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The Fatal Conceit of Foreign Intervention

Author

Listed:
  • Christopher Coyne

    (Department of Economics, West Virginia University)

  • Rachel Mathers

    (Department of Economics, West Virginia University)

Abstract

The fatal conceit is the assumption that the world can be shaped according to human desires. This paper argues that the logic of the fatal conceit can be applied to foreign interventions which go beyond the limits of what can be rationally constructed by reason alone. In suffering from the fatal conceit, these interventions are characterized by: (1) the realization that intentions do not equal results, (2) a reliance on top-down planning, (3) the view of development as a technological issue, (4) a reliance on bureaucracy over markets, and (5) the primacy of collectivism over individualism. These characteristics explain why interventions extending beyond the limits of what can be rationally constructed tend to fail.

Suggested Citation

  • Christopher Coyne & Rachel Mathers, 2009. "The Fatal Conceit of Foreign Intervention," Working Papers 09-06, Department of Economics, West Virginia University.
  • Handle: RePEc:wvu:wpaper:09-06
    as

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    File URL: http://be.wvu.edu/phd_economics/pdf/09-06.pdf
    File Function: First version, 2009
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. repec:mes:challe:v:33:y:1990:i:4:p:57-59 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. James Meernik, 1996. "United States Military Intervention and the Promotion of Democracy," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 33(4), pages 391-402, November.
    3. Randall G. Holcombe, 2004. "National Income Accounting and Public Policy," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer;Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, vol. 17(4), pages 387-405, December.
    4. William Easterly & Tobias Pfutze, 2008. "Where Does the Money Go? Best and Worst Practices in Foreign Aid," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(2), pages 29-52, Spring.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    fatal conceit; foreign aid; foreign intervention; rational constructivism;

    JEL classification:

    • B53 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Austrian
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development
    • P00 - Economic Systems - - General - - - General

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