Which Economy Is (or Was) More Totalitarian?

The U.S. today, or Nazi Germany in the 1930? In his famous classic, The Road to Serfdom, Nobel laureate Austrian School economist F.A. Hayek wrote that by the early 1930s the Nazi government directly controlled about 53 percent of German GDP, but its pervasive regulation of almost all economic activity meant that it effectively controlled the entire economic life of the nation. In this article I argued that, according to Hayek’s criteria of “totalitarian control,” it would be hard to argue against the proposition that the U.S. economy of today is even more heavily regulated, regimented, and controlled by the state than Nazi Germany was in the 1930s.

This is one of the topics that will be discussed in my Mises Academy online course on The Road to Serfdom, which begins next Wednesday evening (June 13). There will be five evening online classes devoted to an intensive discussion of Hayek’s most famous book, along with some complementary readings that I have included on the class syllabus. The usual format is for a 45–60 minute lecture, followed by an equal amount of time for Q&A. The lectures/classes are archived, so students need not participate in the live lectures, although of course you would get much more out of the course if you did. The cost of the course is $59. Students are given certificates of completion by the Mises Institute, and there will be quizzes for those students who wish to be graded.


8:06 am on June 5, 2012