Streetwise Professor

October 7, 2010

An Intellectual Gateway Drug

Filed under: Economics,Politics — The Professor @ 2:19 pm

Amazingly, Hayek’s 60+ year old Road to Serfdom is the subject of contemporary political discussion even though in many ways it is about a world that disappeared long ago–and in, fact, never really existed, though Hayek feared that such a world was impending.  Some of the commentary is clueless: like this from the NYT for example.  (Go figure.)  Some is more discriminating, like this response in the Economist to the NYT article.  Tyler Cowen gives a lukewarm review based on a re-read.  Tyler concludes that: “It’s fine to downgrade the book, relative to some of the claims made on its behalf, but the book doesn’t give us reason to downgrade Hayek.”

I think this is a fair appraisal.  For me, Road to Serfdom was like a gateway drug to Hayek.  It was sufficiently interesting and provocative and informative to me when I read it at age 21 or 22 to make me want to read Hayek’s non-polemical work.  And what a revelation that was.  RTS contains the kernel of the Hayek’s key ideas, and hence it is a good thing if more people read it and become familiar with those ideas.  But it is a pale imitation of the real thing.

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8 Comments »

  1. […] Professor dubs F.A. Hayek’s Road to Serfdom “An Intellectual Gateway Drug.” Craig Pirrong writes: “Amazingly, Hayek’s 60+ year old Road to Serfdom is the […]

    Pingback by Getting hooked on Hayek « Knowledge Problem — October 8, 2010 @ 8:56 am

  2. […] Professor dubs F.A. Hayek’s Road to Serfdom “An Intellectual Gateway Drug.” Craig Pirrong writes: “Amazingly, Hayek’s 60+ year old Road to Serfdom is the […]

    Pingback by Getting hooked on Hayek « Knowledge Problem — October 8, 2010 @ 8:56 am

  3. Dear Professor, I’m sorry for off-subject post. I dropped by to see if there is a discussion here about the proposal from Russia about creation of a new security mechanism in Europe. France, like a Parisian prostitute, is ready to join the new military pact with Russia. Looks like NATO is on her last legs.

    It looks like Putin will be successful to replace NATO with a new Europe-wide military bloc without the US.
    Yankees, go home?

    The simple truth is that there is not need for a new security mechanism.
    Russia is already separated from Europe by two former republics, – Ukraine and Belarus.
    It’s not like there are two armies facing each other over a common border.

    As soon as America is out of Europe, Putin will be free to do whatever he wants in Europe.
    O’Bum is about to present Europe to Putin on a silver plate.

    O’Bum must be stopped. This bum either has no clue, or he is a Russian agent.

    Comment by Michael Vilkin — October 9, 2010 @ 2:44 am

  4. “and in, fact, never really existed, though Hayek feared that such a world was impending.”

    Indeed, his whole book is one sustained slander against Western European social democracy.

    Meanwhile, people are being reduced to debt-bondage by his present-day admirers.

    Comment by rkka — October 9, 2010 @ 9:48 am

  5. Many of Hayek’s predictions have come true in the US.
    Arbitrary law from elites rather than the rule of law – GM takeover, Arizona immigration lawsuit, the moratorium offshore drilling in the Gulf, Obamacare and waivers.
    Central Planning – Abandonment of the Constitution in favor of increasing arbitrary rules from Washington D.C. Unelected administrative agencies enforcing authoritarian rule, like the EPA.
    The law does not recognize private property – GM bond holders, Pay Czar.
    Freedom of choice: “our freedom of choice rests on the fact that if one person refuses to satisfy our wishes, we can turn to another.” What happens when the government has a monopoly on healthcare. We will have to seek medical attention outside the country.
    Why the worst get on top? We see that both the Dems and the Reps are courting the minorities with all sorts of incentives to win them over to their side. Instead of ideas, they are winning them over with handouts. Then they foist upon then the oppressor victim paradigm, “it is far easier for people to agree on a negative program.”
    This is how we end up with Obama, Pelosi and Reid.

    I think there are many vestiages of Hayek’s fears which have become reality. This is why his book remains pertinent today. The question is how do we turn the tide back?

    Comment by HayeksHeroes — October 9, 2010 @ 12:12 pm

  6. “I think there are many vestiages of Hayek’s fears which have become reality.”

    Courtesy of some of his greatest admirers, the Anglosphere investor class. Thanks to them, it is possible that no one with a securitized mortgage may be able to get clear title to their home once they pay it off.

    Comment by rkka — October 9, 2010 @ 7:19 pm

  7. +++the Anglosphere investor class+++

    Funny how easy it is to spot a “?????” by just a few key words.

    Comment by LL — October 10, 2010 @ 8:03 am

  8. LL is obviously unaware of how “financial innovation” has undermined our entire financial and property system, and can only call names.

    Comment by rkka — October 10, 2010 @ 9:58 am

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