The Road to Serfdom is a book written by the Austrian-born economist and philosopher Friedrich von Hayek (1899–1992) between 1940–1943, in which he ”warned of the danger of tyranny that inevitably results from government control of economic decision-making through central planning,” and in which he argues that the abandonment of individualism, liberalism, and freedom inevitably leads to socialist or fascist oppression and tyranny and the serfdom of the individual. Significantly, Hayek challenged the general view among British academics that fascism was a capitalist reaction against socialism, instead arguing that fascism and socialism had common roots in central economic planning and the power of the state over the individual.
The Road to Serfdom is among the most influential and popular expositions of market libertarianism and remains a popular and influential work in contemporary discourse, selling over two million copies, and remaining a best-seller.
The Road to Serfdom was to be the popular edition of the second volume of Hayek’s treatise entitled “The Abuse and Decline of Reason,” and the title was inspired by the writings of the 19th century French classical liberal thinker Alexis de Tocqueville on the “road to servitude.” The book was first published in Britain by Routledge in March 1944, during World War II, and was quite popular, leading Hayek to call it “that unobtainable book,” also due in part to wartime paper rationing. It was published in the United States by the University of Chicago Press in September 1944 and achieved great popularity. At the arrangement of editor Max Eastman, the American magazine Reader’s Digest published an abridged version in April 1945, enabling The Road to Serfdom to reach a wider popular audience beyond academics.