Which way the road serfdom? Does the book belong in a class on planning theory?

Greg Mankiw’s notes the cause and effect of Fox News on book sales of Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom. This does a nice job of illustrating the enormous power of the conservative punditry, the poor disenfranchised dears, which allows them on occasion (read constantly) to get their views out there despite the overwhelming (read nonexistent) liberal bias in the media. As usual, Mankiw accomplishes more in 31 words than I do in volumes.

Nonetheless, The Road to Serfdom is a significant and socially important book. Does it belong on my syllabus for planning theory?

7 thoughts on “Which way the road serfdom? Does the book belong in a class on planning theory?

  1. Probably not, but it would make good optional reading. Plus, wasn’t there a rebuttal book written by someone well-known, maybe The Road to Freedom?

  2. I would vote yes. My recollection is that the book was a response in part to well-meaning market-oriented socialists like Lange and Lerner who thought that somehow one could use market-like mechanisms to plan. I think it is a serious book that could provoke good discussion.

  3. And if looking for balance, you might consider Stiglitz’s “Whither Socialism”.

  4. I haven’t read it in quite some time (and probably never very much of it), but isn’t it kind of a terrible read? Isn’t he kind of rambling and evasive? But yeah, it’s an important book to be sure. (I hear there’s a cartoon version, btw!)

  5. Yes, although you could also look at chapters of Hayek’s “Constitution of Liberty” which talks about “piecemeal planning” as a reasonable strategy (as opposed to centralized planning). “The Fatal Conceit” is also good. Assigning the whole thing may be tough, but finding selections would be useful.

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