SEMINAR: Hayek’s _The Road to Serfdom_

Taking Hayek Seriously has a diverse audience, and I’m going to be doing several seminars on several different Hayek works to reflect that diversity.

This seminar will be on Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom, and I’ll be using the new Collected Works edition edited by Bruce Caldwell.  Caldwell’s “definitive edition” is full of excellent new material, including a helpful 38 page introduction and first rate scholarly notes throughout the text.  I recommend it for your library — the paperback edition is amazingly cheap at $11.56 from Amazon, and if your old paperback edition is anything like mine, the pages in it are already falling out.  There’s a wealth of new material in the Caldwell edition which make in well worth $11 or $12 dollars.

I’ve decide to begin the seminar not with background history, but right in the middle of the book, with a section directly relevant to the political and economic situation as it exists in America today.  The section is titled “THE END OF TRUTH” and it’s chapter 11 of The Road to Serfdom, pp. 171-180 in the Collected Works edition.

The chapter starts like this:

“It is significant that the nationalization of thought has proceeded everywhere pari passu with the nationalization of industry.”  — E. H. Carr

The most effective way of making everybody serve the single system of ends toward which the social plan is directed is to make everybody believe in those ends.  To make a totalitarian system function efficiently, it is not enough that everybody be forced to work for the same ends.  It is essential that the people should come to regard them as their own ends.”

We’ll talk about this in the next post.

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Friedrich Hayek is the twentieth-century social theorist who, probably more than any other, found himself vindicated by events — if not wholly, then at least in his central contention. He is also the one who, more than any other, himself exercised a significant political influence. — Michael Lessnoff

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