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University of Chicago Press
The Road to Serfdom: Text and Documents, The Definitive Edition

The Road to Serfdom: Text and Documents, The Definitive Edition

by F. A. Hayek, Bruce Caldwell
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An unimpeachable classic work in political philosophy, intellectual and cultural history, and economics, The Road to Serfdom has inspired and infuriated politicians, scholars, and general readers for half a century. Originally published in 1944—when Eleanor Roosevelt supported the efforts of Stalin, and Albert Einstein subscribed lock, stock, and barrel to the socialist program—The Road to Serfdom was seen as heretical for its passionate warning against the dangers of state control over the means of production. For F. A. Hayek, the collectivist idea of empowering government with increasing economic control would lead not to a utopia but to the horrors of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.

First published by the University of Chicago Press on September 18, 1944, The Road to Serfdom garnered immediate, widespread attention. The first printing of 2,000 copies was exhausted instantly, and within six months more than 30,000 books were sold. In April 1945, Reader’s Digest published a condensed version of the book, and soon thereafter the Book-of-the-Month Club distributed this edition to more than 600,000 readers. A perennial best seller, the book has sold 400,000 copies in the United States alone and has been translated into more than twenty languages, along the way becoming one of the most important and influential books of the century.

With this new edition, The Road to Serfdom takes its place in the series The Collected Works of F. A. Hayek.  The volume includes a foreword by series editor and leading Hayek scholar Bruce Caldwell explaining the book's origins and publishing history and assessing common misinterpretations of Hayek's thought.  Caldwell has also standardized and corrected Hayek's references and added helpful new explanatory notes.  Supplemented with an appendix of related materials ranging from prepublication reports on the initial manuscript to forewords to earlier editions by John Chamberlain, Milton Friedman, and Hayek himself, this new edition of The Road to Serfdom will be the definitive version of Hayek's enduring masterwork.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780226320557
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication date: 03/15/2007
Series: Collected Works of F. A. Hayek Series , #2
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 48,090
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

F. A. Hayek (1899-1992), recipient of the Medal of Freedom in 1991 and co-winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics in 1974, was a pioneer in monetary theory and a leading proponent of classical liberalism  in the twentieth century. He taught at the University of London, the University of Chicago, and the University of Freiburg.

Table of Contents

Editorial Foreword

Preface to the Original Editions
Foreword to the 1956 American Paperback Edition
Preface to the 1976 Edition

One                        The Abandoned Road
Two                       The Great Utopia
Three                     Individualism and Collectivism
Four                       The "Inevitability" of Planning
Five                        Planning and Democracy
Six                         Planning and the Rule of Law
Seven                     Economic Control and Totalitarianism
Eight                       Who, Whom?
Nine                       Security and Freedom
Ten                        Why the Worst Get on Top
Eleven                    The End of Truth
Twelve                   The Socialist Roots of Naziism
Thirteen                  The Totalitarians in Our Midst
Fourteen                 Material Conditions and Ideal Ends
Fifteen                    The Prospects of International Order
Sixteen                   Conclusion

Bibliographical Note

Nazi-Socialism (1933)
Reader's Report by Frank Knight (1943)
Reader's Report by Jacob Marschak (1943)
Foreword to the 1944 American Edition by John Chamberlain
Letter from John Scoon to C. Hartley Grattan (1945)
Introduction to the 1994 Edition by Milton Friedman

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The Road to Serfdom 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 47 reviews.
ClassicalLiberal More than 1 year ago
This book gives an excellent intellectual and objective analysis on central economic planning, whether it be National Socialism (Nazism), Fascism, Socialism, or Communism. He ties all collectivist/statist systems together into how they all are very closely related when put into practice and diverge in the non-essentials. It is a great book for the classical liberal and libertarians of the world and may even be good for conservatives. I found the book to make so much sense that I understand why it took so much to finally get published when fascist/socialist economic planning was so popular in the time. Nobody likes someone who makes an intellectually honest case against the mainstream intellectual and political grain. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to learn the truth about economics and central planning that goes without the emotional driven rhetoric. Hayek was a true liberal in the consistent and original sense of the word. Its sad how the label has become so corrupted in America to mean the very opposite. Classical liberal ideals are what will allow a country to thrive and prosper. Collectivist/statism systems like Nazism, communism, Fascism, and Socialism will deteriorate individual freedom and progress for mankind which,In turn, brings us back into primitive tribalism for the sake of destroying a system of individual freedom that has taken thousands of years to build up. This book is very highly recommended and a credible, honest, and objective analysis of the failures of collectivist thought and practice.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the finest book to explore the devastating effects of socialism. . . . and Hayek wrote it before it was as obvious as it is now. I've read it numerous times and always find something new
Publius81 More than 1 year ago
Hayek's Road to Serfdom is, in my opinion, necessary reading for all those who cherish the fountainhead of our civic blessings--freedom. Hayek's meticulous research and insight provides stunning revelations into the minds and methods of all socialists (he dedicates the book to socialists of all parties) and the dangers that they pose to all free societies. The writing can be dense at times, but this is par for the course from an intellectual of the caliber of Hayek. Despite some difficult or obscure references, Hayek's work is clear, concise and enlightening. I have trouble putting the book down and feel that future readings of the text will provide me with even more insight. If the politics and policies of the present day worry you or give you the uneasy feeling that there must be something better, then you should absolutely read this book! Hayek shows that the immortal words of Patrick Henry, "Give me liberty, or give me death!" can be no more honest or true.
thoughtful More than 1 year ago
Amazing that a book written in the 1940's was so predictive of the future and relevant to the present economic and political debate. Fairly easy reading for such a seemingly "dry" subject (unlike, say, The Conservative Mind by Russell Kirk). Hayek spells out the dangers of a collectivist state and how it can develop, even if initially from good intentions.
Leon_Devereux More than 1 year ago
This book is a classic review of political systems written in England during WWII but with high relevance for today. The author would go on to the United States and become a highly respected economist. The descriptions of the socialist movements of Europe of the time and the origins of socialist thought in the 19th century are well worth reading for their relevance today. This book served as a warning to all regarding the appealing phrases used at the time one of which was used to 'sell' total government control: "scientific planning". Socialism, when implemented in Europe, grew into different branches taking hold as either communism, Fascist socialism, or National Socialism (totalitarianism). The book was controversial at the time regrding the application of socialist thought as it was implemented and the book drew heated criticism in Europe and from certain corners in the United States. It should be remembered that the early 20th century movements toward collectivism were widespread among the elites. In the United States there were intellectual circles and political movements that espoused socialism as a cure for the negatives of the Great Depression. Collectivists were popular then even inside the New Deal government. Among political parties socialism and the future of it in the United States were defined by such quotes as, "The American people will never knowingly adopt socialism. But, under the name of 'liberalism,' they will adopt every fragment of the socialist program, until one day America will be a socialist nation, without knowing how it happened." - Norman Thomas, U.S. Socialist Party presidential candidate? 1940, 1944 and 1948. This book is highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just finished this outstanding volume. I knew of Hayek from my Philosophy curriculum 30 years ago, but have focused in other areas since then. These most trying of times brought me back to the roots of what is important and why. Hayek systematically addressses collectivism in all of its forms and address how the noble intentions of a central planning that is intended to work for the "good of the whole" inevitably degenerates into a power struggle of interest groups and in the worst cases degenerates into fascism. Liberty resides in individualism balanced by the rule of law, as our founding fathers so wisely observed leading to the creation of a Republic. In this way power is diffuse among the people and not availble for abuse by small groups bent on directing society to their purposes.

It is frightening how these clear insights from 1944 seem to have been forgotten in America. Perhaps our memories can be jogged in time to avert disaster.
JohnGalt-CO More than 1 year ago
I am lucky to have had an Austrian economist as my Econ 101 professor some 25 years ago. As a result of being more interested in the neckline and the subtle perfume of the young lady sitting in front of me, I first read The Road to Serfdom with the view of "It's just another homework assignment".

A few years later, having changed my major from Economics to Poli-Sci, I reread the book with considerable interest. I have since read the book no less than a half-dozen times. It has had a profound effect on my political philosophy. And though written 70 years ago, this timeless classic is still applicable in today's world as I refer to it in nearly every political discussion in which I engage.

I purchased the book "used" in my university bookstore and it is quite tattered. I even take a few of the loose pages with me while backpacking for the purpose of contemplation free from the distractions in the modern world. I am buying three copies of The Road to Serfdom: one for myself, one for another like-minded friend, and one for a wayward modern liberal friend who doesn't realize that she's actually a classical liberal.

The Road to Serfdom should be required reading for every HS senior. Indeed, it ought to be on the book shelf of every book shelf in the world. It is truly one of the finest books ever written.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Started out slow, but by the end, i couldn't put it down!
4040 More than 1 year ago
Although a bit difficult to read, this book provides a great guide for those interested in understanding socialism and its consequences. I highly recommend for those who want to know and appreciate the fundamentals of differences between free and social societies/economies.
RolfDobelli More than 1 year ago
Friedrich A. Hayek, an Austrian economist, wrote this classic defense of democracy and market economies in 1944. That it remains a bestseller is a testament to the thoughtfulness and thoroughness of his critique of socialism and centrally planned economies. The Road to Serfdom cites the influence of Karl Marx and other German philosophers who primed German citizens to embrace the totalitarian rule of Adolph Hitler. The Great Depression of the 1930s stepped up questions about capitalism and boosted support for socialism among the people of democratic countries. But Hayek warned that citizens of America, England and other democracies put their freedom at risk when they extolled the goals of socialism. This edition of Hayek's classic includes a comprehensive introduction by the book's editor, ample annotation of the original text and an appendix with numerous related documents, as well as the introduction to the 1994 edition by monetary policy expert Milton Friedman. getAbstract recommends this book to readers who want to know the seminal works in this field and to explore the philosophical differences between socialism and capitalism.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Serfdom' is the definitive work on the precipitous road to socialism, or the slow but steady transformation from a democracy to socialist state. This book and its author have had a profound influence on my perspective as an American patriot. It was the first book I read ten years ago when I began an examination of anti-Americanism. While my background is history, not economics, I was so taken with Dr Hayek's work, I eventually read nearly everything he wrote and discovered the history of economics is an absolutely fascinating subject. As an 'economic philosopher,' Hayel wrote for a British audience, the book written while living and teaching in post war London. It was Hayek's attempt to warn the British public about socialist policies being enacted but too late. Shortly thereafter he came to the US to teach at the U of Chicago where the book gripped American readers and took off. He later shared the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1974, although his supporters believed it was too little and too late, believing it should have been given as a solo prize much earlier in his career. It was a late award given the inherent Committee bias even then, his conservative views unacceptable. The book is well written, succinct and beautifully argued as only a thoughtful scholar can present what might otherwise be a dull topic. Dull, it most assuredly is not. 'Serfdom' is a 'must' read in today's political, judicial and financial climate.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I find F.A. von Hayek's "The Road to Serfdom" quite difficult in reading due to his high intellectual approach to economic theory as he was a professor at the prestigous British London School of Economics. Hayek's work was supposedly written around the 1930s and completed around 1944, and Hayek was one of the few that criticized the fascism of the era when he wrote his work, and the book was supposedly banned in some communist and socialist countries. He criticizes basic human instincts for survival (groups, planning) as being responsible for the mass murder atrocities in human history. Hayek writes " of the most important is that the desire of the individual to identify himself with a group is very frequently the result of a feeling of inferiority and that therefore his want will be satisfied only if membership of the group confers some superiority over outsiders...To act on behalf of a group seems to free people of many of the moral restraints which control their behavior as individuals within the group..." (pages 162-163). Further, Hayek suggests that groups are degenerate in some way, and he states this with backing from two other philosophers. On examining these statements, I find that religious groups, medical groups can be criticized as being partaking in acts of sexual multilations, and/or humiliations and degradations; sports groups through degradations of some sort, and other groups for ecomonic discriminations, etc.,--those acts would be considerate degenerate. On July 4, 2010, I saw the group-- NYC Central Park Conservancy continuing its usual spraying of pesticides on weeds (mostly, indigenous plants called "weeds") in Manhattan's Central Park--polluting the ground water, instead of hand weeding (as if really necessary?) in the late fall when the weeds are dead. It seems all quite strange. Hayek adds that "planning without competition" (no matter how good willed) creates an entity that is not like the plan, but rather the opposite such as fascism, Nazism, Communism, Socialism, Serfdom, etc. Examples I thought of as "planning without competition" that cause(d) disaster opposite of intention are from from M. Kurlansky's "Salt" pages 365-366--How Israeli planners used/built their National Water Canal from the Sea of Galilee reducing water to Jordan's River and eventually the Dead Sea, the result is the Dead Sea, an Israeli treasure is drying out. (Indigenous Israelis probably used multiple water sources); and in John Reader's "Potato" book, the mention of the the Irish Great Potato famine, losses of millions of lives in Ireland in the mid-19th Century as all Ireland agriculture just planted one type of potato that became fungal-diseased, not having a diversity of potatoes caused famine (the intention was good, to have a solid crop of nice, round looking healthy potatoes; 5,000 types of potatoes exist((ed)) in the Peruvian Andes--the original cultivation area, but not all of those potatoes looked okay to the Irish superstitions). Further, a cure for the fungal-disease of that type of potato existed in Europe and America, but was not used due to bungling. Technological planning--it looks nice and works in many areas, yet it emits radiation or similar--toxic waste. Hayek presents the reality of the human condition, growing pains of the human race, and the shocker that something is wrong with some human conceptual approaches. Prepare for m
Cyreenik More than 1 year ago
F. A. Hayek was a contemporary of Keynes and this book is a compendium of his ideas as a collection of essays that were written in the 1940's as World War Two was in progress. I find this book interesting because it offers a lot of insight into what people of the '40's thought about Hitler and his German form of socialism. It is dramatically different from the Hollywood-Nazi / Hitler-was-unspeakably-evil icons that we are exposed to today. Hayek treats Hitler as a populist dictator, comparable in his toe-stepping to contemporary bad-guys-for-America Hugo Chávez of Venezuela and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran. And he treats Nazism as a logical evolution of the socialism that started in Germany with Bismarck's patriarchal social reforms of the 1870's. Hayek discusses the virtues and vices of the collectivism that all forms of 40's socialism espoused. He argues from the point of view that the jury is still out, but the prospects look pretty dim. This is not a stance that is taken by any modern writers on the topic, and it is a refreshing difference. There are a lot of gems in Hayek's writing and I thoroughly enjoyed his point of view. One example is his description of the relation between Rule of Law and collectivism. He points out that the purpose of Rule of Law is to provide a framework that allows people of the community to know what actions to expect from the government, even when the government is dealing with an uncertain future and unknown individuals. Conversely, the purpose of central planning is to understand, make detailed choices, and then intervene in the choices made by most individuals of the community so their actions support the government plan. What he says reflects the challenges of his time: the first half of the 20th century. It was a time when manufacturing processes and the division of labor were getting increasingly complex, but before widespread computer use was available to help ease the burden of communication and coordination between all these proliferating processes and projects. And at the same time the booming industries of that era -- railroads, steel, and auto and appliance making -- were all heavy industries. Building heavy industries requires marshaling a lot of resource for a handful of large and complex projects. In such an environment it was reasonable to question which was more effective at marshaling resources for public good: free market choices or government planning? Hayek addresses these issues well and offers a lot of insight in this book. If you like this book, you may like my book on the challenges of building a high technology company in the second half of the 20th century, a much different era with much different challenges. Look for Surfing the High Tech Wave -- a history of Novell 1980-1990.
Russell_Kirk More than 1 year ago
Worth the hype, just as relevant then and it is now; have we advanced or did we just lose ground to the progressive movement?
Tunguz More than 1 year ago
Writing in the middle of WWII, F.A. Hayek was concerned with what he was seeing: far from learning lessons from the destructive forces of fascism and communism, many politicians and intellectuals in the west were getting ready to wholeheartedly embrace some of the policies and practices that led to the rise of some of the most vile and destructive regimes in history. The title of the book evokes the old adage that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and Hayek readily acknowledges that most proponents of state control of economy would be vehemently opposed to the methods that are necessary to implement those policies. Unlike many in his time and unfortunately many more today, Hayek did not see fascism and communism as polar opposites of each other, but rather two aspects of the same socialist ideology. Sometimes those that are most alike are most opposed to each other, and the communist portrayal of fascists and Nazis as right wing movement was a label that stuck to this day. Hayek perceived this to be very dangerous, not least because it would create an environment in which self-proclaimed leftist ideologues would face far less scrutiny than those on the self-proclaimed right. This is the reason why Hayek dedicated this book to "socialists of all parties." The most remarkable thing about this book is that it has aged so well. The style of writing, the ideas presented, and the importance of what it had to say are as fresh and relevant today as they were when the book was first written. This, to me at least, is quite unsettling. It is rather sad that after all these years we still have to debate the same premises that were spelled out so clearly during one of history's worst moments.
AmagiTDL on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Although Hayek was an economist, this book (and much of his writings) were more along the lines of philosophical inquiries. I think this book is very important in understanding the 20th century and political philosophy in general. This is definitely one of the most important books to come out of Western intellectual inquiries. Although it is derided by the "left" and heralded by the "right", it is often misunderstood and not read (merely used as a symbol.) It is also important to note that Hayek frequently pointed out that he was not a conservative, but a classical liberal (not to be confused with a contemporary liberal.)
lastweeksapocalypse on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Despite a point of internal inconsistency (entirely understandable inconsistency, even), this book is a very good critique of socialism and of command economies. I especially appreciate his chapters on why the worst will come to power in this sort of system and on the infinity of human ends (which will necessarily be extremely limited by limiting the individual's economic capabilities).
Ramirez on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Thesis: the Market makes us free, every governamental regulation is comparable to fascism.
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