On its 50th Anniversary the IEA has reprinted the condensed Reader’s Digest version of The Road to Serfdom with Hayek’s classic article, The Intellectuals and Socialism . These publications were an inspiration to the IEA’s founder, Antony Fisher, and have inspired further generations to make the intellectual case for a free society.It was as a result of a conversation with F. A. Hayek, 60 years ago this week, that Antony Fisher founded the IEA ten years later. It was reading the condensed version of The Road to Serfdom that led Fisher to seek out Hayek. At the time they met, Hayek was working on The Intellectuals and Socialism and he encouraged Fisher to set up an institute to influence ideas and ideals over the long-term rather than go into politics. The success of the IEA, not just in the UK but through the inspiration it has given to sister organisations in over 70 countries, has been remarkable in changing the face of government and public policy throughout the world.
In The Road to Serfdom and The Intellectuals and Socialism , Hayek explained the enduring appeal of socialist ideas. Socialism satisfies people’s desire to impose order on the world through central direction rather than allowing an order to develop through individuals’ autonomous choices. Socialism has particular appeal to intellectuals – the teachers, journalists and other commentators who pass comment on public policy without any special expertise on economic matters, whom Hayek termed ‘the second-hand dealers in ideas’. Once the logic of planning has become accepted throughout society, the only solution to the inevitable failure of socialism will be the imposition of a more comprehensive plan. Hence, planning leads to a process by which individual freedom is incrementally eroded – the road to serfdom.
The two papers, together with the forewords and introduction, are still so relevant today as we seek a freer world, whilst surrounded by an intellectual establishment, both in the UK and EU, that is largely hostile to freedom and capitalism.