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The Road to Serfdom (Routledge Classics) [Paperback]

F.A. Hayek
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
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Book Description

17 May 2001 Routledge Classics
The Road to Serfdom remains one of the all-time classics of twentieth-century intellectual thought. For over half a century, it has inspired politicians and thinkers around the world, and has had a crucial impact on our political and cultural history. With trademark brilliance, Hayek argues convincingly that, while socialist ideals may be tempting, they cannot be accomplished except by means that few would approve of. Addressing economics, fascism, history, socialism and the Holocaust, Hayek unwraps the trappings of socialist ideology. He reveals to the world that little can result from such ideas except oppression and tyranny. Today, more than fifty years on, Hayek's warnings are just as valid as when The Road to Serfdom was first published.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 2 edition (17 May 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415253896
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415253895
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 12.9 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 11,504 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'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

From the Back Cover

'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

'The Road to Serfdom' remains one of the all-time classics of twentieth-century intellectual thought. For over half a century, it has inspired politicians and thinkers around the world, and has had a crucial impact on our political and cultural history. With trademark brilliance, Hayek argues convincingly that, while socialist ideals may be tempting, they cannot be accomplished except by means that few would approve of. Addressing economics, fascism, history, socialism and the Holocaust, Hayek unwraps the trappings of socialist ideology. He reveals to the world that little can result from such ideas except oppression and tyranny. Today, more than fifty years on, Hayek's warnings are just as valid as when 'The Road to Serfdom' was first published.

Friedrich August von Hayek (1899-1992). An eminent Austrian economist and political philosopher, he won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1974.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
126 of 136 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Liberalism Redux 14 Jun 2006
Format:Paperback
The thesis of this book is quite a simple one. No one person or group of people can possibly have enough knowledge to effectively run an economy. No-one is able to collect and make use of sufficient information even about the past, let alone the present. Any attempt, therefore, to plan the future is bound to fail. Hayek goes on to postulate that this failure must result in the rule of a dictator as a last desperate fallback to take command of the spiralling chaos. The experience he had in mind, of course, was Nazi Germany whose fate he saw as ineluctable from the birth of the German welfare state in the late 19th Century. The command economy signifies the submission of the individual to the dictates of the planners in whose hands is concentrated the power that was once dispersed among many industrialists. The individual is thus reduced to the condition of the serf who ends up without even the power to sell his labour to a higher bidder.

This is a defence of private property, and the responsibility of the individual for his own fate whatever it may be. It is not libertarian; it does not wish to whittle down the power of the state to a bare minimum. However, aside from the legislation of basic standards, it argues for the exclusion of centralised power from the quick of economic life and the enabling of choice even to the poorest. It is a fundamental text of what was once called liberalism, and is as relevant today as it ever was.
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60 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most important book you will read 4 Feb 2004
Format:Paperback
Written in 1944, in clear, modern English, this book must be one of the all time classics. In a forensic but highly readable analysis, Hayek explains that social justice is the goal of all systems, Socialism, Liberalism etc, and that they are just different approaches as to how to achieve it. He then shows how Socialism despite its very good intentions inevitably leads to the opposite of its goal. Liberalism is seen as the only genuine method to achieve true social justice. It is one of the most rigorous deconstructions of political thought I have ever read and is worthy of a law court, yet remains hugely readable.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By The Guardian TOP 50 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This seminal treatise from Austrian economist and political philosopher Friedrich von Hayek was written as early as 1944, during WW2 when he was living in England as a political exile from the Nazis. In `The Road to Serfdom' Hayek went against the grain of current political thought advocating post-war collectivism/socialism. Britain's Labour Party (who were to win the July 1945 election) were planning to build on the command economy introduced by Churchill's wartime coalition to win the war against Hitler, by taking into post-war government ownership - for the `public good' - large parts of the economy including coal mines, steel works and railways. Hayek demonstrated the uncomfortable (and at the time unfashionable) truth that this collectivist trend was in essence the same as that which had paved the way to Stalinism in Russia and Nazism in Germany; that such socialist-collectivist thinking was - even if advocates start out with the most benign utopian motives - dangerous and ill-advised, and would lead both to eventual impoverishment and to the inevitable erosion of individual freedom.

The book is very well written in clear English. It's not a polemic, but a polite and reasoned examination of the realities of human nature and the consequences which follow attempts at social planning. Hayek shows government attempts at planning and control of the economy - even parts of it - leads to the erosion of freedom for individuals who eventually become 'serfs' of the state, having the option of no other employer. `Social security' according to Hayek, is incompatible with the maintenance of personal freedom.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Lots of superior ideas have ultimately lost out, and society today looks the way it does mainly because of competition. For anyone to plan, or even attempt to plan this complex economy in an anywhere near optimal way, this task is substantially beyond the capacity of any individual on the planet. The best we can do is to construct a system in which we can predict future state behaviour on basis of our own = a legal framework. Within this framework, we are free to invest the fruits of our labour in any way we want, as long as it doesn't cause societal harm. This is our current system.

A state planned economy, however, will have to plan those decisions for us. They will have to decide how many cars/telephones/tonnes of wheat we produce next year, and consequent thereof, in order to efficiently run this system, dictate where we live, what we do for a living, and control our access to unbiased information that could ultimately lead to harm of the planned economy. Therefore, promises of "freedom" in a socialist state will become the exact opposite of what it promises.

After reading this book, it is obvious Orwell drew a significant part of his inspiration for '1984' from this work.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Reading Even For Lefties 21 April 2013
By demola
Format:Paperback
I picked this from my stack with both excitement and trepidation. Excitement because this is one of the most famous books of the last century on political economy and trepidation because it is also a favourite of right-wing laissez-faire pundits. It didn't take me long to start marking off objections which just confirmed my suspicions. And then at some point into the book I realised the author was not against government per se or for laissez-faire economics. Hayek was against the concentration of power, full stop; for having been through the rise of National Socialism (Nazism) he was taken aback by sympathetic views in Britain, his new country, on State organization of all affairs as was common in the Germany leading to the rise of Hitler. Of course, Hitler exploited this to devastating effect. In economics, Hayek was in favour of competition as the best way for directing economic affairs and guaranteeing individual liberties. He was firmly opposed to monopolies or oligopolies. In government as in business Hayek thought concentrated power will verily be abused per Lord Acton's famous saying: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

So what do I think of this book. It is immense and essential reading. It really is and I kept marking stuff all over the place. For all those capitalists on the left, as I am, who may be afraid of reading this book please toss that fear into the abyss. It's a good thing to have a lot of perspective and this book will challenge your beliefs in a healthy way. I found myself re-examining my wholehearted support for the European Union in the form that it is in today and that was a good thing. One should keep growing in thought and ideas. I am not sure I agree as one reviewer suggests that this book is the most important book against totalitarianism since I can think of works by Hannah Arendt but this may well be the more readable.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars He's probably right but he's completely unreadable.
Could somebody re-write this in intelligible english. An economics professor who cannot communicate - cliche. On the other hand you wouldn't know that he was writing in the 1940's. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Charles Board
5.0 out of 5 stars Fundamental to understand political and economical reality
This book is more actual than ever. Despite it was written almost 80 years ago it is an accurate portrait of today's threats to liberty and democracy
Published 3 months ago by Pedro António da Silva Mendes Almeida
5.0 out of 5 stars Needs no introduction
Hayek's Road to Serfdom is such a classic it needs no introduction. It is a must read for anyone who even vaguely comes into contact with economic theory... Read more
Published 4 months ago by RD
5.0 out of 5 stars Take the weight off your shoulders
This book takes the weight of your secret disappointment with the Socialist idea right off of your shoulders and helps you understand that it wasn't anything you did, it was always... Read more
Published 6 months ago by magnolia
4.0 out of 5 stars for study
Brought this book for my college work, came in very handy. Will also need it again in the future for my next course
Published 7 months ago by Lisa Mathew
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read
A fisrt rate review of Left Wing enconomics. We know that they don't work but Hayek explained why. It should be compulsory reading for all economists and polititians. Read more
Published 8 months ago by John Revell
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading regardless of your own viewpoint.
Friedrich von Hayek wrote The Road to Serfdom in 1944 when the UK was at a turning point. The nationalistion of industry towards the war effort left the British state in an unusual... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Brendon Casey
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book
A good illustration of how socialism can never survive as a realistic concept and it's disastrous consequences to hard-work and the free-markets. Read more
Published 9 months ago by B23.cooper
4.0 out of 5 stars Helpful
This book is now rather dated, but still provides a valuable insight into the thought processes during the second world war regarding the need to re-assess the world's economic... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Liquidator
4.0 out of 5 stars Serious Stuff
Something for those who want guidance in the history of economics and are prepared to think about it. Enjoy it!
Published 13 months ago by Michael
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