Jennifer Schuessler of the New York Times blogs about the recent resurgence in Hayekian interest:
As I describe in an essay in this Sunday’s Book Review, “The Road to Serfdom,” published to modest sales and respectful debate in Britain, became a huge hit and a political lightning rod in America after Max Eastman, the leftwing radical turned staunch anti-Communist, ran a condensed version of the book as the lead article in Readers Digest in 1945. Eastman’s condensation went on to sell nearly a million copies.
For those who found even that crib sheet a bit taxing, a cartoon version appeared in Look magazine soon after. Later distributed as a pamphlet by General Motors, it showed the slide from well-intentioned bureaucratic planning to totalitarianism in a mere 18 black-and-white panels. Once the planners take over, “if you’re fired from your job, it’s apt to be by a firing squad,” the final caption intones. “Thus ends the road to serfdom!”
Today, as the left and right duke it out over federal bailouts and health care reform, Hayek is having another pop culture moment, and not just thanks to Beck. “Fear the Boom And Bust,” a rap video showing Hayek doing battle with John Maynard Keynes, has gone viral on YouTube. A Hayek vs. Hayek scorecard keeps tabs on Friedrich and his Mexican non-relative, Salma. And those whose sartorial tastes run more to board shorts than post-Hapsburg mustaches can find the libertarianism of the waves in this video of “Serfin’ USA,” by the economics blogger Alexander Volokh. (Full lyrics here.)
Alas, I couldn’t find any sign of an illustrated “Road to Smurfdom,” but surely it’s coming.