Another Road to Serfdom
Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom is an uncannily influential book more than seventy years after its publication. This chapter examines his arguments and finds that they come up short in many ways and suggests that we have taken ‘another road to serfdom’ of which Hayek ignored. His mind was completely closed to the possibility that there were multiple threats to individual freedom and not only state power. He failed to see that any concentration of power can become a threat to freedom. This was one of his major mistakes. In contrast to Hayek, many scholars and public intellectual warned us of the dangers of the concentration of power in institutions other than the state. For instance, in a 1958 interview Aldous Huxley identified Madison Avenue as a potential danger to our autonomy, individuality, and freedom. Today those fears materialized in the guise of wealthy mega-corporations and billionaires whose influence on government, on elections, on popular culture and on the dominant ideology have been able to change the rules of the market in their favor until we were trapped in a new kind of serfdom.
KeywordsAldous huxley Road to serfdom Madison avenue Concentration of freedom
I would like to thank from Kevin Albertson, Jim Bessen, Bas van Bavel, David Coldwell, Craufurd Goodwin, Hermann Hess, Fredy Cante, and Jürgen Volkert for comments on an earlier version of this paper. They are obviously not responsible for any possible remaining omissions, commissions, or possible errors. This paper was delivered at the 2016 meeting of the History of Economics Society at Duke University.