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10 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hayek needs to be properly understood, not propagandized., July 18, 2007
As far as these endless political arguments go, this is an old book used by some to light the fuse anew. As a literary piece it is a fine document from a much troubled time, but its supposed clarification of the supremacy of particular varieites of economic-political ideology is being often somewhat misrepresented. A couple of things are getting missed by the average politically motivated (well, American conservative anyway) reviewer on this one. Despite the universality of the main thesis (that state control of a variety of aspects of enterprise is - of necessity - a way of stripping man of his means to be free), the logic of the subsequent application of this rationale is deeply affected by its placement in its moment in history. It is the case therefore that all surmisings on parallel likelihoods must be thus affected.
Hayek's main concept, whether applied to Nazi Germany, Bolshevik Russia or Rancidville's (ok, I mean Crawford's!!) Americana is notionally correct. Once you hand a right of absolute power which can be used to create complete dominance, fear and subservience over to any government (unless it is populated by the likes of Voltaire and John Stuart Mill and Thomas Jefferson and maybe Seneca and Bob Dylan!) historical precedent suggests that said governance is most likely going to resist lightly handing that power back, and in many cases, given human nature's inherent uglinesses and the dead-heart ability to reason as if opponents are practically subhuman, will use this power to help build and create other power accretions which are cumulatively more restrictive and repugnant to any opposing notion of individuality. This theory, fine as it may well be, bears no relevance nor significance to the competing theory that economic policy in its modern European Socialist form, bears no connection via any logical necessity to either the granting of, or the taking over of, institutional power by any political collective. Nor does it bear ANY connection to any organized political vision which is still based on such a seeding of power to any idea of such an institutionalized collective. This is the nature of the modern world, and the end result of the development of economic socialist policy. Granted, this was not what it meant to use the term "socialism" in the 1940's, but there you go. We live in a world full of constant evolution. Most half sentient beings are often even aware of this. This basic, and quite glaringly obvious, fact is what these (for want of a better set of words) ignorant and biased fools are missing in their supposedly learned bleatings, in their falsifying attempts to redirect the paths of the herd. The funny thing is that sheep can walk across a valley to a shining evening place in the sun just as easily as they can walk to a slaughterhouse, and do it all by themselves, particularly when no-one is pointing a gun at them.
The fallacy of utilizing Hayek as some theorist of Capitalist Corporation related governance, as some reviewers are effortlessly indulging their lucky selves, is of course, very importantly for Americans and the Western World in this day and age, that this work and its proofs are being co-opted (sociologically) as a type of political documentation of theory, and NOT necessarily anymore as, first and foremost, an economic one. The problem with this is that this makes no sense as a parameter to be viewed as the first cobblestone on the road to Serfdom which Hayek saw. Why? Because most western governments ALREADY HAVE the power to allocate and spend their exchequer funding in whatever manner they choose. The thing that is feared in case it might happen (by those in the US who write this type of continuous out of date drivel) has already happened and HAS NOT caused any such curtailment of individual freedom, nor any such upsurge as that of the feared govt of the collective. These governments in these highly advanced countries who indulge in socialism as policy still continue to work under the exact same laws which guaranteed individual freedom in those countries before these governments took power, and they will continue to work and be exactly the same afterwards. Should they always seek to use the majority of this exchequer largesse primarially to foster a certain notion of economic growth, or to fund basic services for the poorer of their citizenry is certainly a matter for some rational economic debate as to which instance in each case is the correct course, and where ultimately the more benefit for society lies. But it is not a matter for the same political debate as the question of what exactly it may be which leads us back along that road to serfdom.
Hayek's thesis bases itself upon varietal factors which emanated widely in the period of instability when his work was written. His thesis that central economic planning tends toward government control of the citizen's life, and therefore toward the totalitarian state, can and should be viewed as a particular of its time. A time before the political aspect of Socialist theory (Communism or any form of institutionalized collectivisation) had been thoroughly discredited. Hayek would have (most likely) been the first to also accept the competing theory that this state of affairs (governmental control of freedom) is as possible in a completely unregulated society, where law is over-ruled by the wealthy and powerful when it best suits their interests. The functioning of the economic state is therefore possible at all points between, as a function of the working of a free and good society. What is required alongside it, are honorable men, who would rather use tax largesse for the betterment of the poor than the reasonless bombing of some other poor.
A final surmising on this could be stated thus:
A man who lives freely in a reasonably well policed society where law is defined between a time trusted combination of government and jurisprudence and the rationale of the individual life, is not a man who lives in a society where the law is to be defined by some combination of a government (where the members believe they are receiving messages from some word called God, and acting accordingly) and jurisprudence and the rationale of living an individual's life... etc ...
My assumption, for what it is worth, is that Hayek would join me in viewing such a society as itself being already somewhere back on the road to serfdom.
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