Hayek’s warning holds resonance today in regard to war on terrorism
Those who choose to focus on the existence of weapons of mass destruction and the nationality of the 911 pilots fail to grasp the greater threat to liberty in America and, ultimately, on the entire planet.The words of F. A. Hayek’s “The Road to Serfdom” are no less relevant today than they were more than 50 years ago when the war over ideas involved the Axis dictatorships: “We know that we are fighting for freedom to shape our life according to our own ideas. That is a great deal, but not enough.”It is not enough to give us the firm beliefs which we need to resist an enemy who uses propaganda as one of his main weapons not only in the most blatant but also in the most subtle forms.”It is still more insufficient when we have to counter this propaganda among the people in the countries under his control and elsewhere, where the effect of this propaganda will not disappear with the defeat of the Axis powers …”It is a lamentable fact that the democracies in their dealings with the dictators before the war, not less than in their attempts at propaganda and in the discussion of their war aims, have shown an inner insecurity and uncertainty of aim …”The number of dangerous mistakes we have made before and since the outbreak of war because we do not understand the opponent with whom we are faced is appalling …”We shall never be successful in our dealings with the Germans until we understand the character and the growth of the ideas which now govern them.” Lord Acton, one of the greatest political thinkers of the 19th century acknowledged, “Few discoveries are more irritating than those which expose the pedigree of ideas.” The greatest tragedy imaginable in this endeavor to shape a future in accordance with high ideals, as Hayek warned, is to fail to expose through a deeper understanding of the situation, that we may have unwittingly produced the very opposite of what we have been striving for in our own society. Although the cost of confronting the enemy today is growing increasingly clear, the cost of failing to confront totalitarianism, particularly in National Socialist Germany, grew to a million men, women and children each month before Hayek could publish his classic work.
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