The Road to Serfdom

The Road to Serfdom (1944) by Friedrich Hayek is a classic free market book. In the book Hayek asserts that economic planning leads to totalitarianism and that political freedom can only exist if there is economic freedom. The book was praised on release and has been praised ever since. John Maynard Keynes thought the book was brilliant.

It is a book that I’ve found difficult to read as it is very dense and this is, in fact, my second or third attempt at reading it.

The book fails to foresee what arose after WWII with the greatly increased role of the state in economic affairs. There is little comment on the rise of the welfare state. Hayek’s description of a slippery slope from government intervention in the economy to totalitarianism has not taken place. Hayek failed to foresee, as did most people, the tendency of a welfare state toward bankruptcy that would limit the totalitarian impulses of such states.

In the book Hayek does see some role for government welfare and regulation.

The book is, however, a book that anyone interested in economics and government should read just to be familiar with the contents and the arguments contained in the book. It’s an important book and a book that more people should read. The book has also dated extremely well.


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