Saturday, July 07, 2012

F.A. Hayek: The Road to Serfdom

"What had been achieved came to be regarded as a secure and imperishable possession, acquired once and for all. The eyes of the people became fixed on the new demands, the rapid satisfaction of which seemed to be barred by the adherence to the old principles. It became more and more widely accepted that further advance could be expected not along the old lines within the general framework which had made past progress possible but only by a complete remodeling of society. It was no longer a question of adding to or improving the existing machinery but of completely scrapping and replacing it. And, as the hope of the new generation came to be centered on something completely new, interest in and understanding of the functioning of the existing society rapidly declined; and, with the decline of the understanding of the way in which the free system worked, our awareness of what depended on its existence also decreased."  
F.A. Hayek

I exhort you to read F.A. Hayek's "The Road to Serfdom" at your earliest convenience, for it is one of the most important books you will ever read.  I own the Kindle version, have underlined almost the entire first half of the book, and may end up buying a hard copy.  This book should be required reading for every high school student in America, and will most certainly be in the top ten list of books the progressives/socialists will burn when they have complete control of America.  We need to understand the nature or our country and be able to talk intelligently about it to defend it from the destructive forces of socialism.  F.A. Hayek nailed it when he wrote this book during the time of World War II.  Not much has changed, except that America is now struck with the socialism disease.

What has always made the state a hell on earth has been precisely that man has tried to make it his heaven. —Hölderlin

Here are some of the major points from the book:

(1) Hayek defends the idea of individual liberty upon which the American way of life is based.  (Hayek wrote this from the British perspective, but it applies just as equally to freedom in America.)
"But the essential features of that individualism which, from elements provided by Christianity and the philosophy of classical antiquity, was first fully developed during the Renaissance and has since grown and spread into what we know as Western civilization—are the respect for the individual man qua man, that is, the recognition of his own views and tastes as supreme in his own sphere, however narrowly that may be circumscribed, and the belief that it is desirable that men should develop their own individual gifts and bents." (p. 68)
(2) He lays out how socialism is an existential threat to our individual liberties.
"We have progressively abandoned that freedom in economic affairs without which personal and political freedom has never existed in the past. Although we had been warned by some of the greatest political thinkers of the nineteenth century, by Tocqueville and Lord Acton, that socialism means slavery, we have steadily moved in the direction of socialism. And now that we have seen a new form of slavery arise before our eyes, we have so completely forgotten the warning that it scarcely occurs to us that the two things may be connected." (p. 67)
(3) Hayek clearly shows that even though national socialism (Nazis), socialists, communists and fascists may have different ends in mind, they share the identical means of centralizing everything under the power of the state, also known as collectivization.
"The various kinds of collectivism, communism, fascism, etc., differ among themselves in the nature of the goal toward which they want to direct the efforts of society. But they all differ from liberalism and individualism in wanting to organize the whole of society and all its resources for this unitary end and in refusing to recognize autonomous spheres in which the ends of the individuals are supreme. In short, they are totalitarian in the true sense of this new word which we have adopted to describe the unexpected but nevertheless inseparable manifestations of what in theory we call collectivism." (p. 100)
"Few are ready to recognize that the rise of fascism and naziism was not a reaction against the socialist trends of the preceding period but a necessary outcome of those tendencies." (p. 58)
"As a result, many who think themselves infinitely superior to the aberrations of naziism, and sincerely hate all its manifestations, work at the same time for ideals whose realization would lead straight to the abhorred tyranny." (p. 59) 
" would be a mistake to believe that the specific German rather than the socialist element produced totalitarianism. It was the prevalence of socialist views and not Prussianism that Germany had in common with Italy and Russia..." (p. 62)
"While “progressives” in England and elsewhere were still deluding themselves that communism and fascism represented opposite poles, more and more people began to ask themselves whether these new tyrannies were not the outcome of the same tendencies. Even communists must have been somewhat shaken by such testimonies as that of Max Eastman, Lenin’s old friend, who found himself compelled to admit that “instead of being better, Stalinism is worse than fascism, more ruthless, barbarous, unjust, immoral, antidemocratic, unredeemed by any hope or scruple,” and that it is “better described as superfascist”; and when we find the same author recognizing that “Stalinism is socialism, in the sense of being an inevitable although unforeseen political accompaniment of the nationalization and collectivization which he had relied upon as part of his plan for erecting a classless society,” his conclusion clearly achieves wider significance." (p. 78) 
“The complete collapse of the belief in the attainability of freedom and equality through Marxism,” writes Peter Drucker, “has forced Russia to travel the same road toward a totalitarian, purely negative, non-economic society of unfreedom and inequality which Germany has been following. Not that communism and fascism are essentially the same. Fascism is the stage reached after communism has proved an illusion, and it has proved as much an illusion in Stalinist Russia as in pre-Hitler Germany.” (p. 80)
(4) He shows how the word "freedom" was hijacked and perverted by socialists.
"The subtle change in meaning to which the word “freedom” was subjected in order that this argument should sound plausible is important. To the great apostles of political freedom the word had meant freedom from coercion, freedom from the arbitrary power of other men, release from the ties which left the individual no choice but obedience to the orders of a superior to whom he was attachedThe new freedom promised, however, was to be freedom from necessity, release from the compulsion of the circumstances which inevitably limit the range of choice of all of us, although for some very much more than for others. Before man could be truly free, the “despotism of physical want” had to be broken, the “restraints of the economic system” relaxed." (p. 77) 
"...the promise of greater freedom has become one of the most effective weapons of socialist propaganda..." (p. 78)
(5) He explains how goals such as social justice require central planning, which undermines the rule of law.
"We must centrally direct economic activity if we want to make the distribution of income conform to current ideas of social justice. “Planning,” therefore, is wanted by all those who demand that “production for use” be substituted for production for profit." (p. 84)
(6) He exposes how the environmentalist agenda uses man's "threat" to the environment as an excuse to control the means of production.
"...this is linked directly to the environmentalist agenda to only produce that which we need...using the threat to the environment as the rationale for controlling production..." (p. 84)
(7) He explains how centralized planning will fail because economies are too complex, especially large ones, for them to make well-informed and reasonable decision.  It is much better to allow market forces and the people within the market to make their own decisions in their realms based on smaller domains of information.
" is impossible for any man to survey more than a limited field, to be aware of the urgency of more than a limited number of needs." (p. 102)
(8) He describes how the onset of monopolies will require the State to step in and take over (collectivization).

"...a state of affairs which can satisfy neither planners nor liberals: a sort of syndicalist or “corporative” organization of industry, in which competition is more or less suppressed but planning is left in the hands of the independent monopolies of the separate industries." (p. 89)
"Once this stage is reached, the only alternative to a return to competition is the control of the monopolies by the state—a control which, if it is to be made effective, must become progressively more complete and more detailed." (p. 89)
(9) Hayek describes how the intelligentsia are attracted to socialism and view it as giving people "freedom," but do not understand the end state of socialist policies (full government control of people's lives).
"Socialism was embraced by the greater part of the intelligentsia as the apparent heir of the liberal tradition: therefore it is not surprising that to them the idea of socialism’s leading to the opposite of liberty should appear inconceivable." (p. 78)
"W. H. Chamberlin, who in twelve years in Russia as an American correspondent had seen all his ideals shattered, summed up the conclusions of his studies there and in Germany and Italy in the statement that “socialism is certain to prove, in the beginning at least, the road NOT to freedom, but to dictatorship and counter-dictatorships, to civil war of the fiercest kind. Socialism achieved and maintained by democratic means seems definitely to belong to the world of utopias.” " (p. 79)
Read this book before it is too late.

Socialism, in any form, is an enemy of our individual liberties and must be opposed.

Disclaimer: These opinions are solely my own, and do not reflect the opinions or official positions of any United States Government agency, organization or department.

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