Pivotal book by Austrian economist Friedrich von Hakek
. It was first published by the University of Chicago
, and launched the classical liberal
movement and 'Chicago School
. Margaret Thatcher
would call the book the manifesto for the Conservative Party
The book describes how seemingly benevolent intervention by the government to protect its citizens against market forces could lead to totalitarianism, either of the extreme left or right variety.
Hayek witnessed how fascism emerged in pre-war Europe through the ballot as a result of its citizens expecting the government to get themselves out of the Great Depression. In short, Hakek states that economic statism and liberalism are incompatible; statism needs government planning, which invariably would interfere with how people make their own minds up how to spend their lives and money. Hayek would suggest totalitarianism could emerge under highly subtle guises so that people would adapt themselves to whatever planning the government has in place.
It is perhaps a bit rich to suggest that, say, regulating the advertising of tobacco is one step away from the Gulag. In the book Hayek acknowledges Adam Smith in saying some government intervention may be required to provide public goods. It should be remembered that the book was written in an austere wartime era with rationing, price controls and import restrictions, mechanisms that would be intolerable today to even the most ardent Marxist.
General Motors summarised The Road to Serfdom into a picture book for the benefit of their workers, see: http://www.asylumnation.com/asylum/_r/showthread/threadid_37698/index.html