If you’re a fan of F.A. Hayek’s classic The Road to Serfdom, you might enjoy a lecture next week by UNC-Greensboro economics professor Bruce Caldwell. Caldwell edited the most recent edition of Hayek’s 1944 book-length warning about the dangers of collectivism. 

In his introduction, Caldwell notes that Hayek was trying to thwart the growing confidence among the elites of his day that government planning would solve the world’s problems.

For them, planning itself was … a panacea. It was this vague but widespread sentiment for which The Road to Serfdom was meant to be an antidote. Hayek was trying to show his readers that planning, everyone’s favorite remedy for the ills of the world, might sound good in theory, but would not work in practice (or, at least, not unless the western democracies were prepared to accept severe constraints on personal liberty of the sort on display in the systems against which they currently were fighting.)

Caldwell uses this citation in addressing one of the key criticisms of The Road to Serfdom: the complaint that Hayek dismisses without adequate discussion the concept of market socialism. “He felt that market socialism was only a theoretical dream, and that the details of the argument against it would be out of place in a general book.”

If you’d like to learn more, Caldwell will speak 4:30 p.m. Wednesday in 1120 Nelson Hall at N.C. State University. The student-run Society for Politics, Economics, and the Law is sponsoring Caldwell’s lecture.