America’s Fatal Conceit

Posted: Nov 25, 2012 12:01 AM
America’s Fatal Conceit

This year’s presidential election was a history-altering event for America. The nation chose, for its future, a course in diametric opposition to the core principles on which it was founded.

The reelection of President Barack Obama is the result of a wide-spread rejection of individual liberty in favor of a virulent strain of collectivism that seeks a more expansive role for central planning by the federal government and, ultimately, will liquefy America’s traditional, once indomitable, liberty-centric institutions.

One can reasonably question why the Obama’s reelection reflects even worse judgment on the part of the American people than their initial decision to elect him in 2008.

The answer is simple.

In the ‘08 election, the circumstances that lead to the President’s victory were fundamentally different. The American people were dissatisfied with the Bush presidency – one characterized best by a neo-conservative foreign policy and a big-government domestic policy that massively expanded the size and scope of the federal government.

Americans were disillusioned by the previous four years, but unbeknownst to many voters, the policies they grew to loathe were the byproducts of modern-day liberalism rather than of true conservatism.

In 2008, then-Senator Obama defeated a weak, liberal Republican candidate, Senator John McCain, by running on a message of hope and change and brilliantly using high-flown rhetoric rather than offering substantive policy prescriptions.

But a serious problem emerged once Obama took the reins of government.

The salient economic problems that lead to catastrophic results during the Bush era – a disastrous monetary policy, ill-advised stimulus packages, and market-corrupting bailouts – were not only adopted by the Obama administration, they were set on hyperdrive.

With chronically-high unemployment, lackluster economic growth, failed government attempts to invest/centrally-direct the economy towards a green energy future, the failures of big-government liberalism couldn’t have been more apparent.

And though it is true that Romney left much to be desired in terms of his conservative credentials, irrespective of his glaring deficiencies, a significant disparity did exist between the two candidates’ worldviews.

The campaign pitted Governor Romney, a candidate who, at the very least, frequently used free-market rhetoric, against the most statist, anti-free-market president in our nation’s history.

Yet the public decided to double down on Obamanomics.

For this reason, despite some personal reluctance – and perhaps to the chagrin of many of my fellow classical liberals – I attribute much of Obama’s victory to a key concept defined by Nobel Laureate economist F.A. Hayek as the fatal conceit.

In his final book, The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism, Hayek described this concept as one that assumes “man is able to shape the world around him according to his wishes.”

For those unfamiliar with him, Hayek, during his prolific academic career, sagely and perspicaciously provided the theoretic framework for and proclaimed the benefits of the free-market system, or what he often referred to as “the extended order of human cooperation.”

In commenting on socialism, Hayek said, “The dispute between the market order and socialism is no less than a matter of survival. To follow socialist morality would destroy much of present humankind and impoverish much of the rest.”

This is the future America has chosen.

Over the past century, socialists, Keynesians, progressives, and other big-government proponents have slowly cajoled Americans into adopting the collectivist mindset.

Sadly, because of perpetual bludgeoning via emotive, irrational arguments by liberals about the supposed immorality of the free market, too many Americans have been conditioned to accept more intrusive government control over their lives.

Today, a majority of Americans have conceded their liberty to the coercive power of the state. America, a nation conceived in liberty, has forfeited its natural rights and succumbed to an irresolvable finality, Hayek’s fatal conceit.

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