Have you seen our new music video — “Serfdom USA”? I think you’ll like it!
The purpose of the video is to induce people to explore Austrian economics and libertarianism. We use Friedrich Hayek’s landmark book The Road to Serfdom to serve as an introduction.
People who are familiar with Austrian economics will understand the various concepts expressed in this 3 ½ minute video. Central planning, fiat (paper) money, a planned economy, a regulated economy. All these Austrian economic principles are there in the video.
But there’s more.
You will notice that while this is a fun video to watch, it definitely is not a namby-pamby presentation of the nature of government. Notice the young people in prison garb and in chains, rowing their ship like slaves in response to the orders and whip of the government bureaucrat. Notice the offer to surrender rights in return for solving economic crises. Notice the reference to Nazi Germany. Notice the hammer and sickle. Notice the ripping apart of the girl’s beach ball by the government bureaucrat.
They all represent the force and coercion that come with a planned, controlled, or regulated economy.
That is what the serfdom society is all about. That’s what Hayek was warning people about back in 1944, when he wrote The Road to Serfdom. That’s what libertarians and Austrian economists continue to tell people today.
The video begins with the temptation that people have in times of crisis to turn their problems over to a strong “leader.”
That’s what happened during the Great Depression. The American people reached out for a strong “leader” to solve their economic problems, which, ironically, had been caused by the federal government itself, and gave dictatorial powers to President Franklin Roosevelt.
FDR used those powers to nationalize people’s gold coins (which, under the Constitution, had been established as the official money of the American people), to establish Social Security, a socialist program that became a permanent part of America’s governmental structure, to enact the National Industrial Recovery Act, a fascist program that fortunately was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, to try to pack the Supreme Court with his judicial cronies, and much more.
The experience with FDR shows that once people relinquish dictatorial powers to their ruler, they end up losing their economic liberty, oftentimes permanently.
In fact, that’s also what happened in Nazi Germany, a point that is emphasized in the video. During the Great Depression, the German people did the same thing with Hitler as the American people did with Roosevelt — they traded their economic freedom to a strong “leader” in the hope of gaining economic security.
Hitler established a massive program of national socialism, including a strong military-industrial complex involving ever-increasing government spending, an enormous public works project known as the Autobahn, a highly controlled and regulated economy, a corporatist economic system that involved government-business partnerships, and, of course, public (i.e., government) schooling and Social Security, two government programs that had originated among German socialists.
For a comparison of the economic philosophy and policies of Roosevelt, Hitler, and Italy’s Benito Mussolini, see: Three New Deals: Reflections on Roosevelt’s America, Mussolini’s Italy, and Hitler’s Germany, 1933-1939 by Wolfgang Schivelbusch or simply read this review or this review of the book.
As “Serfdom USA” demonstrates, the result of all these controls and redistributive programs is the serfdom society, one in which the government becomes the master and the people become the servants or the serfs.
Welcome to Serfdom USA!
The average American — that is, the American who has been taught to believe that he lives in a free society and under a free-market economic system and who is convinced that FDR’s New Deal saved America’s free-enterprise system — will likely be befuddled by “Serfdom USA.” He won’t understand the concepts and the themes running through the video. He’ll say to himself: “What’s all this about Nazi Germany, planned economies, central planning, surrender of rights, chains, prison garb, hammers and sickles, fiat money, regulators, bureaucrats, and serfdom in American society? How is this video relevant to me, an American who is thankful that he’s free and ‘knows’ that he lives under a free enterprise economic system?”
But that’s the purpose of the video — to cause regular people to think about their economic lives and the ever-present economic crises under which they live. With faith in the power of ideas, our aim is to challenge people to think about, question, and explore how we have arrived at this point in our nation’s history, how we came to abandon America’s founding economic system, and how that abandonment has resulted in a serfdom society.
Thus, just like Johnny Appleseed, we hope you will share “Serfdom USA” with your family, friends, acquaintances, and mailing lists. Some of the seeds will undoubtedly fall on stony ground. But it’s possible that others will fall within fertile minds and germinate and cause people to explore the concepts of libertarianism and Austrian economics more deeply. As we have emphasized so many times, it is by spreading ideas on liberty that we turn things around, bring an end to serfdom in America, and restore a free-market system to our land.
A special thanks to the Richard E. Fox Charitable Foundation for making this video possible. A special thanks also to very talented libertarian Naomi Brockwell, who put this video together, stars in it, understands the nature of the serfdom society in which we live, and appreciates the importance of libertarianism and Austrian economics to the restoration of a free society to our land.