'Glenn Beck': Is U.S. Traveling Down 'Road to Serfdom'?

This is a rush transcript from "Glenn Beck," June 8, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GLENN BECK, HOST: Today, we're talking about the book "The Road to Serfdom." F.A. Hayek published it in the 1940s. And, you know, I don't have a warning label for it. But total government could lead to a loss of freedom. And that's what it should say right on the cover.

Hayek pointed out that total government needed propaganda and somebody to blame as a scapegoat — those people.

But the good news is we don't ever do that, right?


SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE NANCY PELOSI, D-CALIF.: The party is over. The era of golden parachute for high-flying Wall Street operators is over.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I refuse to let America go back to the culture of irresponsibility and greed that made it possible, back to an economy with soaring CEO salaries and shrinking middle-class incomes.

VICE PRESIDENT JOSEPH BIDEN: They are thinking the same old thing that got us here, greed.

OBAMA: I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of, you know, fat cat bankers on Wall Street.

I don't sit around just talking to experts because this is a college seminar. We talk to these folks because they potentially have the best answer so I know whose ass to kick.


BECK: I never heard a president say anything like that. And it's not the — it's not the "A" word that bothers me, it's justice. You're there to make sure that justice is applied, not to kick people's ass.

Thomas E. Woods Jr., he's a senior fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, author of the upcoming book "Nullification: How to Resist Federal Tyranny in the 21st Century."

We're talking — we're talking about "Road to Serfdom." I don't know what happened to copy, here it is, "Road to Serfdom" — when we're talking about propaganda, you got a find a bad guy first, right, you got to sell that.

THOMAS E. WOODS, JR., THE LUDWIG VON MISES INSTITUTE: Absolutely. In the Soviet Union, it's the saboteur, it's bad weather, it's conspirators. I mean, you see them in the book "Animal Farm." That's essential. And what helps also in our case is that American kids from the time they're in first grade are taught a narrative of American history in which the government is there, they're composed of wonderful selfless public servants.

The public sector is full of people who if they had their chance, they would employ you in the minds 100 hours a week at 2 cents a day. And we don't — certainly, don't want to go back to that. So, thank heavens for our wise overlords. And people buy — people believe this. Our people believe it.

BECK: So, what does he say in "Road to Serfdom" about greed, or about capitalism, or the free market system and being able to have sanity? Because that's what he is after: greedy people.

WOODS: If you look at the centrally planned economies, which is the target of his book — are we going to say those economies are not organized by greed? Except the greed is placed differently, this time, it's the greed of the bureaucrats, the apparatchiks. There's always a two-tier system. In this case —

BECK: The labor unions.

WOODS: The labor unions, but in a centrally planned economies, it was the people running the show. They got the good cars. They got the medical care. And everybody else, in effect, was a serf. So, you're going to say that system isn't run by greed?

BECK: How different — how different is that though? Let me ask the audience. I mean, who gets the good medical care? Now, under this new system that they have, who gets the best medical care?

AUDIENCE: Congress.

BECK: Congress.


BECK: Congress gets it. So, I mean, it's the same exact story.

But they've also — and you touched on it here, they also want to make everybody in Washington — and this is Woodrow Wilson 101 — the administrators have nothing to gain. So, they're good guys. That gets — that gives them the power to distribute wealth and to have welfare systems, which why does he — what is the "road to serfdom," what does it even mean?

WOODS: Well, when he talks about the "road to serfdom," what he's warning about is that people think that there is a way to centrally-plan an economy, or run a society, or engage in some sort of planning that doesn't involve methods that we would find utterly distasteful and barbaric. And that, in fact, what you think you're doing is bringing about prosperity for everybody.

What you're instead doing is moving us along a road that can lead to places nobody wants to go to all in the name of providing everybody with security. Just like a serf. A serf had security. He was going to be fed. Sure, he's stuck on the land. He can't choose his occupation. And some other person has an initial claim on his income, but he's not going to die.

BECK: Right.

WOODS: So, in exchange for that, you get — you get security.

BECK: And the reason why Europe didn't mind serfdom is because they have come out of slavery. Slavery — serfdom, we will view as slavery. Not hard slavery like early 20th century, early colonial America and rest of the world, not in chains, et cetera, et cetera, but serfdom was slavery-light. It was — you don't, you work, you do your own hours, whatever. You just give me the bushel of grain.

WOODS: Right.

BECK: And you can marry whoever you want so it's not slavery. But that's kind of the system we're creating here, isn't it?

WOODS: It absolutely is. And it's starting to come apart, especially as we see in Europe. A lot of these impossible promises that governments have made, all with supposedly good intentions are coming apart. In the meantime, the citizens have become so tethered to government they don't know how to live otherwise. So, now, we're going to start to see riots across Europe.

The possibility of people in their 20s and in their teens could have a decent life is being destroyed by systems that are going to require these kids, because of the aging of the population, to work until they're ready to drop dead. They will never be able to retire. And the system is going to collapse anyway.

And if anyone thinks that a few speeches delivered off a teleprompter is going to fix that, then the government's schools are worse than we thought.

BECK: Let me ask you this, because I cannot convince 80 percent of the country, 90 percent of the country, even people on my side, that there's no difference between the socialists of the Nazi regime and the socialists of the communist regime. Isn't he the first guy that said there's no difference here? There is no difference.

WOODS: He has a chapter on the book called "The Socialist Roots of Nazism." It's a very unfashionable thing to say because we all think that national socialism is about wearing funny hats and having a swastika. But he's getting to the root of what it is really about.

And what it's really about is a hatred of the old, classical liberal by which I mean free market order. That's what it is a hatred of. And that's why it's very easy for people to move from one party to the other, be a communist one day and Nazi the next. What you share in common is the common enemy. You hate the free market and you have to engage in some sort of planning.

And, of course, Hitler, it wasn't too difficult for him to find what his enemies would be.

BECK: See, here's the problem. You know, I was talking to somebody the other day, to understand the reaction of 1913, and giving us the Fed, you have to understand the collapse of 1908. To understand that one, you have to understand what was it? 1893.

I mean, free markets come up and they collapse. They come up and they collapse. It's a cycle. But that's what — that's how they get you. Because they say, we're not going to have that. Don't worry about that. We're going to take — that was the promise to the central bank — we're going to take all that risk out.

WOODS: And, yet, what's interesting, Glenn, is that what they always do is they create these problems and then they pose as the ones who are going to solve them. If you look at the period from 1873 to the time of the Fed, Canada is not actually having bank panic. So, how come in the U.S., we see them again and again? It's because of regulation it turns out — more regulation, less stability, believe it or not.

At the state level, many states impose unit banking laws, so that every bank can have only one office. Well, that obviously makes every bank extremely fragile and undiversified. So, when it came time for the Great Depression, 9,000 U.S. banks failed.

You know how many Canadian banks failed? Zero. And it's not because Canada had a central bank to rescue them, they didn't get their central bank until the mid-1930s. So, they give us a phony narrative and then they pose as the saviors and people go for this.

BECK: When we come back, I want to introduce you to man who risked jail just to read this book. I want you to introduce you to somebody who understands the loss of freedom. And can you think of a book that you would — can you even imagine yourself possibly going to jail to read a book? You'll meet him — next.




BECK: Tonight, I have a story that you must hear. You must ask yourself at the end of this hour, what is America's future? What are we facing? And where do we go from here? What is your role in that decision?

You probably have either heard or have said to somebody, yourself, "Oh, this book - it changed my life." Did it really? How much did you have vested in that book? How difficult was it for you to read?

My next guest, he knows about "The Road to Serfdom." First, you have to understand what he went through just to read the book - 1971, Soviet Union. If he was caught reading the "The Road to Serfdom" - if anybody was caught reading "The Road to Serfdom," he could go to jail.

You can find it at any library. You can go to the bookstore right now. You can go to Amazon, click, and get it. He would go to jail. The friend who gave him the book could get 12 years of hard labor for disseminating anti-socialist propaganda.

He read "The Road to Serfdom" and it changed his life. Years later he - I'll use this term. I know you're going to correct me - defected from the Soviet Union. His name is Yuri Maltsev. He is the professor of economics at Carthage College. Yes, somebody who grew up in the Soviet Union teaching economics. And he's better than all the clowns in Washington. He is also the editor of "Requiem for Marx." How are you, sir?


BECK: I have been looking forward to speaking with you today because you were actually in college when you read it. And you were allowed to read this book, but it was like one of those books that was kept under lock and key, right?

MALTSEV: Yes. Later, after I read the book, I changed my major to economic history and history of economic thought, so then they gave me permission to read under closed doors. And I would write kind of a pledge that I would never tell anybody about the book, which I'm breaking right now.

BECK: Well, he might be arrested by our own DOJ any day soon on. When you read it, what was it that connected with you?

MALTSEV: Well, it's amazing for me. It was kind of like developing a film. A lot of things that I was thinking about - because if you were born in the Soviet Union, raised in the Soviet Union, then, you can see a country which was really too big to fail - failed.

And it was not providing enough food, enough clothing, enough housing, enough anything for its people. And we were trying to figure out why. And definitely, we were looking for answers. And the answers were all there in this - in this -

BECK: Did you ever discuss them in - you could read it. But could you discuss it and say, "Hey, we're doing all these things. Maybe that is the problem"?

MALTSEV: Yes. Then, we would discuss it in (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Siberia in hard labor camp.

BECK: Right. Right.

MALTSEV: And then, I would discuss it only with people I trusted. Back in all socialist countries, usually people would have a group of people whom they trust, and then - otherwise it was impossible to survive. You were all the time very much aware that you could be reported.

BECK: My wife brought me to the mall this weekend, and that's always a great experience. Standing there with the dresses by the - you know, by the hangers. And she's in the other room and was just like, "No, I don't need any help. Nothing fits me in this dress size."

But - so I was standing there. And the people kept coming up to me. And what I found absolutely amazing is every person that came up to me in the mall that weekend, or this last weekend, was either from Cuba, or they were from former Soviet Union, your country.

And they were all coming up and saying the same thing, "You've got to keep going. Americans don't get it. They don't see it.” Can you explain what that even means?

MALTSEV: Absolutely, because that's the people who saw the devil in the eye. It's - I traveled quite a lot with my students to Cuba, because if you go to Cuba, the best inoculation against the socialism that you could ever have.

BECK: No, no. You didn't see the Michael Moore film. No, I’ve heard they have tremendous health care.

MALTSEV: It's disgusting. It's so disgusting. I get proper Soviet type. I mean, the "Sicko," you mean - movie?

BECK: Yes.

MALTSEV: Yes. It's - there's only one health care in Cuba. It's to swim to Miami right away. There's no other health care system. I've been to Cuba many times and I can attest to that.

BECK: So what is it that you see that the regular American doesn't see?

MALTSEV: Well, I think that people are taking liberty and freedom as granted. And that's why many of us - they think that it is maybe all the time here. And they don't see the symptoms of this awful disease which ruined the country I came from.

The Soviet Union, I can imagine, was a country of 11 time zones, of almost everything. And the country became dirt poor, completely devastated by its own government which murdered over 50 million people - of its own people.

BECK: Including -

MALTSEV: Including my own grandfather.

BECK: I know that our producer asked you because you just kind of glossed over that. And our producer said, "Wait, wait, wait. Can you go back to that?" And the notes that I read before I met you - you don't even know how he died or why they killed him, right?

MALTSEV: Yes. Well, in the family, there is a story that he was asked to build a dacha for Stalin. He was architect - was an architect. And he said, "I'll do it after I finish my current project." And that was already a death sentence at that time - at that time.

Stalin created, I think, the regime of random murders. And then, people - everybody was killed. If you kill people because they are anti- communist or because they belong to this race or that ethnicity, then people at least - some people can feel themselves and (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

Stalin was murdering everybody - everybody. So nobody could figure out how to change their behavior. That's why the scare - that scare is still in Russian people who elected a colonel of the KGB as their president.

BECK: I was reading - which is amazing.

MALTSEV: It is amazing.

BECK: I read diaries. I've been reading diaries. We're doing some specials and I'm reading them - diaries of people that were Jewish in Germany. And they said, "We didn't trust anyone. And now, afterwards, we still don't really trust anyone.” Once you lived in that kind of society for a while, in that country, afterwards you're still kind of - was he wrong? Is that right?

MALTSEV: Yes, absolutely.

BECK: America, we will come back in just a second. And we'll tell you a little bit more about talk about Hayek and "The Road to Serfdom." But as I sit here and look at a man who risked his life to read the book, read a book that - it may not change your life. You may even go - it may change your life.

But you have the opportunity to go online and grab something that he risked his life to read. Aren't you just a little curious on why somebody who is building a giant state government wouldn't want you to read it?

And aren't you just a little curious, if this is the first time you've ever heard of "The Road to Serfdom," why that is? Gosh, it seems like a pretty important book. Why don't we teach this everywhere?

Decide for yourself. Go online now and order it - "The Road to Serfdom." Back in just a second.


BECK: We're back. We're just talking about "The Road to Serfdom." Please read this book. Put this in your essential library. It's really what woke Reagan up and it makes so much sense on why centralized government is a really bad idea.

We're back with Thomas E. Woods, Jr. He is a fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute. And Yuri Maltsev - he is the professor of economics at Carthage College.

Tom, let me start - let me go back with you and just give the fundamentals, give three things in this that you’d think you pull out and say, this was radical thinking at the time. And it's still radical thinking because nobody is teaching it.

THOMAS E. WOODS, FELLOW, LUDWIG VON MISES INSTITUTE: Right, in terms of freedom versus the planned society. Well, one of them is he has a whole chapter called, "Why the Worst Get on Top." Why systems like these that promise to plan everything down to the last detail for you attract demagogues and worse.

BECK: Why?

WOODS: Well, for one thing, they are based on making promises that can't, in the long run, be fulfilled.

BECK: You mean like health care will actually save us money?

WOODS: Exactly. Or what we had in the United States where we've got $100 trillion of unfunded liabilities in terms of social security and Medicare for the future, which makes every household of four in the
hack(ph) on top of their existing taxes another $1.3 million.

So we've got the age of the negative millionaire we have now entered. A normal person doesn't make promises like that. A normal person thinks about the future -

BECK: Right.

WOODS: And doesn't - as I say, these people who are in charge of these systems have ruined the lives of the young generation. They're never going to be able to pay their way out of this.

BECK: Next point.

WOODS: Next point would be, it can't deliver. The planned society can't even deliver. It's bad enough you're in the gulag. You can't even get any toilet paper. They can't even deliver.

BECK: What was life like in the Soviet Union? I remember when I was a kid, we were scared to death of you, people. We were sure you were going to vaporize us.

MALTSEV: Right. But they didn't have anything. They didn't have toilet paper. Because if you are a great dictator, I mean, why should you think about toilet paper or mouth wash or condoms?



BECK: And the third thing that you pulled out?

WOODS: Let's see. What did I pull out? Oh, the third thing is, we don't all have to have the same plan, because I just did this over the break. We don't all have to have the same plan.

That is to say, with a central plan, everybody has to sort of agree to abide by the planner's priorities. But in a free society, my priorities are my own. I lead my own life. You lead your own life. And the market, through the price system, coordinates it all.

BECK: People don't understand this. Yuri, one of our producers - when did she graduate from college? Or when was she born? She was born in 1988. She worked with you today. And -

MALTSEV: Oh, Natasha.

BECK: She said - now that you've ratted her out, now she's going (UNINTELLIGIBLE). But she said, "What does 'defected from the Soviet Union' mean?" That's how disconnected - because we have nothing like it. I know what "defected" means. But somebody who was born in 1988 has no clue.

MALTSEV: That's right. That's right. And I think about that is why a show like this is very important.

BECK: Explain what "defected from the Soviet Union" means?

MALTSEV: Oh, to defect means you get away from your beloved motherland, which was never the case with me because I knew almost from day one what was happening because my grandfather was killed and father's life was ruined.

So it was easy for me to make this decision. But for many people, it was really because - because I defected in 1989, which was already perestroika. They ran out of bullets, as people would say. So they couldn't kill anybody.

But I was, for example, an exchange student in England in 1970 and I would never defect from there because my father would be sent to Siberia and my family would be thrown out of their apartment and lose their jobs and everything. So that's - it was a pretty tough society. And I see this - the other pictures behind you.

BECK: Yes.

MALTSEV: That was Hitler stuff - KGB. If read - you can also put socialism there. If read one of these individuals, you can go to Siberia. And for us, it was the best marketing, because if they hate somebody, that means he was a very nice person.

BECK: OK. And I'll tell you something. I can't tell you how many people say to me now, "Glenn, I don't know about your friends but I judge you by your enemies. I judge you by your enemies."

We're going to talk about these three people next week. And we're going to have a couple of things from the audience we're going to get to, next. Back in just a second.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And guess what this liberal will be all about? This liberal will be all about socialize - would be about basically taking over and the government running all of your companies.


BECK: It is one of the most amazing things I've ever seen on television. "Oh, crap. I said it out loud, didn't I?" We're talking about "The Road to Serfdom." We're back with Thomas E. Woods, Jr. He is a senior fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute. And Yuri Maltsev - he is a professor of economics at Carthage College.

You know, Yuri, we were talking in the break. And when I see that, I said to you, I feel like I'm - like you must have felt back in the Soviet Union with Pravda. Sometimes, you watch the news and you're like, "That didn't happen." And then you see things like that - I can't believe.

We're kind of in shock here, people who are awake because we're going down spooky roads. We don't have to end up in, you know, "The Road to Serfdom." It may not end there. But I mean, that's some spooky signals coming down the road.

What was it when you got to America that you were - that you were like, "Whoa! Wow!" Either good or bad?

MALTSEV: Yes. Well, the good people are very good. Definitely, it was delightful to meet people that I know.

BECK: Have you been outside New York? I'm just teasing.

MALTSEV: I lived in New York, in Corona, Queens.

BECK: Yes.

MALTSEV: But the disturbing thing is to see the symptoms of the same disease, which completely destroyed the country I came from, that the system that we are just traveling. We are accelerating on this road to serfdom - accelerating that way, and - to the point even that on the 6th of June, which was what - the day before yesterday.

On Sunday, a bust of Stalin was inaugurated in Bedford, Virginia in the National D-Day Memorial. And the idea was that he was part for our history.

BECK: Yes. But he's Stalin.


BECK: We've been debating that all day. We're going to talk a little bit about that tomorrow. It's Stalin for the love of Pete. I don't think you get a bust if you killed, how many people? Twenty million people?

MALTSEV: Fifty million. Fifty million people.

BECK: I don't think you get a bust.

MALTSEV: If were Hitler (UNINTELLIGIBLE) - people like Jeffrey Dahmer just looks like a kindergarten boy. I mean - and then, they would take argument that he is part of our history.

BECK: Yes.

MALTSEV: But there would not be D-Day without Hitler.

BECK: Let me ask you, Thomas, do you - when you read "The Road to Serfdom," is this the road we're on?

WOODS: Well, Hayek is thinking mainly of central planning of a kind that most people aren't openly calling for. But I think the argument -


BECK: We're talking about nationalizing the oil.

WOODS: Nationalizing and crony capitalism -

BECK: Yes.

WOODS: Whereby certain people get special privileges. They don't have to suffer the losses.

BECK: Right.

WOODS: That's a system that he would be warning about. So his diagnosis and his recommendations are valid for us today.

BECK: Number one recommendation from him, do you think?

WOODS: Oh, it would just be always err on the side of individual liberty and don't fall for propaganda to the contrary.

BECK: Please read this book, America. Please read this book. We're going to go to - is it David? Hi, David.

DAVID, AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yes. When it comes to the severe restrictions on "The Road to Serfdom" and the punitive consequences, did the United States government or an American agency take issue with this book and this kind of practice in the Soviet Union?

BECK: Oh, we took issue with the Soviet Union.

MALTSEV: Oh, no, no. We did. With the book -

BECK: With the book -

MALTSEV: Oh, no. Definitely, we didn't. No. And we -

BECK: But he was ostracized, was he not?

MALTSEV: He was ostracized here in the United States, in the academia. He couldn't get a paying job here. So it was the same as his mentor Ludwig von Mises.

BECK: And he won the Nobel Prize we might note.


BECK: They give those things out like candy. They give those to practically anybody.

MALTSEV: And amazingly enough, the book is dedicated to socialists of all parties, of all parties. So be believed that many people don't understand what socialism is.

BECK: Thank you. Thank you. Please, pick it up. "The Road to Serfdom." Make it part of your essential library. Back in just a minute.


BECK: America, you know, if you watch the show and you watch the bestseller list, this audience reads an awful lot. Don't let anybody tell you this audience is stupid.

And I tell you to read everything. And I tell you to read - and these are communists that wrote this. It's currently out. If you haven't read "Atlas Shrugged," you've got to "The Road to Serfdom."

The only way that we're going to fix our future is to understand the past. We have an incredible show on the fiction that morphed into reality next week. You don't miss it. From New York, good night, America.

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