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The surge in sales are most directly linked to talk of the book by mass audience TV and radio personalities Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, and John Stossel, among others.

Evidence suggests that Beck had the biggest effect original effect.

Greg is probably right on this.

I am going to send Bruce Caldwell a poke for suggesting that concern about possible national health care reform may be driving the sales without also noting the irony of Hayek actually having supported national health insurance in Road to Serfdom.

Glenn Beck has a huge following. He once again plugged Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Facsism.

Beck began recommending _The Road to Serfdom_ at the end of 2008 -- just when sales took off.

Limbaugh, Levin, Forbes, the head of Sears, etc. were talking about Hayek and recommending _The Road to Serfdom_ in the beginning months of 2009.

Beck has a proven ability to push obscure books to the top of Amazon's bestseller list.

It's rare for Limbaugh to recommend a book or talk about an author -- but when he does, you can immediately see the Google traffic and the sales spike at Amazon.

In Feb. of 2007 Sears owner Eddie Lampert sent a letter to every Sears shareholder recommending that they read Hayek's _The Road to Serfdom_.

Steve Forbes in his personal column did the same thing in a piece published around that same time.

Mark Levin quoted from _The Road to Serfdom_ in his 1 million plus 2009 bestseller.

John Stossel's recent show on "The Road to Serfdom" pushed Hayek's book into the top 100 at Amazon.

There's just been a lot of people saying, hey, you might want to look at this, to get a better understanding of what's happening right now and why it matters.

Indeed. Barack Obama has been clearly proposing that we move to command central planning (hack, cough)...

is there a search facility on your blog?

Well, we do know that Obama's interest in politics (which was dominated by an interest in Marxism, race studies, anti-colonialism, and socialism for the first decade of his early manhood) was inspired by his mother's account of his father's politics -- Obama tells us all this in his memoir, titled "Dreams from My Father".

Obama's father was a Harvard trained socialist and economist who worked in the Kenyan government.

Read about it here:

http://blog.mises.org/archives/008007.asp

Obama isn't the most open and honest guy on the planet, so who knows what he really believes -- it's now common knowledge what a massive capacity for BSing people the guy has.

I bought my copy two months ago from listening to Russ Roberts.

caldwell's reasoning is absurd, relying on no evidence whatsoever. hayek wrote against hitler and stalin. if people purchase the road to serfdom because they believe Hayek's reasoning also applies to bush and obama ... well, I do not think Hayek would favor such following. Caldwell in this article approximates the Mises Institute's quality of reasoning. someone like obama is certainly not meant with the worst who make it to the top! and the health care reform will not produce a slippery slope to tyranny! It's bad, but not yet socialism. And why should anyone buy the road to serfdom bacause of the fiscal stimulus? why not prices and production? and you guys wonder why austrians are not taken seriously by the economics profession?

@amv:
Hayek said that Hitler and Stalin did not just happened. It took some Bushes and Obamas before them to clear the road.

Paul Samuelson:
"Today's inflation is chronic. Its roots are deep in the very nature of the welfare state ... A fascist political state would be required to impose such a regime and preserve it. Short of a military junta that imprisons trade union activists and terrorizes intellectuals, this solution to inflation is unrealistic--and, to most of us, undesirable."

But I think the intellectuals would welcome a fascist regime, especially the economists. Somehow I think Samuelson would've jump at the chance of helping the junta.

"But I think the intellectuals would welcome a fascist regime, especially the economists." again, whims and passion instead of reason and evidence. BTW, Samuelson opposed Hayek's slippery slope reasoning in road to serfdom. I guess, if the US survived roosevelt, nixon, bush II., etc, it will also survive obama. It is only lack of historical understanding that allows people to associate obama with hitler and the like. when watching the news and see americans opposing obama's health care reform with hitler on their posters, I worry more about these folks: they are much closer to the mob that carried hitler to power than obama is to anything in the Weimar republic.

amv,

I am confused with your reaction to Bruce Caldwell. First, there is a fact -- sales of The Road to Serfdom have surged. Second, there is another fact -- debate about economic policy has spread from the profession and policy makers to the general public during the financial crisis. Third, there has been a renewed interest in Keynes as an answer, and with that there has also been a renewed interest in Keynes's adversary Hayek. Fourth, what is the most accessible book of Hayek's -- certainly NOT Prices and Production, but The Road to Serfdom. Prices and Production is directed at other professional economists, The Road to Serfdom is directed at the concerned citizen and intellectuals.

Thus, we have a fact --- surge in sales; we have the Caldwell conjecture. What other conjecture would you offer for the surge in sales?

amv, Hayek doesn't offer a "slippery slope" argument.

I'm wondering if you've read his book.

Just asking.

Samuelson, as usual, was smearing Hayek on false grounds, i.e. mischaracterizing what Hayek wrote for the purpose of marginalizing his work.

Samuelson promised to retract his false statements about Hayek in his next textbook in a personal letter to Hayek, then later admitted he was lying in saying he'd do so.

Greg says: "Samuelson promised to retract his false statements about Hayek in his next textbook in a personal letter to Hayek, then later admitted he was lying in saying he'd do so."

Can Greg cite any evidence (actual quotes or page numbers, etc)for these bold claims?

Thanks.

No slippery slope?

"It is not necessary to reviewthe familiar economic argumentswhich showwhy mere ‘interventionism’ is self-defeating
and self-contradictory, and how, if the central purpose of intervention is to be achieved, intervention must expand until
it becomes a comprehensive system of planning”

Observer:

They are documented in Bruce Caldwell's introduction to the release of The Road to Serfdom in the Collected Works, which you can read here: http://books.google.com/books?id=qg61T_I1mwsC&pg=PA29&lpg=PA29&dq=hayek,+samuelson,+letters&source=bl&ots=3bgjAmRNXB&sig=m9xxVliN10nS_mgiXsEKFy7VZKc&hl=en&ei=_jWAS5WsGczR8Ab4muSTBQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=8&ved=0CB4Q6AEwBw#v=onepage&q=&f=false

That same passage also addresses the "inevitability thesis" AKA the "slippery slope" argument.

"They are documented in Bruce Caldwell's introduction to the release of The Road to Serfdom in the Collected Works, which you can read here"

Link is appreciated. I see no specific Samuelson quotes though but only a summary.

""Samuelson promised to retract his false statements about Hayek in his next textbook in a personal letter to Hayek, then later admitted he was lying in saying he'd do so."

Where does Samuelson admit to having lied? I could not find that in the google books extract.

Thanks

You'll have to talk to Bruce Caldwell then, or trust that his summary is correct. You might also read the Farrant/McPhail JEBO paper from January 2009 detailing the correspondence: http://xrl.in/4ktu

There, they write:

Samuelson’s response to Hayek was gracious: “I am sorry that my brief discussion in Economics fails to do justice to your views in The Road to Serfdom.” Making clear his admiration for Hayek “as an economist, social philosopher, general scholar, and person,” Samuelson writes, “when I come soon to prepare the 12th edition of my textbook, I shall reread The Road to Serfdom with your letter at hand,” endeavoring to “the best of my ability, to rephrase all of my comments on it so that they fairly represent what your intended meaning is” (Samuelson, 1981a).

There's the promise of retraction. As for Greg's claim that Samuelson admitted he was lying about doing so, I can find no direct evidence of that. The *indirect* evidence, however, is that in Samuelson's 2009 JEBO remembrance of Hayek (which is just awful), found here: http://xrl.in/4ktu , he writes in the last footnote:

"So it was when I began to receive complaints from my long-time acquaintance Friedrich Hayek. Why at so late a date should I belabor the persisting differences between us on ideological issues? No good deeds go unpunished! Never then, or before, or later did I have reason to think or to say: Yes, I have misunderstood you. Yes, I have incorrectly quoted from you. Mea culpa.
Exactly what I have written above evaluating The Road to Serfdom is precisely what I believed about it in the 1940s and continued to believe about it up to the present 2007."

So in his letter to Hayek, he admits he got Hayek wrong and will endeavor to correct it, but in 2007 he says he had no reason to ever correct his understanding. So either he lied to Hayek about intending to do so, or he forgot about that, or you need to find some other way to explain the apparent inconsistency.

Again, I'm not willing to go as far as Greg as say there is clear evidence that Samuelson "lied," but it is a possible interpretation that has some evidence behind it.

I did some online searching. An eminent authority: "“Hayek’s argument is one of tendency and direction toward responding to the failure
with more government direct action not less. This is the slippery slope."

"Samuelson writes, “when I come soon to prepare the 12th edition of my textbook, I shall reread The Road to Serfdom with your letter at hand,” endeavoring to “the best of my ability, to rephrase all of my comments on it so that they fairly represent what your intended meaning is” (Samuelson, 1981a)."

One possibiity is he thought his original take was correct.

The links do not work BTW. Maybe because I am not a member? But thanks for them anyhow,.

2 points.

1) I did communicate with Bruce Caldwell regarding his apparent endoresement of the idea that RTS supports opposition to national health care reform while it clearly supports national health insurance of some sort, not specified in detail. He said to me, "Good point." He then noted that he was specifically replying in 800 words to the question, "why have sales soared?" and not on whether the perceptions of those buying about the book were accurate or not (which in this case they are not).

2) On the messy business of the Samuelson-Hayek debate, I would note that Samuelson said that when he was to revise his textbook next, he would reread RTS "with your letter in hand." An interpretation that would make Samuelson's position consistent (and not "lying") is that in that rereading, which had not occurred when he replied to Hayek, he found that his initial view was indeed correct and did not call for any revision.

I would also note the oddity, which he may not have decided on at the time he replied to Hayek (although maybe he did), that in fact he largely withdrew from revising the text after that edition, with the next edition (12th) being the first one that William Nordhaus was involved with and more or less took over the revising process, although presumably Samuelson could have had him change the remarks about Hayek if he had decided they needed changing (I confess to not having read what was said about Hayek in any of the editions later than the 11th, so I do not know what is in any of them on RTS or how they were changed if at all in any of them).

@amv:
"again, whims and passion instead of reason and evidence. BTW, Samuelson opposed Hayek's slippery slope reasoning in road to serfdom."

So the hole 20th century doesn't count as evidence. Saying that Samuelson opposed Hayek's reasoning is like saying that Keynes refuted Say's Law.

Niko,

You may think that what you wrote here is clear, but it is not at all. Just what did the "hole" of the 20th century prove? That Hayek was right or that Samuelson was right? Did we end up with fascism/communism in Western Europe with all their welfare states, or do you mean that they did not, but that this is perfectly fine with Hayek and consistent with RTS, with Samuelson not understanding this?

And do you think Keyness "refuted Say's Law" or merely tried to, and is it obvious that he did or did not succeed?

Just for the record, here's what Hayek said in RTS about "social insurance" - "Where, as in the case of sickness and accident, neither the desire to avoid such calamities nor the effort to overcome their consequences are as a rule weakened by the provision of assistance - where, in short, we deal with genuinely insurable risks - the case for the state's helping to organize a comprehensive system of social insurance is very strong." p. 148, Collected Works edition. "Helping to organize" is a bit ambiguous. In my opinion, it is not clear from this how he would come down on any specific health care plan now on offer. Pete, as usual, summarized my argument correctly and succinctly. I wrote the article because I was asked to speculate as to why sales had increased so much. I have never watched or listened to Glenn Beck's or Rush Limbaugh's programs(which is why I did not mention them); from what Greg says, they appear to have helped the sales. I do enjoy Stossel, having first been turned on to him by Reason magazine.

@Rosser:
"whole", not "hole", my mistake.

I was talking about the intellectuals and their role in the 20th century. The idea that they would be victims of communism or fascism is wrong. Most of the time it is the effort of these people to help other people with other people money that lead to all the dramas.

I think that Hayek was right.

"Observer" -- I teach logic and "informal" argument.

Hayek offers a number of actual _mechanisms_ which provide causal explanations and mechanisms which can produce particular results.

These mechanisms are of a completely different logical character than are the fallacies which are identified in "critic thinking" and logical textbooks as the fallacy of the "slippery slope".

Samuelson admitted this in an article published last year.

"As for Greg's claim that Samuelson admitted he was lying about doing so, I can find no direct evidence of that."

"Samuelson admitted this in an article published last year."

"As for Greg's claim that Samuelson admitted he was lying about doing so, I can find no direct evidence of that."


What is the cite for the article and please cut n' paste the quote.
Thanks in advance.

"Hayek offers a number of actual _mechanisms_ which provide causal explanations and mechanisms which can produce particular results.

These mechanisms are of a completely different logical character than are the fallacies which are identified in "critic thinking" and logical textbooks as the fallacy of the "slippery slope"."

What do the critics means by 'slippery slope'? What do Hayek's defenders means by 'slippery slope'?

What are the mechanisms Hayek provides in Serfdom?

Are there any Austrians who have favorably invoked Hayek's slippery slope?

Pete,

the facts you mention are not Caldwell's. I refer to "the secret behind the surge":

1) "First off, the November 2008 sales spike date CERTAINLY suggests that Obama's election and the passing of control of both houses of Congress to the Democrats may have been an initial factor." (my emphasis)

2)"Another early impetus may have been the characterization of the health care debate as being about socialized medicine."

3)"But perhaps the biggest stimulus to sales was, well, the stimulus package."

The fact that the road to serfdom is in high demand, I never denied. your facts no. 2 and 3 may be true or may not be true. I do not see the obvious link to the road to serfdom. I guess the advertisment on tv is most responsible (see the comments above my initial post). your fact no. 4 explains why prices and production is in relatively low demand. It does not explain why road to serfdom is in high demand. this was my point. caldwell, whom I like a lot, simply speculates. I guess he wouldn't bet on it. and even if I had no better theory of the surge, this does not make me buy caldwell's reasoning.

greg,

jaja ... the 'you-do-not-agree-with-my-hayek-so-you-do-not-know-your-hayek' accusation. well, I read it. and now?

oh, I just realize that caldwell has contributed to this section. He says: "I wrote the article because I was asked to speculate as to why sales had increased so much." I had never reacted that way if he said so in his article. He seems to speculate with 'certainty' ;-)

Observer,

Mario Rizzo has written a lot on slippery slopes, check out his discussions at ThinkMarkets.

But I would simply suggest that slippery slopes do not necessarily imply determinism. Instead, you can have contingency as you long as you do the institutional analysis to know the conditions that steer the process in this or that direction. Look up my discussion from last December (I believe) on Indeterminacy.

Pete

"observer" -- I have copies of the Hayek-Samuelson correspondence in my files, i.e. posted section of the correspondence on the web in the past, can't remember when or where.

The recent Paul Samuelson article on Hayek is easily googled -- it was widely linked on the econ blogs.

Another "technical" factor in the _Road to Serfdom_ boom is the selling force which is Amazon review and ranking system itself -- TRtoS is #1 or #2 in all sorts of Amazon categories, it's reviews are outstanding, and it's a 4 1/2 book, despite tons of zero star reviews from leftists.

Bruce, I figured out that Beck was one of the people driving Hayek sales last year, before I'd ever seen his show, googling around the internet, trying to figure out what was happening. I also noticed at this time that a number of Beck recommended old books where top sellers. Putting two and two together I concluded Beck was the original guy spiking TRtoS sales in late 2008. I could be wrong, but it's a really strong guess -- Beck was telling people he was reading TRtoS at that time. I didn't see the broadcasts, only an internet post by Beck saying he was reading TRtoS. If he didn't mention it on air, that would be really surprising.

As to Limbaugh, when my google search traffic at 'Taking Hayek Seriously" spikes, I often find by a simple google search of Limbaugh's site that he's talked about Hayek.

amv, I think we disagree about that a "slippery slope" arguments is, and about the nature of Hayek's "ratchet" mechanism and his "changing the principles of the people" mechanism.

I don't view either of these as "slippery slopes" as found in the logic and argument books I've taught from.

Let me re-write that:

amv, I think we disagree about what a "slippery slope" arguments is, and about the nature of Hayek's "ratchet" mechanism and his "changing the values and principles of the people" mechanism.

I don't view either of these as "slippery slope arguments" as found in the logic and argument books I've taught from.

_Prices and Production_ is available free on the Internet.

Who knows how many copies are being downloaded every day.

Barkley, what I'm doing is calling b*llsh*t on Samuelson.

Hayek was right in his complaint against Samuelson -- and he proved it with direct quotations from his own book. Samuelson directly misrepresented what he intended to do in his letter -- and directly confessed to that fact in his recent article on Hayek. He makes it plain that he was merely placating Hayek and he had no intention to reconsider his choice to publish false characterizations about Hayek (proven by Hayek in his letter to Samuelson) -- and no intention to take the falsehoods out of his textbook.

"he found that his initial view was indeed correct and did not call for any revision."

Barkley, in simple words, Samuelson had no intention of playing fair with Hayek, and misrepresented himself in this regard in his letter to Hayek. I.e. Samuelson was lying, or b*llsh*tt*ng Hayek if you prefer.

Hayek's "ratchet" mechanism can be put in a very simple form:

One intervention creates problems that lead to a call for further interventions to "fix" these problems.

The same causal mechanism is described in Mises.

Note well the mechanism is NOT deterministic.

People can choose not to "fix" things with further interventions. And they can also choose to revoke earlier interventions.

E.g. the Fed's inflation policies of the late 1960s and early 1970s, followed by Nixon's wage and price controls -- within 10 years most all of this way of running the economy was revoked. The "ratchet" was broken -- in part because people like Reagan were reading Hayek, a mechanism for breaking the "ratchet" explained by Hayek himself.

Here is Samuelson (2009) telling us straight up that he was b*llsh*tt*ng Hayek in his letter to Hayek:

"Add to the above that as I myself aged beyond seventy and eighty and ninety, it came to my notice that one must learn to appreciate that elderly friends do need to be handled gently. Here is a germane example. After Harry Johnson’s stroke in Venice he still produced many worthy research articles. But he became easily irritated. He argued with various long-time friends. When the publisher who had carried his stuff for decades was three weeks late in sending a book out for review, he broke off relations with that company. Often I heard myself saying to good mutual friends of Harry and me: “That’s not our Harry arguing. It’s his arteries. Let’s just go with the flow and remember Johnson’s fertility and admirable versatility.”

So it was when I began to receive complaints from my long-time acquaintance Friedrich Hayek. Why at so late a date should I belabor the persisting differences between us on ideological issues? No good deeds go unpunished! Never then, or before, or later did I have reason to think or to say: Yes, I have misunderstood you. Yes, I have incorrectly quoted from you. Mea culpa."

Re: Reagan and price controls -- Reagan removed some of the last of the Nixon price controls on oil and natural gas ...

"But I would simply suggest that slippery slopes do not necessarily imply determinism. Instead, you can have contingency as you long as you do the institutional analysis to know the conditions that steer the process in this or that direction."

Has anyone ever attributed determinism to Hayek's account in RTS?

""observer" -- I have copies of the Hayek-Samuelson correspondence in my files, i.e. posted section of the correspondence on the web in the past, can't remember when or where."

Please can you put the correspondence online? How else can others check your claims? If true, Samuelson is damned.

" it was when I began to receive complaints from my long-time acquaintance Friedrich Hayek. Why at so late a date should I belabor the persisting differences between us on ideological issues? No good deeds go unpunished! Never then, or before, or later did I have reason to think or to say: Yes, I have misunderstood you. Yes, I have incorrectly quoted from you. Mea culpa."

Sounds like Barkley Rosser has an accurate reading. Samuelson did not consider himself to have misread Hayek.

"Hayek's "ratchet" mechanism can be put in a very simple form:

One intervention creates problems that lead to a call for further interventions to "fix" these problems.

The same causal mechanism is described in Mises.

Note well the mechanism is NOT deterministic."

Has anyone ever said it is deterministic? What happens if (I think Demsetz raises this point somewhere) the intervention is not repealed but a further one is not adopted?

What exactly is Hayek's complaint about Samuelson's account? It is unclear to me.

"Never then, or before, or later did I have reason to think or to say: Yes, I have misunderstood you. Yes, I have incorrectly quoted from you. Mea culpa."

" I would note that Samuelson said that when he was to revise his textbook next, he would reread RTS "with your letter in hand." An interpretation that would make Samuelson's position consistent (and not "lying") is that in that rereading, which had not occurred when he replied to Hayek, he found that his initial view was indeed correct and did not call for any revision."

I cannot see why Greg thinks his view (Samuelson is liar liar pants on fire) is a more likely explanation for the 2009 than B. Rossers (the 2nd quoted explanation).

Am I missing something?

"Samuelson writes, “when I come soon to prepare the 12th edition of my textbook, I shall reread The Road to Serfdom with your letter at hand,” endeavoring to “the best of my ability, to rephrase all of my comments on it so that they fairly represent what your intended meaning is” (Samuelson, 1981a).

There's the promise of retraction."


Where? All I see is the reading that B. Rosser has already provided. It really would help if the letters Greg Ransom mentions above were posted online for evaluation.

Bruce,

Good points.

Greg,

Hmmm, well perhaps it can be said that Samuelson was "b...s....ing" Hayek when he engaged in what he describes in the quote you cite that he "handled gently" Hayek. It may look that he had no intention to reread RTS or Hayek's letter seriously when he undertook to revise his textbook when he later says "Never then, or before, or later did have reason to think or to say: Yes, I have misunderstood you. Yes, I have incorrectly quoted from you. Mea culpa."

First, this matter of one getting cranky when one is "elderly" may well apply here to Samuelson himself. As the editor who published this paper by Samuelson, I was struck by his combative and punchy tone. I made a few efforts to tone some things down, but to a large extent I viewed this as a historical document by a historical person that should be allowed to go through, despite it having various warts of one sort or another.

OTOH, while Samuelson may have actually lied in the sense that when he told Hayek he would reread RTS and keep Hayek's letter in mind that he had no intention of doing so and knew he would not be actively involved in revising his textbook, the statements in the 2009 do not in my view constitute definitive proof of that and we do not know if he did or not. He may indeed have reread RTS and then decided that Hayek did not have a case to make, and then after doing so reverting to the view that Hayek's complaints to him were merely elderly crankiness a la Harry Johnson, even if this is not itself a fair judgment.

Regarding the matter of the issue itself, I will simply note that it is very complicated and not easily resolved. There certainly are the caveats that Hayek and you and Bruce Caldwell and others note in RTS and later works by Hayek that pretty clearly in my view undercut or at least modify what we might call the naive slippery slope view attributed to Hayek by Samuelson and many others. However, there are certainly places in RTS and other writings where one can interpret his remarks as appearing to support some such version of the argument. How does one definitively resolve the situation when someone who has written large amounts over a long period of time that appear to say one thing in one place and then appear to modify it or even deny it in another?

In this last regard, even if Samuelson mischaracterized Hayek's work, and even if he treated him unfairly in a personal way and was not straightforward or fully honest with him, I think that the current surge in sales of RTS is benig driven by people who think that Hayek is making the slippery slope argument in its crudest form and that he is right to do so (and while I have not seen or heard what Beck or Limbaugh have to say about Hayek, I strongly suspect that this is the way that they are representing him and RTS). Certainly such rhetoric is being thrown around very carelessly and mindlessly by those showing up at Tea Party meetings, including the politicians who show up at those gatherings.

In this regard I would note that there seems to have been a surge of interest in the cartoon version of RTS as well, which is posted at the Mises Institute site, and which Hayek himself approved of. It would appear that, just as in the late 1940s, most of those reading RTS are taking away from it something not much different than one would get from the cartoon version, which looks pretty much like an unadulterated version of the crudest and most naive version of the slippery slope argument. And, regarding Samuelson, it may well be that he may have recognized that Hayek made caveats and so on in RTS, but also was unhappy with Hayek's apparent willingness to countenance such crude popularizations as the cartoon version that certainly did spread this ludicrous version that pretty much put the slippery slope argument out there in a way that would appeal to the Becks, Limbaughs, and people choking on their tea bags while declaring Obama to equal Hitler or Stalin.

von Hayek is showing up everywhere, including a reference in this healthcare rap (hard to believe):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XnKfjr0mfO0

"and people choking on their tea bags"

We could do without the crude sexual allusions Barkley. And if don't know what I'm talking about, you should.

I continue on my personal mission to remind folks that "teabagging" and related terms are sexual/homophobic slurs.

"People can choose not to "fix" things with further interventions. And they can also choose to revoke earlier interventions."

What if they repeal one intervention in one sector but add another intervention in another?

I think B. Rosser is talking about the tea party lunatics (Sarah Palin et al) rather than making any kind of allusion to gay men or women.

Barkley -- my understanding is that the U of Chicago Press acted on its own in arranging the Reader's Digest "condensation" of TRtoS, and Hayek didn't read or approve the text. I've seen no evidence that this also wasn't true of the LOOK cartoon version.

I just don't recall seeing any evidence on this matter, and the Reader's Digest matter suggests the UCP publicity department acted largely independently -- theyndid so also when Hayek came to America on a speaking tour.

Is there no straw Greg will clutch at to save his readings of FAH?

Hayek paid public testimony to the editors of the Reader’s Digest condensation for the “extremely skillful manner in which this was done … It is inevitable that the compression of a complex argument … produces some oversimplification, but that this was done without distortion … is a remarkable achievement” (Hayek - Caldwell edition 2007, p.41).

Steve,

I apologize. I am aware of this, but was not thinking about it when I wrote that, honest. It should be clear that I have lost whatever patience I have for some of the rhetoric coming out of such events, and it does seem that many of these new buyers are the sorts of people who buy into such rhetoric and think that Hayek somehow would support it, based on RTS.

Greg,

Doing some checking does not give an answer about Hayek approving or disapproving of the cartoon version, so I may not wroing on that one. However, it is clear that he approved of the Reader's Digest version. Whether that one contains the sorts of caveats that led Hayek to complain to Samuelson about how he perceived Samuelson to be treating him I do not know.

Oh, and to whomever it was who said that intellectuals would be the big gainers from fascism and communism, there is a very long list of such who were executed by such regimes.

Meant to say "may be wrong" regarding Hayek approving the cartoon version.

I share (some of anyway) your frustrations with things that have come out of the Tea Party movement Barkley. I just don't think it does critics any good, and reveals their hypocrisy, to resort to language the equivalent of which they would not tolerate if it was their views being so characterized.

Where's the evidence for this? My impression -- which could be mistaken -- is that Hayek didn't read Eastman's essay before it was published.

Remember this all took place in 1944 - 1945.

Barkley writes.

"it is clear that he approved of the Reader's Digest version."

"approved of"

Maybe we're on opposite sides of a pun here.

My impression was that Hayek wasn't involved in any pre-approval process on what Eastman wrote.

After the Eastman essay was published, Hayek expressed his admiration for Eastman's ability as a writer, "condensing the book" into an elegant and brief article.

So, after the fact, Hayek certainly "approved of" Eastman's skilled effort at an impossible task. Certainly as between Hayek and Eastman, Eastman is the better writer of English prose.

It should be noted that Hayek much preferred the respectful and intelligent response he received from British leftists and liberals, as compared to the off the hook reaction Hayek got from American leftists and "conservatives". Hayek often wondered if anyone in America had actually read the book -- based on many of the over the top responses his book received from Americans of both left and "right".

But if Alan Brinkley is to be believed, the book actually hit home also in the center of American politics and intellectual life:

"The publication of two books .. helped to galvanize the concerns that were beginning to emerge among intellectuals (and many others) about the implications of totalitarianism. One was James Burnham's The Managerial Revolution .. [A second] Friedrich A. Hayek's The Road to Serfdom .. was far more controversial -- and influential. Even more than Burnham, Hayek forced into public discourse the question of the compatibility of democracy and statism .. In responding to Burnham and Hayek .. liberals [in the statist sense of this term as used by some in the United States] were in fact responding to a powerful strain of Jeffersonian anti-statism in American political culture .. The result was a subtle but important shift in liberal [i.e. American statist] thinking."

Here's Hayek 1978:

"I had a fairly good reputation as an economic theorist until 1945, or '44, when I published The Road to Serfdom . Even that book was accepted in Great Britain by the public at large as a well-intentioned critical effort which had some justification. It came in America just at the end of the great enthusiasm for the New Deal, and it was treated even by the academic community very largely as a malicious effort by a reactionary to destroy high ideals"

http://www.archive.org/details/nobelprizewinnin00haye

Steve,

I was bad.

Greg,

I stand corrected. So, Hayek only approved of Eastman's essay after the fact, not ahead of time.

I would agree that the Brits read RTS more seriously. Keynes praised it privately to Hayek. Much of this may be due to it more specifically addressing the British situation and Hayek's fears of what the Labour Party would do when it came to power at the end of the war, which it did.

Whether it was the influence of RTS or not, the LP did not implement central planning as he feared. It did engage in a wave of nationalizations, however, many of them undone by Thatcher. One still not undone is that of the medical care system, which remains far more socialistic than any proposal now under consideration would make that in the US. However, despite all the demonizations of it in the US media, it remains reportedly very popular in Britain, so untouchable that even the Iron Lady did not mess with it.

Reportedly, Hayek's son Laurence -- a British hospital pathologist -- was something of a critic of the British health system.

From Laurence Hayek obit: "He worked as a GP and became a hospital pathologist in Middlesex, before moving in 1974 with his wife and children to Devon. For 25 years, he was Consultant Microbiologist at Torbay Hospital. He was the hospital's first full-time microbiologist, especially concerned with cross-infection. He was a council member of the Association of Clinical Pathologists and a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Clinical Pathology."

Hayek's father was a municipal doctor in the government medical service in Vienna.

I've never come across a place where Hayek discusses at any serious length his considered thoughts on the provision of medical care in relation to the government.

Presumable Hayek thought about this stuff ...


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