Monday, May 25, 2009

The great F.A. Hayek on freedom vs socialism

Many people believe freedom and socialism are somehow compatible. One of the first great expositions of the fact that socialism inevitably leads to loss of freedom was the book The Road to Serfdom by the Nobel Prize winning economist F. A. Hayek. It's one of those classic books everyone should have read somewhere along the way, and it's not too late to read it now.

This article points out,

"Hayek's central thesis in his sentinel work, The Road to Serfdom, is that through the inevitable mismanagement of resources and goods at the disposal of the state, all forms of collectivism lead eventually to tyranny. Hayek used the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany as examples of countries that had progressed through the phases of collectivist governments and reached the point of tyranny.

Hayek argued that disagreement regarding the practical implementation of any economic plan combined with the inadequacy of the planners' resource management would necessitate coercion in order for anything to be achieved. According to Hayek, the failure of central planning would be perceived by some in the public as an absence of sufficient power by the state to implement an otherwise good idea. This would lead the public to vote more power to the state, assisting in the rise of a "strong man" perceived to be capable of getting the job done.

Following these developments, a country will be driven into outright totalitarianism. For Hayek, this journey, inadvertently set upon by central planning, ends in the destruction of all individual economic and personal freedoms."

Sounds like the path we're on. It will be interesting to see how far down that path we go. As Hayek said, "
What has always made the state a hell on earth has been precisely that man has tried to make it his heaven."

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