Originally published in 1944, The Road to Serfdom has profoundly influenced many of the world's great leaders, from Orwell and Churchill in the mid-'40s, to Reagan and Thatcher in the '80s. The book offers persuasive warnings against the dangers of central planning, along with what Orwell described as "an eloquent defense of laissez-faire capitalism".
Hayek shows that the idea that "under a dictatorial government you can be free inside," is nothing less than a grievous fallacy. Such dictatorial governments prevent individual freedoms, and they often use psychological measures to perform "an alteration of the character of the people". Gradually, the people yield their individuality to the point where they become part of the collectivist mass.
©1944 The University of Chicago (P)2010 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“This book was like a Mike Tyson (in his prime) right hook to socialism in Western Europe and in the United States. But its influence didn’t stop there. It has inspired political and economic leaders for decades since—most famously Ronald Reagan. Reagan often praised Hayek when he talked about people waking up to the dangers of big government.” (Glenn Beck)
“Shatters the myth that the totalitarianisms 'of the Left' and 'of the Right' stem from differing impulses.” (National Review, 100 Best Non-Fiction Books of the Century)
“This book has become a true classic: essential reading for everyone who is seriously interested in politics in the broadest and least partisan sense.” (Milton Friedman)
Parts of this "mid-century" (1940's) book may send shivers up your spine since they seem like "today's news" (circa 2011). Hayek's writing is incisive and insightful, if at times a bit "dense" due to high expectations of the vocabulary and language skills of his readers. One example is the occasional use of short quotes in French and German with no translations supplied. Bill Hughes is a master narrator, and his skills are tested in this book with its extensive citations and quotes having parenthetical attributions.
I appreciated this book for a historical context on the pendulum swings between planning and the free market. No matter which side you are rooting for, you will experience both thrills and slumps, because in the intervening 50+ years since this books original publication, some things are recurring and others are not [yet?].
Another reason to like this book is the logical/philosophical approach. While the title hints at a provocative rhetoric, the text itself is quite level-headed.
I love classic fiction, Austrian economics, enlightenment through history, libertarian politics and humorous stories (both fiction and non).
Not only does F.A. Hayek address and debunk every facet of the appeal for socialism, he does it in a manner of respect and understanding. What is lost in current political debates is the ability to stick to facts, history and logic; instead, on both sides, we see the attacking of character before the arguing of specific points.
What was most amazing and impressive about The Road to Serfdom was the fact that it wasn't written one year ago. Among my contemporaries (20-somethings), there is the tendency to write off classical liberalism as something that is outdated and no longer relevant or practical for the world we live in. However, Hayek shows that the problems that were present 50 years ago are the problems that are still with us today.
Einstein says that the definition of insanity is
I would give the narrator's performance a 4.3. I didn't love his voice, but it was just my particular taste. He was, however, very easy to listen to and follow along with.
Socialism: the invisible Road to Serfdom!
Half a century ago, Hayek laid down many of the logical contradictions inherent to a planned economy, and the conclusions of such reasoning. Unfortunately, he offers little alternative nor does he argue for the moral and practical virtues of freedom.
This book was recommended to me by a spinal surgeon with whom i work. The subject matter and articulation of it and the time in which it was written, 1944, is not The easiest book to listen to. I will listen to it again as much of the subject matter was not fully comprehendible hearing it the first time.
I listen to audiobooks while working outdoors and don't always have 100% of my attention to devote to book. I enjoy books most that are entertaining enough and straightforward enough to not lose focus of while working. I believe some of the concepts in this book are difficult to understand and may have been more easily interpreted by the physician who recommended it. If you have a greater education of history and a supreme working knowledge of much of the vocabulary , which was not immediately understood by me, you may find the book informative.
I will give the book another listen, but my initial impression only inclined me to leave three stars because overall it was difficult to listen to and not immediately clear in many instances what the author was speaking about. as stated above, this may be due to my lack of understanding of some of the vocabulary within the book and also because of the time in which it was written but overall my enjoyment of the publication only merited three stars.
Not including footnotes in the narrative (perhaps having footnote glossary on a pdf file).
He probably wouldn't be as dry as Ben Stein? I don't know. I've never heard Ben Stein narrate a book. For a political comedy, It may be hilarious (He was the only one I liked in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off", and I still watch him on Cavuto on Business).
Christopher Hurt, or Scott Brick.
apathy. I don't really think that's what Hayek was going for
I could only get through half the listening, and had to quit.
The reader, while he subject and prose were tough, it was made worse by the lack of inflection. I will steer clear of this narrator in the future.
The reading of footnoted information.
Yes, it is a history/economics class. again and again until you get it all
This data/historical evidence to support Atlas Shrugged.
I have a hard time with a reader it is not a performance. While Hughes was not reading fiction, he keep me interested.
If you are trying to learn about the economy and how the government interacts with it, this is a good book.
Hayek was a star pupil of the great economist and political philosopher Ludwig von Mises. He has written a clear and convincing defense of liberty, linking economic and political liberty together.
His terminology uses the 19th century meaning of "liberalism" -- a term that has been stolen and transformed in a modern "newspeak" to mean the opposite of its original definition. That aside, Hayek offers a well reasoned defense of what used to be called the liberal position on economics and politics. Writing seventy years ago, he presciently foresaw the wave of collectivism and statism gradually taking over Western democratic nations.
The title of the book is a reference to the way a statist, socialist government will, via the sometimes well meaning (and sometimes nefarious) interference with the liberal perspective, eventually turns its citizens into subjects, dependent on the state in much the way serfs were dependent on the nobility in earlier eras.
The first two-thirds of the book are densely written but a careful listener can follow the reasoning without undue effort. The final one-third becomes even more dense and may take more concentration to understand. But it is all worth the effort.
While I doubt that pro-statist collectivists would ever take the trouble to listen to Hayek or to engage him in philosophical debate, those who are advocates of liberty must read this book to strengthen their own pro-liberty arguments and put their advocacy on sound intellectual footing. This book is a true classic by one of the great thinkers of the twentieth century.
Hayek drives this point home of how centralized governments evolve over time. His path of argument is tainted by the National Socialist party in Germany and the Communist party in Russia in the first half of the 20th century. The book is well read and should be finished. I have the paper book, but I have never been able to finish it. My commute to work allows me to read (listen to) books like this.
The book discusses the challenges as any government tries to centralize its functions. No government wants to be remembered as incompetent. Most try to do their best to help the people. A few Caligula's come, but hopefully they are few. Each government sees many ways they can improve the lives of the governed. In this effort, they try to improve the status of each person to the best methods of their thinking patterns.
In some manner, the government needs to restrict less productive activities compared to more productive activities. This requires some bounds on the governed. It can be setting the amount of grain sold, or the classes taught in schools, or the amount of refinery capacity--due to building permits, etc. This restricts the freedom of citizens in some degree. Some nations restrict the amount of doctors, pharmacists, dentists to prevent over saturation of a job market. Taxation, a necessary evil, also restricts where money is invested in an economy.
One can see this "bounding" effort will grow into many areas over time. Each such effort is intended for good, but it is a bound or restriction that is enforced by the governments power. Each such effort must have some error in it. Government philosophy changes. One encourages open growth, one encourages "planned" growth. Laws must be refined to help. Experts in law are generated over time. These experts see the law and its framework only. Even if the government wants to do its best, it is forced by the nature of the situation to become more restrictive. The second law of thermodynamics is in play as well.
The nature of people who have a new idea for societal improvement becomes more forceful over time. They are certain of the rightness of their ideas and methods. They insist on implementing their ideas for the best of the nation. Only the more determined will become governmental leaders. They will choose people of their own philosophy to help them.
Hayek drives this point home and its outcome. He does his work well. Listen to the book and consider his thinking pattern. Recognize he has his own philosophy as well. The book is a classic.
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