This is what Princeton is turning out these days? Good God.

Newsweek Intern Attempts to Describe Hayek’s Road to Serfdom: Massive FAIL

Posted on | June 17, 2010 | 1 Comment

Thanks to Kathy Shaidle for calling attention to this sophomoric effort byPrinceton senior Isia Jasiewicz:

On June 8, Beck devoted an entire episode of his talk show on Fox News to The Road to Serfdom, a work of political theory written in the immediate aftermath of World War II by Friedrich von Hayek, an Austrian émigré to the U.K. and the 1974 recipient of the Nobel Prize in economics . . .
The Road to Serfdom is a treatise on libertarianism, well-known only in academic circles or among political theory wonks stalwart enough to wade through the 60-page introduction and chapters on “Planning and the Rule of Law” and “The Prospects of International Order.”


Just a few points:

  • The term “libertarian” in its present meaning was not commonly used until the 1970s.
  • Far from being known only to “wonks,” The Road to Serfdom was a best-seller in 1944 and ‘45, going through multiple printings and was originally popularized through a condensed version published by Reader’s Digest.
  • It was not “a work of political theory,” but an attempt to explain the rise of Nazism and fascism — 1944? hint, hint — as one consequence of the prevalence of socialist ideas. It was a very practical book, warning leaders in England and America that the tendency toward the “planned economy” could produce similar results even in Western democracies.
  • The book obviously wasn’t written in “aftermath of World War II,” but during the war.
  • As to being “stalwart enough to wade through the 60-page introduction,” my own copy (50th anniversary edition, 1994) includes an 11-page introduction by Milton Friedman and a couple of prefaces to previous editions. The most interesting chapters, to my mind, are Chapter 8 (“Who, Whom?”), Chapter 10 (“Why the Worst Get on Top”) and especially Chapter 12 (“The Socialist Roots of Nazism”), which has never ceased to provoke howls from the Left, who refuse to admit that National Socialism was socialism at all.

Next assignment for Isia Jasiewicz? “The Bible, a theological treatise well-known only in religious circles or among clergy stalwart enough to wade through several pages of ’begats’ and the books of Numbers and Deuteronomy.”

ADDENDUM: Whatever happened to young journalists learning their craft as reporters before trying their hand at punditry or criticicsm? I suppose it would be slumming for a Princeton grad to take a job as a staff writer for a newspaper, covering school-board meetings and such. But am I the only reader who resents be lectured to by 22-year-olds? I don’t care what your SAT score was, sweetheart. You’re not that precocious.

Just to add another kick to the ass of this idiot young lady, I managed to discover, and read Road to Serfdom all by myself when I was a freshman at a less regarded college than Princeton. This fatuous idiot was presumably too busy studying feminist tracts to discover von Hayek, which is her loss – but to then skim the book and dismiss it reveals her to be an uneducated fool – I wonder whether her parents can demand a refund?


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10 responses to “This is what Princeton is turning out these days? Good God.

  1. Pingback: NEWSWEEK on Beck and the Hayek boom | Taking Hayek Seriously

  2. Anonymous

    Unemployment rates among lib arts clowns from “elite” colleges are well-deserved and show some efficiency in our economy

    Last competent Princeton alum of note is arguably Jeff Bezos, IIRC an Electrical Engineering summa cum laude, before doing a hedge fund stint w/DE Shaw (a Stanford Computer Science PhD who made billions from his quant HF), making a few bucks as a HF worker bee and then making billions from founding Amazon

  3. out looking in

    perhaps that will teach her which entry on Google she chooses to plagiarize

  4. HG

    I agree the phrase “immediate aftermath of World War II” in the Newsweek article is sloppy, and factually incorrect. So the woman is an idiot? And Princeton’s education is worthless?

    I actually don’t find her commentary on either the Glenn Beck book or Road to Serfdom particularly biased. My guess is that this woman is pretty smart. Journalism is pretty dumbed down, and this breezy format seems to be part of that, but at least Newsweek (and this reporter) have chosen to highlight that the “Glenn Beck” phenomenon contains a hard core of real ideas. That is better treatment than some have provided. One of the comments above accuses the Newsweek writer of plagiarism, but I don’t see it. As for Princeton and the Ivy League, I think a fair examination would find that the influence of the Left has waned a lot. All this right wing bashing of the Ivy League is starting to be out of date.

    • HG, she never read the book! It’s obvious she didn’t. And I don’t watch (listen to?) Glenn Beck, but for a Princetonian to get out of there without reading Hayek is ridiculous. Not for a physics major, perhaps, but this girl wants to be a journalist.

  5. “Not for a physics major, perhaps, but this girl wants to be a journalist.”

    What would like to wager that the Physics major probably did read it?

  6. HG

    I tend to agree with you that it would be ideal for an American educated at Princeton to have read Hayek, or alternatively Friedman or even Ayn Rand (probably least desirable). Even Solzenitzen might do. Another more narrative choice would be “Age of Delirium: The Decline & Fall of the Soviet Union” (Satter). Adam Smith would be more basic, and without Smith you are skipping ahead.

    However, I think you are nitpicking about a recent thinker (Hayek) whose work has not been proven to have lasting power. The larger problem is that it seems completely possible a student could graduate from Greenwich High School and Princeton without having read more than a very few of the basic works of Western Civilization like The Iliad, Plato, Aristotle, The Bible, The Koran, Augustine, Aquinas, Machiavelli, Luther, Calvin, Descartes, Hobbes, Locke, Hume, Kant, The Declaration of Independence and at least parts of the Federalist Papers, Robespierre, Burke, Burke, de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, Marx, Darwin and Nietzsche. Adding Foucault (I have not read) and one of the “commercial freedom” thinkers (Friedman, Hayek, Rand) as well as some philosophers I probably don’t know would bring a student into the last 100 years. All of this should be accomplished during high school, even if it is done in a relatively superficial form.

    As it stands, you might be lucky if a Greenwich High senior has been mandated to read 4-5 of the above with much of the rest of his time spent on learning things not much better than the dates for the War of the Roses. Off to Princeton, the lucky Greenwich grad will–unless she is very organized–at best be exposed to some of the above in an incoherent, non-sequential way and will miss huge swaths of it. You now have a smart, haphazardly educated person in the top tier of society–someone who could wind up editor of the New York Times (or the Washington Times–this is a bipartisan problem) or in the Senate, who has no historical perspective on the fundamental ideas of our society.

    There are a few exceptions: University of Chicago, many of the Catholic Universities, Columbia (where Obama went) and St Johns College Annapolis where you cannot escape without reading these things. So to paraphrase Sen Bullworth, it is not so much that education in America is full of Left wing ideas, it is just that it is not very good.

    • In fact, HG I managed to read all those authors as a mostly self-taught kid, first at high school and then at two non-Ivy colleges, but I am dismayed at what my own kids “learned” at GHS two decades later. We’ll pay for this dumbing down.

  7. HG

    Yes, I think unfortunately you are the exception.

  8. kelmoy

    Locke, HG, you forgot Locke

    excellent list, by the way, and very much a bipartisan issue

    one thing studying physics can make clear, that should be of value to other disciplines or arts, is that the happenings of the world are not a series of independent points but instead a set of data which can be used to anticipate a trajectory

    by which I mean, I agree with you, the way we thought “then” is influencing present and future thoughts

    but I was really trying to find out if I can still show my daughter the fountain at the Woodrow Wilson School