#1186 – Dick Bernard: The Road to Serfdom

Wednesday’s e-mail brought a most interesting commentary by the English commentator George Monbiot on Fredick Hayek, Margaret Thatcher and “The Deep History Behind Trump’s Rise”. The column is well worth your time to read. I offer it and what follows as grist for conversation as we try to make sense out of November 8, 2016.
Most readers would recognize Margaret Thatcher; fewer, perhaps, Frederick Hayek, 1974 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economics.
I first learned about Hayek in the summer of 2003, when a Connecticut member of an education listserv, a corporate middle manager, and neocon policy supporter, recommended Hayek’s book, written about 1943, “The Road to Serfdom”. The Iraq War had begun not long before; the “Mission Accomplished” banner had already been hoisted; and in those days long before Facebook, YouTube or Twitter, I got the book and read it cover to cover.
Labor Day of 2003, thirteen years ago, I commented on what I had just read. You can read my comments (three pages) here: hayek-serfdom001. The comments speak for themselves. Note especially Hayek’s Group One, Group Two and Group Three.
To Jeff, who shared Monbiot’s column, I wrote in part as follows:
“My copy [of The Road to Serfdom] included an adoring forward written by Milton Friedman, who you might remember. I wrote a long response to my friend in Connecticut. He didn’t like the response….
I especially like Monbiot’s concluding comments.
I am led to repeat my favorite quote from WWII, by Hermann Goring, as he was nearing his time to die at Nuremberg (ultimately he committed suicide first). Goring was second only to Hitler in power in the Third Reich. I found it impossible to believe that the below quote attributed to him was real, until I read the entirety of Nuremberg Diary, and at p. 278 found the actual quote. Goring said this to Gustave Gilbert: “Why, of course the people don’t want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece?
Naturally, the common people don’t want war, neither in Russia, nor England, nor for that matter, Germany. That is understood, but after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simpler matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”

Quoted in the book Nuremberg Diary, p. 278, Gustave Gilbert, Farrar, Straus & Co., 1947. Gilbert was psychologist assigned to the Nazi prisoners on trial at Nuremberg.
I am reminded of another quote I saw at the entrance to Auschwitz-Birkenau 16 years ago: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana
Today’s Just Above Sunset talks more about mass communication in America: A Well Informed Public”
The Newspaper; Government by Twitter, by myself, August 3, 2016
The Pencil, compassion in politics, as described by Hubert Humphrey., written by myself, 2004.
* Agree or disagree with my observations, I think Trump is only the most recent in a long succession of leaders who have organizing figured out. Granted, the leadership is not positive, and it never lasts, but it does real damage.
Some personal thoughts on the future as I see it, perhaps in early December.
Happy Thanksgiving.

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