The following review is taken from my book My Favourite Books:
The Road to Serfdom
First published 1944
A note on the frontispiece tells me that I first started to read this book on a plane from Heathrow to Nice in 1996. I have absolutely no idea why I was flying to Nice or what I did when I got there other than finish Hayek’s masterpiece.
‘The Road to Serfdom’ is about the problem of finding, and preserving freedom, in a planned society.
Writing in the early 1940s, Hayek warned that our liberty would disappear if governments (or any other groups) attempted to direct all economic activity according to a single plan, laying down all society’s resources should be directed to serve particular, definite ends.’
My copy of the book contains more marks, under-linings and comments than any other book I own. And I found this quote: ‘We were the first to assert that the more complicated the forms of civilisation, the more restricted the freedom of the individual must become.’
The quote comes, as a warning, from a certain B.Mussolini.
And here is Hayek on the perils of socialism: ‘Although we had been warned by some of the greatest political thinks of the 19th century, by de Tocqueville and Lord Acton, that socialism means slavery, we have steadily moved in the direction of socialism. And now that we have seen a new form of slavery arise before our eyes, we have so completely forgotten the warning, that it scarcely occurs to us that the two things may be connected.’
And Hayek reminds us that: ‘Mr Hilaire Belloc, in ‘The Servile State’ (1913) explained that ‘the effect of socialist doctrine on capitalist society is to produce a third thing different from either of its two begetters – to wit, the Servile State.’ (Belloc’s book is, of course, also well worth reading and is included in this book.)
Taken from My Favourite Books by Vernon Coleman, which contains reviews of over 100 books.