By F.A. Hayek

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Another such example is that of the early George Orwell, who once argued that ` anyone who uses his brain knows perfectly well that it is within the range of possibility [that] the world, potentially at least, is extremely 55 THE FATAL CONCEIT rich' such that we could `develop it as it might be developed, and we could all live like princes, supposing that we wanted to'. I shall concentrate here not on the work of men like Wells and Orwell, but on views propounded by some of the greatest scientists.

Thus the notion of `liberation', although allegedly new, is actually archaic in its demand for release from traditional morals. Those who champion such liberation would destroy the basis of freedom, and permit men to do what would irreparably break down those conditions that make civilisation possible. One example appears in so-called `liberation theology', especially within the Roman Catholic church in South America. But this movement is not confined to South America. Everywhere, in the name of liberation, people disavow practices that enabled mankind to reach its present size and degree of cooperation because they do not rationally see, according to their lights, how certain limitations on individual freedom through legal and moral rules make possible a greater - and freer!

Thus intellectuals from Rousseau to such recent figures in French and German thought as Foucault and Habermas regard alienation as rampant in any system in which an order is `i mposed' on individuals without their conscious consent; consequently, their followers tend to find civilisation unbearable - by definition, as it were. Secondly, the persistence of instinctual feelings of altruism and solidarity subject those who follow the impersonal rules of the extended order to what is now fashionably called `bad conscience'; similarly, the acquisition of material success is supposed to be attended with feelings of guilt (or `social conscience').

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