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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 socialism, communism, fascism will inevitably lead to totalitarianism and the loss of freedom for the individual is demonstrated without skipping logical steps or leaping to a conclusion not supported by the preceding argument It is powerful, powerful stuff His conclusion is that the only way to truly create and just and free society is to re adopt the classic liberalism of the 19th century closely linked today with libertarianism Government should be limited and exist only to 1 protect the people in time of war or national emergency and 2 provide the rule of law which means basic rules that apply equally to everyone i.e.,no special treatment, no unfair treatment and that do not change and allow competition and the market to decide the success or failure of individuals This does not guaranty anyone success or failure, but rather guaranties everyone the opportunity for success or failure While such a system is not without flaws that may at times lead to abuses that people of good conscience may find objectionable, Hayek makes a powerful case that it is the only system that provides the opportunity for success to everyone Any change to the system that modifies this i.e., grants special assistance or rules to benefit one group necessarily hurts another group and this kind of intervention leads to the determination by a small group of people without all necessary factual evidence as no group can ever be fully informed of all of the variables that go into how a society operates based on its opinion of what the correct result should be This imposing of the values and morals which all opinion is derived from of one person or a group people on society necessarily is done at the expense of the morals and values held by others Hayek argues that such an action is fundamentally flawed HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION The historical analysis upon which this book depends amounts to nothing 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 of extrapolations from misplaced assumptions about Nazi Germany and disproven projections about the direction the U.S Britain are heading in the post war era His quaint economic theory tells us little about contemporary authoritarian regimes and even less about modern social democracy In sum, don t bother. 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 one is referenced Bruce Caldwell, Professor of Economics at Duke University, wrote the introduction to this 2007 edition, published, as ever, by the University of Chicago Press It is said current Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan gives out copies of this book to his staff when they begin working for him The staff must discuss the book in small groups like bible study because I guaran f ing tee you a young and busy staff in D.C will not know what the heck Hayek is talking about, much less apply it to the U.S economy in the context of the world.The ideas in this book began as a memo to the director of the London School of Economics in the 1930s, which then became a magazine article, and then, during WWII, became a monograph of its own When it was published in the United States was it 1944 it became a surprise popular hit, though hated by the intelligensia.I skimmed the book only Words like freedom are bandied about with great earnestness freedom from coercion and I can t believe we are still talking about this in 2017 No, I am not going to go back and fight these arguments all over again We spent much of the twentieth century watching one insufficiently great man after another tell us they ve got our backs In the end, after a lifetime of hard knocks, we find that, no, in fact, corporations took care of themselves and cared about us only insofar as we needed enough money to buy their product We discovered that corporations really needed rules and regulations to do the right thing because they defined their responsibility narrowly than we did After all, they were responsible to shareholders, not customers, not citizens who give them space, water, energy, raw materials I m tired of replaying this argument over and over because over and over we discover that corporations don t actually do the right thingchokengtitiktitikchokeng 20 If you have any comprehension of my philosophy at all, you must know that one thing I stand for above all else is free trade throughout the world p 28 A final criticism has sometimes been called the inevitability thesis or the slippery slope argument Hayek is claimed to have said that, once a society engages in a little planning, it is doomed to end up in a totalitarian state.Any departure from the practice of free enterprise, any joke that reason and science may be applied to the direction of economic activity, any attempt at economic planning, must lead us remorselessly to serfdom 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 is careful not to insult his opponent and goes out of his way to point out their good intentions Despite the fact that The Road to Serfdom is currently being championed by conservatives, Hayek calls himself a liberal and the book is written with fellow liberals in mind There is no contradiction Definitions, especially in the world of politics, have a way of changing For Hayek liberalism was tantamount to freedom and liberty Today the definition of the world liberal has shifted In economics, liberalism is now a synonym for equality, and significantly, not equal freedom for all, but rather equal, or at least equal, distribution of resources In a time when on one hand the accusation of socialism is bandied about as a slur and on the other there is a strong anti capitalist movement that champions the same socialism, it s useful to understand not only what socialism really is, but what the implications for society are They might not be what you think. ( Free Epub ) ⚇ The Road to Serfdom ♔ 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 When Eleanor Roosevelt Supported The Efforts Of Stalin, And Albert Einstein Subscribed Lock, Stock, And Barrel To The Socialist Program The Road To Serfdom Was Seen As Heretical For Its Passionate Warning Against The Dangers Of State Control Over The Means Of Production For F A Hayek, The Collectivist Idea Of Empowering Government With Increasing Economic Control Would Inevitably Lead Not To A Utopia But To The Horrors Of Nazi Germany And Fascist ItalyFirst Published By The University Of Chicago Press On September The Road To Serfdom Garnered Immediate Attention From The Public, Politicians, And Scholars Alike The First Printing Of , Copies Was Exhausted Instantly, And Within Six Months Than , Were Sold In April Of , Reader S Digest Published A Condensed Version Of The Book, And Soon Thereafter The Book Of The Month Club Distributed This Condensation To Than , Readers A Perennial Best Seller, The Book Has Sold Over A Quarter Of A Million Copies In The United States, Not Including The British Edition Or The Nearly Twenty Translations Into Such Languages As German, French, Dutch, Swedish, And Japanese, And Not To Mention The Many Underground Editions Produced In Eastern Europe Before The Fall Of The Iron CurtainAfter Thirty Two Printings In The United States, The Road To Serfdom Has Established Itself Alongside The Works Of Alexis De Tocqueville, John Stuart Mill, And George Orwell For Its Timeless Meditation On The Relation Between Individual Liberty And Government Authority This Fiftieth Anniversary Edition, With A New Introduction By Milton Friedman, Commemorates The Enduring Influence Of The Road To Serfdom On The Ever Changing Political And Social Climates Of The Twentieth Century, From The Rise Of Socialism After World War II To The Reagan And Thatcher Revolutions In The S And The Transitions In Eastern Europe From Communism To Capitalism In The SF A Hayek , Recipient Of The Medal Of Freedom In And Co Winner Of The Nobel Memorial Prize In Economics In , Was A Pioneer In Monetary Theory And The Principal Proponent Of Libertarianism In The Twentieth CenturyOn The First American Edition Of The Road To Serfdom One Of The Most Important Books Of Our Generation It Restates For Our Time The Issue Between Liberty And Authority With The Power And Rigor Of Reasoning With Which John Stuart Mill Stated The Issue For His Own Generation In His Great Essay On Liberty It Is An Arresting Call To All Well Intentioned Planners And Socialists, To All Those Who Are Sincere Democrats And Liberals At Heart To Stop, Look And Listen Henry Hazlitt, New York Times Book Review, September In The Negative Part Of Professor Hayek S Thesis There Is A Great Deal Of Truth It Cannot Be Said Too Often At Any Rate, It Is Not Being Said Nearly Often Enough That Collectivism Is Not Inherently Democratic, But, On The Contrary, Gives To A Tyrannical Minority Such Powers As The Spanish Inquisitors Never Dreamt Of George Orwell, Collected Essays
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 publicly accountable body and to diffuse this power throughout the business community is not to rid oneself of governance It simply means that businesses are the government.If we are to acknowledge the quite obvious tendency for capital to move toward those with the most capital, that is, for businesses to develop into monopolies and oligopolies, then one might see that Hayek s model accomplishes nothing less than the restoration of the same feudal structures he s supposedly warning against.His argument, if taken to the same disparate conclusions as the one s he takes communism and socialism to, would result in the ownership of all land by a handful of oligarchs We would then tend their land for a pittance We would be serfs. 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 guise of a new freedom for stronger government regulation and guidance of economic activity But the increase of government activity in the private sphere makes people so dependent on government largesse that the recipients are reduced to a modern form of serfdom forever tied to the government that can determine whether they eat or starve Hayek was writing during WW2, so much of his critique centers on the National Socialism of the Germans, but he makes clear that the Marxists and Laborites were just as bad Hayek s analysis of German thought is especially interesting, inasmuch as he traces a tendency towards planning and collectivization in Germany going back decades Rather than the modern cartoon villian portrait of Hitler that we now know, Hayek portrays that Nazis as simply finishing an effort to nationalize the German economy that began in Bismark s time and was the overarching goal of that nation s political, scientific, and capitalist elite Hayek s arguments are often subtle and academic, but he pulls no punches, and is eminently quotable a must read for anyone who cares about politics, and its intersection with economics 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 collectivist statism was taking over the UK, mostly because central planning was sacrificed rather than individual liberty xiii i.e., parliamentary procedure kept the sky from falling , but also because collectivism is mired in bureaucratic confusion and inefficiency id That latter clich is not rigorously evidenced, but is taken as a postulate of market fundy triumphalism Confusion is of course cipher for public due process and inefficiency the normal code for unions plus intentionally non profit Gubmint nevertheless grew and tried to regulate bidness, usually at the behest of special interest groups xiii , the cryptograph for not rich people Despite Hayek being 100% wrong about statist takeover, Brother Milty confirms that Hayek s central insight is correct coordination of men s activities through central direction and through voluntary cooperation are roads going in very different directions the first to serfdom, the second to freedom xiii xiv , because medieval economics is characterized precisely by state planning and public ownership of the means of production Also NB coordination of activity centrally through a large corporation is presumably perfectly acceptable Fra Milt concludes with charm The bulk of the intellectual community almost automatically favors any expansion of governmental power so long as it is advertised as way to protect individuals from big bad corporations, relieve poverty, protect the environment, or promote equality xv xvi NB the same topos found in objectivism, which traffics in similar rhetorics of mendacity Milt objects to the expansion of state power when the object is to protect individuals, when they are to be protected from corporations manifestly not an individualist position.This text is ripe for a derridean reading from the Outwork, the preface to end all prefaces Dissemination , considering the guest intro here, the 1976, 1956, 1944 prefaces, and author s introduction proper, all preceding the text itself It s a parade of horribles 1976 preface concedes, in a moment of rare candor, I was myself uncomfortable about the possibility that in going beyond technical economics, I might have exceeded my competence xxi Well, quite Notes an equivocation At the time I wrote 1944 , socialism meant unambiguously the nationalization of the means of production and the central economic planning which this made possible and necessary xxiii however, socialism has come to mean chiefly the extensive redistribution of incomes through taxation and the institutions of the welfare state id 1976 backs away from the thesis that any movement in the direction of socialism is bound to lead to totalitarianism xxiv A concession that there is no necessary connection between socialism and totalitarianism, no matter what Papa Freds thinks they mean on a given day If anyone thought that Freds meant that any step toward socialism leads to totalitarianism, however, we might excuse their apparently erroneous belief on the basis of the 1956 preface, wherein Big Poppa admits that his audience is already against fascism and communism which he identifies as substantially identical, in a standard reckless construction , and that democratic socialism is a very precarious and unstable affair xxxii , revealing the true polemical target, and associating by the bye New Deal policies with totalitarianism by implication even though hot socialism is probably a thing of the past id Notorious lets us know his ideological roots pretty plainly in 1956 But in Britain, as elsewhere in the world, the defeat of the onslaught of systematic socialism has merely given those who are anxious to preserve freedom a breathing space xliv 1944 preface affirms that his argument is derived from certain ultimate values xlv Preface does not disclose them, but his lebensraum reference in 1956 clears it up for me.Author s own original introduction opens with epigraph from Lord Acton, rightwing fan favorite, that Few discoveries are irritating than those which expose the pedigree of ideas 3 With that kind of arrogance, the reasonable reader can assume that the text will lay out the intellectual pedigree of socialist doctrine As it happens, the text examines almost no socialist doctrine of any flavor whatsoever It does eventually get around to laying out a thesis regarding the socialist roots of Nazism 183 198 , which links Marxism to Hitler through figures such as Sombart, Plenge, and others it s the strongest part of the text, as it is at least specific but my five year old daughter could do better The entire section relies upon equivocations Pops is not content with his original definition of socialism, as we have seen.The book s purpose Few are ready to recognize that the rise of fascism and Nazism was not a reaction against the socialist trends of the preceding period but a necessary outcome of those tendencies 6 So, the causal relation is allegedly socialism fascism If the Acton epigraph is aimed at democratic socialists social democrats, as per the 1956 preface, then this causal relation is not much concern, even if it is assumed arguendo to be true That is, it s not at all irritating anyone with the pedigree of socialism to point out that fascism is its alleged evil offspring It doesn t make any sense, unless Bigg Poppa is expecting us to accept a non distributio medii or affirmed consequent fallacy Later, pedigree for coercion and lack of freedom of thought is located in the French writers who laid the foundations of modern socialism 28 , without reference to any particular writer or text, except Saint Simon, who is quoted slightly as wanting to treat disobedient persons as cattle, which is not exactly an idea that arises exclusively or even in socialism cf Ottoman governance theory.Entire volume relies on an equivocation fallacy, broadly maligning socialism, no matter how that term is defined as hinted by the 1976 preface The conflict between Nazis and commies is the kind of conflict that will always arise between rival socialist factions 11 Doggfather is not interested, yet, in substantiating this puerile equivalence, but rather prefers to point out that German socialists have found much support in their country from certain features of the Prussian tradition and this kinship between Prussianism and socialism, in which in Germany both sides gloried, gives additional support to our main contention 11 Noted socialism shares a continuity with prussianism, which must be a reference to Bismarck or whatever else in the deep history of Germania that the Doggfather wishes us to infer with neoliberal psychic powerz.Begins the argument proper with the contention that we are unwilling to consider the crisis as the result of a genuine error on our part and that the pursuit of some of our most cherished ideals has apparently produced results utterly different from those which we expected 14 We should therefore not forget that this conflict has grown out of a struggle of ideas within what, not so long ago, was a common European civilization and that the tendencies which have culminated in the creation of the totalitarian systems were not confined to the countries which have succumbed to them id This is a curious admission for Atomic Dogg to make The current crisis WW2, surely, but , perhaps is the result of most cherished ideals and grew out of the common civilization, of which prussianism seems to have been a part No problem It s not like extraterrestrials started the war or zombies took over objectivism s position on zombies socialism notwithstanding If all that is true, then why dogmatically state that everyone is unaware of not merely the magnitude of the changes which have taken place during the last generation but the fact that they mean a complete change in the direction of the evolution of our ideas and social order 15 16 I suppose our ideas are not the same as our most cherished ideals, then Apparently all of the evil altruists sorry, hard not conflate this with Ayn Rand have progressively abandoned that freedom in economic affairs without which personal and political freedom has never existed 16 This last point is dogmatically stated throughout the text, and never evidenced with any rigor Never mind the fact that it all grew out of civilization or progressively developed we are solemnly informed of How sharp a break not only with the recent past but with the whole evolution of Western civilization the modern trend toward socialism 16 , which is something that must be measured by reference to the longer historical perspective back to the Bible and the bloody Romans, which are held up as exemplars of individualism along side Montaigne, Erasmus, Pericles, and Thukydides Heh, yeah So, never mind that you just said right before thisthat the crisis grew out of European civilization, progressively developed, is rooted in prussianism now it s some sort of epistemic break from the entire tradition of the West As an aside, is anyone actually persuaded by argumentum ad antiquitatem Confirmed thereafter in his concern to show how completely, though gradually and by almost imperceptible steps, our attitude toward society has changed 24 NB the steps aren t shown Mmkay Revise and resubmit when you get your story straight, P Funk.Not only is Stalinism worse than fascism 31 , but marxism led to fascism 32 , fascism is the stage reached after communism fails id , and all the fascist leaders began as socialists id Fascists and communists are the same, compete with each other for the same personnel, and hate each other as heretics 34 Socialism transitioned to fascism so easily because they are so closely related 35 And so on It s a mess, and it s thoroughly mendacious That last point, for instance, is simply, manifestly erroneous at which point did a state with socialism as Big Poppa defined it in 1944 state ownership of the means of production with central planning 37 a mere 3 pages later exist, and then transition to fascism The answer was never in 1944, and remains never now The errors are so coarse, the confusions so gross, that it can only be intentional misrepresentation, as no one is this stupid Cites de Tocqueville for the proposition that democracy and socialism have only equality in common, while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude 29 , which is offered as self evident fact, without any substantiation whatsoever Eventually throws this proposition under the bus, however, as democracy is not very interesting to Thug Life except as a truncheon to beat leftists We see this, not only in the prefatory remarks regarding social democrats, but also in the inane expansion of the target from socialism to collectivism, which includes liberals as understood in the US 39 Collectivism is defined childishly as marked by central planning 39 , which planning is to be opposed because inefficiency 41 , but also because it is impossible to assume control over all the productive resources without also deciding for whom and by whom they are to be used 46 Gang Starr heads all the way down this slippery slope with And whoever has sole control of the means must also determine which ends are to be served 101 Both of these objections are unevidenced by Doggfather, principally because they are completely false, but even were they true, Pops is too indolent to think through the details of the argument, preferring to sweep grandly and generally all manner of facts and whatnot under the newly whitewashed rug.Individualism is this recognition of the individual as the ultimate judge of his ends, the belief that as far as possible his own views ought to govern his actions 66 Individuals should be allowed, within defined limits, to follow their own values and preferences rather than someone else s that within these spheres the individual s system of ends should be supreme and not subject to any dictation by others id This is a quaint kindergarten notion, a solipsism that is thoroughly depoliticized, ahistorical, a fantasia Any market participant should know that an individual is unable to dictate terms to the market, for, as you just fucking said, the market enables entrepreneurs to adjust their activities to their fellows the price system will fulfill this function only if competition prevails, that is, if the individual producer has to adapt himself to price changes and cannot control them 56 emphasis added The economic participant is always already governed by the external Big Poppa is not interested in this implosion, of course, but it dicks up the primary basis for his preference for private property He shrugs away the obvious objection in canards such as how in the market system no person s view about what is right and desirable overrules that of others 113 ORLY Total obfuscation in comments such as German anti Semitism and anti capitalism spring from the same root 154 , which is as apodictically false as can be We also see that no clich is left undefecated in a movement like that of National Socialism or communism can probably be compared only to those of the great religious movements 164.Our antenna should alert on unevidenced proclamations that those with authority for an economic plan will inevitably impose their scale of preferences on the community for which they plan 73 It is outrageous in its hubris, in its cynicism but also in its hypocrisy for which capitalist allows notice comment on corporate policy Delegation of economic authority to a public planning board will result in arbitrary decisions 74 , leading to the completely candid confession that Democracy is essentially a means, a utilitarian device for safeguarding internal peace and individual freedom, and is by no means infallible or certain for there has often been much cultural and spiritual freedom under an autocratic rule than under some democracies 78 And out with it A true dictatorship of the proletariat, even if democratic in form, if it undertook centrally to direct the economic system, would probably destroy personal freedom as completely as any autocracy 78 79 This contempt for democratic polity is revealed in Bigg Poppa s legal illiteracy like Rand, he has no law, and accordingly errs in his discussions of it , such as when he suggests that the rule of law, stripped of all technicalities means that government in all its actions is bound by rules fixed and announced beforehand rules which make it possible to foresee with fair certainty how the authority will use its coercive powers 80 emphasis added Any reference to technicalities regarding the law should disqualify the utterance, and probably the utterer because law is technicality His notion that everything should be known beforehand is also manifestly erroneous plenty in law applies retroactively.Reader can thus only laugh when Biggy Freds suggests that central planners will not want to be fettered by democratic procedure 97 Didn t you just tell us that democratic procedure doesn t matter, and what matters is private property Ultimately, the individualist position here, as found in Rand s objectivism, is profoundly illiberal, retaining only a preference for markets and private property both Rand and Pops will not be completely committed to markets, of course, and will allow differing degrees of monopolization This makes the argument here structurally identical to fascism, and therein lies the principal stupidity of Pops argument he had defined socialism as central planning over state ownership of the means of production Fascism however never got to either prong of that definition Fascism did have anti liberal components, regarding liberalism as too much too soon fascism attempts to arrest history, to turn back the clock Whereas the fascists would undo liberalism s egalitarianism while retaining property and markets, the socialist proper position is that liberalism is not enough too late This set of basic distinctions is manifest in the most basic writings on the subject cf Paxton s Anatomy of Fascism, Griffin s Modernism and Fascism, Lemkin s Axis Rule in Occupied Europe, Neumann s Behemoth Pops doesn t care about any of that Pops only cares about property.It s a sad commentary on the world that this, one of the worst books ever written, is also considered one of the most important It s actually embarrassingly bad, especially in its most famous bits, such as the dogmatic assertion that the price system under competition is an apparatus of registration which automatically records all the relevant effects of individual actions and whose indications are at the same time the resultant of, and the guide for, all the individual decisions 55 this argument simply removes the mystery one step, and then is, without , declared efficient and just This automatic coordination is graceful, whereas central planning is incredibly clumsy, primitive, and limited in scope id nevermind that the alleged efficiency in the market mechanism is based precisely on pricing participants out of the market, which may not matter for irrational luxury goods, but when it results in market starvation or market famines, as in Victorian India or Ireland, or during the general crisis of the 30s , that s a bit different Automatic coordination is deprivation and death, but because it s papered over with woad warrior FREDUM 1, it s the fault of the deprived or the decedent, who obviously wasted their freedom.I have only commented on the lowest of the low points The lowest point, probably, is the crude suggestion that one of the surprising features of the political emigration from Germany is the comparatively small number of refugees from the Left who are not Jews in the German sense 203 This is deception beyond measure, as the German left had been destroyed just after WWI and then again by the NSDAP in the 30s the suggestion here is accordingly outrageous, and the suggester scum of the earth, considering that the surviving leftists in germania during WWII were sweating it out in concentration camps or acting as part of the armed resistance So fuck you, Pops, and fuck Brother Milt, and fuck Ayn Rand, just because.Recommended for readers who experience the horror inspired by the idea of everything being directed from a single center, persons who claim as a virtue that under one system we shall know less, and those who believe that it is not difficult to deprive the great majority of independent thought. Review written in 2010The 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 be in some ways a bit dated This is not in all ways a bad thing The author expresses an opinion that the central idea argued against in this book is no longer the main threat to liberty or freedom This he states as hot socialism It might also be called overt socialism He feels this has been superseded by subtle forms I think however this is not totally so I also think that if read with an open mind the reader will see in action many of the things the author warns of as possibilities Many have now come about and are fact instead of conjecture of things to come I ll probably mention one or two as examples below.A main reason I recommend that you find the newer edition and read the intro is language Words mean things and words change meaning It must be remembered that this book is not only aimed at the English, it s aimed at citizens of England in the early and middle twentieth century In America today the word conservative means to most who consider themselves conservatives the conservation of the rule of law and the individual rights laid out in the U.S Constitution Historically conservatism has referred to the preservation or conservation of the special rights, powers and privileges of a ruling class Today in Russia the word conservative means those who wish to conserve the Soviet system a fact which appealed greatly to some news people in America who were of the politically left persuasion At the time of and just after the fall of the Soviet Union they seemed to love referring to the Communist party in Russia as the conservatives So, in this book when Dr Hayek uses the word conservative this school of thought would actually be much closer to socialism and what he refers to as collectivist thought than otherwise By the same token the Liberal today in America tends to mean those who are of a socialist bent Not so here The author is using the word in the European, historical way, as in nineteenth century liberal thought Dr Hayek wonders in his intro why Americans Libertarians have allowed the loss of this word to the political left and indeed have actually begun using it He believed that it was an essential word for the arguments When in this book Dr Hayek uses the word liberal and the phrase liberal thought the position he s referring to is much closer to American conservatism than liberalism There are other ideas and words that will be slightly different or even new to some Understanding of language is very important here.In the book s discussion of the world much that is current to WWII will be in the forefront but the ideas are still applicable His discussion of for example the rule of law is universal America was set up under the rule of law Our legislature is constrained by our Constitution as to what new laws it can pass and what actions it can take by laws and rules laid out establishing the nation and said legislature The rule of law is in a very real sense all that stands between any people and despotic and or totalitarian rule Side note, this past year an American legislator said that congress could pass any law it wished with no restriction This past week the President of the U.S signed a law that at least says the American military can detain any person without warrant, charge or attorney No Habeas Corpus, apparently no recourse Yesterday he made an illegal appointment claiming the Senate was in recess, yet the Senate isn t in recess This is not the rule of law and it will be than interesting to see if it s allowed If so, we re in troubleI recommend this one While it isn t the easiest book it s not really difficult either It simply requires a bit of thought and willingness to think of course and understanding of what the author is saying. 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 of power were enriched outrageously In fact, outrage is the only appropriate response to this book.