The wonky irony of “The Road to Serfdom” 70 years on; can-do and climate change; and do you know the only 100% effective way of stopping recidivism?

The book, “The Road to Serfdom”, was written in the 1940s by Friedrich von Hayek. His thinking was that central planning, i.e. government control, of the economy inevitably leads to tyranny.  This was one of the major influences on Margaret Thatcher and remains a well-thumbed bible for many conservative thinkers and actors.  The events in the US, particularly in Madison, gave me cause to ponder.

The wonky ironies commence with how, without central control, with massive deregulation, deconstruction of the unions and global outsourcing we are approaching a situation in Europe and North America where there is the creation of an underclass.  There has been a widening of inequalities and shrinking of social protection.  This is creating an underclass that will not be bound to a feudal master as in the classic definition of a serf.  The underclass will be bound out of economic necessity to an employer who will hold both every lever of power and tool of negotiation.

The further wonky is that it is not socialism that is creating this situation. It is capitalism that is out of control and running amok with illimitable wealth and unsustainable resource use.  The tragedy is that the wishes of a balanced society are not that great and are paltry when perceived in the context of the attack budgets of the West and the BRICS countries.

Added 25 Aug 2012. A further irony r.e. Hayek (and many of my learned colleagues who still quote him) is that his driving tenet – that socialism would create serfdom – is flawed. None of the socially governed societies of the world have produced serfdom in the last 70 years.  The fact that the right, or the neo-liberals, can claim this is outcome is becoming likely but no doubt the irony will be lost on them.

Moving on from resource use towards climate change, there is a huge wonky within government.  At most national levels, aside from a debates on carbon trading/taxing it is, pretty much, business as usual.  The wonky comes in further down the line, closer to the people that the representative nominees (the politicians) should be representing.  It is here that the people are trying to make some changes, at the grass roots level.  Have a listen to this 30 minute slot about local adaption to climate change in Australia.

The next wonky irony is already well known; that of the bankers, having been re-bankrolled at our expense, demanding the cuts in public spending that will further stifle the development of society.  I am not sure of the figures, however every dollar removed from the education and health budgets of a state will have ramifications down the line for that state. And education, for better or for worse, is, for the majority, generally considered to be beneficial. It is especially beneficial in prisons.

And as the wealth gap increases, the desire to punish gets stronger.  This leads to the “rage to punish” as seen in the US now (and mentioned in my Peirce posts).  And brings me on to the question in the title: do you know the only 100% effective way of stopping re-offending, of stopping recidivism?

The answer it seems is EDUCATION.  If you allow the taking of further/higher education in gaols then when the prisoner leaves gaol with a degree, with a fostered self-recogntion, he/she takes a different onward path that does not include returning to gaol. For more information on this, and murder, have a 30 minute listen to All in The Mind.

For me, I had no choice about which world, culture or society I was born into, so I am stuck with this planet, this culture and this society.  There is no escape.  So I would rather entertain the idea of making society, the place where I live, a more friendly, cohesive place.  For some reason, expanding the gap between the haves and have-nots does not seem like a sensible idea.  This is liable to make for conflict.

And if you do not understand the meaning of gap, in its many contexts, there are a number of gaps to be seen at this site.  Have a look around, how much better off would that conflict be if kids and teachers could actually get to school – I call it intellectual genocide.

So we are approaching serfdom from a different direction, and with the chaos of climactically changing planet, the impact may be more than was felt in the lead up to the Soviet Revolution.

Have a great weekend, salaams Slim

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