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The Road to Serfdom

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  16,329 ratings  ·  992 reviews
A 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 England in the spring of 1944—when Eleanor Roosevelt supported the efforts of Stalin, and Albert Einstein subscribed lock, stock, and barrel to the so ...more
Paperback, Fiftieth Anniversary Edition, 274 pages
Published October 15th 1994 by University Of Chicago Press (first published 1944)
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4.18  · 
Rating details
 ·  16,329 ratings  ·  992 reviews

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Nov 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Nov 28, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: skimmed
I tried to read this several times, beginning back when I almost convinced myself I might be able to understand (read: respect) what Republicans were thinking. I'm sorry to say that is over, at least for now. If we can lie, cheat, and steal our way to power, what difference does it make what is just?

I made some notes before I gave up. Putting them here in case I ever get back to this in time to challenge Paul Ryan personally.

This book has gone through so many editions, it is worth noting which o
Sep 16, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Howard Olsen
Sep 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Jason Holt
Jan 30, 2011 rated it did not like it
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
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
Aug 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Αυτό είναι ένα βιβλίο που απέφευγα να διαβάσω για χρόνια και ένας οικονομολόγος/ φιλόσοφος που οι μεν κήνσορές του δαιμονοποιούν, οι δε υπέρμαχοί του λατρεύουν ως Προφήτη. Παρέμενε να προσδιορίσω την αξία του ίδιου του έργου, όσο το δυνατόν αποστασιοποιημένα και κλινικά.
Έχει πολύ σωστά λεχθεί πως οι φιλόσοφοι/ θεωρητικοί δεν πρέπει να κρίνονται από τις πράξεις των "μαθητών" τους, αλλά από τα όρια της σκέψης τους. Πιστεύω πως αυτό ισχύει τόσο στην περίπτωση τόσο του Χάγιεκ όσο και του Μαρξ, του
Mike (the Paladin)
Review written in 2010

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 b
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
Apr 12, 2007 rated it did not like it
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.
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
Oct 03, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: democracy, theory
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
May 02, 2016 rated it did not like it
Edit: August 2018

My politics has changed somewhat in the couple of years since I wrote the review below. I was somewhat of an anarchist at that time and my position on state control and centralization were pretty much aligned with the book's argument except it came from a socialist perspective. I've changed my position drastically on how centralized or state controlled a socialist state should be but left the review unchanged since it doesn't fundamentally alter my position on the book.

Shahab Samani
Feb 26, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: فلسفه
متاسفانه ترجمه به اندازه ای بد و در انتقال مطلب گنگ و ناتوان است که امکان ادامه ی کتاب وجود ندارد. خیلی از کتاب های کلاسیک ، مهم و تخصصی در حوزه های مختلف این گونه در ایران نابود شده اند و دیگر خوانده نمی شوند . ترجمه ی بد باعث می شود که دیگر نه کسی کتاب را تا اخر بخواند و نه مترجم دیگری به فکر ترجمه دوباره کتاب بیفتد به این علت که به لحاظ اقتصادی معمولا ترجمه دوباره کتاب به صرفه نیست و در بازار با استقبال مواجه نمی شود و این غم انگیز است .
May 11, 2010 rated it did not like it
“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
Taha Rabbani
ترجمه بده. فقط به یک نمونه اشاره میکنم:
«نفرت عمیق آلمانی از هر چیزی به جای نفرت از باورهای خاص که هماکنون بر آلمانیها سیطره دارد بیش از هر چیز خطرناک است.» منظوری که میشه از این جمله برداشت کرد اینه: «نفرت عمیق از آلمانیها بهجای نفرت از باورهای خاصی که هماکنون بر آلمانیها سیطره دارد بیش از هر چیز خطرناک است.»
این جملهای است که بههرحال بدون مراجعه به متن اصلی میشه اصلاحش کرد، ولی وقتی تعداد این اشکالات زیاد بشه، مثل خوردن ماهی با تیغ میشه، عذابآور و ناممکن. عطا بخشیده شد به لقا. باشد که روزی از
There is something a little awe-inspiring about reading a book and realizing how much of your personal philosophy and intellectual heritage you owe to it. I got the same feeling the first time I read Two Treatises of Government. When I consider the impact this book has had on my life and work, it amazes me it took me this long to read it.
This should be required reading alongside 1984. It conveys the problems of socialism and yet eerily resembles a conversation we could be having today.
Douglas Wilson
Jun 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
David M
(going to make an exception to my only-radicals rule. It's always important to know your enemies. It comes recommended by Perry Anderson.)
Jul 29, 2011 rated it did not like it
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.
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
C. Scott
Aug 29, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Ah, finished at last. This was a bit of a hate-read for me, but I was surprised that I didn't hate it with quite the intensity I expected.

I was able to appreciate Hayek's arguments against full-scale government planning as predicting a lot of what went wrong with the Soviet Union. Still, I am unmoved by his slippery slope argument that any socialist policies inevitably lead to totalitarian government. Give me a break.

Also, this notion that Nazi Germany came about because of socialist policies ad
Chris Wells
Dec 16, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Amy Sturgis
Jul 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
George Mazurek)
Jun 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A must read for every liberal, socialist or communist ;-)
Oct 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
امتیاز کتاب: 4
امتیاز ترجمه: 0
در باب ترجمهی اثر
شاید بیشترین ظلمی که میشد به یک نویسنده و فرد شهیری همچون فونهایک کرد این بود که با این ترجمه ضعیف و افتضاح سعی در شناساندن او به خوانندگان ایرانی کرد. کتاب به نحوی یک ترجمهای ضعیف، گنگ و نامفهوم دارد که قطعا اگر نویسنده فونهایک نبود و کتاب نیز جزو کتابهای مشهور و محبوب به شمار نمیرفت خواندن آن تا پایان، کاری طاقت فرسا به شمار میرفت. گویا مترجمان از ترجمه تنها کلمه کلمه ترجمه کردن را دریافته اند و نه فهم و ساختاربندی درست جملات و انتقال مفهوم به خ
Laila Kanon
Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-non-fiction
This is not an easy thesis to digest but I more or less understood the main arguments and I agree with the author analysis. What so sobering in reflection of the arguments in this book is the realization as to how little we learn from history that socialism is only good in theory but in practice it bring nothing but misery to humanity and it would takes decades to recover from it, if any. Democracy isn't perfect but only in this system of governance that humanity able to thrive and p
Apr 17, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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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
“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.” 57 likes
“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.” 47 likes
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