I frequently enjoy Hayek’s writing less than anticipated. The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism was no exception. The book is mercifully brief and its substance is insightful and yet it was a dull read.

It begins by explaining that tradition arises between instinct and reason. Hayek destroys the case for a rational reconstruction of civilisation. It is a fatal conceit to imagine society can be designed, one grounded in fear and a revolt against reason. Markets, money and trade emerged spontaneously through trial and error to become superior institutions, the only ones which can sustain the present population.

Beyond this, I will not go. It was a tedious book, one far harder to complete than Mises’ much longer Socialism, the book which converted Hayek from that doctrine to liberalism. No doubt socialism represents a grave threat to our civilisation but those who wish to understand why should probably read Mises.

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