From International Socialism, No.11, Winter 1962, p.32.
Thanks to Ted Crawford & the late Will Fancy.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
The Road to Serfdom
Routledge. 7s. 6d.
The publication at the end of the last World War of The Road to Serfdom, and Popper’s The Open Society and its Enemies was an inevitable reaction to the conflict with imperialistic totalitarianism. Insofar as both Hayek and Popper argued strongly against what are looked upon as being the illusions of socialism (Hayek in particular linking this with a collectivism equals authoritarian planning equals undemocratic society deduction) socialists have been correct in attacking both men. Unfortunately, both have become cursorily dismissed bêtes noirs, rather than formidable proponents of ideas that must be systematically answered. For this reason this new publication of The Road to Serfdom is to be welcomed. One cannot now of course read Hayek’s plea for a return to nineteenth century laissez faire capitalism without amusement, for this is as utopian a vision as was ever conceived and would require, even if desired, more state intervention and direction than most of the totalitarian schemes which Hayek feared would be the aftermath of the War.
Where Hayek has to be taken seriously is in his arguments against centralised, coordinated planning. All the cries in the world of workers’ control, debureaucratisation et al. do little to answer this fundamental problem of promoting freedom of work and consumption in a socialist society. The links between decentralised production and overall co-ordination have yet, we must regret, to be adequately worked out. This is a deficiency that must be rectified for the sake of the preservation of socialism as a viable scheme of thought, to say nothing of its wide promotion. This book is as good a challenge as any to do just this, old as it is.
Last updated on 19 March 2010