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The Road to Serfdom: Text and Documents: The Definitive Edition (The Collected Works of F. A. Hayek) Hardcover – 16 Jul 2007

4.3 out of 5 stars 92 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (16 July 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415035287
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415035286
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 15.9 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,752,631 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

"In my opinion it is a grand book. . . . Morally and philosophically I find myself in agreement with virtually the whole of it: and not only in agreement with it, but in deeply moved agreement."

--John Maynard Keynes

"A version of a recognized classic text that provides a full and rich context from which to understand its emergence and eventual powerful impact on the course of events and ideas in the twentieth century. . . . The University of Chicago Press and Bruce Caldwell have done an excellent job in dressing up this classic book for both the general reader and scholars in a variety of disciplines and the hiostory of ideas."--Steven Horwitz "EH.Net "

"It takes courage, or something like it, to declare one's offering 'The Definitive Edition'. . . . I have no hesitation, though in describing this as an excellent edition."--Roger Kimball "New Criterion " --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

F. A. Hayek (1899-1992), recipient of the Medal of Freedom in 1991 and co-winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics in 1974, was a pioneer in monetary theory and a leading proponent of classical liberalism in the twentieth century. He taught at the University of London, the University of Chicago, and the University of Freiburg." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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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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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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Format: Paperback
This book has been heavily criticized by the left, and with reason, for it saws the legs under their table.
Hayek's book is a frontal attack on the socialist dream of a centrally planned economy, which should wipe out the cyclical swings in a free market system.
For Hayek, a centrally planned economy is a synonym for slavery.
Hayed argues rightly that the replacement of free enterprise and competition by collectivism equals he abolition of democracy.
As L. Trotzky remarks (quoted in this book): 'In a country where the sole employer is the state, opposition means death by slow starvation. The old principle - who does not work shall not eat - has been replaced by a new one - who does not obey shall not eat.'
A centrally planned economy creates a totalitarian system where the end justifies the means, which in other words means a denial of all morals. Moreover, the individual is not respected as a man but becomes a cog in an enormous bureaucracy, where tolerance is not tolerated.
For real liberals (like B. Russell) power has been the archevil; to the strict collectivist it is a goal in itself.
Hayek is by any means not a pure liberal, because he insists that every state should provide a system of social insurance wth a minimum income for all.
Hayek's warnings have been gravely vindicated by the gruelng inhumanity of the totalitarian regimes, created after World War II.
This is a great book about liberty and independence, truth and intellectual honesty, peace and democracy and respect for the individual qua man.
A must read.
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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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