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Road to Serfdom, condensed version

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The Institute of Economic Affairs has put on line the Readers Digest version of Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom which appeared in April 1945.

Possibly the most interesting part of the publication is the “truth stranger than fiction” story of Antony Fisher, fighter pilot, chicken farmer, the mover and shaker who by incredible good fortune teamed up with Hayek and become instrumental in setting up the worldwide network of think tanks that have led the precarious revival of classical liberalism.

From the Antony Fisher story.

Fisher had sold the chicken business for millions and had put a large part of his minority share into an experimental turtle farm in the Cayman Islands. Well, the experiment worked brilliantly but the environmentalists closed down his largest market – the US. He refused to hide behind limited liability and used the balance of his fortune to pay off all debts.

1974 – now 30 years after The Road to Serfdom – was a big year for Fisher too, because, free from business concerns, he was able to respond to businessmen and others around the world who noted the IEA’s growing influence and came to him for advice.

So the entrepreneur turned fighter pilot turned gunnery trainer turned stockbroker turned dairy farmer turned chicken pioneer turned turtle saviour became the Johnny Appleseed of the freemarket movement, going all over the world and setting up new IEA-type operations.

First he joined the very young Fraser Institute in Vancouver, BC; quickly moved on to help Greg Lindsay and the Centre for Independent Studies in Australia; hired David Theroux, recently departed from the Cato Institute, to set up the Pacific Research Institute in San Francisco; gave support to the Butler brothers and Madsen Pirie as they founded the Adam Smith Institute in London; and incorporated with William Casey the Manhattan Institute where, as they did so, they sat on movers’ boxes in an otherwise empty office.


(Jacket notes written by Hayek for the first edition)

• Is there a greater tragedy imaginable than that in our endeavour consciously to shape our future in accordance with high ideals we should in fact unwittingly produce the very opposite of what we have been striving for?

• The contention that only the peculiar wickedness of the Germans has produced the Nazi system is likely to become the excuse for forcing on us the very institutions which have produced that wickedness.

• Totalitarianism is the new word we have adopted to describe the unexpected but nevertheless inseparable manifestations of what in theory we call socialism.

• In a planned system we cannot confine collective action to the tasks on which we agree, but are forced to produce agreement on everything in order that any action can be taken at all.

• The more the state ‘plans’ the more difficult planning becomes for the individual.

• The economic freedom which is the prerequisite of any other freedom cannot be the freedom from economic care which the socialists promise us and which can be obtained only by relieving the individual at the same time of the necessity and of the power of choice: it must be the freedom of economic activity which, with the right of choice, inevitably also carries the risk and the responsibility of that right.

• What our generation has forgotten is that the system of private property is the most important guarantee of freedom, not only for those who own property, but scarcely less for those who do not.

• We shall never prevent the abuse of power if we are not prepared to limit power in a way which occasionally may prevent its use for desirable purposes.

• We shall all be the gainers if we can create a world fit for small states to live in.

• The first need is to free ourselves of that worst form of contemporary obscurantism which tries to persuade us that what we have done in the recent past was all either wise or unavoidable. We shall not grow wiser before we learn that much that we have done was very foolish.


The authors 9

Foreword by Edwin J. Feulner Jr 11

Introduction: Hayek, Fisher and The Road to Serfdom

by John Blundell 14

Preface to the Reader’s Digest condensed version of The Road to Serfdom 26

Summary 27

The Road to Serfdom (condensed version) 31
Planning and power 32
Background to danger 34
The liberal way of planning 37
The great utopia 39
Why the worst get on top 43
Planning vs. the Rule of Law 49
Is planning ‘inevitable’? 51
Can planning free us from care? 53
Two kinds of security 58
Towards a better world 62
The Road to Serfdom in cartoons 63
About the IEA 82

Written by Admin

November 6, 2005 at 7:41 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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