Pride Goeth Before an Economic Fall
And again, it is a permanent temptation, not just something that occurred at the dawn of history; or, it occurs at the dawn of both collective and individual psychospiritual development, and is always there waiting to be exploited.
Karl Marx was reenacting the drama when he claimed to have discovered the secret engine of history, just as Bernie Sanders does today in his crude reduction of the infinite complexity of the market to a simple and universal emotion such as greed.
In fact, doesn't our Unknown Friend touch on this? Marx, "being impressed by the partial truth... that it is first necessary to eat in order to be able to think, raised the economic interest to THE principle of man and the history of civilization." Which is why Marx's cheap omniscience destroys its supposed object, man.
The serpent "appeared to Karl Marx and showed him 'in an instant all the kingdoms of the world,' where all the slaves of the past are transformed into sovereign masters who no longer obey God, having dethroned him, or Nature, having subjected her" (ibid.).
Since the Marxist is neither of God nor of Nature, he is truly a monster. Note too the stolen omnipotence: they produce and eat a kind of bread "which they owe solely to their own knowledge and effort in transforming stones into bread."
Just as a practical matter, we have all heard the gag about the impossibility of one person producing so much as a single pencil. Here are three passages from the essay, which converge on everything we've been saying about Fatal Sin and the Original Conceit:
"There is a fact still more astounding: The absence of a master mind, of anyone dictating or forcibly directing these countless actions which bring me [the pencil] into being. No trace of such a person can be found. Instead, we find the invisible hand at work."
"Since only God can make a tree, I insist that only God could make me. Man can no more direct these millions of know-hows to bring me into being than he can put molecules together to create a tree."
"The lesson I have to teach is this: Leave all creative energies uninhibited. Merely organize society to act in harmony with this lesson. Let society's legal apparatus remove all obstacles the best it can. Permit these creative know-hows freely to flow. Have faith that free men and women will respond to the Invisible Hand. This faith will be confirmed."
Or, we can have Obamacare, government mandated mortgages to unqualified borrowers, and college subsidies. Is it any wonder that these three are the main goods (medical care, housing, and higher education) that are beyond the economic capacity of the typical American? As usual, Government creates the disease it then proposes to cure.
It is as if Satan tells the government: Command these stones to become loaves of bread, and the government responds white or whole wheat? Since the left also attacks religion from every angle, it means that the higher is collapsed into the lower, and that we become increasingly dependent upon the godlike state for our daily bread.
Satan embodies the principles of seduction, hypnosis, and intoxication. Or maybe you've never seen a liberal university campus or a Sanders rally (but I repeat myself).
In this passage from The Counter-Revolution of Science, Hayek speaks of this drunken hubris: "two fundamentally different and irreconcilable attitudes manifest themselves: on the one hand the essential humility of [liberal] individualism... and on the other hand, the hubris of [leftist] collectivism, which aims at conscious direction of all forces of society."
The latter operates under the assumption that it can comprehend systemic knowledge that no human being possesses or could possibly possess. Thus, "consistently pursued it must lead to a system in which all members of a society become merely instruments of the single directing mind and in which all the spontaneous social forces to which the growth of mind is due are destroyed."
And to bring the discussion full circle, it is urgently necessary for man to rationally comprehend the limits of his own reason. And guess what? "Historically this has been achieved by the influence of various religious creeds..." (Although a little familiarity with Gödel also goes a long way.)
There is no excuse for the pride that comes before our economic fall, because "Compared with the totality of knowledge which is continually utilized in the evolution of a dynamic civilization, the difference between the knowledge that the wisest and that which the most ignorant individual can deliberately employ is insignificant" (ibid.).