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'Embarrassing'

October 4, 2011 - Harry Eagar
A lot of the books reviewed at RtO are old. Sometimes very old, although I have an informal rule about reviewing incunabula.

But if a book is still read, and if there seems something current to say about it, I don't see why it shouldn't be re-reviewed.

Thus, a while back I wrote about Hayek's "The Road to Serfdom." I took a fair amount of abuse for it, too, not so much here as at Amazon (where I usually post my reviews).

In a review of a new book about economists at The New Republic, I find the reviewer saying much the same, in many fewer words, about Hayek that I said. Here he is:

"Hayek’s appeal to the political right comes not from these fairly tame, if interesting, ideas. It rests on 'The Road to Serfdom,' a bestseller in 1944. There Hayek argued that even well-intentioned attempts to regulate industry are not only bad in themselves, but the start of a slippery slope that leads inexorably to 'serfdom.' I remember thinking that, if Hayek were right, I should live to see Norway and the Netherlands at least halfway to tyranny. It seemed implausible then and it seems embarrassing today."

I am not even an amateur economist, just a provincial business reporter who matches what business managers tell me they do (or what I observe them doing) against the theories of various ideologues. The reviewer?

Here is his tagline:

Robert M. Solow is Institute Professor of Economics emeritus at MIT. He won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1987.

There are plenty of Nobel-winning economists in whose company I would not like to be found, but I don't mind it this time.

 
 

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