Skip to comments.The Road to Serfdom (Link to the Readers' Digest Condensed Version in PDF!)
Posted on 05/01/2005 5:49:32 PM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion
The authors 9
Foreword by Edwin J. Feulner Jr 11
Introduction: Hayek, Fisher and The Road to Serfdom by John Blundell 14
Preface to the Readers Digest condensed version of The Road to Serfdom 26
The Road to Serfdom (condensed version) 31
Planning and power 32
Background to danger 34
The liberal way of planning 37
The great utopia 39
Why the worst get on top 43
Planning vs. the Rule of Law 49
Is planning inevitable? 51
Can planning free us from care? 53
Two kinds of security 58
Towards a better world 62
The Road to Serfdom in cartoons 63
About the IEA 82
He was also a bit of an historian. Every time some Leftie argues that the Nazis were "right wing", I throw his passage on Nazis, Communists, and Socialists, left-wing all, at them. After all, he was there, watching it all from Europe, at the time.
No less significant is the intellectual outlook of the rank and file in the communist and fascist movements in Germany before 1933. The relative ease with which a young communist could be converted into a Nazi or vice versa was well known, best of all to the propagandists of the two parties. The communists and Nazis clashed more frequently with each other than with other parties simply because they competed for the same type of mind and reserved for each other the hatred of the heretic. Their practice showed how closely they are related. To both, the real enemy, the man with whom they had nothing in common, was the liberal of the old type. While to the Nazi the communist and to the communist the Nazi, and to both the socialist, are potential recruits made of the right timber, they both know that there can be no compromise between them and those who really believe in individual freedom.
His "liberal of the old type" is of course what we would call a classical liberal, not a modern "liberal", who is a socialist who has Orwellianly appropriated the word "liberal".
The most effective way of making people accept the validity of the values they are to serve is to persuade them that they are really the same as those they have always held, but which were not properly understood or recognized before. And the most efficient technique to this end is to use the old words but change their meaning. Few traits of totalitarian regimes are at the same time so confusing to the superficial observer and yet so characteristic of the whole intellectual climate as this complete perversion of language.Here Hayek nails the "Orwellian" (Hayek's notes have Orwell reviewing Serfdom, in late '44, and Orwell chose the date 1984 by inverting the last two digits of the year of publication - 1948. So Orwell cannot be said to have invented the concept of word-meaning inversion - or at least not as late as the publication date of 1984) "Newspeak."
The worst sufferer in this respect is the word liberty. It is a word used as freely in totalitarian states as elsewhere. Indeed, it could almost be said that wherever liberty as we know it has been destroyed, this has been done in the name of some new freedom promised to the people. Even among us we have planners who promise us a collective freedom, which is as misleading as anything said by totalitarian politicians. Collective freedom is not the freedom of the members of society, but the unlimited freedom of the planner to do with society that which he pleases. This is the confusion of freedom with power carried to the extreme.
It is however ironic that Hayek, in a preface to a later edition of the full Serfdom text, discusses the American inversion of the word "liberalism" defensively. He mentions there his 'regret' at using so liberally a word which was perfectly understood in Britain at that time but which in America at that same time meant "very nearly its opposite" of the old British meaning.
It will take you a long way in translating leftist Newspeak if, whenever you hear the word "social" as a word or the root of a word, or you hear the word "public," you mentally pencil in the word "government" as a possible replacement. Thus "socialism" is accurately translated into "governmentism" - which is, aptly a synonym for "tyranny." And thus when the leftist says, "society should feed its children" no one can seriously question that someone in society should and must - but the leftist actually means nothing other than that the government should do it. "The public sector" is a circumlocution for "the government," too - and (as Milton Friedman vigorously asserts) a "public school" is a government school.
Well said, great post.
It will be when I am ruling the country with an iron fist. Bwahahahaha!
Oops. Get power first, then laugh maniacally
Me too. I've also given a few copies away. The recipients who actually read it were amazed.
I found the actual quote, which was sourced to the preface Hayek wrote for the 1956 edition:
The fact that this book was originally written with only the British public in mind does not appear to have seriously affected its intelligibility for the American reader. But there is one point of phraseology which I ought to explain here to forestall any misunderstanding. I use throughout the term "liberal" in the original nineteenth-century sense in which it is still current in Britain. In current American usage it often means very nearly the opposite of this. It has been part of the camouflage of leftist movements in this country, helped by the muddleheadedness of many who really believe in liberty, that "liberal" has come to mean the advocacy of almost every kind of government control. I am still puzzled why those in the United States who truly believe in liberty should not only have allowed the left to appropriate this almost indispensable term but should even have assisted by beginning to use it themselves as a term of opprobrium. This seems to be particularly regrettable because of the consequent tendency of many true liberals to describe themselves as conservatives.As I mentioned elsewhere, American conservatism is a strange duck. Conservatism nurtures tradition, but American tradition is freedom - and freedom allows change. It is for that reason that conservatism is not really such a terrible name for Hayek's "liberalism."
It is true, of course, that in the struggle against the believers in the all-powerful state the true liberal must sometimes make common cause with the conservative, and in some circumstances, as in contemporary Britain, he has hardly any other way of actively working for his ideals. But true liberalism is still distinct from conservatism, and there is danger in the two being confused. Conservatism, through a necessary element in any stable society, is not a social program; in its paternalistic, nationalistic, and power-adoring tendencies it is often closer to socialism than true liberalism; and with its traditionalistic, anti-intellectual, and often mystical propensities it will never, except in short periods of disillusionment, appeal to the young and all those others who believe that some changes are desirable if this world is to become a better place. A conservative movement, by its very nature, is bound to be a defender of established privilege and to lean on the power o f government for the protection of privilege. The essence of the liberal position, however, is the denial of all privilege, if privilege is understood in its proper and original meaning of the state granting and protecting rights to some which are not available on equal terms to others.
Note that from my perspective "the denial of all privilege, . . . understood in its proper and original meaning of the state granting and protecting rights to some which are not available on equal terms to others" would certainly include the dismantling of the FCC's licensing of some few of us to be broadcasters and its consigning of the rest of to the role of mere listeners.
Media bias bump.
This is a great thread. Thank you so much.
"As I mentioned elsewhere, American conservatism is a strange duck. Conservatism nurtures tradition, but American tradition is freedom - and freedom allows change. It is for that reason that conservatism is not really such a terrible name for Hayek's "liberalism." "
Pro-freedom American 'conservatism' is less a 'strange duck' than a hybrid of conservative instincts and classical Liberalism that IMHO stengthens the both the ideals of freedom and virtue.
Like alloyed steel, in politics there are certain concepts that need other supporting and somewhat contrary ideals to work. A society cannot be free unless it is virtuous, and a society cannot be moral unless it is free. So although liberalism's goal of freedom and conservatism's aim of 'soulcraft' are often opposed, both ideals are improved by the other.
That is why American-style conservatism works as a positive governing philosophy.
I would say, the two are nominally opposed, but in fact are two sides of the same coin - virtue isn't virtue unless it is freely chosen. That's D'nish d'Souza's formulation, in which he says that American women dress more provocatively than the burka-clad muslim woman - but since the muslim woman didn't have a choice in the matter, the American woman may actually be more modest than the muslim. Who can say how the muslim woman would dress if she wouldn't be whipped if she didn't wear a burka?
So American freedom gives more scope for virtue, just as it gives more scope for vice.
dittos on your thoughts.
It is not to be thought that what the Establishment labels "dissent" necessarily is such in fact; "establishment dissent" is a classic oxymoron.
In America only those whom the Establishment labels "conservative" truly dissent from the Establishment.
Here's a link to the article, "Why I am not a Conservative," whose title Michelle borrowed for her essay, the subject of this thread. I couldn't say what her opinion is of Hayek's original, but even though it was written 45 years ago, it is amazingly insightful and appropos for the current discussions here on FR. I recommend it.
217 posted on 05/04/2005 11:56:28 AM EDT by Sam Cree
Pinging responders to this excellent thread:
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