This blog is designed for those of us who want to expand our minds by reading other great thinkers because we believe that ideas have power; ideas have consequences; ideas move the world.
As such, excerpts from May’s economic book study selection, F.A. Hayek’s ROAD TO SERFDOM, require contemplation:
Chpt. 1 – The Abandoned Road
We have progressively abandoned that freedom in economic affairs without which personal and political freedom has never existed in the past. Although we had been warned by some of the greatest political thinkers of the nineteenth century,…that socialism means slavery, we have steadily moved in the direction of socialism. (p.67)
The gradual transformation of a rigidly organized hierarchic system into one where men could at least attempt to shape their own life, where man gained the opportunity of knowing and choosing between different forms of life, is closely associated with the growth of commerce….where there was no despotic political power to stifle it.
The conscious realization that the spontaneous and uncontrolled efforts of individuals were capable of producing a complex order of economic activities could come only after this development had made some progress. The subsequent elaboration of a consistent argument in favor of economic freedom was the outcome of a free growth of economic activity which had been the undersigned and unforeseen by-product of political freedom. (p.69)
…with the decline of the understanding of the way in which the free system worked, our awareness of what depended on its existence also decreased. (p.72)
The change amounts to a complete reversal of the trend we have sketched, an entire abandonment of the individualist tradition which has created Western civilization. (p.73)
Chpt. 2 – The Great Utopia
It is rarely remembered now that socialism in its beginnings was frankly authoritarian. The French writers who laid the foundations of modern socialism had no doubt that their ideas could be put into practice only by a strong dictatorial government. (p,76)
Democracy and socialism have nothing gin common but one word: equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude. (p.77)
Freedom in this sense is, of course, merely another name for power or wealth….The demand for the new freedom was thus only another name for the old demand for an equal distribution of wealth.
Socialism was embraced by the greater part of the intelligentsia as the apparent heir of the liberal tradition: therefore it is not surprising that to them the idea of socialism’s leading to the opposite of liberty should appear inconceivable. (p.78)
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