This book has several levels of interest. Its sweeping condemnation of socialism parallels the picture of economic stagnation which is increasingly acknowledged as the grim reality of the Soviet and Chinese experiments. It signals a broadening of the liberal agenda into a range of cultural, historical and anthropological interests, beyond its traditional strongholds in philosophy and economics. In the 'unmasking' tradition of Marx and Neitzsche it offers a critique of that simple-minded rationality which treats traditional mores with contempt and refuses to acknowledge the overwhelming importance of unconscious rule following behaviour.
At the same time it raises fundamental questions about the coherence of Hayek's own philosophical scheme and it has provoked a lively debate in liberal circles, intensified by rumbles of discontent among his colleagues as they detect a retreat from the robust individualism of The Road to Serfdom.
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THE BOOK- COMMENTARY ON HAYEK
F A Hayek (ed W W Bartley), The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism, Routledge, London, 2004. Paperback, 220 pp.