The Road to Serfdom, the Definitive Edition

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Narrated by: William Hughes
Length: 11 hrs and 45 mins
Categories: Money & Finance, Economics
5 out of 5 stars (508 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

An unimpeachable classic work in political philosophy, intellectual and cultural history, and economics, The Road to Serfdom has inspired and infuriated politicians, scholars, and the public for half a century. Originally published in 1944 - when Eleanor Roosevelt supported the efforts of Stalin, and Albert Einstein subscribed lock, stock, and barrel to the socialist program - The Road to Serfdom was seen as heretical for its passionate warning against the dangers of state control over the means of production. For F. A. Hayek, the collectivist idea of empowering government with increasing economic control would lead not to a utopia but to the horrors of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.

First published by the University of Chicago Press on September 18, 1944, The Road to Serfdom garnered immediate, widespread attention. The first printing of 2,000 copies was exhausted instantly, and within six months more than 30,000 books were sold. In April 1945, Reader's Digest published a condensed version of the book, and soon thereafter the Book-of-the-Month Club distributed this edition to more than 600,000 readers. A perennial best seller, the book has sold 400,000 copies in the United States alone and has been translated into more than 20 languages, along the way becoming one of the most important and influential books of the century.

With this new edition, The Road to Serfdom takes its place in the series the Collected Works of F. A. Hayek. The volume includes a foreword by series editor and leading Hayek scholar Bruce Caldwell explaining the book's origins and publishing history and assessing common misinterpretations of Hayek's thought. Caldwell has also standardized and corrected Hayek's references and added helpful new explanatory notes. Supplemented with an appendix of related materials ranging from prepublication reports on the initial manuscript to forewords to earlier editions by John Chamberlain, Milton Friedman, and Hayek himself, this new edition of The Road to Serfdom is the definitive version of Hayek's enduring masterwork.

©2007 Estate of F. A. Hayek (P)2017 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
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Hayek's case for individualism over collectivism

Nobel laureate in economics and US Presidential Order of Freedom recipient Fredrich August Hayek (1899 - 1992) joins Carl Menger and Ludwig von Mises as the three main economic philosophers of the Austrian School of economics. Mises became a US citizen while Hayek became a British citizen but spent years in the US. The most important works of both Mises and Hayek were in the area of political philosophy rather than traditional economics.

The Road to Serfdom was written in Hayek's early 40's and was published in Great Britain early in 1944 and in the US later that year. Hayek wrote a second edition in 1956 which simply added a forward. I wrote and Audible review of the 1956 edition (that edition is no longer available at Audible) several years ago. The current edition, published in 2017, is edited by Bruce Caldwell and it contains much additional information on Hayek's life and general philosophy.

I must start this review by admitting that I have read all of Hayek's many works and I am a fan of, nay a disciple of, his economic and political philosophy. I first read The Road to Serfdom, the 1956 edition, at a high school senior early in 1961. And I have reread it multiple times. It is, in my opinion, the most important book on economic and political philosophy written during the 20th century.

In simplistic terms The Road to Serfdom makes the case for individualism verses collectivism. Hayek states and demonstrates that collectivism/socialism in all of its variations from communism to fascism/nazism ends up of necessity as authoritarian dictatorships. From an economic point of view the difference between individualism/liberalism/classical liberalism and collectivism/socialism is that the latter does centralized economic planning while the former does no such centralized economic planning. From a political point of view under Hayek's form of liberalism/individualism individuals have freedom while under socialism (including communism and fascism) individuals are unimportant (an individual has no liberty whatever) while groups are very important.

Hayek calls his political philosophy liberalism or classical liberalism. He makes a minor reference to the difference between classical liberalism and conservatism in The Road to Serfdom, but in his next major work titled The Constitution of Liberty on pages 517 - 533 he writes an essay now titled Why I am Not a Conservative that clarifies his position of conservatism. His argument is that conservatism indicates a strong reluctance to change and it can exist in any political system including collective systems. My description is simplistic due to brevity. I urge all reading this to find Why I am Not a Conservative on the Internet and read it.

Much has been written by fans of Ayn Rand on the similarities of her objectivism philosophy and Hayek's classical liberalism. Rand's political philosophy is certainly about individualism of the most rigid and unworkable type possible and it would certainly lead quickly to anarchy if ever implemented. Hayek's classical liberalism is reasonable and workable.

I recommend The Road to Serfdom without reservation.

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An excellent primer for beginners of economic hist

This book along with Friedman's Free to Choose can give the casual reader a strong base of knowledge of political theory tied with economics. Would highly recommend to supplement modern curriculum.

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Excellent, Pertinent, Accessible

Simply a must read! Logical, factual, historically accurate, hugely important, and completely ignored by academia.

If I had to pick only 2 books to recommend to the world, they would be Hayek's "Serfdom" and Jordan Peterson's "12 Rules." the two best books I've ever read.

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Democrats and Republicans will get a lot from this book

It cogently argues the case for free enterprise and the rule of law, which should please at least old style republicans
It also talks about the fact that there are things which can’t be achieved by simply leaving them to the market which should please most Democrats
Interesting that the book uses the term liberal in the original sense, before it’s US meaning was transformed into something quite different and non specific
Finally it gives many warnings and examples about the slippery road to Authoritarianism some of which are chillingly present in 2018

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A great reading of a remarkable book.

Hayek's words read as true today as they did in 1944 in the continual battle between liberty and tyranny.

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Very true!!!

Socialism and communism pave the way for totalitarianism with regimes like National Socialism (Nazism) an almost expected byproduct.

Only by supporting free market capitalism unfettered by coercive government can world society achieve desired individual personal freedom and safeguard against large state mediated violence.

Hayek's book is as true today as it was in the time of WWII.

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Perfect Study on Collectivism and its Failure

The Road to Serfdom, the Definitive Edition, by F. A. Hayek, Editor Bruce Caldwell, and narrated by William Hughes. Mr. Hayek, 1899 to 1992 was a well-respected economist, that was born in Austria, and thus has an insight into German and Italian fascism. At the time of the writing of The Road to Serfdom (RS), he was teaching at the London School of Economics. This book is not an economic study. It is pure and deep political science; a look into the unavoidable nature of collectivism (communism, socialistic states, and national socialism) innate nature to develop into autocracies. Worse yet, autocracies that fail to bring about greater economic results to their societal structures but do rip from individuals their freedoms.

RS proves that collective political systems characteristically requires complete obedience. He does this chapter by chapter concerning such topics as The Great Utopia, Individualism and collectivism, Economic Planification, Planification and Democracy, Politics and Economics, Security and freedom, The end of truth, The socialist roots of Nazism, and Materials conditions and ideal. This is a philosophical analysis and statement that delivers its argument convincingly. What’s more, it is easy to read and superbly read by William Hughes
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If you want to understand how dictatorships come into being this is the book to read. If you want to believe in capitalism (and good social programs for the downtrodden) this is the book to read. If you want to know what is going on with the present popularity with authoritarianism. You should read and study F.A. Hayek, and RS.

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Great Book. Second Time Through

Amazing that universities still want to endorse socialism and central planning in view of 20th century realities.

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This book is more relevant today then ever

socialism and economic planning will cause good leaders to be tyrannical to those that are of less favor to the majority.

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Edited too many times to retain its authenticity.

I simply could not enjoy this book. After the intro ...how many times it had been “updated”. I couldn’t think of anything other than “is this the authors actual meaning?” In today’s world people have shown themselves to be completely unscrupulous in their modifications of the truth. With higher education in the number one position. I chose the book as an actual history in “the road to serfdom”. Now I don’t feel as though it is authentic.