Tuesday, September 11, 2007


A couple of years ago I watched a roundtable on television celebrating the work of Friedrich Hayek. It changed my life, by putting a mathematical equation to the test by postulating very simply that a centralized government can't possibly move as quickly or react with as much practicality to untold and unforeseen market forces as can thousands and even millions of self-seeking individuals each with an expertise specific to his niche. Finally the scales fell. It al made sense to me after all these years of struggling against the Left with regards to working capitalism versus idealized communism. Yes, capitalism creates its own set of problems, but these can be remedied within a free and bustling democratic system, whereas communism will always tend to stagnate into a totalitarian regime.

Here's a quick introduction in pictures to the groundbreaking and influencial book, The Road To Serfdom by F.A. Hayek, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1974.

Hayek’s central thesis is that all forms of collectivism lead logically and inevitably to tyranny, and he used the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany as examples of countries which, in his view, had gone down “the road to serfdom” and reached tyranny. Hayek argued that within a centrally planned economic system the distribution and allocation of all resources and goods would devolve onto a small group which would be incapable of processing all the information pertinent to the appropriate distribution of the resources and goods at the central planners’ disposal.

Disagreement about the practical implementation of any economic plan combined with the inadequacy of the central planners’ resource management would invariably necessitate coercion in order for anything to be achieved. Hayek further argued that the failure of central planning would be perceived by the public as an absence of sufficient power by the state to implement an otherwise good idea. Such a perception would lead the public to vote more power to the state, and would assist the rise to power of a “strong man” perceived to be capable of “getting the job done”.

After these developments Hayek argued that a country would be ineluctably driven into outright totalitarianism. For Hayek “the road to serfdom” inadvertently set upon by central planning, with its dismantling of the free market system, ends in the destruction of all individual economic and personal freedom.

Hayek argued that countries such as the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany had already gone down the "road to serfdom", and that various democratic nations are being led down the same road. In The Road to Serfdom he wrote: "The principle that the end justifies the means is in individualist ethics regarded as the denial of all morals. In collectivist ethics it becomes necessarily the supreme rule."

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