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)
I would, but that friend would need the ability to understand long chains of big words spoken one after another. It would sound a lot like "word salad" to most. This is especially so if the reader isn't particularly interested in politics or defense of one's own freedom.
There were no characters in this book. This is a long essay. It consists of general statements that the author finds to be true. A reader may gain a lot from this book, even if only two or three sentences are listened to at a time. The author says a mouthful in each sentence.
The narrator was decent, but his pronunciation of German words and pronunciation of titles of referenced German books is comical. Does he only speak German with a mouth full of food? Perhaps he has a speech impediment only in German.
I didn't have an extreme reaction, but I did come away with an understanding of why a free economy functions much better than a planned (or socialist) economy.
This book was written from an Englishman's perspective when WWII was winding down or had just ended. This was at a time when the Soviet Union was still an ally of the United States and England against the Axis Powers. The socialism aspect was in context of the German Nazis (short for Nationalist Socialist) form of socialism, just before the cold war began. It seems that England had it's share of proponents of socialism and this book was written to highlight the unfortunate things that would happen if socialism were allowed to grip England. Many of these things are not obvious, but make perfect sense when explained. One could draw a parallel to the scary direction the United States is heading under the leadership of Barack Obama.
Road to Serfdom is every bit as applicable today as it was 70 years ago. My mind was taken many different directions over the course of the book.
William Hughes does a fantastic job with this book. His voice is very engaging on a piece which-- profound or not-- is still 9 hours of economic nonfiction... I have listened to other similar books that I wonder if the production company chose the narrator most likely to put people to sleep. Not here.
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).
I have been trying to finish this for a while now. Sadly, I have a really hard time listening without zoning out because I think the performer just isn't paying attention to the concepts. The sentences are long, and the semantics flow throughout the paragraphs, but the narrator EMphaSIZES EVery OTHer syllable, just about, and every sentence is in the same dull range. He's not communicating, he's just reading.
In fact, in order to pay attention, I "re-read" each sentence aloud in my head. I am going to have to pick up a physical copy or find another performance. Very disappointed.
Interesting ideas, seminal political philosophy for the time period.
This should be professed, lectured, explained. When you read a complicated philosophical work, your voice should flow with the ideas, and not stupidly recite long paragraphs with virtually no change in intonation while hammering staccato emphasis on every other syllable. It should be thought through, like a revelation. It's not an instruction manual.
No. I don't think political philosophy does that for many. And if it does, perhaps they should consider a career in comedy.
Get Robert Beltran to re-do this.
The listening experience is very good: 5 out of 5. The narrator, William Hughes, reads Hayek confidently, articulately, and with intonation that keeps listeners engaged like they're listening to a lecturer who knows what he is talking about.
I was drawn to this book as a liberal who wanted to know of what charges and counter points to socialism existed in the mid 20th century, and why Hyak insisted that progressive ideology leads to tyranny. It did not disappoint.
I approached this book with a completely open mind, and I must say I learned a great deal from it. Hayek's main points were delivered in a clear and lucid fashion, easy to understand, and cause many epiphanies and "ahah" moments while I was exercising at the gym.
It's readability is high for people who enjoy reading on such subjects of liberty, history, freedom, and social ideas. His challenge against socialist ideology is that the collectivization of values in society, and the never ending debate of the means and ends of a socialist society, is not conducive to freedom but rather it is conducive to tyranny. He asserts that we should avoid it at all costs to preserve the freedom to choose our own values, our own means and ends, and our own economic livelihood.
This book is excellent and I highly recommend it to liberals and conservatives alike. For the liberal, you will learn the sacrifices individuals make in socialist societies and begin to question how much liberty you sacrifice for your own collectivist values. For conservatives, you will learn the fundamental arguments in favour of drastically small government and the importance of individual agency over collectivist thinking.
Even after 60 plus years this book has a powerful message that resonates. F.A. Hayek's projections of what a socialist society inadvertently leads to is dead bang on. Thoughtful readers on the left and right will be able to recognize how accurate Mr. Hayek's by reading today's news stories.
I was educated into oblivion but have overcome it and am having a wonderful life
I'm learning from a scholar whose work spans a good part of the 20th century. It's particularly enlightening to learn the specifics and the philosophical underpinnings throughout this analysis of socialism vs the American way.
I don't know of another book with this breadth, this depth, and this degree of scholarship that could compare.
When I read I stop and ponder too often and so often don't continue. Listening helps me to continue on to hear the main points and so I get a better overview of the subject matter.
I've wanted to read this but was afraid to buy it because I thought I'd get bogged down. Instead, I'm finding it to be an easy listen, it makes great sense, it's understandable, and I gain an appreciation for what I've grown up with here in the USA.
While the information in slow at first it is well worth the listen. This should be required reading in public schools,it would produce a well informed population and stop politicians for talking so much crap.
I've been listening to audio books for well over twenty years (even before audible was available). Secretly, I wish I could be a narrator.
Although Hayek makes a compelling argument for fiscal conservatism, the book is written in a British academic style that's difficult for modern readers to comprehend. The British, in general, tend to be a bit verbose in their writing style anyway (especially in the 1940s when this was written). Although I have an MBA and understood his arguments, even I had trouble getting through the book.
I'm sure this was a good and ground-breaking book for it's day, but after about 2 chapters I had to turn it off. The way people wrote in the 1940s is just painful. I kept wanting to scream, "Ok, ok, I get it!!! Stop repeating yourself!!". The author takes pages and pages to say what could be said in a paragraph of circa 2011 prose. I regret wasting a credit on this one. You're better off getting something written within the last decade, maybe a Thomas Sowell book or something.
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