There can be no denying the important role that F.A. Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom has played on the study of free market economics. And while the book is responsible for swaying public opinion and presenting an alternative to centrally planned economies, the book was written in such a way that may be hard for many modern readers to comprehend. And many suspect that Hayek may have actually intended the book to be this way.
This is precisely why I decided to take it on as a liveblog challenge: I believed it was extremely important to present a modern, millennial approach to a book with a timeless message.
During the course of my undergrad career, I took several classes that presented a similar viewpoint of the world. As with most institutions of higher education, my campuses political science department was dominated by contemporary liberals and far-leftists convinced that collectivism was the only answer to the problems facing our country.
But in the midst of this leftists agenda, I managed to find one professor who challenged this viewpoint. And it was this professor who assigned the first Hayek reading that I was ever exposed to.
Reading passages from Hayek’s Constitution of Liberty, I was floored at how this point of view had never been presented in any of my previous courses. And while my professor spoke briefly of Hayek’s classic, The Road to Serfdom, it was never assigned to the class in its entirety.
I did not think much about Hayek again until I discovered the former Congressman from Texas, Ron Paul. When asked during an interview what young people should read in order to better understand free market economic principles, Paul listed The Road to Serfdom as essential reading.
And while I tried to complete the reading after this suggestion from the former congressman, I got swept up in the excitement of the 2012 elections and completely forgot that I had only made it three chapters into Hayek’s classic book.
As the 2016 elections came and went, I found myself once again in arguments with many leftist trying to condemn the free market in favor of socialist policies. As collectivism began running rampant on both sides of the political aisle, I realized it was time to tackle Hayek’s Road to Serfdom once and for all.
Do Not Give Into Collectivism
Each page of The Road to Serfdom is filled with Hayek’s wisdom. And while there are numerous themes that could be detected within the body of this book, Hayek’s real purpose is to warn against the abusive power of the collect.
Hayek is a staunch individualist. Any doubt of this can be remedied by reading his brilliant essay, “Individualism: True and False.” This unwavering belief in the importance of the individual is present throughout the Road to Serfdom and is viewed as the remedy for collectivism.
When I began liveblogging this book, the Charlottesville riot had just occurred. And while much was said about this event, what scared me the most was the collectivism present on both sides of the argument.
Whether supporting nationalism while yielding tiki torches or advocating for collective violence while carrying the communist flag, both crowds had given in to the dangerous groupthink.
This type of collectivism was particularly frustrating for Hayek.
In the wake of WWII, which saw horrific brutality committed at the hand of the collective, Hayek saw America heading in a similar direction. But the worst aspect of this trend was that collectivism had managed to rebrand itself in such a way that many people did not realize they were getting into bed with the same beast that created all the chaos in Europe.
Hayek wanted to use this book to warn the world that they were headed for disaster if they could not recognize that no matter what their preferred brand of collectivism may be, it would always lead to a loss of liberty for the individual.
How to Use This Series
This series is in no way a substitute for reading Hayek’s book, but it can serve as a modern guide. When writing each installment, I selected themes that were of particular interest to me. Usually, these themes were modern applications of Hayek’s lesson. In one installment, for example, I explain how Hayek warned about Obamacare long before its inception.
The book is filled with examples showing that Hayek’s warnings have already manifested themselves in our current political and economic climate. This is what makes The Road to Serfdom so timeless. As we drift further and further down this dangerous road, the book grows in importance.
But the most important lesson we can take away from The Road to Serfdom is that we are not doomed. Individuals are capable of altering our course at any time. The book is a call to action that asks readers to heed Hayek’s warnings and learn from history in order to ensure that the world does not become subject to complete state control and that the indivual is free to prosper.