Here is a splendid novel by Henry Hazlitt, first published in 1951 and revised in 1966. The plot line explores the economic theories of capitalism and socialism.
It begins in a fully socialist society in which the new leader, who finds himself in that position only by accident, begins to rethink the economic basis of the system. He first begins to wonder whether the economy is doing well at all, and how they might discover this. This sets the leadership on a path to thinking about prices and calculation, and the very meaning of productivity.
Trading is introduced when the leadership can't see anything wrong with the idea of trading rationing tickets, and shortly markets appear, and everyone seems to be better off as a result.
So on it continues. Slowly, piece by piece, he dismantles central planning and replaces it with a market system. All the while, the characters engaged in a Socratic-style discussion about the implications of money, exchange, ownership, markets, entrepreneurship, and more.
Hazlitt was well equipped to be a fiction writer. He was literary editor of The Nation for 3 years and the successor to H.L. Mencken at the American Mercury.
This novel is an excellent introduction to the problems of economic systems, and can be a great benefit to young people who are curious about the meaning of economic analysis. It is, in fact, suitable for all ages. The Mises Institute is very pleased to sponsor this reprint.
Henry Stuart Hazlitt (November 28, 1894 – July 9, 1993) was a libertarian philosopher, an economist, and a journalist for various publications including The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, and Newsweek. He was the founding vice-president of the Foundation for Economic Education and an early editor of The Freeman magazine, an important libertarian publication. In 1946 Hazlitt wrote Economics in One Lesson, his seminal text on free market economics, which Ayn Rand referred to as doing a "...magnificent job of theoretical exposition." Hazlitt is credited with bringing his ideas and those of the so-called Austrian School to the American economics scene and his work has influenced the likes of economist Ludwig von Mises, novelist and essayist Ayn Rand, and 2008 Libertarian Party Presidential nominee and congressman, Ron Paul.
Hazlitt was a prolific writer, authoring 25 works in his lifetime.
Ludwig von Mises said at a dinner honoring Hazlitt: "In this age of the great struggle in favor of freedom and the social system in which men can live as free men, you are our leader. You have indefatigably fought against the step-by-step advance of the powers anxious to destroy everything that human civilization has created over a long period of centuries... You are the economic conscience of our country and of our nation."