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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Reading Even For Lefties
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...
Published 22 months ago by demola

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31 of 36 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good defence of liberal democracy from the dark 1940s
First published in 1944, Hayek's polemical work is a defence of classical liberalism in the face of totalitarianisms of both right- and left-wing hues. The author deplores all sorts of `collectivism', that is departures from such aspects of liberalism as the free market, individualism and the minimal state. Thus, conservatives such as Bismarck (responsible for business...
Published on 5 July 2007 by Gerard Noonan


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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars this is the response to comunnist manifesto, 17 Dec. 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: The Road to Serfdom (Paperback)
Road to Serfdom is , no question about, the most impostant book against all forms of totaliarianism. Is the response to the "Communist Manifesto" by Karl Marx.The book is dedicated to "socialist of all parties" and that's exactly the kind of people who should read it, no matter if they are socialists, communists, fascists, social democrats or wathever. Hayek puts them on the same league: the enemies of open society, as his friend Sir Karl Popper said.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book which truly enlightens us about socialism., 5 April 2001
This book written by the world renown Hayek was a revelation at its time of print (1944). Hayek challenged the notion that planning was the true way forward in the post-war world. He pointed to the examples of the Nazis and the Russians in the way in which planning can easily go wrong. This book is written in such a way to be accessible to those who have little previous economic knowledge. In all an excellent book.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Old and Abstract But Amazingly Relevant, 24 April 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Road to Serfdom (Paperback)
While Hayek wrote this during a different era and under seemingly unique circumstances, his critique, analysis, and appraisal of collectivism is still very much relevant and compelling. Admittedly, the book is quite difficult to read, given the fact that terminology has evolved and the context has long faded. However, a reader genuinely interested in a critique of collectivism during its peak influence in the early part of the 20th century, could do no better than to engross himself in Hayek's work. Two passages in particular that struck me as incredibly insightful were: (page 235) "There is one aspect of the change in moral values brought about by the advance of collectivism which at the present time provides special food for thought. It is that the virtues which are held less and less in esteem and which consequently become rarer are precisely those on which Anglo-Saxons justly prided themselves and in which they were generally recognized to excel. The virtues these people possessed -- ... were independence and self-reliance, individual initiative and local responsibility, the successful reliance on voluntary activity, noninterference with one's neighbor and tolerance of the different and queer, respect for custom and tradition, and a healthy suspicion of power and authority. Almost all the traditions and institutions in which democratic moral genius has found its most characteristic expression, and which in turn have molded the national character and the whole moral climate of England and America, are those which the progress of collectivism and its inherently centralistic tendencies are progressively destroying."; (page 257) "Least of all shall we preserve democracy or foster its growth if all the power and most of the important decisions rest with an organization far too big for the common man to survey or comprehend."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece in the defense of individual liberty, 3 Feb. 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Road to Serfdom (Paperback)
Hayek's classic demonstrates the profound dangers of the collectivist vision of a controlled society, whether it be communist, fascist, socialist, regulatory, redistributionist, or another interventionist variation. He persuasively argues that the role of government should be sharply limited to ensuring basic rules of law that maximize individual liberty and opportunity. Free persons not subject to government interference and control will self-organize market economies and social arrangements most consistent with economic advancement, human progress and freedom. A brilliant, inspiring, and extremely important contribution to understanding the essential elements of a free society.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As relevent as ever........, 4 Oct. 2011
By 
os - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
'The Road to Serfdom ' seeks to teach us a lesson from history. It's a simple but profound lesson: namely that excessive state power, however well intentioned or ideologically flavored , leads ultimately to the failure of society both economically and politically. Written just as the Second World War was ending, Hayek's treatise sparked enormous interest with the reading public both Europe and America. Its ideas were designed to provide a rationale for returning national economies to a 'free market' orientation after years of creeping state intervention or what Hayek calls 'State Socialism'. From Roosevelt's 'New Deal' to the job creating Autobahn construction schemes of the Nazi's and the 'collectivization' and 'centralism' of the Soviet system, Hayek saw the heavy, inefficient and ultimately wasteful hand of the state attempting to do what only 'free markets' can do properly: namely satisfy a myriad of individual wants and needs in a way that is timely and low in cost.

The focus is on 'freedom'.-freedom of the individual and businesses to act in their own best interests. Harking back to Adam Smith, Hayek argues that only the individual can understand their own best interests or express their preferences in a way that will maximize their own particular welfare. This is means that economies need markets to be free to work properly. This is an agenda for opening up markets to trade, low taxes, minimum regulation and state provision. Think: 'Reganomics' and the privatization program of the Margaret Thatcher years. Freedom implies competition- the role of the state according to Hayek is

'..planning for competition, not by planning against competition'

The role of the state is also to protect private property, the gains from enterprise, saving and copyright. Some social provision may be necessary as will legislation to control the activities of organized labour and monopolies, who both have tendencies to distort markets to their own advantage. Outside of that, markets should be left to function as they will. The price mechanism will get rid of over or under supply and demand for goods and services as well as acting as an incentive for actors in the market place to adjust their activities and expectations according to market conditions. According to Hayek then -small government and liberated markets.

Perhaps, Hayek has never been more relevant. Consider the huge budget deficits and enterprise deadening tax rate rates that are a feature of many Western economies, the perceived 'failure' of Keynesian style economics and the benefits that 'globalization' has brought to many producers and consumers world-wide would suggest that the message of economic and political liberalism has more benefits then costs-at least in the long term.

This book is more of a political tract then a work on free market economics, its beauty lies in its brevity and clarity. It will also provide plenty of thought provoking ideas to ponder and perhaps argue against. For a start Hayek equates state intervention as an inevitable precursor to fascism- is this a claim pushed too far? He fails to mention that free markets tend to create wasteful duplication of some products and services and under produce other services such as education and healthcare. Also, he avoids mentioning that free markets tend to create problems (global warming , anyone?) that government and the tax payer is meant to clear up! Could the rapid recovery of Europe post -war been achieved without huge American aid in the form of the 'Marshall Plan' ?- more of that pesky Keynesian style state demand management!!

Key topics: The role of free enterprise in economic growth, the proposed limits of state power and the need to let markets 'get on with it'! The state has a tendency to waste and make poor decisions based upon limited or out dated information. Allow people to 'price ' themselves into work and let businesses take the pain if they fail to respond to what the market is telling them.

Type of Read: Hayek has a prose style that is lucid and deceptively simple. Imagine a drink of fresh lemonade: that's Hayek: uncomplicated but sharp in analysis, focusing all the time on allowing people to make their own decisions. Individual freedom means more of what you and me want to do, and less of what 'Big Brother' government would have us do. A challenge for us all! Suitable for economics students, an essential text for anyone interested in politics and the evolution of post -war economic thinking. Are you ready for Hayek?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read, 18 Aug. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
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.

John Reve;;
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most important liberal since J.S. Mill., 13 Nov. 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: The Road to Serfdom (Paperback)
This book is a must read for anyone interested in the workings of civilization. He takes the view, which I believe is correct, that our belief that we can plan a society is the best evidence of our lack of understanding of human nature. If there is an important book in political economics that is accessible to the layman this is it. Hayek was subject to much unfounded criticism in his day, and in this day too. His argument is for the rights of people to choose for themselves, and against the idea that others can make the right choices for the individual. In these days of corporate hatred and tobbaco taxes Road to Serfdom should be read. It should be read so that we realize that laws against corporations and industries are simply laws against the people who work in them. The chapter on Planning and the Rule of Law is the single best work that I have read on any subject. Enjoy!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most underrated book of the 20th Century, 5 Dec. 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: The Road to Serfdom (Paperback)
Few people are aware of The Road to Serfdom. As a result, the same errors have been repeated over and over again. Each socialist party claims that it has finally got it right. Read Hayek and you will realize that socialists can never get it right. Hayek saw beyond the empty rhetoric that is thrown in our faces again and again by politicians who have no idea of how to implement their utopian fantasies. The Road to Serfdom is a book in defense of freedom, and to this day has not only never been refuted, but no attempt has been made to refute Hayek's carefully laid out argument. Read it with an open mind and you will see his logic is dead on.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A writing style that is painful to read., 14 Nov. 2014
By 
Miss Anne Thrope (Halfway between the gutter and the stars) - See all my reviews
I am trying to get through this, I really am. Hayek may be a great economist but he is certainly no writer. His sentence structure is all over the place! As a copywriter I find it almost unreadable. In fact, this is the sentence that made me throw down the book and give up:

"But which ends do so conflict, which will have to be sacrificed if we want to achieve certain others, in short, which are the alternatives between which we must choose, can only be known to those who know all the facts; and only they, the experts, are in a position to decide which of the different ends are to be given preference."

See what I mean? That sentence actually causes me physical pain. Awful! And the punctuation is nuts.

In addition, Hayek speaks wholly in the abstract. He provides no evidence or examples, which allows him to make huge leaps of logic. OK, I haven't read it all - I think my brain might die if I try - so maybe he adds some meat later. Anyhow, his assertions are undermined by his inability to write clearly. Sorry, but it's true.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read for the understanding of contemporary political and economic thinking, 24 Sept. 2011
By 
Paul Bowes (Wales, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
'The Road to Serfdom' has long since entered the canon of right-wing political writing. Its influence has been widespread and long-lasting. Written during 1940-3 and published modestly in the UK and USA in 1944, the book was respectfully reviewed by, among others, George Orwell and John Maynard Keynes - neither a natural political ally of the author. It was what happened after that catapulted the book to fame. 'The Reader's Digest' prepared a condensed version that was published in the United States in 1945. This made the book available in a simplified and more polemical form to a large popular audience. This trend was reinforced when the management of General Motors distributed a further grossly simplified 'storybook' version - originally published in 'Look' magazine - to its employees as an illustrated pamphlet. The book is regularly cited as one of the most influential publications of the twentieth century.

Hayek dedicated his book - mischievously? - 'To the Socialists of All Parties' - a direct reference to the central idea, which in essence is that the 'socialism' in 'National Socialism' (Nationalsozialismus, or Naziism) should be taken at face value. Rather like Margaret Thatcher some decades later, Hayek represents himself not as a conservative or reactionary but as a liberal in direct line of descent from the British and European tradition that in his view had been steadily displaced in recent years by varieties of socialism that were at root authoritarian, illiberal and antidemocratic, and whose trajectories were in the direction of the totalitarian organisation of society with the state.

Hayek's distaste for socialism and communism may have been real, but paradoxically it is the fair-minded left-inclined reader, benefiting from a further seventy years of historical events, who is likely to get most out of the book in 2011. Hayek foresaw quite clearly the growth of the state in the post-war years on the model of the wartime planned economy. He saw the bankruptcy both of fascism and of communism. Most importantly, he was absolutely clear on the dangers to individual freedoms in the future posed by ideologies of whatever political complexion that had in common the progressive subjugation of the individual to 'society'.

On the Right, these ideas have been unchallenged for decades. On the Left, they have been ignored or reviled because of their persistent association with the worst aspects of Thatcherite and Reaganite governance during the 80s and 90s - albeit often in a vulgarised form that misrepresents the subtlety of Hayek's arguments and the scrupulousness of his judgements.

The book has its faults. The most obvious is a persistent tendency to minimise the shortcomings of the market. Readers living through the recent financial upheavals may raise a wry smile at Hayek's assumption that the market, though not perfect, is essentially self-correcting and benign in its operations. But Hayek was not writing an economic analysis. His book was a warning aimed in the first instance at a people he admired - the British - who he felt were sliding by degrees and unconsciously into a pre-totalitarian frame of mind.

Any reader will benefit from this intelligent, clearly written and coolly argued book. It should have a prominent place on the shelves of anyone interested in contemporary political theory. In particular, the reader who wants to understand the roots of contemporary conservative, neoliberal and libertarian thought - and some of its best arguments, endlessly repeated since - will have to read this.
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