June 8, 2010

The Road to Serfdom as a Comic Book

Hayek's classic The Road to Serfdom in comic-book format. Background:

The book was originally published in 1944. A condensed version of the book written by Max Eastman was then published as the lead article in the April issue of Reader's Digest, with a press run of several million copies. This condensed version was then offered as a Book of the Month selection with a press run of over 600,000 copies. In February 1945 a picture-book version was published in Look magazine, later made into a pamphlet and distributed by General Motors. [Reproduced here.] The book has been translated into approximately 20 languages and is dedicated to "The socialists of all parties." In 2007, the University of Chicago Press put out a "Definitive Edition." In total the book has sold over two million copies.

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Posted by Vanderleun at June 8, 2010 5:10 AM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Leftists hate wars, but they love the most insidious aspect of war: central planning and regimentation of the entire society. They solved this quandary by making all sorts of "crises" the "moral equivalent of war" for the very purpose of ordering us around.

Orwell would never of dreamed of putting this scenario in 1984. For him it had to be constant war. The notion that we'd be ruled by a collection of cowardly eunuchs bent on making us afraid of the weather and a nation of trash-sorters is something Orwell would have found absurd.

Posted by: Don Rodrigo at June 8, 2010 10:04 AM

Yes, but that's only half the story.

Look up how they almost couldn't find a publisher for it in the US...

Posted by: WWWebb at June 8, 2010 11:06 AM

Well I think this is a little out of date; lessons have been learned. Today they would never do anything as flagrantly stupid as pages 14 and 17. At least not to the degree depicted. It wouldn't be media savvy.

Posted by: Page Turner at June 8, 2010 3:10 PM

Okay. I can see that. But do you really want to play "You Bet Your Life"?

Posted by: vanderleun at June 8, 2010 3:20 PM

The top planner gets verbally (for now) abusive when his plans go awry. He wants to put his heal on the culprits neck or he wants to kick his ass. And just like wanna-be serfs we all look for someone who can take charge and get things done. This book is timeless!

Posted by: arnonerik at June 8, 2010 4:29 PM

Page Turner,

The funny thing is, the people of Austria would have said the same thing, only it happened to them over a 10 year period.

These things happen by degree and then you one day wake up and wonder what in hell has happened.

As our host says, do you want to bet your life on that - because that is assuredly what it would cost you.

Posted by: pdwalker at June 8, 2010 8:53 PM

Well I think that the important point is that it doesn't have to be as bad as Pages 14 and 17 to still be a tragedy. Pages 14 and 17 depict the absolute nadir of what could happen. But we should be spending our time aiming for the zenith, and anybody who would tend to push us even to the middle ground is tragically wasting our potential.

I grew up reading "A Step Farther Out". Proxmire and Mondale weren't advocating Pages 14 and 17, but they still derailed us from where we should have been.

By focusing on the bugaboo of Pages 14 and 17, we lose sight of what might have been.

Posted by: Page Turner at June 8, 2010 9:20 PM

There is more than one road to serfdom. Another is to elect a completely laissez-faire government; the rest follows, and it ends in all (except a vanishingly small elite) shopping at the company store, living in company apartments and chained to a contract that only ends with death.

Unlikely? No. It can happen; in fact it has happened, and not all that long ago either. What stopped it? Yes, government.

Posted by: Fletcher Christian at June 8, 2010 10:52 PM

You've got to stop getting your economic arguments from karaoke songs, FC.

Posted by: Brett_McS at June 9, 2010 12:48 AM

page turner: you have got to be kidding. "It can't happen here" becomes "But...why me?" What a moron. Go play for the other side and let us adults do the work.

Posted by: Vattenpojke at June 9, 2010 1:18 AM

Today they would never do anything as flagrantly stupid as pages 14 and 17.

Are you sure?

"Your wages are planned."

It is possible we're being subject to that now: minimum wage laws, calls to cap CEO pay, etc are .... wage controls. Not evenly applied, not centraly planned, but there we are.

Posted by: Brian Dunbar at June 9, 2010 4:04 AM

Evidence that we have moved to a level of sophistication which is too high to to be taken in by #14 and 17 was shattered in 2008. It is never enough in the socialist democratic state to offer submission; they will demand your agreement.
If there is any doubt the MSM will carry water for our present incarnation of Road to Serfdom, I have before me a document entitled

[[FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION STAFF DISCUSSION DRAFT
POTENTIAL POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS TO SUPPORT
THE REINVENTION OF JOURNALISM
Please note: this draft does not represent final conclusions on recommendations by the Commission or FTC staff; it is solely for purposes of discussion.]]

They mean to bail their media cover out by any means possible.

Posted by: james wilson at June 9, 2010 7:15 AM

If the far left had their way, we would be a socialist nation by now. If the far right had their way, we'd have a government that enforced strict Christian law (surprisingly close to the Islamic laws enforced in Iran and SA) and the economy would be run by big corporations (which are antithetical to Capitalism). Middle ground is what is needed but it is unattainable. So, we have two parties fight it out and both win some/lose some and the world keeps on spinning. Electing too many radicals from either side will be the downfall of this country.

Posted by: bracono at June 9, 2010 8:10 AM

James Wilson June 9, 2010 7:15 AM:

Oh, yeah, we're already living in pages 15 and 16. I agree.

Posted by: Page Turner at June 9, 2010 9:59 AM

Brett_McS: The reason why that song was written is that its premise is true. It took legislation to outlaw the practice of paying wages in company scrip, along with all the rest of the similar abuses.

Corporations haven't changed their spots, either. Witness the various scandals surrounding DRM. The media corporations appear to want a situation in which you own absolutely nothing that can be described as IP, whether you have paid for it or not; a situation in which things you have paid for can be wiped out of existence or made unusable at the whim of the megacorp that "sold" it to you. And they are perilously close to getting what they want.

The entire Cyberpunk genre is another example of the 1984 phenomenon. With any luck, it won't be predicting the future; just preventing one possible future. The world of Bladerunner is all too plausible.

Posted by: Fletcher Christian at June 10, 2010 12:29 AM

Wow . . . I LOVE the LESSONS HAVE BEEN LEARNED comment!! What lessons and who learned. Look all around the world and you'll see everything here implemented in one country or another. Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, N. Korea, China. Yep The lessons have been learned alright.

Posted by: Nick Reynolds at June 10, 2010 6:40 AM

Government takeover of the student loan program is a giant step toward a planned profession (Step 14).

Posted by: BlackJack43 at June 10, 2010 11:04 AM

For page 17 don't forget that our own government is sticking its nose into baseball. Remember the steroids hearings? There was even talk to force a new instant replay rule. You know, to better preserve the game for us citizens.

Posted by: Jungus at June 10, 2010 1:13 PM

And what about the restricting of salt in restaurants in NYC? I think for most people going out to dinner is classified as a recreational activity. And here the govt is already regulating and "planning" that for us. (Like page 17)

Posted by: JB at June 11, 2010 7:55 AM

Bottom line: if we actually required our legislators and political executives to adhere to the Constitution as written and as originally intended to be understood, we wouldn't have to worry about all this.

Idiotic interpretations of the Commerce Clause and the 'general welfare' language, tolerated and egged on by an ignorant and greedy citizenry, have led us to this pass (common sense: why would the Framers clearly delineate and limit the powers granted to the Federal gov't, state that all other powers are left to the states and the people, and then turn around and open a back door for the Feds to do any durn fool thing that pleases them? They wouldn't.

The Commerce Clause was intended only to prevent Massachusetts from levying a tariff on goods from Virginia, etc. The general welfare language meant that Congress could authorize the purchase of paper clips necessary for the operation of the Federal gov't, etc, not establish some system that takes money from a waitress in Duluth to give to someone in Poughkeepsie for food).

Once we were rich enough to be stupid. We're not any more. We're headed for the wall.

With the Democrats at the wheel, it's 90 mph. With the Republicans, it's 70. Can enough conservatives put the Republicans in power and convince them to actually follow the Constitution? If they can't, will conservatives be able to take control of enough state govt's to actually push some meaningful nullification? If not, will Texas secede? If they do, I'm moving there!

Posted by: Doc at June 11, 2010 9:31 AM

Don't say "it can't happen here"
It is happening, right now!! foolish ones
open your eyes..read the history of this
country....read world history...

Posted by: rtk at June 13, 2010 6:56 AM

The full version, without pretty pictures, is avalable in a PDF on various sites across the net.

Posted by: Mike at June 16, 2010 9:27 AM

Der Marz mit mir und vehliert Ihre Frciheit.

Posted by: Jumpboots187th at June 17, 2010 4:37 PM
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