Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Road to Serfdom by F.A. Hayek

  • "Whatever merits this book possesses consist not in the reiteration of this thesis but in the patient and detailed examination of the reasons why economic planning will produce such unlooked-for results and of the process by which they come about." - 43-4, 1956 Forward
  • "The essence of the liberal position, however, is the denial of all privilege, if privilege is understood in its proper and original meaning of the state granting and protecting rights to some which are not available on equal terms to others." - 46, 1956 Forward
  • "Few are ready to recognize that the rise of fascism and naziism was not a reaction against the socialist trends of the preceding period but a necessary outcome of those tendencies." - 59
  • "'Freedom' and 'liberty' are now words so worn with use and abuse that one must hesitate to employ them to express the ideals for which they stood....'Tolerance' is, perhaps, the only word which still preserves the full meaning of the principle" - 68
  • "Probably nothing has done so much harm to the liberal cause as the wooden insistence of some liberals on certain rough rules of the thumb, above all the principle of laissez faire." - 71
  • "We have in effect undertaken to dispense with the forces which produced unforeseen results and to replace the impersonal and anonymous mechanism of the market by collection and 'conscious' direction of all social forces to deliberately chosen goals." - 73
  • "Nobody saw more clearly than Tocqueville that democracy as an essentially individualist institution stood in an irreconcilable conflict with socialism: 'Democracy extends the sphere of individual freedom,' he said in 1848, "socialism restricts it. Democracy attaches all possible value to each man; socialism makes each man a mere agent, a mere number. Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word: equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude.'" - 77
  • "socialism means the abolition of private enterprise, of private ownership of the means of production, and the creation of a system of 'planned economy' in which the entrepreneur working for profit is replaced by a central planning body." - 83
  • "The liberal argument is in favor of making the best possible use of the forces of competition as a means of coordinating human efforts, not an argument for leaving things just as they are." - 85
  • "What in effect unites the socialists of the Left and the Right is this common hostility to competition and their common desire to replace it by a directed economy." - 88-9
  • "planning and competition can be combined only by planning for competition but not by planning against competition." - 90
  • "To direct all our activities according to a single plan presupposes that every one of our needs is given its rank in an order of values which much be complete enough to make it possible to decide among all the different courses which the planner has to choose. It presupposes, in short, the existence of a complete ethical code in which all the different human values are allotted their due place." - 101
  • "The point which is so important is the basic fact that it is impossible for any man to survey more than a limited field, to be aware of the urgency of more than a limited number of needs. Whether his interests center round his own physical needs, or whether he takes a warm interest in the welfare of every human being he knows, the ends about which he can be concerned will always be only an infinitesimal fraction of the needs of all men. This is the fundamental fact on which the whole philosophy of individualism is based." - 102
  • "Even if...a democracy should succeed in planning every sector of economic activity, it would still have to face the problem of integrating those separate plans into a unitary whole. Many separate plans do not make a planned whole -- in fact, as the planners ought to be the first to admit, they may be worse than no plan." - 107
  • "It is the price of democracy that the possibilities of conscious control are restricted to the fields where true agreement exists and that in some fields things must be left to chance." - 109
  • "It may well be true that our generation talks and thinks too much of democracy and too little of the values which it serves....Democracy is essentially a means, a utilitarian device for safeguarding internal peace and individual freedom. As such it is by no means infallible or certain." - 110
  • "It cannot be denied that the Rule of Law produces economic inequality -- all that can be claimed for it is that this inequality is not designed to affect particular people in a particular way." - 117
  • "Central planning means that the economic problem is to be solved by the community instead of the individual; but this involves that it must also be the community, or rather its representatives, who must decide the relative importance of the different needs." - 127
  • "in competition chance and good luck are often as important as skill and foresight in determining the fate of different people." - 134
  • "all government affects the relative position of different people and that there is under any system scarcely an aspect of our lives which may not be affected by government action is certainly true." - 139
  • "there can be no doubt that some minimum of food, shelter, and clothing, sufficient to preserve health and the capacity to work, can be assured to everybody." - 148
  • "It seems to be almost the law of human nature that it is easier for people to agree on a negative program -- on the hatred of an enemy, on the envy of those better off -- than on any positive task. The contrast between the 'we' and the 'they,' the common fight against those outside the group, seems to be an essential ingredient in any creed which will solidly knit together a group for common action." - 161

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