Hayek Climbs the Charts

At The Washington Post, Duke University economist and F.A. Hayek scholar Bruce Caldwell reports that sales are booming for Hayek’s classic The Road to Serfdom. Caldwell offers some good reasons why:

I think that the underlying reason for the sustained interest in Hayek's book is that it taps into a profound dissatisfaction in the public mind with the machinations of its government. Both Presidents Bush and Obama have presided over huge growth in the size of the federal government and in the size of the federal deficit, with little obvious effect on unemployment. Things seem out of control.

Furthermore, a recurrent theme in the news is that, in contrast to the millions who are suffering, the politically connected are doing just fine. The examples are everywhere, from bailed out financiers getting huge bonuses to public union employees getting hefty pensions, from auto companies that are nationalized instead of going belly up to politically savvy firms that get government subsidies to produce products that would be otherwise unprofitable.

For people upset by such trends, "The Road to Serfdom" opens a window onto another time, when debates about how best to restructure an economy emerging from wartime were taking place. Such debates, as the strong sales of the book clearly show, still have resonance today.

Read the whole thing here. Caldwell’s byline doesn’t mention it, but he’s also the author of the superb book Hayek’s Challenge: An Intellectual Biography of F.A. Hayek, which is by far the best biography available of the famous Austrian economist. Back in our January 2005 issue, Nick Gillespie interviewed Caldwell about that book and about Hayek’s enduring lessons about bad planning, distributed information, and the liberating power of choice.

(Via Todd Zywicki)

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  • Old Mexican||

    I received my first lesson in libertarianism by donwloading and reading:

    Economics for Real People, by Gene Callahan, and

    Defending the Undefendable, by Walter Block.

    Economics in One Lesson, by Henry Hazlitt

    Oh, and I, Pencil, By Leonard E. Reed.

    I have read only part of Hayek's The Road to Serfdom, but I would recommend it to anyone, plus the above books, to get you started.

    Once you understand the fundamentals of economics, you can then read Mises' masterpieces, Human Action and Theory of Money and Credit.

    And visit: http://www.conciseguidetoeconomics.com/

  • bled dry||

    I got my first real lesson in economics and liberty when I got divorced.

  • Global Goreing||

    I got my first real lesson in economics and liberty when I got divorced married.

    FIFY

  • Old Mexican||

    I got my first lesson in WHEN TO SHUT MY FUCKING MOUTH UP when I got married.

    It's an ongoing learning experience . . .

  • Global Goreing||

    An education like no other.

  • spambot||

    To all "progressives". Until you read Hayek's The Road to Serfdom, you really have no idea what you are talking about when posting here. Go stimulate the economy and pick up a copy.

  • affenkopf||

    'The Road to Serfdom' is a great book but its' main thesis turned out to be wrong: A democratic social democratic/half- socialist state with some central planning won't automatically transform into a full full socialist/totalitarian state. The nordic welfare states didn't become the Soviet Union, in fact they got rid of some social programms while still generally being welfare states.

    'The Constitution of Liberty' and 'The Fatal Conceit' are better books in my opinion.

  • ||

    A democratic social democratic/half- socialist state with some central planning won't automatically transform into a full full socialist/totalitarian state.

    Give it time. We'll see how they handle the sovereign debt/EU crisis that is coming (a crisis that is the inevitable tragic end of social democratic welfare states). That kind of crisis is the stuff full-on totalitarian states are made of.

  • spambot||

    Indeed it is all a matter of time. Not every country, thankfully, decides to become Cuba. So the slower the slide, the longer it takes.

  • Old Mexican||

    The nordic welfare states didn't become the Soviet Union, in fact they got rid of some social programms while still generally being welfare states.

    Actually, the nordic states started being pretty much libertarian, back in the 19th Century, until Fascism took over and established the Welfare state, just like Hayek described.

    Just because the Nordic states do not call themselves "Soviet" does not mean they don't share some of the same undertones.

  • Jersey Patriot||

    Hayek's claim is that they will become communist or fascist, not that they will share an undertone. And he was wrong.

  • RichN||

    Oddly enough history is still playing itself out contrary to your opinion that its a done deal.

    "There are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by the gradual and silent encroachment of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpation." – James Madison

  • Soonerliberty||

    Just because they haven't turned full on fascist yet doesn't mean they won't. Liberties are sacrificed day by day here in Europe. As the next poster says, wait till the coming EU crash.

  • ||

    Hayek mistake was simply not taking into account how much individualism slows down the process. Scandanavia's economies may be collectivist, but its people remain individualists. But they are well on their way to serfdom.

    Here in the US we are essentially a fascist state, and the only thing distinguishing us from Mussolini's Italy is the lack of uniforms and the rampant individualism. Look at how much worship Bush got from the GOP base, and imagine it a mere 10% higher. Now imagine an Obama with the same level of adoration. We're not at the tipping point, but it is visible on the horizon.

  • Old Mexican||

    Here in the US we are essentially a fascist state, and the only thing distinguishing us from Mussolini's Italy is the lack of uniforms and the rampant individualism.

    Not to mention the lack of fasces in the roundels of US warplanes . . .

  • ||

    Both Presidents Bush and Obama have presided over huge growth in the size of the federal government and in the size of the federal deficit, with little obvious effect on unemployment. Things seem out of control.

    Except things are not out of control. Only a small percentage of the population voted against either President Bush or Obama. This profound dissatisfaction does not seem to find its way into the conscience of the voter and that is all that ultimately matters when it comes to controlling the future of the federal government.

  • OMG||

    No mention of the Mustache's program on the Road to Serfdom?

  • mark||

    I could not believe what a goldmine The Road to Serfdom was when I first read it. Hayek easily destroyed ideas that central planning was superior to individual effort and voluntary cooperation. He attacked the idea from so many angles that "central planning" could really have no other moniker than "totalitarianism lite".

    And in 1945 he was going up against a much worse academic opposition, who were completely convinced that government intervention was morally and economically superior to markets.

    Next time you see your Congressman, give him a copy. It's a short book, practically a pamphlet.

  • Hacha Cha||

    its great to see the resurgence of Ayn Rand and F.A. Hayek.

  • ||

    Book sales could be rising because John Stossel just did a show on Hayek on Fox Business. Whatever the reason, it's a good trend.

  • ||

    It's the music video, no doubt.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0nERTFo-Sk

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