Are We On The Road to Serfdom?

A new article by economists Andrew Farrant and Edward McPhail argues that Hayek was wrong.  (I’m working on getting an ungated version).

So, is big government a stable equilibrium or, to harken back to what Zhou En-lai supposedly said about the French Revolution, is it “too early to tell”?

3 thoughts on “Are We On The Road to Serfdom?

  1. Are there any historical precedents for big governments achieving a stable equilibrium? I haven’t read on China, for instance, but some of the later Roman stuff I’ve read, e.g. under Constantine, seems to see the eventual creation of a fiat currency, a collapse of said currency, and a re-boot of the government. Being of Emperors, though, those governments weren’t dissolved – presumably the same happens under kings. Having shaken the bonds of hereditary leadership, the reboots can be more liberal today.

    1. I think there are a lot of examples. But here’s just one: the U.S. since the New Deal. That is 85 years of big government that has neither gone to serfdom nor tacked back substantially closer to a true liberal regime (though there have been some moves that have substantially increased freedom for certain populations).

      1. I’d ordinarily think of an equilibrium as a stable solution. If the United States are truly on the verge of a currency crisis, then 85 years and 90 years could be very different in macro terms. If you look at any unstable system zoomed in enough, it’ll look stable.

        There have certainly been common-law advances in the 20th century, but is living in the current United States really much different socioeconomically than feudal villeinage, with a few layers of abstraction and plenty of euphemisms? Obligations to the Lord, err, State, are in excess of half of one’s labor now, plus jury duty, plus military draft, plus educational obligation, and land titles are merely leased from the State in nearly all jurisdictions (estate in fee simple). You don’t need permission to leave the eState, but you do have to pay your way out of servitude, err, citizenship now, so some of the force has been substituted with monetary requirements (which are in turn backed by force).

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