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Three score and ten or more

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Not Politics but-

Not Politics, but-

I am not going to return to my periodic tirades on politics, but I have had a minor epiphany. Last week I picked up a book at a yard sale, for no other reason than that it had an interesting title. As I began to read it, I found my self totally embarrassed that I spent two years as a Political Science major in a good school, and have had at least one arm, or one foot, or half my brain (a Rushism, I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist) in politics since 1952, and I had never read this book, or to my memory (that, considering my memory is probably not surprising) even heard of it. I have read a lot of John Stuart Mill, John Maynard Keynes and a pot load of other Political and Economic theorists, and many of those I have not read, I have read about, but this book, originally published in 1944 (the version I picked up was a 1969 impression published by the University of Chicago Press, with fairly lengthy “updating” forward by the author was totally unfamiliar. The book is entitled The Road to Serfdom by Frederick A. Hayek. (I suspect that Patrick (among others) is chuckling about my ignorance of this text right now).

The prescience of this book, the clarification of the situations we are now in, both nationally and internationally is absolutely mind boggling. Hayek’s definition of conservatism, which matches my own, but about which he speaks somewhat disparagingly (He believes that we are necessary, but not very useful) is impressive, and his clarification of liberalism (which he defines in a British 1940’s sense and which includes most of the rest of what we commonly call conservatism - - At least I am clearer on Patrick, the Born Again Redneck's identification of himself as a traditional liberal) is so informative. The greatest value of the book however is it’s prediction of the disaster and totalitarianism that is, and is bound to be, the ultimate result of most of the collectivist social planning that is common, not only in our national, but in our current international situations.

If anyone is not an active Socialist, reading this book may very well raise the hackles on the back of your neck and cause you to lose some sleep. (Actually, if one IS an active Socialist, the reaction may be similar, but for different reasons.)

I have not yet completed the book, and may write about it again when I have, but for anyone who thinks of him/her self as an individual, who has reservations about some of the social planning experiments of our time, or who, like me, thinks of the self as a conservative who has not read this book, reading it will be a vital education. (Republicans, both con , neo con, and non-con take special note. Herein is contained ammunition, and warning in equal amounts.)


At 12:02 AM, Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

I pray that I have a new book to blow my mind when I am three score and ten or more because I sure haven't found any lately. Actually you have inspired me to buy a few copies of Serfdom and give them as gifts this Christmas and I'll probably read it again for the umpteenth time - not all of it but all the bits that I have dog-eared over the years. In fact I may do a post about Hayek. Most people think of him as a boring economist but he was much more than that.

At 6:16 AM, Blogger Miladysa said...

What I think I thought I was I discover as I grow that I am not :]

At 11:34 AM, Blogger Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden said...

09 03 06

Here there Richard:
I haven't read that book and appreciate the mention. You now have motivated me to read something other than physics or math journals! Speaking of that, your question about Lee Smolin was a good one. I commented in the comment section. Needless to say, loop quantum gravity versus string theory is one of the major fights in the physics community right now!!! To be honest, I like both theories, but am beginning to think that both are somewhat lacking...

At 9:04 PM, Blogger Gayle said...

Glad to see you have overcome your writer's block, Richard.

Patrick posted about your post and Hayek, both of whom I have to admit never hearing about before. There's so many things I've never heard of.

I guess I can get a copy over the internet. We don't have many bookstores around here.

Miladysa's comment really registered with me. Once upon a time when I was very young I thought I was a Democrat! How mistaken can a person be?

At 10:14 PM, Blogger Thotman said...

interesting that you would find this book at a yard sale... most good books are kept by their owners until the last cat is hung...now you have piqued my interest, I will be waiting for your entire review.


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