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The Road to Serfdom: With the Intellectuals and Socialism [Paperback]

Friedrich A. Von Hayek
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (109 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 1 2005
This is a condensed edition of 'The Road to Serfdom' republished in this edition with 'The Intellectuals and Socialism' (originally published in 1949). In 'The Road to Serfdom' F. A. Hayek set out the danger posed to freedom by attempts to apply the principles of wartime economic and social planning to the problems of peacetime. Hayek argued that the rise of Nazism was not due to any character failure on the part of the German people, but was a consequence of the socialist ideas that had gained common currency in Germany in the decades preceding the outbreak of war. Such ideas, Hayek argued, were now becoming similarly accepted in Britain and the USA. On its publication in 1944, 'The Road to Serfdom' caused a sensation. Its publishers could not keep up with demand, owing to wartime paper rationing. Then, in April 1945, Reader's Digest published a condensed version of the book and Hayek's work found a mass audience. This condensed edition was republished for the first time by the IEA in 1999. Since then it has been frequently reprinted. There is an enduring demand for Hayek's relevant and accessible message. The 'Road to Serfdom' is republished in this impression with 'The Intellectuals and Socialism' originally published in 1949, in which Hayek explained the appeal of socialist ideas to intellectuals - the 'second-hand dealers in ideas'. Intellectuals, Hayek argued, are attracted to socialism because it involves the rational application of the intellect to the organisation of society, while its utopianism captures their imagination and satisfies their desire to make the world submit to their own design.

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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

This book should be read by everybody. It is no use saying that there are a great many people who are not interested in politics; the political issue discussed by Dr Hayek concerns every single member of the community. - The Listener --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Friedrich August Hayek (May 1899 - March 1992), born in Austria-Hungary as Friedrich August von Hayek and frequently known as F. A. Hayek, was an Austrian, later British, economist and philosopher best known for his defence of classical liberalism. In 1974, Hayek shared the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (with Gunnar Myrdal) for his "pioneering work in the theory of money and economic fluctuations and ... penetrating analysis of the interdependence of economic, social and institutional phenomena". Hayek was a major political thinker of the twentieth century, and his account of how changing prices communicate information which enables individuals to coordinate their plans is widely regarded as an important achievement in economics.

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Customer Reviews

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Paradox of success July 7 2004
By A Customer
Hayek distinguishes liberty, or true freedom, from license and "serfdom." In the tradition of Adam Smith, he analyzes economic and political questions from moral and practical perspectives, with emphasis on individual liberty. His central conceit, that increasing government activity in the economic sphere would devalue individual dignity and stifle human progress, might seen overblown to some readers; it could be that the influence of this book on conservative political leaders and thinkers in the latter half of the American century may have corrected some of the impending problems Hayek foresaw. The Road to Serfdom is a pleasurable, thought-provoking read, persuasively written.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CHOOSE LIFE! July 16 2006
Even after six decades, The Road To Serfdom remains essential for understanding global economics and politics. Hayek's main point, that whatever the problem, human nature demands that government be the solution, and that this is the road to hell, remains more valid than ever. He pointed out how similar the situation was under Soviet communism and fascism in Germany and Italy.

The consensus in post-war Europe was for the welfare state and this has led to declining birth-rates, mass immigration from North Africa and the Middle East, and a tendency to exchange their ancient cultural values for the frauds of postmodernism and multiculturalism.

In this classic, Hayek discusses matters like planning and power, the fallacy of the utopian idea, planning versus the rule of law. He brilliantly explains how we are faced with two irreconcilable forms of social organization. Either choice and risk resides with the individual or he is relieved of both.

Complete economic security is inseparable from restrictions on liberty - it becomes the security of the barracks. When the striving for security becomes stronger than the love of freedom, a society is in deep, deep trouble. The way to prosperity for all is to remove the obstacles of bureaucracy in order to release the creative energy of individuals.

The government's job is not to plan for progress but to create the conditions favourable to progress. This has been proved by the awesome economic expansion under Reagan and Thatcher and by the amazing growth of the Asian Tiger economies, and most recently India as it implements sensible economic policies.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Relevant and potent sixty years on Jan. 15 2004
The Road to Serfdom - Hayek
Scribing about the Road To Serfdom is a humbling experience. This is, after all, a book that would launch a thousand other similar philosophies, perceiving humanity at its glorious apex, when it is, both economically and politically, liberated from the framework of the interfering state. Pertinently avowed within Hayek's writing is that germ of alarm and concern at the world he has left behind. This is no ordinary academic, swallowed up from an early age in the same old, same old study, but a man who had out of a horrible necessity fled from Nazi Germany to save himself.
The book gives an urgent, unhindering tone to what might well have been an otherwise stale political treatise. Hayek, we must remember, is not writing about politics from a third person perspective ; he is writing from the vantage point of someone supremely concerned that curtailment of our economic freedom in this country, through ostensible socialism, will eventually lead to solid totalitarianism. It goes like this. First, the wages are controlled, then the housing supply is controlled, then your neighbours disappear, then we build a Gulag. It is an easy idea, one that we can see in our everyday experiences - if you give a child a piece of chocolate, he will demand more and more. If you allow free reign to governments to have some economic control over my life- and yours- they will, and believe me on everyone of these words, will want the whole cake in the end. They won't just eat it, but snatch it, smash it, and fashion it in their own image.
Mocking is an easy habit, and it is something that liberals have often felt it necessary to do at the sincere, well-meaning writings of right-wing libertarians. It is a reaction to be pitied.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant but not completely timeless July 21 2003
In this work, his most famous, Hayek presents the classic arguement against central planning of economic activity. But the book has to be understood within its context. Hayek wrote it as a warning to the British who appeared at the time to be embracing socialist planning advocated by the Labour party. So most of the book is somewhat dated by this focus that has less relevancy today. Those elements that do have a broader applicabilty Hayek returned to later in greater detail, but these works are much less popular.
Regardless of this Hayek has a problem in his analysis. He uses the experiences of the rise of totalitarian government in Germany and Russia (primarily) and seeks to generalize that result to Britian (and to a lesser extent the U.S.). Hayek ignores the important difference between these states, the existence of stable democratic rule. Hayek sees any serious economic planning attempt as the begining of a slippery slope that will end in totalitarian government. But the experience of Britian disproved this view. While the post-war Labour government did create a number of socialist programs, these programs never really expanded later. A "collectivist consensus" developed in which it was understood that Labour would not seriously push for more socialized planning and the Conservatives wouldn't seek to unravel what was already settled. This arrangment lasted until the system begain to breakdown in the late 70s and Thatcher was elected. This demonstrates that a healthy democratic polity can engage in planning without it necessarily sliding into the abyss. A similar story is evident in American politics, though in a different and less dramatic fashion due to the more conservative nature of American institutions.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Good
I would have prefered the book rather than the audio, but still very informative.Too bad they don't teach this stuff in school.
Published 20 months ago by Duncan Jacob
1.0 out of 5 stars The Corporation Bible
If you love Enron and Halliburton, and you support corporate opression of the middle-class, read this hogwash. Read more
Published on July 19 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars More true in 2004 than in 1946
I think that one of the true hallmarks of great writing and great thought is that it stands the test of time. Read more
Published on April 10 2004 by Timothy Burger
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book
Makes the compelling case that socialism/communism are really very much the same animal.
The real shame here is that many of those who most need to read this book are in... Read more
Published on March 15 2004 by V.I Lenin
4.0 out of 5 stars Should be required reading for all Students
I adored Hayek's points about the linkage between Stalinist Russia and the National Socialist in Western Europe. Read more
Published on March 6 2004 by drohan00
5.0 out of 5 stars I love my freedom to choose my way!
A great treatise on why government should step aside and let the human moral compass lead the way to the human ideal. Read more
Published on March 2 2004 by John R. Nicholas
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read to Fully Understand Free (and not Free) Markets
I am not a professional economist, but have studied the subject for over 20 years. My three favorite authors on the subject are Adam Smith (for his work that helped shape a... Read more
Published on Jan. 15 2004 by Buckminster
4.0 out of 5 stars An important book
The book is simply great, on whatever side of the political spectrum you may reside. Hayek ably shows that the chosen road will not lead to the desired endstage described by Marx... Read more
Published on Dec 22 2003 by "jonkerb"
5.0 out of 5 stars Reviewer Drew G. Price did not read this book
One of the reviewers, Drew G. Price from Lake Saint Louis, Missouri United States, stated that F.A. Hayek was FOR socialism, government control, etc. Read more
Published on Dec 15 2003 by Steven Borg
2.0 out of 5 stars Huge blind spots
Partly right.
This book is a mixture of:
* 1. Truths (he was largely right about the efficiency of the market, and the inefficiency of government price-setting. Read more
Published on Dec 8 2003 by Chris Watkins
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