Good News: We’re Not on the Road to Socialism
F. A. Hayek wrote The Road to Serfdom in 1943. It was published in 1944. Americans who read the 1945 Readers Digest version liked it. University professors didn’t. This is one more bit of evidence that American voters have more sense than university professors. Are you surprised?
When Hayek wrote The Road to Serfdom, he had a marketing problem. The book’s title was absurd. He knew that. He knew the difference between Western serfdom, which had limited but defined property rights and the rule of law, and socialism, which in theory had neither. Serfdom was a system of liberty compared to Communism, Fascism, and National Socialism. But he was trying to sell the book to educated Leftists, who were favorable to socialism. He could not very well have sold copies in 1944 based on a title like The Road to Fascism, which was in fact the road the West was on in 1944.
We have been on the road out of “serfdom” ever since 1947, the year after Truman removed wartime price and wage controls. Anyone who doubts this development has no awareness of the lack of influence that free market ideas had in 1945. It was worse on campus, but it was bad in general. Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson was a breath of fresh intellectual air in 1946. He was alone among financial journalists in 1946.
He would not be alone today.