Seventy Year Old Warning About America’s Road to Totalitarianism

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The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich A. Hayek (1899-1992) is a book written by the Austrian-born economist and philosopher Friedrich von Hayek in early 1940, in which he “warned of the danger of tyranny that inevitably results from government control of economic decision-making through central planning.”

He argued that the abandonment of individualism and classical liberalism inevitably leads to a loss of freedom, the creation of an oppressive society, the tyranny of a dictator, and the serfdom of the individual. Fascism and socialism, he warned, had common roots in central economic planning and empowering the state over the individual. It should also be noted that Fascism can come from extremists on the left or the right.

It’s an influential book among Libertarians and Conservatives.

Mises posted a brief illustrated version of  the book, which was originally posted in Look Magazine and then a GM booklet. It can be seen below. The book’s warnings appear prescient.

Mr. Obama, a mover of far-left causes, is social engineering our neighborhoods, our healthcare, financial sector, energy sector, religion, media, and land use among other aspects of our domestic life. Every aspect of our society is being placed under government control to some degree with the potential for absolute control.

Individualism is being sacrificed on the altar of collectivism, centralization, wealth redistribution, social justice, and greed.

This administration’s tactics and the ineffectiveness of Congress gives meaning to the cartoons.

Loudly denounced by statists in England and the United States, Hayek was lauded by the public in his time. His book has seen a resurgence of popularity in the last several years.

Thomas J. DiLorenzo, writing for Mises finds the parallels “unsettling” and laments the degree to which governments have “ignored the lessons of the past”. The extent to which they “created” their own “monetary policies” and “interventions” is “mind boggling”, he says.

“The US government, in particular,” DiLorenzo writes, “responded to the bust portion of the Greenspan Fed’s boom-and-bust cycle with the most economically destructive — but politically centralizing — policies: trillion-dollar bailouts of failing corporations that will create moral-hazard problems the likes of which have never been seen; an escalation of the money supply that dwarfs the monetary inflation of the Greenspan Fed; the Soviet-style nationalization of automobile companies, banks, and much of the healthcare industry; government regulation of executive compensation; the appointment of dozens of dictatorial “czars” with unaccountable power to regulate and regiment myriad industries; trillion-dollar-a-year deficits; an expansion of the powers of the Fed (!); and a president who believes he has the power to fire corporate executives, nationalize industries, and send unmanned “drone” bombers to any country in the world on a whim.”

“Washington, DC no longer recognizes any limits at all to its powers to “socially plan” all aspects of American life.”

The government no longer fears the people and they don’t care about public opinion. The government can do anything it wants. That’s a dangerous place for us to be.

Hayek knew that “government planning is inherently incompatible with both democracy and the rule of law in the long run, and leads to some degree of economic dictatorship.”

Obama has another name for government over-regulation and over-taxation. He calls it economic patriotism.

It’s merely socialism in disguise.

The free society is the only society that can prevent the serfdom that Hayek speaks about in his book. As DiLorenzo puts it, “The totalitarian socialists of the early 20th century understood that they could not succeed unless they first discredited the ideas of freedom. The only way to stop their intellectual descendants (“the totalitarians in our midst,” as Hayek would call them) is to counter their totalitarian ideas.”

Check out cartoon 12 in particular. The totalitarians need a scapegoat minority. We have plenty of them as Obama divides and conquers us. When you look at cartoon 13, think about the administration’s obsessive control of the media and the complaints from reporters on both left and right. He spies on the press, controls through intimidation though most have similar ideologies, and he is non-transparent. He won’t even let the press take official photographs.

Mr. Obama ignores the Constitution – the Law of the Land – on any issue he disagrees with, and he is applauded for it in the halls of Congress. His constant reference to the pen and phone reflects his arrogance in response to what appears to be an apathetic society.

We – and future generations – will pay a high price if we don’t vote his party out of office.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

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