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The Fatal Conceit (Cloth): 1 (Collected Works of F.A. Hayek) Hardcover – 1 Dec 1988

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 194 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; University of Chicago Press Ed edition (1 Dec. 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226320685
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226320687
  • Product Dimensions: 23.7 x 16 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,324,288 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

From the Back Cover

Adopting an economic and evolutionary approach throughout, Hayak examines the nature, origin, selection and development of the differing moralities of socialism and the market order; he recounts the extraordinary powers that 'the extended order' of the market, as he calls it, bestows on mankind, constituting and enabling the development of civilization. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

F. A. Hayek (1899-1992), recipient of the Medal of Freedom in 1991 and co-winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics in 1974, was a pioneer in monetary theoryand a leading proponent of classical liberalism in the twentieth century. He taught at the University of London, the University of Chicago, and the University of Freiburg."

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I have enormous respect for Hayek because he has an interesting methodological take on economics and because he supports evolutionary methods in economics. First, he takes a methodological position opposing the position taken by most economists because he often advocates a non-mathematical approach. Second, he argues for strongly for an evolutionary perspective on economics, which results in him advancing a theory of group selection. But I do not agree with the conclusions he draws from the positions he takes, namely that of high libertarianism, or a state that exists purely to uphold laws and to act as defence against outside forces and not to 'interfere' in other ways. Nevertheless, I believe that many of his arguments against socialism are accurate and should be better recognised and negotiated by socialists and statists alike. But Hayek also makes several errors, some of which I will bring up in this review, mainly those conceived by academics I have read, but about which you may not know.

First, he conflates a notion of a firm as actor and an individual as actor when firms are not individuals and markets often do not operate with an internal market structure, i.e., people are not priced within firms, they are managed. The problem with this is that corporatism and competition are often incompatible, or, at least, firms that have obtained substantial market share will spend substantial amounts of money to maintain that market share (see Herbert Simon on this).
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Format: Paperback
For those who wonder why the promised utopia of state intervention never seems to work out as planned, this book provides the answer. Hayek addresses a much ignored theme, namely how institutions like money, markets and trade developed spontaneously and flourished because they were superior to any alternatives, not because they were consciously designed. He makes a powerful argument for tampering with these at our peril, and does so in a style that is not beyond the scope of a reader not familiar with economic theory. This book would represent excellent value were it ten times the actual price.
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As hoped for.
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The contents are those I expected. It exposes the idiocy of socialism What more can I say ,
except to add that it is one of the most boring books that I have ever read.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars 119 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In Defense of Liberty and Classical Liberalism 27 Feb. 2013
By G. Norton - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Fatal Conceit, by F.A. Hayek, is an economics book but does not dig into detailed economic theory or examine economic principles as such. Published when Hayek was 89, it summarizes what Hayek learned in a lifetime of study of the science of economics and the creation of human wealth. It is a justification and theoretical defense of classical liberalism, thereby providing an explanation of the assumptions and analysis underlying the free-market economic thinking of Ludwig von Mises, Milton Friedman, Thomas Sowell, Walter E. Williams, and Hayek himself. Hayek was an excellent writer and this 150-page book covers a lot of ground while being easy to follow. Yet, I found it to be a slow read; it provides much to ponder.

Economics might be described as the study of how humans behave when changes happen to things they value and trade: changes in quality, availability, demand, or price. It might more accurately be described as the study of the effects of all the humans behaving, as and after they behave, and the effort to model and predict these effects. Actual human behavior can be inferred but is less important than the aggregate effects. Economics is less concerned with how people react when the price of steel goes up than in what changes in the quantity of steel purchased, the quantity of steel produced and the effects on price and demand for aluminium and other substitutes for steel.

Hayek’s The Fatal Conceit takes a step back farther still, examining aggregate human nature and what happens to those things we value and exchange (buy and sell) when humans have liberty to make their own decisions and security in their persons and their property. The result of this liberty and security is what Hayek calls “the extended order” (or more precisely, the extended order of voluntary human interaction, aka the free market), a self-organizing ecosystem that automatically provides more of something when need or demand goes up and, overall, has advanced our standard of living (wealth) beyond that of the hunter-gatherer societies of the first 90% of our species existence.

No charts, no graphs, no equations, no tables of numbers. Easily read prose that explains Hayek’s conclusions about how human wealth is created and how the extended order operates. In the process Hayek explores our instinctive responses, the communal “micro morality” that enabled small troops of hunter-gatherers to survive, and how these instincts gave way to a “macro morality” based not on instincts but on traditions – the learned results of trial-and-error – as humans began to trade and increase our wealth over the last 10,000 years or so. Though guided by instincts and reason, this macro-morality exists between instinct and reason as the evolving form of what humans have discovered works.

The “Fatal Conceit” is the ancient belief that reason, particularly the reasoning of powerful or educated elites, can manage and operate the human economy (and the creation of wealth and wellbeing) more efficiently and more effectively than the extended order will operate on its own. Much like the discredited idea that modern biological and agricultural expertise can be utilized to manage the Serengeti better than it operates, and has operated for perhaps millions of years, on its own, progressivism and modern socialism update this millennia-old conceit by asserting that modern science and the rationality of the Enlightenment enable humans to intentionally control the details of creation, production, and distribution of human goods and services better than the self-organizing and self-regulating extended order of the free market. In the 1960s, the Ecology Movement explained that natural ecosystems were far too complex for human science and reason to control and that any artificial actions should be undertaken with humility, the expectation of unforeseeable consequences, and the very likely possibilities that those actions would have to be reversed. Hayek asserts that the ecology of human economics, the extended order, is vastly more complex, more dynamic, and more changeable than any natural ecosystem, hence even less amenable to rational control than nature. Limits and boundary conditions, yes, but control no.

Whether you agree or disagree with Hayek’s conclusions, this is an excellent summary of the overall thinking of the leading free-market economists.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best intro to Hayek? 21 Oct. 2014
By HonestBill - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
While most turn to his Road to Serfdom, this short book offers perhaps the best intro to Hayek 's overall style of thought. You won't find much policy or straight economics here, however.

This work also displays what I consider some of the more troubling aspects of Hayek's thought in Ch 8 under such headings as "Life has no purpose but itself" and "The calculus of lives." Essentially Hayek argues that because life has no purpose but itself, and capitalism leads to massive population growth, we must conclude that capitalism succeeds by the only criterion of success -- regardless of the degree of misery or suffering displayed by the poor. Hayek is very far from his Smithian roots here and, I think, open to some of the leftist critiques of "biopolitics". (P.s. He is vaguely aware of Foucault here...a connection that deserves more exploration.)
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly great book. Hayek's command of the various disciplines he ... 1 Jun. 2015
By j s miller - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A truly great book. Hayek's command of the various disciplines he uses to support his position is breathtaking. He takes no prisoners, including, Einstein, Freud, Aristotle, Rousseau, Marx and Keynes to name just a few. Who can still doubt that a free market economic system (even one corrupted to some degree by Wall Street and/or the Government) is not the best, and perhaps the only, way to sustain and improve our world civilization? And yet, the elite liberal progressive intellectuals, for the last 100 years, continue try to sell us, no matter how many times it has been tried and failed, that if they had just a little more power and money, they could design and run a centrally planned economic system that would lead us to Utopia. Whats that definition of insanity again? Oooops, sorry about the rant. Read the book like a love letter. You won't regret it.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading if you are unsure of what socialism really intends for all of us. 27 Oct. 2015
By Skitragic - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Based on the way the world is heading today, more people should read this book. Be aware - Hayek is a very intelligent man and his mastery of the English language amazing. He goes to enormous effort to ensure his message is crystal clear so readers must be patient. For me, he has really opened to my eyes to the side of mankind that could destroy the species, but that said, I believe, that while the future will be up and down, humans will survive after they have learnt the lessons which current times demonstrate they must.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent telling of how trade developed from the primitive tribal ... 5 Oct. 2016
By James M Waldeck II - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An excellent telling of how trade developed from the primitive tribal societies up to the highly complex and "unmanageable" system that today is able to supply the needs of billions of consumers. It explains why a managed economy is doomed to failure and how it is impossible to anticipate what billions of people want.
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