All the new interest in Hayek’s ‘Road to Serfdom’ 

The news that Glenn Beck’s endorsement has sparked renewed interest in Friedrich Hayek’s Road to Serfdom reminded me of this passage from Irving Kristol’s “America’s ‘Exceptional Conservatism’” (1995, available in Neoconservatism: The Autobiography of an Idea):

Post-World War II American conservatism begins to take shape with the American publication of Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom and the founding some years later of William F. Buckley’s National Review. Previously, there had been a small circle who were admirers of the Jeffersonian, quasi-anarchist teachings of the likes of Albert Jay Nock, but no one paid much attention to them. Hayek’s polemic against socialism did strike a chord, however, especially among members of the business community as well as existing conservative groups. There may have been people converted from ’statism’ to ‘anti-statism’ by that book, but my impression is that most admirers of the book were already anti-statist and pro-free market. What Hayek did was to mobilize them intellectually, and to make their views more respectable. I have to confess that I still haven’t got around to reading The Road to Serfdom, though I am a great admirer of Hayek’s later writings in intellectual history and political philosophy. The reason was, and is, that not for a moment did I believe that the United States was (or is) on any kind of road to serfdom. Socialism has never had much of a presence in America and, besides, having gone through a brief Trotskyist phase in my college days, I needed no instruction on socialist illusions or the evils of Soviet Communism.

You can find Kristol’s April 1960 review of Hayek’s Constitution of Liberty here.

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