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)
Socialism equals totalitarianism. Fredrick Hayek's exploration of the foundations of socialism in Germany that paved the way for world war ii and the disturbing trend everywhere else in the world to follow the path already walked by Hitlar's Germany.
Excellent book, it should be a must for every college student especially Business and Econ majors. We are all just pawns in the central planners game.
Hayek in this book is making the case that centralized state planning is the road to totalitarian government. He elegantly build the case that in order for a state central plan to be implemented it will require wide authorities delegated to some experts. But because the economy is too complex to be regulated by some experts, regardless of how smart they are, the plan will always fall short of the promised outcomes and the experts will always ask for more authority to make more changes to achieve those goals. These expanded authorities will erode the power of the elected democratic parliament and the individual liberties of people.
He refers to all the people who advocate for regulating the economy to achieve certain social or national goals as socialists because they prefer social goals to individual liberties.
He uses the example of Germany's progress from a liberal state to a welfare state to eventually the nazi state that took over in the 1930s.
The books is a very relevant to the modern time. As I read it, I kept reflecting on the growth of government in the United States over the last decades and the failures it keep facing in achieving the promised goals. The gradual growth of the regulatory executive agencies and decline in the power of congress since the beginning of the twentieth century fits perfectly with the pattern Hayek is describing in the book.
Fantastic, perception altering book. And also quite scary to realise in many respects how much further we have continued down the path Hayek warned us against.
Essential reading (or listening!)
Also love William Hughes' narration. Top notch.
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.
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.
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.
Old & fat, but strong; American, Chinese, & Indian (sort of); Ph.D. in C.S.; strategy, economics & stability theory; trees & machining.
Writing during World War II, Fredrick Hayek (a prominent academic at the London School of Economics), presents a passionate argument for what we now think of as libertarianism, but which he called Classical Liberalism. He argues that central planning, rather it be liberal or conservative is the great evil. This is because central planning can only be implemented through an ever escalating slide towards totalitarianism. He further argues that the British and American traditions of individual freedom are the antidote.
In the context of World War II he argues that although the Nationalizes and the Nazis purport to be the opposite of the Socialist and the Communist, they are merely arguing over how to implement central planning. The important question is rather (or when) to have central planning.
Another perspective on this work is that at any given time the political discourse tends towards the one dimensional. The result is that the actual interaction of the government with “real life” are (with rare exceptions) significantly more multi-dimensional than the discussion of this interaction. From World War I to the present much of the political discussion has focused on the “left/right debate”. But the difference between classical liberalism and central planning is the important distinction.
As an aside while arguing with my wife about this book, I had an epiphany, which is suggested by the book, but not explicitly in the book. Neither central planning nor laissez faire are inherently more efficient, the apparent difference in efficiency are a matter of perspective. The difference is strongly analogous to the difference between vertical and horizontal integration in technology. Central planning can more efficiently accomplish a small number of objectives at the expense of an even greater loss of efficiency in other parts of the system (i.e., vertical integration). Laissez faire maximizes system efficiency at the expense of a loss of end-to-end efficiency in nearly every specific objective (i.e., horizontal integration).
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