photo portrait of F. A. Hayek

The Road to Serfdom by F. A. Hayek

The Road to Serfdom: text and documents, the definitive edition by F. A. Hayek. Edited by Bruce Caldwell (2007)

While I was looking for a Goodreads link for this book, I spotted another book referencing the Hayek’s title, by Grover Norquist (author of the coercive “no taxes” pledge that he had Republicans sign, assuring that government would become “small enough to drown in a bathtub.” He is described as more of a Libertarian than a Republican in some places. Norquist gave a lecture on his views in a 2013, the lectures were named in honor of Hayek.

I have seen Hayek’s name cited many times now, but I was still confused exactly what his ultimate position was; it turns out that he was critical of socialism. That explains why Norquist would reference Hayek’s book in his book title.

OMG looking around some more, there is an edition with Milton Fiedman’s writing the introduction. That pretty much tells me that anything Hayek said is something I would disagree with and hate if any policies were implemented based on anything that Hayek would have said. Yes, the link on Hayek’s name at the top by the title states that he was definitely a free-market capitalist. Gag.

OMG President George the First presented him with the U. S. Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1991!

I decided not to spend the time to read the very small print of this since I have so many other books to read. A random spot in the book  (158-159) actually had some interesting things to say.

We must not deceive ourselves into believing that all good people must be democrats or will necessarily wish to have a share in the government, Many, no doubt, would rather entrust it to somebody whom they think more competent. Although this might be unwise, there is nothing bad or dishonorable in approving a dictatorship of the good. Totalitarianism, we can already hear it argued, is a powerful system alike for good and evil, and the purpose for which it will be used depends entirely on the dictators. And those who think that it is not the system which we need fear, but the danger that it might be run by bad men, might even be tempted to forestall this danger by seeing that it is established in time by good men.

There are strong reasons for believing that what to us appear the worst features of the existing totalitarian systems are not accidental by-products but phenomena which totalitarianism is certain sooner or later to produce. Just as the democratic statesman who sets out to plan economic life will soon be confronted wih the alternative of either assuming dictatorial powers or abandoning his plans, so the totalitarian dictator would soon have to choose between disregard of ordinary MORALS and FAILURE. It is for this reason that the unscrupulous and uninhabitable are likely to be more successful in a society tending toward totalitarianism. Who does not see this has not yet grasped the full width of the gulf which separates totalitarianism from a liberal regime, the utter difference between the whole MORAL atmosphere under collectivism and the essentially individualist Western civilization.

The “moral basis of collectivism” has, of course, been much debated in the past; but what concerns us here is not its MORAL basis but MORAL RESULTS. . . .

That socialism can be put into practice only by methods which most socialists disapprove is, of course, a lesson learned by many social reformers in the past. The old socialist parties were INHIBITED by their democratic IDEALS; they did not possess the RUTHLESSNESS REQUIRED for the performance of their chosen task.

When I say interesting, I don’t mean correct, or true. In fact, it is important to remember that the field of economics is pretty much all suppositions, often not based on any reality, especially not from a female point of view. Very few of the economics books I have read even mention economics in the context of women’s lives. And of course, all the economists seem to be white men. On the list of lecturers for the Hayek series Norquist spoke at, all are men from 1992 to 2015.

The one point I really find interesting is the concept of the benevolent dictatorships. That is something of a joke I make when I rant on about how I would do things if I was in charge. Of course, I know that there will always be unintended consequences. The old “be careful what you wish for” dilemma or the tricks of Genies when granting three wishes. A cartoon I saw showed someone wishing for “1,000 bucks” and the next panel showed a large amount of antlered dears surrounding the wisher.

BTW, I could not find a picture online of this particular edition. I may add a photo later.






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