2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible Arrogance
Being a businessman with 2 degrees in economics, the logic and "rightness" of free market economics seems intuitive to me, so I was always confused as to why anyone could believe that socialism or communism, which have destroyed so many lives and so much wealth, is superior to capitalism. Hayek does a superb job in explaining the thought process of...
Published on Oct. 27 1998
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a classic nonetheless
Hayek is without a question one of this century's greatest thikers. The book is a valuable tutor in the shortcomings of socialist theory.
To the reviewer from New York attacking the writing style of the Italian reviewer: why don't you try writing your review in Italian for all of us to see your multilingual brilliance. Also, I must admit that your "lucid"...
Published on July 28 1999
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible Arrogance,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism (Paperback)Being a businessman with 2 degrees in economics, the logic and "rightness" of free market economics seems intuitive to me, so I was always confused as to why anyone could believe that socialism or communism, which have destroyed so many lives and so much wealth, is superior to capitalism. Hayek does a superb job in explaining the thought process of socialist thinkers, and then demonstrating why they are wrong. I'm simply amazed at the arrogance, and naivity of socialist thinkers. They clearly don't understand the complexity of the market, or else they never would believe that they could build a top down hierarchical structure superior to the free market. Unfortunately, Hayek is preaching to the choir, because the people who read this book will already be committed, at least on some level, to capitalism, and libertarianism.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great introduction to a great thinker,
This review is from: The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism (Paperback)Hayek was arguably the major intellectual force of the 20th century. This is a great way to get into his writing. Hayek was in the tradition of von Mises, Menger and Cannan - a scholar of immense proportions - prodigious in his mastery of knowledge but quite unassuming about his ultimate knowledge. This is focussed on a particular set of issues. Its points are well stated - i.e. THE fundamental error of socialism is that any person or group of persons can understand the complexities of human interaction and thereby control it. Once conquered you might like to move on to either the Constitution of Liberty or one of his other great works. Hayek is also accessible on many places in the web. His speech to the London Economic Club and one on the Uses of Knowledge in Society are excellent.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars To Christopher Wright aka "Redtwister",
This review is from: The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism (Paperback)You write : "Capital and its supporters have been responsible for NEARLY EVERY war in the 20th century"
This sentence alone identifies you as a historically illiterate, gibbering fool who should have his crayons taken away. Especially his red ones.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Why Socialism Fails,
This review is from: The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism (Paperback)Friedrich von Hayek (1899-1992) was one of the twentieth century's seminal thinkers. He was an economist in the Austrian tradition and studied under Ludwig von Mises. (Although he is often grouped with von Mises, he was not the consistent libertarian that von Mises was.) THE FATAL CONCEIT was Hayek's final work, and was put together from a manuscript by the late W. W. Bartley, III (who is named as "editor" of the work.) This book is timely in that it was written at the tail end of the communist age and provided Hayek with an opportunity to reflect on the failure the socialist revolution.
As Hayek shows, the central problem with socialism is that it based on the false idea of "constructive rationalism," the belief that man can order society based purely on reason (and therefore planning). However, social progress is based in large part on tradition, or -- as Hayek describes it -- "between instinct and reason." This progress is inherently evolutionary and proceeds by slow steps. As such it integrates all the knowledge that is dispersed in society.
The theory presented in this book is a mix of liberalism and conservatism. In many ways it is the application of evolutionary theory to social though. As he daringly says: "morals, including, especially, our institutions of property, freedom and justice, are not a creation of man's reason but a distinct endowment conferred upon him by cultural evolution." This certainly won't endear him to either religious thinkers or Randian libertarians.
Hayek proceeds to discuss the benefits of private property, free enterprise and trade from this evolutionary perspective and shows socialized planning is inevitable destructive of social progress.
Hayek provides an excellent refutation of the central errors of socialism. The reader might want to compare his approach with that of von Mises in THE ANTI-CAPITALISTIC MENTALITY and PLANNED CHAOS, which covers similar territory from a somewhat different approach.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism (The Collected Wo,
This review is from: The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism (Paperback)First volume in the series, i.e.,The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism (The Collected Works of F.A. Hayek, Vol 1)
by Friedrich A. Hayek, W. W. Bartley (Editor) , in which Hayek passionately sums up his lifelong battle with socialism. This controversial manifesto argues that socialism, from its origins, has been mistaken on scientific, factual, and logical grounds, and its repeated failures are the direct outcome of these errors.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant but flawed jewel,
This review is from: The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism (Paperback)This book signals a broadening of the classical liberal agenda into a range of cultural, historical and anthropological interests, beyond its traditional strongholds in philosophy and economics.
The book was the first volume of a major publishing program at the University of Chicago Press. The ten-year plan was to bring out a uniform set of twenty or more volumes of Hayek's collected works. The senior editor for the venture was William W Bartley who died shortly after this book appeared.
The main concern of the book is the continuing appeal of socialism among Western intellectuals despite its theoretical shortcomings and its failure in practice. Hayek defines the basic problem of the book as 'how does our morality emerge, and what implications may its mode of coming into being have for our economic and political life'.
Central to his case is the notion of an extended order of civilisation that is held together by the largely unconscious influence of traditional moral codes and practices. He has deployed the 'extended moral order' concept in his critique of socialists and central planners and their 'constructivist rationalism'. He proceeds by way of a reconstruction of Western history to explain the function of a number of moral rules, especially those that regulate dealings in private property, which he calls "several property". Other important rules concern honesty, contracts, exchange, trade and privacy. He undertakes some "conjectural history" to chart the origins of liberty, property and justice and the linked evolution of markets and civilisation.
With his conjectural history in place, Hayek then describes the revolt of the modern socialists against the discipline (and the opportunities) of the extended order. This revolt has two bases; one is instinctive or 'atavistic', the other is a perversion of reason that Hayek calls 'constructivist rationalism'. He claims that the instinctive resistance to the extended order of capitalism arises from the conflict between the "old" and "new" moral codes. However, against this essentially psychological thesis it is more likely that the attraction of socialism comes from the conjunction of several strands of thought. One of these is the tradition of utopian social thought which can be traced from Plato. Second is the tradition of helping the weak, which in the West is essentially the moral legacy of Christianity. Third, a cluster of ideas in political economy including the utopianism and centralism noted above, combined with the egalitarian aim of shifting wealth from the haves to the have-nots (inspired partly by the Christian ethos of helping the poor).
While the ideas of the first and third kind are well worthy of criticism the tradition of helping the weak is important and valuable, and needs to be sustained. Unfortunately there has been a growing movement in modern times to recruit the state to perform this function, in place of private charity. Therefore it is plausible to argue, against Hayek, that the moral force of socialism derives not from primitive emotional sources but from the fact that it recruits the power of Christian charity with its drive to help the poor and the weak. The tragedy of socialism is that the means do not achieve the objective.
Hayek's critique of reason is distinctly ambiguous and it is no more satisfactory than his psychological critique of socialism. His target is "constructivist rationalism", expressed in the view that blueprints for social engineering can be derived from concepts of society and its destination which form by a rational process in the minds of individuals or members of elite groups. An earlier critique of this stance occurs in "The errors of constructivism", a 1970 paper reprinted in his "New Studies in Philosophy, Politics, Economics and the History of Ideas". At this stage in his thinking the individual still retained a high degree of autonomy and the critical function assigned to human reason was compatible with an evolutionary approach that recognized the significance of tradition.
This view of the critical role of reason is restated very briefly in "The Fatal Conceit", but so briefly and adjacent to so much argument in favour of the benefits of submitting to tradition that the impression is one of confusion. This is unfortunate because a very important (and reasonable) conception of the function of moral and political philosophy emerges from Hayek's work, and from that of Popper in "The Open Society and its Enemies". This is the view that the task of moral and political philosophers is to discover, formulate and critically probe the implications of those principles which function as the "rules of the game" in social life.
This approach would supplement the methods of conceptual analysis and crude 'positivist' empirical description of social and political systems. It would have the theoretical advantage of linking disciplines and the practical merit of being continually in touch with problems and their possible solutions. This is consistent with the thrust of Hayek's previous work. In view of the dubious critique of the 'atavistic' roots of socialism and the ambiguous critique of reason, "The Fatal Conceit" is a brilliant but flawed jewel.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Profound Analysis Of Economic Thought,
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This review is from: The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism (Paperback)I really enjoyed The Road To Serfdom, and therefore decided to read The Fatal Conceit. It is hard to find the words to describe how incredibly deep and insightful, Hayek goes into explaining the economic process. It seems almost every page contained enough information, to expand into an entire book.
Hayek literally included Stone Age and medieval social traditions, to help explain modern economics. He feels social customs, laws, morals, and free market economics, have naturally evolved, and therefore produced our modern society. These complex systems can not be fully understood by modern thinkers. They are too vast and complicated, to be managed by central planners. Yet this is where the problems start. Intellectuals decide they are smarter then an entire economic system, and make changes to procedures. The results are very harmful.
This book was absolutely amazing! Enough said.
5.0 out of 5 stars This Book Will Fake You Out,
This review is from: The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism (Paperback)The Fatal Conceit is not, as it masquerades to be, a book about government, but rather a book about the human mind. It pleads with the reader to understand that there are structures more complex than the human mind, of which the human mind is a less complex sub-structure, and which more-complex super-structure may therefore be impossible for the less-complex sub-structure to understand or even witness. Structures which are products of the human mind are, of course, less complex than the minds that created them, and therefore are far less complex still, than the wonderful super-structures composed of many human minds interacting unconsciously. Hayek simply implores those of you who can't see the garden for the flowers to at least try to avoid stepping all over it -- even though your mind is incapable of appreciating its beauty, and you are doomed to write bitter, scathing reviews, proving for the rest of us how you will continue to miss the point completely. The best thing you unbelievers can do to appreciate Hayek is go read "Horton Hears A Who" by Dr. Seuss, and understand that for 50 years, Hayek was Horton.
5.0 out of 5 stars What a wonderful book!,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism (Paperback)It is truly amazing, the breadth of this man's scholarship. The view he espouses of humanity is indeed profound, that, human societies are of human action, not of human design. To accept the magnitude of such a view and comprehend its sweep is truly challenging. His critique of collectivism, socialism (as a collective / centralised setup) is one of the best I have read. A must read for all those who wish to expand their understanding of human societies.
5.0 out of 5 stars Phenomenal in any language,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism (Paperback)This book is phenomenal, and is as relevant now as it ever was. This is for the benefit of my friend artoa at IBM, who would like to see my multilingual talent:
Hayek è, senza un dubbio, il filosofo politico principale del ventesimo secolo. Questo volume notevole sostiene che il socialism è essentialy difettoso; cioè il socialism è inerentemente erroneo nei relativi presupposti e perfino per i motivi logici. L' incubo sovietico da parte, che ha guastato intellettuali occidentali gradisce dire non è "socialism allineare," Hayek sostiene che tutto il socialism è difettoso, poichè non può compire che cosa il mercato presentato spontaneoulsy può fare. Ciò è, soprattutto, distribuisce le informazioni in modo che la somma delle informazioni di ogni individuo lontano eccedi quella affatto dell' individuo. Di conseguenza, la gente può competere, pacificamente ed il commercio con altri quale possano vedere o persino non conoscere mai esiste (mercato stupefacente!). Inoltre, il mercato permette che gli individui perseguano che cosa desiderano, che cosa tutto lo statist progettare le dirige fare e così che rispetta la libertà individuale. Hayek "non odia" il socialism, ma sostiene che è un tentativo arrogante ed overzealous ratirationally di riorganizzare la società, indipendentemente dalle tradizioni e dalle istituzioni. Quindi, Hayek è altamente critico di quelli che non hanno perizia nell' economia (per esempio, Einstein, Monod) ma tuttavia vuole il socialism a causa delle relativi spiegazioni e programmi razionali e animistic.
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The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism by F. A. Hayek (Paperback - Oct. 4 1991)
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