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It is now half a century since Hayek published The Road to Serfdom. Much of our population was not even born when he wrote this terse, eloquent work – and a lot has happened since. A lifetime of conflict has raged over the ideas Hayek considered in his slender volume. Unimaginably destructive weapons have been aimed at the world's population centers, menacing the very survival of our species. Even under their shadow, we have seen revolutions reacting against the abuses Hayek identified. Millions have gained their freedom. Walls that seemed permanent came crashing down. We hope they stay down.

Our thesis though, is that today, after this frenetic rush of history, Hayek is not less relevant or less persuasive, but more so. In clear prose, he explains why collectivism – even the moderate, supposedly pro-democratic variety that is still popular in the West – can become the road to serfdom. As we read him, Hayek makes three arguments about why this is so. First, he tells us why collectivism cannot bring prosperity. Second, he tells us why a government that takes our economic liberties must surely come after our political rights as well. And finally, he tells us why collectivism's rhetoric about regularity and the common man is misleading-why, contrary to what many believe, it is collectivism that is elitist, while capitalism relies on the values and judgments of ordinary folks.

As we go through these arguments, we hope you will notice, as readers in 1944 could, how sensible they are as theories. But we also hope you will recognize something we can only know now – how faithfully history has confirmed Hayek's predictions.


Law | Law and Economics