August, 2008

The “New” Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Foreign Intervention

  • Christopher Coyne

    Associate Director, F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics
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The fatal conceit is the assumption the world can be shaped according to human desires.  F.A. Hayek argued that socialism suffered from a fatal conceit because it presumed that central planners could engage in rational constructivism to design a superior state of affairs.  With the collapse of socialism, central planning has been discredited as a viable means of economic organization.  However, the fatal conceit of central planning continues through foreign interventions in the form of foreign aid and foreign military interventions.  These foreign interventions rely on central planning and suffer from a fatal conceit in assuming that planners can design desirable global outcomes.

JEL Codes: B53, O1, P00

Keywords: fatal conceit, foreign aid, foreign intervention