The Road to Serfdom

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The Road to Serfdom
Author Friedrich Hayek
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Subject Politics
Published
Media type Print
Pages 266
ISBN 0-226-32061-8
OCLC 30733740
338.9 20
LC Class HD82 .H38 1994

The Road to Serfdom is a book written by the Austrian-born economist and philosopher Friedrich von Hayek (1899–1992) between 1940–1943.

In the book he warned of the danger of tyranny which comes from "government control of economic decision-making by central planning".[1] He means the way fascist, communist and socialist governments try to control every aspect of the economy.

The rights and wishes of the individual are important, and the state should not interfere too much. When the state controls too much, that leads to a loss of freedom, an oppressive society, and eventually the tyranny of a dictator. The individual citizen becomes a serf. Hayek argued that fascism and socialism had roots in central economic planning and giving the state power over the individual.

After its publication in 1944, The Road to Serfdom became a popular account of market libertarianism. It has sold over two million copies.[2][3]

The Road to Serfdom was to be a popular edition of the second volume of Hayek’s The Abuse and Decline of Reason.[4] The title was inspired by the writings of the 19th century French classical liberal Alexis de Tocqueville on the "road to servitude".[4]p116 The book was first published in Britain by Routledge in March 1944, during World War II, and was quite popular. Hayek called it "that unobtainable book", due to wartime paper rationing.[4]p128

It was published in the United States by the University of Chicago Press in September 1944 and became popular. The American magazine Reader's Digest published an abridged version in April 1945. This got The Road to Serfdom to a wider group of readers than before. The book had a big impact on twentieth-century conservative and libertarian economic and political thinking. It is often cited today by commentators.[4]

References[change | change source]

  1. Ebeling, Richard M. (May 1999). "Friedrich A. Hayek: a centenary appreciation". The Freeman 49 (5). http://www.thefreemanonline.org/featured/friedrich-a-hayek-a-centenary-appreciation/#. 
  2. On June 9, 2010, the book became the #1 book sold at Amazon.com, becoming a best-seller.Paul Ormerod (December 16, 2006). "The fading of Friedman". Prospect (magazine). Retrieved 2010-12-26.
  3. "Bestsellers in Books". Amazon.com. Retrieved 10 December 2010.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Ebenstein, Alan O. 2003. Friedrich Hayek: a biography. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-18150-9