The Right’s Road to Serfdom

An illuminating critique of the politics of the American Right and an informed discussion of the American ideal of liberty

Some political commentators have started to say that the American Right acts on its id, not on its ego of “principled” conservatism. But what does this mean? In The Right’s Road to Serfdom, first-time author Christopher F. Arndt unpacks the riddle. The conservatism that drives the American Right today prizes strong, authoritarian leaders who promise get-tough plans to vanquish problems such as immigration, terrorism, and middle-class stagnation. This focus on temperament rather than on individual liberty, pluralism, and free expression runs counter to the political philosophy of freedom that many conservatives believe they espouse. With the aid of F. A. Hayek, a surprising conservative critic, Arndt reveals four qualities that animate the American Right. These characteristics, which tend against political freedom, are often misunderstood and promoted as political freedom. Arndt calls the promotion of this misconception the “freedom fraud.” He offers a Rosetta Stone for the American Right, a valuable guide to contemporary conservative actions and a clear explanation of how the “Party of Liberty” ended up with Donald Trump as its standardbearer in 2016.

PRAISE

“This short, thoughtful book is a great contribution to our understanding of the American ideal of Liberty, how that ideal is perverted by powerful special interests to let their influence creep in, and how and where a healthy role for government is required for true political freedom.” —Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

“At least for environmentalists, the odd thing about conservatives in recent decades has been their lack of interest in conservation, their willingness to let the physical world change in radical ways. This insightful and interesting book helps explain that conundrum.” —Bill McKibben, author of Earth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet

“Arndt presents a fascinating and extremely timely discussion of political freedom, the American Right, and our politics at large. Increasingly, the priorities of the American Right are at odds with the very freedom they claim to advocate. This scholarly, yet readable book bares the secret hypocrisy that’s sadly co-opted the Right and polluted political discourse.” —Congressman Jared Polis, CO-2nd District