The Corner

Hayek and Hyperbole

Matt Welch:

Hayek then moved the ball with his massively influential text of economic hyperbole, The Road to Serfdom. Hayek’s thesis—that manifestations of collectivism even in market-based democracies lead inexorably down the road to tyranny—is powerful, still timely, and not (it turns out) strictly true. But as a warning shot across the bow of Western statists and a galvanizing jolt for politicians and thinkers worldwide, this bit of exaggeration has done more good than a million perfectly fact-checked white papers.

Is that a fair comment on Hayek? It has been many years since I read the book, but I thought his thesis was that central planning would lead to totalitarianism, a proposition that does not seem to me to be easy to dismiss.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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