Originally published by me elsewhere on 11/07/2010
In The Road to Serfdom, Friedrich Hayek compares the outlook and actions of individualists (people who value freedom from coercion, private property, free markets, and equality of opportunity) with those of collectivists (people who value redistribution of wealth, equality of result, social engineering, and government control or ownership of parts of the economy). As an Austrian who watched Germany’s socialist movement morph into fascism in the years leading up to WWII, he was distressed that many of the processes that brought about this transformation were being replicated in Britain. He wrote this book as a warning to the British people, and later authorized its distribution in America as Reader’s Digest book. Some of the issues that the book addresses are listed below. I use the words “collectivist” and “leftist” interchangeably.
- Leftist incrementalism
- Collectivists want to “fundamentally transform” society, but in Western societies they have adopted a piecemeal process to effect this change. Having watched German society fundamentally transform itself, Hayek wanted the West, particularly Britain and America, to be aware of this incrementalist approach, so we’d recognize that it’s happening within our borders and move to oppose it. Or as Hayek said:
Just because in the years ahead of us political ideology is not likely to aim at a clearly defined goal but toward piecemeal change, a full understanding of the process through which certain kinds of measures can destroy the bases of an economy based on the market and gradually smother the creative powers of a free civilization seems now of the greatest importance.