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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best edition of Hayek's seminal work of political philosophy
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...
Published on 20 Oct. 2011 by The Guardian

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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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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 6 Aug. 2014
Compulsory reading for anybody interested in economics or politics.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 13 Nov. 2014
Great! Many thanks.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book should be required reading in all schools, 29 Aug. 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Road to Serfdom (Paperback)
At a time when freedom is threatened as never before (even in the US the state seizes 40% of all wealth every year), a book like this is more essential reading than ever. Hayek lucidly demonstrates the inherent contradictions of socialism and its inevitable tendency towards totalitarianism, lessons that were mainstream thinking in the west before 1914 but have sadly fallen into disrepute since then. I cannot rate this work too highly, and it occupies pride of place on my bookshelf along with several other books by this advocate of personal freedom and individual responsibility.
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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pick your route..., 22 Dec. 2008
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This is an important book. But there is a tendency to place it on some kind of pedestal, as some kind of timeless classic and I think that is not correct. It really should be placed in it's historical context.

It was published in 1944. Orwell's 'Animal Farm' was first published in 1945, and '1984' published in 1949. Huxley's 'Brave New World' was published in 1932.

So, Hayek was writing in the middle of the Second World War, a war between Stalinism, Nazism and Western liberal democracy . 'The Road to Serfdom' is one of many contributions to a debate that was taking place in Britain at the time about the usefulness of state economic planning - and the feeling that if the State can be so effectively organised during war time, surely such effective planning could be developed towards peacetime ends.

Hayek shows pretty convincingly, to my mind, that the roots of totalitarian or collectivist societies are all the same - Socialism is, ultimately, as bad as Nazism in that it places the rights of the State ahead of the rights of the Individual. However chaotic a free association of individuals may be, it can never be as oppressive as any form of collectivism.

The key to control is, of course, economic. State control of the economy will stifle free enterprise. A free enterprise based system will always be more creative, more dynamic and more capable of progress in any form than a collectivist system.

After the Second World War, Hayek's theories did not immediately hold sway and we saw a period of relatively stable and equitable economic development. However, when there was a return to more extreme laissez-faire ideals (1980s), we again see the gap between rich and poor opening up - not only between nations but within nations as well.

Laissez-faire economics (I am not an economist - this is purely from what I see around me) will always favour the rich (i.e. those with capital).

Internationally, the rich countries claim that 'laissez-faire' is the only acceptable form of economic development and force poorer countries to remove trade barriers. The rich countries then come in, undercut local initiatives, take whatever they want and then leave (see, for example, 'Globalization and Its Discontents', 'The Shock Doctrine', 'The New Rulers of the World' etc).

Nationally, the gap between rich and poor in America (for example) is now as huge as it was before the Great Depression (see 'The Wrecking Crew' by Thomas Frank). The middle classes, the most entrepreneurial class, is being increasingly squeezed as the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

It seems, at times, that we are seeing the Road to Serfdom by a different route - a return to some kind of feudalism, where most of us will, indeed, be serfs.

Hayek is still really important in exposing the roots of totalitarian states and the inevitable consequences of collectivist control of the economy and the danger to the individual. However, Hayek is by no means unique in this (see Orwell - who described himself as a 'Democratic Socialist' - amongst many).

But besides the dangers inherent in a collectivist totalitarianism, there are clearly also huge dangers when laissez-faire liberalism is taken to an extreme degree. It will ultimately favour a very small number of individuals at the expense of the many. You simply end up with a different form of totalitarianism.

We don't need an even more powerful American plutocracy to see that, as Thomas Frank points out ('The Wrecking Crew'), extreme laissez-faire is ultimately toxic to democracy.

It seems to me that Hayek's analysis of totalitarianism may be right, but his predictions and his alternatives are not. It is still a really important book.

As for the Russian oligarchs mooring their yachts off Corfu...

(P.S. For an interesting extreme laissez-faire dystopian novel, see 'The Space Merchants' by Frederick Pohl and C M Kornbluth).
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11 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It should be mandatory reading, 3 Jan. 2007
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Sid (Plymouth) - See all my reviews
This, and its obvious sister, "Free to Choose" (Milton and Rose Friedman) should be mandatory reading for all the "presenters" in the Blair Broadcasting Company! (Soon to be the BrownBC).

It is also good stuff for all young people to help them out of their socialist phase . . . . "If you are not a socialist when young, you have no heart. If you are still a socialist when old, you have no head."
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CHOOSE LIFE!, 24 Sept. 2005
By 
Peter Uys "Toypom" (Sandton) - See all my reviews
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Even after six decades, The Road To Serfdom remains essential for understanding global economics and politics. Hayek's main point, that whatever the problem, human nature demands that government be the solution, and that this is the road to hell, remains more valid than ever. He pointed out how similar the situation was under Soviet communism and fascism in Germany and Italy.
The consensus in post-war Europe was for the welfare state and this has led to declining birth-rates, mass immigration from North Africa and the Middle East, and a tendency to exchange their ancient cultural values for the frauds of postmodernism and multiculturalism.
In this classic, Hayek discusses matters like planning and power, the fallacy of the utopian idea, planning versus the rule of law. He brilliantly explains how we are faced with two irreconcilable forms of social organization. Either choice and risk resides with the individual or he is relieved of both.
Complete economic security is inseparable from restrictions on liberty - it becomes the security of the barracks. When the striving for security becomes stronger than the love of freedom, a society is in deep, deep trouble. The way to prosperity for all is to remove the obstacles of bureaucracy in order to release the creative energy of individuals.
The government's job is not to plan for progress but to create the conditions favourable to progress. This has been proved by the awesome economic expansion under Reagan and Thatcher and by the amazing growth of the Asian Tiger economies, and most recently India as it implements sensible economic policies.
Nowhere is this more obvious than in the contrast between the phenomenal growth in formerly communist countries like Estonia or Poland against the stagnant situation in Germany and France where they never had a Thatcher.
One of the best books by one of Hayek's intellectual heirs is In Defence Of Global Capitalism by Johan Norberg. I also recommend Basic Economics by Thomas Sowell, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal by Ayn Rand, Freedom: Alchemy For A Voluntary Society by Stephan Hoeller and The Mainspring Of Human progress by Henry Grady Weaver.
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11 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Essential for freedom loving people!, 22 Mar. 2002
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173036jb@student.eur.nl (Rotterdam School of Economics) - See all my reviews
This classic, from t h e Keynes opponent, is really worth reading. In simple language, Hayek explains why liberalism is the only freedom loving point of view among others. Most essential is how he explains why fascism and socialism, although they seem opponents, are in policies the same.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars informative, 26 Oct. 2012
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A well written and argued point of view. It is a pity Labour ministers in the last government did not read this. Perhaps they have and want us all to be serfs!!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 3 Feb. 2015
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v good
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic!, 5 Aug. 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Road to Serfdom (Paperback)
A must read for anyone at all interested in politics. Hayek sets out the problems of socialism and what it ultimately leads to - and the thing that is trully amazing is that he did this back in the 1940s.
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Road to Serfdom: With the Intellectuals and Socialism (Condensed Edition)
Road to Serfdom: With the Intellectuals and Socialism (Condensed Edition) by Friedrich, A. Hayek (Paperback - 20 Aug. 2005)
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