To kick off this blog I have decided to start with Hayek’s most widely read book The Road to Serfdom. Although I have spent the last 4 years reading Hayek, I read this book rather recently. Last summer, near the end of my undergrad, I tore through this tome rather quickly. Its strange, considering that this is his most popular book, that I would leave this one till the very end after reading pretty much all of his other major political works. I think I avoided this book because it was my impression that this book was more a book of its time, written in a world that did not have the successful examples of socialism that we in the modern world have easy access to. Canada, Sweden and many other European countries have seemed to managed the transition to democratic socialism without instantly collapsing into fascism. I viewed it as a message to the world of WWII where many people did agree with some of the means of fascism while not explicitly agreeing with the ends of the fascists.
To my surprise there was a lot to gained from reading this book. The first half of the book is a look into the fascistic tendencies of democracy and while I believe our modern societies would never let a Hitler into power again, a softer form of fascism is very much present within our institutions. The only refinement is that instead of a system of murderous control existing simply for the sake of power, we now have a kinder system of coercive laws that get abused for the cause of wealth distribution to special interest groups. Much of what I read felt like I was reading about our current system of governance.
Over the next couple of weeks I plan on rereading the book in a modern light. Not only will I attempt to relate what Hayek argued to our current democracies but I will also see if there is any additional structure that can be added to his argument in light of what we have learnt in the past 60 years.