In his latest work, The New Road to Serfdom, British author and politician Daniel Hannan expounds on F.A. Hayek’s warning that centralized power leads inevitably to statism, despotism, and the loss of individual liberty. As a leading conservative voice in American politics today, Hannan became an overnight sensation in 2009 when he courageously and openly criticized Prime Minister Gordon Brown on the floor of the European Parliament. The YouTube video, which captures his growing abhorrence for unchecked bureaucratic authority and unprecedented public sector growth, became a clarion call on both sides of the Atlantic to cut entitlement programs and stop the centralization of governmental power.
His book, however, does not focus on the deficiencies of European governance as much as on the essential greatness of the United States. Hannon argues that the structures of America’s government – and the ratification of the Constitution – are the two reasons why America was able to usher in nearly three centuries of unprecedented prosperity. But recently, since 2009, these principles have been fundamentally and egregiously undermined by the misguided policies of the current administration.
He prefaces his thesis, moreover, with the premise that America is distinct from every other nation in world history. Almost every individual since the dawn of man, he asserts, stretching from Asia to Western Europe, was born into civilizations they did not choose. These men and women, he argues, grew up in places where they were defined by their territory, ethnicity and language. The United States, by contrast, was unique in the sense that it was founded upon a set of principles. In other words, to become an American was never incidental or by accident, but was a conscious decision made by generations of individuals and their posterity. As Hannan writes, “Allegiance to the United States means allegiance to its foundational texts and the principles inherent therein. It means loyalty to the republican ideal.”