June 12th, 2013

Politics

"We are in a new phase of a very old war."

This is part of the opening quote for the counterjihad website Gates of Vienna, which I don't keep up with as well as I used to...anyway, it is also a good introduction for F.A. Hayek's classic The Road to Serfdom, which I am very late in coming to. I did read the LIFE cartoon version, which is now available on the web, but while that's a good introduction, it doesn't do justice to the incredibly dense and yet quite readable original.

Perhaps the best thing about Hayek's treatise on socialism and where it can lead societies is that it delves relentlessly into the past and lays out the whole wretched history of socialism, starting with the German reaction against the ideals of the French Revolution. To some extent, Jonah Goldberg echoes this in his history of "progressivism", Liberal Fascism, but Goldberg is focusing strictly on American politics, while Hayek is discussing the rise of socialism in Britain and where it came from, which is a more complicated matter. Even though I'm only three chapters into The Road to Serfdom, I would go so far as to say that the full horror of Goldberg's book isn't really apparent until you read Hayek and find out where all these progressive yoyos got their bright ideas. I'd go so far as to argue that Hayek's book is a better deal as well since editor Bruce Caldwell helpfully explains in the footnotes who all these 18th and 19th century philosophers and economists were, and why they're important.

Anyway, go read Hayek. It is very clearly and simply written, in a way that most academics these days simply can't manage, and is well worth your time. I'm reading a borrowed paperback copy, but I think I'll be getting this for my Kindle.