version of the road to serfdom b y f . a . h ay e k a s i t a p p e a r e d i n t h e a p r i l 1 9 4 5 e d i t i o n o f r e a d e r’ s d i g e st

The Institute of Economic Affairs


(Jacket notes written by Hayek for the first edition)

‘In The Road to Serfdom’, writes Henry Hazlitt in the New York Times, ‘Friedrich A. Hayek has written one of the most important books of our generation. It restates for our time the issue between liberty and authority. 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.’ The author is an internationally known economist. An Austrian by birth, he was director of the Austrian Institute for Economic Research and lecturer in economics at the University of Vienna during the years of the rise of fascism in Central Europe. He has lived in England since 1931 when he became Professor of Economic Science at the University of London, and is now a British citizen. Professor Hayek, with great power and rigour of reasoning, sounds a grim warning to Americans and Britons who look to the government to provide the way out of all our economic difficulties. He demonstrates that fascism and what the Germans correctly call National Socialism are the inevitable results of the increasing growth of state control and state power, of national ‘planning’ and of socialism. In a foreword to The Road to Serfdom John Chamberlain, book editor of Harper’s, writes: ‘This book is a warning cry in a time of hesitation. It says to us: Stop, look and listen. Its logic is incontestable, and it should have the widest possible audience.’

• Is there a greater tragedy imaginable than that in our endeavour consciously to shape our future in accordance with high ideals we should in fact unwittingly produce the very opposite of what we have been striving for? • The contention that only the peculiar wickedness of the Germans has produced the Nazi system is likely to become the excuse for forcing on us the very institutions which have produced that wickedness. • Totalitarianism is the new word we have adopted to describe the unexpected but nevertheless inseparable manifestations of what in theory we call socialism. • In a planned system we cannot confine collective action to the tasks on which we agree, but are forced to produce agreement on everything in order that any action can be taken at all. • The more the state ‘plans’ the more difficult planning becomes for the individual. • The economic freedom which is the prerequisite of any other freedom cannot be the freedom from economic care which the socialists promise us and which can be obtained only by relieving the individual at the same time of the necessity and of the power of choice: it must be the freedom of economic activity which, with the right of choice, inevitably also carries the risk and the responsibility of that right.



the road to serfdom

• What our generation has forgotten is that the system of private property is the most important guarantee of freedom, not only for those who own property, but scarcely less for those who do not. • We shall never prevent the abuse of power if we are not prepared to limit power in a way which occasionally may prevent its use for desirable purposes. • We shall all be the gainers if we can create a world fit for small states to live in. • The first need is to free ourselves of that worst form of contemporary obscurantism which tries to persuade us that what we have done in the recent past was all either wise or unavoidable. We shall not grow wiser before we learn that much that we have done was very foolish.

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The Road to Serfdom


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