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The Road to Serfdom: Text and Documents

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4.17  ·  Rating Details ·  12,423 Ratings  ·  742 Reviews
An unimpeachable classic work in political philosophy, intellectual and cultural history, and economics, The Road to Serfdom has inspired and infuriated politicians, scholars, and general readers 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 pr ...more
Paperback, The Definitive Edition, 283 pages
Published March 30th 2007 by University of Chicago Press (first published 1944)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Cami
Jul 26, 2016 Cami rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book captures the frustration of classical liberals (as opposed to modern liberals) when they see collectivist policies enacted despite the overwhelming evidence that socialism brings about disastrous results.

Having grown up and lived in Austria during World War I and later moving to Great Britain, Hayek was particularly frustrated when he saw Britain and the United States making the same mistakes of the Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Hayek argues that collectivism eventually leads to t
...more
11
Jun 01, 2013 11 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
T

Utopia
It’s never too early to start planning for summer vacation. This year, I’ve decided I want to go to Utopia. I’ve heard many good things about it: there’s no crime, pollution, or disease. It’s very clean and well-maintained. In fact, it is ideal in every imaginable way. Sir Thomas More tells us that Utopia doesn't exist; it's “nowhere”, but I refuse to believe this. A simple search on teh interwebs revealed quite a few utopias to choose from:

1) How about that domed city in Logon’s Run? We s
...more
Stephen
6.0 stars. On my list of "All Time Favorite" Books. One of the most important books ever written and most concise, brilliant, scathing and impressive argument against the "planned economy" that has been, or likely ever will be, written. Hayek, while always being respectful to the adherents of the idea that state control over resources and goals is the right approach, nevertheless absolutely destroys each and every argument and rationale alluded to by such people.

His general thesis that socialis
...more
Howard Olsen
Sep 09, 2007 Howard Olsen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Finally got around to reading this libertarian/conservative classic. It's short, but deep, combining economics, politics, sociology, and a short history of Socialist thought, to create the greatest critique of the collectivist impulse that you can read. Hayek's message is blunt: despite the freedom and liberality that is western man's birthright, there is an inevitable clamor for order and equality that arises from the intellligensia and the wealthy. This clamor leads to the demand-often in the ...more
Hadrian
View of Hayek has shifted tremendously the more I read of him - he's done some groundbreaking and great economics, such as The Use of Knowledge in Society - but this just seems to be fearmongering and the slippery slope, as though free childcare leads nations on a rapid slide to Stalinist despotism.
Marcus
Sep 23, 2010 Marcus rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: capitalists and socialists
The Road to Serfdom is not an anti-government book, it's definitely not a libertarian or pro-laissez-faire capitalism or even a pro-democracy book. It's purely and simply an anti-socialism book. And, just to be clear, to Hayek, socialism primarily means central-planning. It's chapter after chapter of reasons why socialism, despite it's apparently noble goals, both will not work in the practical sense, and how it tends to lead to totalitarianism.

Hayek's arguments are level-headed and logical. He
...more
Brittany
May 21, 2012 Brittany rated it did not like it
The historical analysis upon which this book depends amounts to nothing more than extremely poor scholarship masquerading as thoughtful contrarianism. Hayek's conflation of Nazism with Socialism merely because they have similar names in German is an example of stupidity on the level of mistaking the PATRIOT Act for patriotism or the Ministry of Peace for peacefulness. This distracting error is unfortunately the foundation of the entirety of his argument. His theory of authoritarianism consists o ...more
sologdin
Introduced by Chicago don Milty Friedman, who assures us that “the free market is the only mechanism that has ever been discovered for achieving participatory democracy” (xi). Preach it, Brother Milt!

So-called 'collectivism' had been burying purported 'individualism,' apparently, in Padre Fred’s 1944 analysis, but was unexpectedly checked by the time of Frere Milt’s semicentennial celebratory gala binge. Fra Milt is pleased to report that Father Fred was dead wrong in his predictions that colle
...more
j. young
Feb 01, 2011 j. young rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: neoliberal
There is an old cartoon (found here) which summarizes the logic of this work rather perfectly. Essentially, the government gets involved in your life, they dictate how you live, then they kill you.

The notions in this text are trifling at best.

Hayek never confronts the fact that a lack of some centralized body somewhere making decisions for you does not mean an end to governance. Clearly, businesses govern. They also plan. To take this power away from a centralized and (at least ostensibly) publ
...more
Mike (the Paladin)
The temptation here will be to try and say too much. This is a short book, though it is thickly packed. I won't try to relate here what the author relates in the book. I will try to say a few words about the book and recommend it.

This is the same book that was released in England in 1944, but it is a new edition and thus has a new intro by the author. If you can get this edition I recommend it for the intro. This book was written during (near the end of)WWII and thus will be in some ways a bit d
...more
James
This is one of the foundational books for my personal philosophy. Along with his other works, the thought of Friedrich von Hayek is basic to my own indivdualist world view. In this book Hayek contends that liberty is fragile, easily harmed but seldom extinguished in one fell swoop. Instead, over the years “the unforeseen but inevitable consequences of socialist planning create a state of affairs in which, if the policy is to be pursued, totalitarian forces will get the upper hand.” He asserts th ...more
Mel
1/2 star not simply for Hayek's preachy, condescending tone, but because this book was the catalyst for the gutting of the State by the flying monkeys of the Chicago School under Milton Friedman. From Pinochet's Chile to Thatcher's Britain to post-Soviet Russia, Hayek's callous version of individualism and "competition" gave a veneer of legitmacy to an explosion of untramelled human greed in which millions of people lost any security of income or employment whilst a few within the charmed circle ...more
Andrea
Oct 06, 2011 Andrea rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theory, democracy
Hayek is a huge figure in economics and of immense influence on neoliberalism, and reading this I was struck by just how deeply and completely neoliberalism goes as a theoretical framework. I know many would not agree with that (though many would), but Thatcher claimed him as her own and that is enough for me. There are also those conversations in the Mount Pelerin Society with Milton Friedman. It fascinates me that this resonance is true not just of the ideas, but also in the way language is us ...more
C. Wells
Dec 16, 2007 C. Wells rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If "compassionate conservatism" means anything, than it surely means something like this. Hayek's thought no longer qualifies as hardcore libertarian because he believed in government welfare programs, albeit limited ones, as supplementary to the free market system for those unable to participate in it. Central planning was what he was really against, and he has a very convincing argument against putting economic planning in the hands of any government, no matter how benevolent it may seem to be ...more
Douglas Wilson
Jun 24, 2009 Douglas Wilson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
What a fine book. What a timely book. Those who want to understand Obamonomics need to read this. Those who have read it already should probably read it again. The political world is divided into two main groups -- those who think controlling everything from the center is a good idea and those who do not. Each side of that divide has its variations, but those are the basic options. Those on the fascist side (control) have the hard totalitarians and the soft totalitarians, but that is basically a ...more
Jason
Apr 12, 2007 Jason rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Hayek creates a facile equation of fascism and communism, and argues that any political or economic system that is not laissez-faire capitalism is tyranny. Hayek's seemingly deliberate misreadings of history left me unconvinced, and very uneasy with the libertarian movement, if this is to be taken as a representative text.
Vu K
Nhân mùa khai trường năm học mới (2016-2017) thì châm ngôn của cá nhân mình được lấy cảm hứng từ quyển sách này cho những ai cắp sách đến trường, nhất là các bạn mới bắt đầu ôm cặp vào Đại học chữ to, không phải là Dạy thật tốt, học thật tốt, 5 điều Chủ tịch Hồ Chí Minh dạy thiếu niên, nhi đồng, hay lời căn dặn trở thành người công dân tốt, có ích, ngắn gọn là:

Trước khi trang bị cho mình kiến thức, hãy là (một con) NGƯỜI TỰ DO.
Và học hỏi kiến thức để giúp mình được là và mãi là (một con) NGƯỜI T
...more
Amy Sturgis
Hayek's The Road to Serfdom was both prophetic and influential in its day, and its message is as timely now as it ever was. He offers a compelling warning that the collectivism required for centralized planning is incompatible with democracy and the individualism on which it's built. In so doing, he provides key insights into economic concepts rarely discussed or understood today in mainstream conversations, such as how the price system works as a means of conveying information, how the rule of ...more
Billy Roper
Apr 24, 2016 Billy Roper rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I was an undergrad, I was a Darwinian-Nietzschean Anarchist. If that political school sounds unfamiliar to you, it's not your fault, I was such an individualist that I made it up, myself. Ayn Rand was a candy assed liberal, right? So, Hayek and Von Mises, the Austrian school of laissez faire economics, really appealed to me, but now that I've become a man and put away childish things, I understand that the free market only works if everybody else agrees to play nice and not collectivize the ...more
Hamidur
I've recently started reading economics books by liberal/neo-liberal/libertarian-capitalist writers to better understand their points. But I'm finding them not much superior than the arguments I come across from "anarcho"-capitalists and right wing libertarians on the internet.

For one thing, Hayek lumps the Nazis with socialists and communists because they're all "collectivists." Never mind the fact that fascists speak about "class collaboration" when socialists are interested in the class strug
...more
Aniruddha
Jul 29, 2011 Aniruddha rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The Road to Serfdom is a book that has divided the post-war divided world. In developed countries that practice capitalism, Hayek's book created a stir although his influence was a shadow of the effect Keynes had on countries. No body said 'I'm an Hayekian now'. Hayek barely finds a place in my economics textbook. This book told me why he was never respected in his life.

With all respect to Hayek and his intellect, this book falls short of being the ultimate attack on socialism it set out to be.
...more
Jonny
“We are today living out the dim echo—like light from a fading star—of a debate conducted seventy years ago by men (John Meynard Keynes and Friedrich Hayek) born for the most part in the late nineteenth century. To be sure, the economic terms in which we are encouraged to think are not conventionally associated with these far-off political disagreements. And yet without an understanding of the latter, it is as though we speak a language we do not fully comprehend.”
- Tony Judt ‘What is Living and
...more
Clif
Apr 06, 2009 Clif rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Friedrich A. Hayek was a member of the Austrian School of economics. We've heard about that school in recent times because Milton Friedman advocated many of the ideas the school expressed, primarily the freedom to choose provided by a free market.

This book is a warning to England, written during the closing days of World War II, that the policies of socialism being advocated at the time were the same policies Hayek has seen in Germany 20 years before.

On first thought, one would wonder how social
...more
Jud Barry
Aug 04, 2010 Jud Barry rated it it was ok
OK, I'll admit that I finally broke down and read this book because of Glenn Beck. I've heard about this book for so long from conservatives who say that it shows how contemporary liberalism is Hayek's "road to serfdom."

Balderdash. If you read this book, you'll see that Hayek wrote at the end of World War II to warn about the dangers of centralized, planned economies, as opposed to economies based on competition. That's it.

Hayek is not against "big government." In fact, he says a lot about the t
...more
Johnny B. Rempit
Ya, buku ini penting di dalam sejarah. Ia patut dibaca, difahami etc etc etc.

Seperti yang saya agak, kandungan buku ini kering. 'Kering seperti tulang'. Pernah tak anda dengar perumpamaan itu dalam BM? Tak pernah, bukan? Sebabnya ialah perumpamaan itu lebih sesuai digunakan dalam bahasa asalnya. 'Dry as a bone'. Mengapa saya menyentuh perkara ini? Sebab kualiti penterjemahan buku ini ke BM amatlah tidak memuaskan. Seolah-olah si penterjemah tiada daya imaginasi. Contoh paling ketara ialah penggu
...more
John
Apr 22, 2009 John rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009
Hayek's analysis of socialism is insightful, prophetic, and chilling. It is a difficult book to read, but very rewarding. It is clear that we take for granted the freedoms we were given by our founding fathers and abdicating them to the socialist planners will lead to dire consequences. We must all wake up before the socialists in our midst lead us to totalitarianism--something that may be difficult to imagine, but most certainly in our future if we continue upon our current path.
Lisa (Harmonybites)
I recently saw an edition of this book citing Glen Beck on the back cover and claiming it was an inspiration for the Tea Party. I couldn't help wincing at what the reaction of many potential readers would be to that. For Hayek, a Nobel-Prize winning economist, doesn't deserve to be dismissed with a sneer by those on the other side of the political divide. Hayek dedicated the book to "socialists of all parties" and said in the 1957 Preface to the American edition that was meant "in no spirit of m ...more
William
Jan 22, 2014 William rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hayek, an Austrian who moved to Britain in the 1930s, sounded as clear a set of warnings for Britain and America in 1944 against the dangers of creeping socialism as Alexis de Tocqueville had done for France and America 100 years previously. Hayek saw the danger for Britain contained in the Fabian socialism of H.G. Wells et al. based on how the welfare programs begun in Germany under Bismarck led to the disaster of "National Socialism" under Hitler.

De Toqueville had seen the same trends in Franc
...more
Sally Morem
Mar 03, 2010 Sally Morem added it
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Sally by: conservative friends
This is one of the books that has most influenced my thinking on economics and political philosophy. Hayek wrote this book during World War II, when it seemed that the world was falling into a permanent dark age of statism. It was his lonely voice in the wilderness that reminded Americans of what they were actually fighting for--the preservation of a truly free society with high respect for individuals and free institutions.

I've learned so much from this book. How alike socialism and fascism wer
...more
Bryana Johnson
Feb 08, 2013 Bryana Johnson rated it it was amazing
It took me many months to finish reading Hayek’s classic work on economics and totalitarianism. It certainly isn’t for the faint of heart, but I consider it well worth the effort. Writing during World War II, Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek explores the sinister ramifications of centralized “planning” in the economic sphere and delves into the nature of socialism. He explains why socialized systems are dishonest and totalitarian in nature and warns of a creeping acceptance of collectivist thi ...more
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Friedrich August von Hayek CH was an Austrian and British economist and philosopher known for his defense of classical liberalism and free-market capitalism against socialist and collectivist thought. He is considered by some to be one of the most important economists and political philosophers of the twentieth century. Hayek's account of how changing prices communicate signals which enable indivi ...more
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“It is true that the virtues which are less esteemed and practiced now--independence, self-reliance, and the willingness to bear risks, the readiness to back one's own conviction against a majority, and the willingness to voluntary cooperation with one's neighbors--are essentially those on which the of an individualist society rests. Collectivism has nothing to put in their place, and in so far as it already has destroyed then it has left a void filled by nothing but the demand for obedience and the compulsion of the individual to what is collectively decided to be good.” 42 likes
“Probably it is true enough that the great majority are rarely capable of thinking independently, that on most questions they accept views which they find ready-made, and that they will be equally content if born or coaxed into one set of beliefs or another. In any society freedom of thought will probably be of direct significance only for a small minority. But this does not mean that anyone is competent, or ought to have power, to select those to whom this freedom is to be reserved. It certainly does not justify the presumption of any group of people to claim the right to determine what people ought to think or believe.” 42 likes
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