We Have Always Been at War with Eurasia! (Matthew Yglesias Gets Snookered by the Orwellian Right Department)
Matthew Yglesias gets snookered by the Orwellian right:
Matthew Yglesias: Serfdom Correction: It’s been pointed out to me by several friends that The Road to Serfdom doesn’t actually make the argument I had believed it made. My impression had been that it was a statement about the inevitable development of Soviet-style totalitarianism from certain trends toward social democracy in postwar Europe. It seems that a lot of people think this is what the book argues, but that it’s not right. Hayek himself wrote “it has frequently been alleged that I have contended that any movement in the direction of socialism is bound to lead to totalitarianism. Even though this danger exists, this is not what the book says.”
The Orwellian right cites the 1976 preface to The Road to Serfdom:
Hayek: 1976 Preface: It has frequently been alleged that I have contended that any movement in the direction of socialism is bound to lead to totalitarianism. Even though this danger exists, this is not what the book says...
The Orwellian right, however, takes the 1956 preface to The Road to Serfdom and throws it down the memory hole:
Hayek: 1956 Preface: Of course, six years of socialist government in England have not produced anything resembling a totalitarian state. But those who argue that this has disproved the thesis of The Road to Serfdom have really missed one of its main points: that "the most important change which extensive government control produces is a psychological change, an alteration in the character of the people." This is necessarily a slow affair... attitude[s] toward authority are as much the effect as the cause of... political institutions under which it lives.... [T]he change undergone... not merely under its Labour government but in the course of the much longer period during which it has been enjoying the blessings of a paternalistic welfare state, can hardly be mistaken.... Certainly German Social Democrats... never approached as closely to totalitarian planning as the British Labour government has done.... The most serious development is the growth of a measure of arbitrary administrative coercion and the progressive destruction of the cherished foundation of British liberty, the Rule of Law... [E]conomic planning under the Labour government [has] carried it to a point which makes it doubtful whether it can be said that the Rule of Law still prevails in Britain...
Hayek wrote the book in 1944. In 1956, Hayek thought that his book made the argument that the Orwellian right says it does not make. By 1976, however, history had been "revised."