Ever since I read Friedrich von Hayek’s Road to Serfdom this summer for my fellowship, I cannot stop stumbling upon references to his work throughout other political literature and indirectly in activism against collective theories. For the active, political junkie, ever since opening the cover, this work has served as a backbone to debating ideology and it will undoubtedly open the eyes of its next reader.
Written in 1944, Road to Serfdom studies the evil effects of socialism, comparisons between left and right extremes, forced equality, and historical examples of underlying intentions that led states in this direction. In my most recent encounter with the work, Hayek was discussed in relation to neoliberalism, a concept he is only occasionally tied with, but nonetheless associated.
Particularly, he is a proponent of classical liberalism. In his younger years, he manifested more libertarian ideals, only to become more conservative in nature as his life progressed. Regardless, the work provides a unique perspective on socialist policy in accordance with its date of publication. Here are the three reasons you need to read it:
Reason One – It provides background for what we are seeing today.
In an era of identity politics, Road to Serfdom begins to make sense of polarizing divisions in regards to their formation and aspirations. The extreme political cleavage we are seeing manifests recurring themes. For example, the Left has an increasingly strong grip on vocabulary and has manipulated words to draw people to their side. “The demand for the new freedom was thus only another name for the old demand for an equal distribution of wealth” (Hayek 78).
This quote demonstrates the ironies between the popular ‘Socialist’ ideology of inclusion and the ‘Fascism’ that conservatives are often accused of. Socialism uses words that we know of as our fundamental liberties, in this case, freedom, to propagate an agenda. It involves an empty promise for equal material wealth.
Obviously, this idea is a part of a failed ideology upon further investigation into nations that have applied it, i.e. Venezuela. Hayek describes that by using common, compassionate vocabulary, it lures liberals into believing a socialist platform. Hiding behind the words like ‘freedom’ and ‘social justice’ is the corrupt concept of a planned economy, government overreach, and the opposite of what those words truly mean.
Today, this applies especially to the social-justice Left who unnecessarily plays identity politics and chants the word freedoms to make it seem that anyone who does not support their tactics is anti-freedom! “Socialism is not compassionate. Whether a socialist government owns the means of production via nationalized industries, or enforces central planning via price controls and stringent regulatory structures, socialism operates under the assumption that an insulated leader and his legion of bureaucrats are the best judges of what people are worth,” states Andres Malave, a U.S. News contributor.
Reason Two – it gives a unique understanding of a world in which these ideologies were revolting reality. From its publication in the 1940s, the book directly portrays a perspective that most than likely will not be learned in Leftist, college classrooms. Hayek, overall, explains the importance of free markets by emphasizing how collectivism on both sides of the aisle will not result in productivity. He consistently compares socialism and fascism by elaborating upon their authoritarian end results while citing from experience. In today’s world, especially in the world of Leftist-dominated academia, the evils of socialism are simply not discussed, let alone anything but praised. With liberal to conservative professors being outnumbered by 12:1, this work is sadly overlooked, despite being one of the most accurate foundational depictions of the divisive identity war. Should we be surprised, though? The phrase ‘history is doomed to repeat itself’ could really apply here!
Reason Three – It is a pressing sign of caution. The mainstream acceptance of democratic socialism should serve as a wakeup call to readers of Hayek. Andres Malave even references an article that depicts a survey that “shows that nearly 60 percent of 18 to 26 year-olds believe socialism is the ‘most compassionate’ system.” How far we have come in changing ideology since the publishing of the book? Since the Left has changed the meaning of the word ‘socialism’ to mean something inherently good, millennials have succumbed to its collectivist credo. It is worth mentioning the ongoing struggle for conservative perspective on college campuses. The movement is making strides across the nation through influential organizations and lecture series and hopefully sooner than later, the dangerous, red flag of socialism is ostracized. However, with a continuous pressure for intellectual diversity, Road to Serfdom is on its way to fame yet again!