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The Road to Serfdom The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich A. Hayek
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The Road to Serfdom Quotes (showing 1-30 of 73)
“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.”
Friedrich A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom
“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.”
Friedrich A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom
“Our freedom of choice in a competitive society rests on the fact that, if one person refuses to satisfy our wishes, we can turn to another. But if we face a monopolist we are at his absolute mercy. And an authority directing the whole economic system of the country would be the most powerful monopolist conceivable…it would have complete power to decide what we are to be given and on what terms. It would not only decide what commodities and services were to be available and in what quantities; it would be able to direct their distributions between persons to any degree it liked.”
Friedrich A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom
“It is one of the saddest spectacles of our time to see a great democratic movement support a policy which must lead to the destruction of democracy and which meanwhile can benefit only a minority of the masses who support it. Yet it is this support from the Left of the tendencies toward monopoly which make them so irresistible and the prospects of the future so dark.”
Friedrich A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom
“Freedom to order our own conduct in the sphere where material circumstances force a choice upon us, and responsibility for the arrangement of our own life according to our own conscience, is the air in which alone moral sense grows and in which moral values are daily recreated in the free decision of the individual. Responsibility, not to a superior, but to one's own conscience, the awareness of a duty not exacted by compulsion, the necessity to decide which of the things one values are to be sacrificed to others, and to bear the consequences of one's own decision, are the very essence of any morals which deserve the name.”
Friedrich A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom
“Few people ever have an abundance of choice of occupation. But what matters is that we have some choice, that we are not absolutely tied to a job which has been chosen for us, and that if one position becomes intolerable, or if we set our heart on another, there is always a way for the able, at some sacrifice, to achieve his goal. Nothing makes conditions more unbearable than the knowledge that no effort of ours can change them; and even if we should never have the strength of mind to make the necessary sacrifice, the knowledge that we could escape if we only strove hard enough makes many otherwise intolerable positions bearable.”
Friedrich A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom
“Everything which might cause doubt about the wisdom of the government or create discontent will be kept from the people. The basis of unfavorable comparisons with elsewhere, the knowledge of possible alternatives to the course actually taken, information which might suggest failure on the part of the government to live up to its promises or to take advantage of opportunities to improve conditions--all will be suppressed. There is consequently no field where the systematic control of information will not be practiced and uniformity of views not enforced.”
Friedrich A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom
“One need not be a prophet to be aware of impending dangers. An accidental combination of experience and interest will often reveal events to one man under aspects which few yet see.”
Friedrich A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom
“It is not difficult to deprive the great majority of independent thought. But the minority who will retain an inclination to criticize must also be silenced....Public criticism or even expressions of doubt must be suppressed because they tend to weaken pubic support....When the doubt or fear expressed concerns not the success of a particular enterprise but of the whole social plan, it must be treated even more as sabotage.”
Friedrich A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom
“The word 'truth' itself ceases to have its old meaning. It describes no longer something to be found, with the individual conscience as the sole arbiter of whether in any particular instance the evidence (or the standing of those proclaiming it) warrants a belief; it becomes something to be laid down by authority, something which has to believed in the interest of unity of the organized effort and which may have to be altered as the exigencies of this organized effort require it.”
Friedrich A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom
“We are ready to accept almost any explanation of the present crisis of our civilization except one: that the present state of the world may be the result of genuine error on our own part and that the pursuit of some of our most cherished ideals has apparently produced results utterly different from those which we expected.”
Friedrich A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom
“Although we had been warned by some of the greatest political thinkers of the nineteenth century, by Tocqueville and Lord Acton, that socialism means slavery, we have steadily moved in the direction of socialism.”
Friedrich A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom
“The state should confine itself to establishing rules applying to general types of situations and should allow the individuals freedom in everything which depends on the circumstances of time and place, because only the individuals concerned in each instance can fully know these circumstances and adapt their actions to them. If the individuals are able to use their knowledge effectively in making plans, they must be able to predict actions of the state which may affect these plans. But if the actions of the state are to be predictable, they must be determined by rules fixed independently of the concrete circumstances which can be neither foreseen nor taken into account beforehand; and the particular effects of such actions will be unpredictable. If, on the other hand, the state were to direct the individual’s actions so as the achieve particular ends, its actions would have to be decided on the basis of the full circumstances of the moment and would therefore be unpredictable. Hence the familiar fact that the more the state “plans”, the more difficult planning becomes for the individual.”
Friedrich A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom
“To act on behalf of a group seems to free people of many of the moral restraints which control their behaviour as individuals within the group.”
Friedrich A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom
“Democracy is essentially a means, a utilitarian device for safeguarding internal peace and individual freedom. As such it is by no means infallible or certain. Nor must we forget that there has often been much more cultural and spiritual freedom under an autocratic rule than under some democracies and it is at least conceivable that under the government of a very homogeneous and doctrinaire majority democratic government might be as oppressive as the worst dictatorship.”
Friedrich A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom
“In any society freedom of thought will probably be of direct significance only for a small minority.”
Friedrich A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom
“There can be no doubt that the promise of greater freedom has become one of the most effective weapons of socialist propaganda and that the belief that socialism would bring freedom is genuine and sincere. But this would only heighten the tragedy if it should prove that what was promised to us as the Road to Freedom was in fact the High Road to Servitude. Unquestionably, the promise of more freedom was responsible for luring more and more liberals along the socialist road, for blinding them to the conflict which exists between the basic principles of socialism and liberalism, and for often enabling socialists to usurp the very name of the old party of freedom. Socialism was embraced by the greater part of the intelligentsia as the apparent heir of the liberal tradition: therefore it is not surprising that to them the idea of socialism's leading to the opposite of liberty should appear inconceivable.”
Friedrich A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom
“Our hopes of avoiding the fate which threatens must...[be to make]adjustments that will be needed if we are to recover and surpass our former standards...and only if every one of us is ready to individually obey the necessities of readjustment shall we be able to get through a difficult period as free men who can choose their own way of life. Let a uniform minimum be secured to everybody by all means; but let us admit at the same time that with this assurance of a basic minimum all claims for a privileged security for particular classes must lapse....”
Friedrich A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom
“The fact that German anti-Semitism and anticapitalism spring from the same root is of great importance for the understanding of what has happened there, but this is rarely grasped by foreign observers.”
Friedrich A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom
“Only if we understand why and how certain kinds of economic controls tend to paralyze the driving forces of a free society, and which kinds of measures are particularly dangerous in this respect, can we hope that social experimentation will not lead us into situations none of us want.”
Friedrich A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom
“What Tocqueville did not consider was how long such a government would remain in the hands of benevolent despots when it would be so much more easy for any group of ruffians to keep itself indefinitely in power by disregarding all the traditional decencies of political life.”
Friedrich A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom
“But what socialists seriously contemplate the equal division of existing capital resources among the people of the world?”
Friedrich A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom
“Once you admit that the individual is merely a means to serve the ends of the higher entity called society or the nation, most of those features of totalitarian regimes which horrify us follow of necessity. From the collectivist standpoint intolerance and brutal suppression of dissent, the complete disregard of the life and happiness of the individual, are essential and unavoidable consequences of this basic premise, and the collectivist can admit this and at the same time claim that his system is superior to one in which the "selfish" interests of the individual are allowed to obstruct the full realisation of the ends the community pursues.”
Friedrich A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom
“Quando o curso da civilização toma um rumo inesperado quando, ao invés do progresso contínuo que nos habituamos a esperar, vemonos ameaçados por males que associamos à barbárie do passado – naturalmente atribuímos a culpa a tudo, exceto a nós mesmos.”
Friedrich A. Hayek, O Caminho da Servidão
“Cuando el curso de la civilización toma un giro insospechado, cuando, en lugar del progreso continuo que esperábamos, nos vemos amenazados por males que asociábamos con las pasadas edades de barbarie, culpamos, naturalmente, a cualquiera menos a nosotros mismos.”
Friedrich A. Hayek, Camino de servidumbre. Textos de documentos. Edición definitiva
“It seems to be almost a law of human nature that it is easier for people to agree on a negative programme, on the hatred of an enemy, on the envy of those better off, than on any positive task. The contrast between the "we" and the "they", the common fight against those outside the group, seems to be an essential ingredient in any creed which will solidly knit together a group for common action. It is consequently always employed by those who seek, not merely support of a policy, but the unreserved allegiance of huge masses. From their point of view it has the great advantage of leaving them greater freedom of action than almost any positive programme.”
Friedrich A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom
“The power which a multiple millionaire, who may be my neighbour and perhaps my employer, has over me is very much less than that which the smallest functionaire possesses who wields the coercive power of the state, and on whose discretion it depends whether and how I am to be allowed to live or to work.”
Friedrich A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom
“When the course of civilization takes an unexpected turn—when, instead of the continuous progress which we have come to expect, we find ourselves threatened by evils associated by us with past ages of barbarism—we naturally blame anything but ourselves. Have we not all striven according to our best lights, and have not many of our finest minds incessantly worked to make this a better world? Have not all our efforts and hopes been directed toward greater freedom, justice, and prosperity? If the outcome is so different from our aims— if, instead of freedom and prosperity, bondage and misery stare us in the face—is it not clear that sinister forces must have foiled our intentions, that we are the victims of some evil power which must be conquered before we can resume the road to better things? However much we may differ when we name the culprit—whether it is the wicked capitalist or the vicious spirit of a particular nation, the stupidity of our elders, or a social system not yet, although we have struggled against it for half a century, fully overthrown—we all are, or at last were until recently, certain of one thing: that the leading ideas which during the last generation have become common to most people of good will and have determined the major changes in our social life cannot have been wrong. We are ready to accept almost any explanation of the present crisis of our civilization except one: that the present state of the world may be the result of genuine error on our own part and that the pursuit of some of our most cherished ideals has apparently produced results utterly different from those which we expected.”
Friedrich A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom: Text and Documents: The Definitive Edition
“when security is understood in too absolute a sense, the general striving for it, far from increasing the chances of freedom, becomes the gravest
threat to it.”
Friedrich A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom
“To produce the same result for different people, it is necessary to treat them differently. To give different people the same objective opportunities is not to give them the same subjective chance. It cannot be denied that the Rule of Law produces economic inequality—all that can be claimed for it is that this inequality is not designed to affect particular people in a particular way.”
Friedrich A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom

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