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The Road To Serfdom

Nazism, he wrote, is not different in kind from Communism. Further, he showed that the very forms of government that England and America were supposedly fighting abroad were being enacted at home, if under a different guise. Further steps down this road, he said, can only end in the abolition of effective liberty for everyone.

The Road to Serfdom

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Though Hayek constantly had in mind Nazi Germany as he composed his thoughts, could he have foreseen the state regulating who could be married, who could use which toilets, and whether the military should pay for sex-change operations? Hayek saw the dead-end road:

Hayek worried that the impulses for planning and power by the intellectual elite and the desire for security and equality by the people could be ruinous to free societies. He believed that those who argue most for giving the public freedom and security by increasing the power of the state would be the very individuals who would put the public on the road to serfdom. It is impossible for a society to work toward one end, for example equality or material security, and to keep its freedom. In the end, according to Hayek, the masses will become serfs, serving those who hold the power in government.

At the beginning of the 1950s, Hayek moved to the University of Chicago here in the United States. But his attention had turned from economic theory and policy in the narrow sense to the broader problems of social and political philosophy and the nature of societal order and the competitive market system. These interests culminated in two major works, The Constitution of Liberty (1960) and Law, Legislation, and Liberty that appeared in 3-volumes between 1976 and 1979,

The type of serfdom that has increasingly enveloped parts of human life in the Western world was, in fact, anticipated with concern and fear by the 19th century French social philosopher, Alexis de Tocqueville, in his study of Democracy in America published in the 1830s:

That many who read such a list of lost freedoms in the United States will be shocked that anyone should suggest that the state should not be concerned with many or all of these matters shows, I would suggest, just how far we have come and are continuing to go down a road to serfdom.

If we are to find a way to get off this road to paternalistic serfdom that has been weakening an understanding and draining existence out of the free society, the first task is to appreciate how this came about and what its implications can be. 041b061a72


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