Friday, October 26, 2007

The Road to Serfdom in Cartoons


The Road to Serfdom is a book written in the 1940s by Friedrich Hayek (recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1974). Look Magazine made a comic strip of the book which has been converted to a short film.

Dedicated to "the socialists of all parties", Hayek’s central thesis is that all forms of collectivism lead logically and inevitably to tyranny, and he used the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany as examples of countries which, in his view, had gone down “the road to serfdom” and reached tyranny. Hayek argued that within a centrally planned economic system the distribution and allocation of all resources and goods would devolve onto a small group which would be incapable of processing all the information pertinent to the appropriate distribution of the resources and goods at the central planners’ disposal. Disagreement about the practical implementation of any economic plan combined with the inadequacy of the central planners’ resource management would invariably necessitate coercion in order for anything to be achieved.

Hayek further argued that the failure of central planning would be perceived by the public as an absence of sufficient power by the state to implement an otherwise good idea. Such a perception would lead the public to vote more power to the state, and would assist the rise to power of a “strong man” perceived to be capable of “getting the job done”. After these developments Hayek argued that a country would be ineluctably driven into outright totalitarianism. For Hayek “the road to serfdom” inadvertently set upon by central planning, with its dismantling of the free market system, ends in the destruction of all individual economic and personal freedom.

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