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Archive for February 27th, 2014

The Road to Serfdom

( Available on Amazon)

This is a classic political economical work that I finally got around to reading.  What made the book interesting even before I read the work is the story of its author, Friedrich von Hayek.  Hayek was at one time a prominent academic defender of socialism in his home country who later became an outspoken critic against socialism, communism and fascism.  An Austrian who experienced firsthand the rise of socialism and fascism in his own country, this book has a prophetic tone directed towards its English readers.  Hayek wrote this book from 1940 to 1943 during the height of World War Two to warn the English against adopting the same ideologies of the fascists they were fighting against; apparently fascists ideas have made inroads among some British elites.  Interestingly enough, the book’s prophetic flavor remains relevant today with its warning against statist economic policies.

Many things could be said about the content of this book.  A lengthy review would be impractical so what follows are some of the highlights.  One thing I appreciated from the book is Hayek’s discussion of planned economies.  “Planned economies” is truly a misnomer.  Hayek makes it clear that he’s not against planned economies per se, for instance in the case of individuals making rational economic decisions for themselves;  rather he is against the type of planned economies made by the government that comes with force from the rule of law.  His chapter on the relationship of planned economies and totalitarianism tells us one chief reason why government planned economies is bad.  I also appreciated the book’s discussion of Nazism’s socialistic roots which challenges the modern myths today that the Nazis were truly conservatives and right wingers in their values.  Readers who want to see the arguments further developed that the Nazis were socialists and left-leaning should consult the book Liberal Fascism, a wonderful work I read simultaneously with this book.  I also enjoyed Hayek’s last chapter which dealt with the suggestion offered by some that a global controlled economies is a great economic goal but Hayek argues that if planned economies can’t take off at the level of the state what makes one think it will work at a larger scale?  It will only make matters worst.  Great book!

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