The Road to Serfdom is a fantastic piece of writing by one of the most knowledgable economists the world has ever seen.
Hayek, was a disciple of von Mises, the father of austrian economics, and was the ideological antithesis of Keynes. The fact that history has come to underappreciated Hayek is just another reason why economic thought has degraded in such a way. Perhaps if the textbooks at the UPF referred to Hayek as the father of modern macro, instead of Keynes, things would be different.
Anyway, as I was saying, The Road to Serfdom should be mandatory reading for all economics students, but I understand most don’t have the motivation, time, or capacity to understand his work. (I haven’t read it myself)
Luckily you don’t need to read the book to get the general idea. A simple look at the following video will suffice: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mkz9AQhQFNY
The video shows the Road to Serfdom presented and synthesized into a comic strip, as done by Look Magazine in the 1940s.
The idea presented is simple. When we give up our freedom and liberties, we eventually become enslaved. This process begins with the threat of war.
Under the threat of war, all activity becomes centrally planned, for the sake of the nation. All industries are controlled by planners. However, central planning soon comes to be a failure. There is too much conflict of ideas. The need then arises for a single leader to enforce the planners view by all means possible. The planning, as before, is proven not to work, but at this point there is no turning back. To step away from the norm would be deemed illegal, to stand against the leader would mean death. Freedom is extinguished, the masses are kept in check by lies and propaganda, eventually every single aspect of your life becomes just another part of the central planning. Often, national unity is achieved by means of scapegoatism, attacking and blaming certain minorities in society.
All of these things sound familiar, they were typical aspects of life in Nazi Germany and to a lesser extent, aspects of life today.
It’s funny how today, somehow, fascism is associated with capitalism, when indeed it was the National Socialists Workers Party that Hitler lead to power.
Nationalism, fascism, and socialism walk hand in hand. Totalitarianism, after all, embodies the same principles as socialism. The idea that central planning can solve any problem that arises (socialism) leads inevitably to the state of affairs by which the State does eventually, and increasingly, dominate more and more of our lives, the culmination of this being a totalitarian state.
Much of the thinking today, is the result of the sequels left by World War I and II. As I often say, we are applying war time politics, measures adopted because of extreme circumstances, in times of peace. The over reliance and faith in central planning is a symptom of the war-time period you, or your parents may have grown up in.
Sadly, the results are invariably the same. As central planning takes over, freedoms and liberties become extinguished. The very purpose of your existence becomes but another element in the grand scheme of the planners, insignificant really. In fact, if your existence does not comply with the plan, there is no need for it, and it will be terminated. You either do what you are told or you are eliminated, the road to serfdom has reached its end, and civilization has become enslaved.