- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 6, 2007

Utopian error

“In his last book, ‘The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism’ (1988), Friedrich Hayek drily underscored the oddity: ‘The intellectuals’ vain search for a truly socialist community, which results in the idealization of, and then disillusionment with, a seemingly endless string of “utopias” — the Soviet Union, then Cuba, China, Yugoslavia, Vietnam, Tanzania, Nicaragua — should suggest that there might be something about socialism that does not conform to certain facts.’

“It should, but it hasn’t. And the reason, Hayek suggests, lies in the peculiar rationalism to which a certain species of intellectual is addicted. The ‘fatal conceit’ lay in believing that, by exercising his reason, mankind could recast society in a way that was at once equitable and prosperous, orderly and conducive to political liberty. …

“All that was summed up in words like ‘manners,’ ‘morals,’ ‘custom,’ ‘tradition,’ ‘taboo’ and ‘sacred’ is suddenly up for grabs. But it was part of the intoxicating nature of the fatal conceit … that no barrier seemed strong enough to withstand the blandishments of mankind’s ingenious tinkerings.”

— Roger Kimball, writing on “Hayek & the Intellectuals,” in the May issue of the New Criterion

Nature’s enemy

“Most of us are naive about the environmental movement. We believe that when eco-radicals say we should ‘protect the environment,’ they mean we should protect it for people. What they really mean is that we should protect the environment against people. People are the enemy. …

“To confirm this, just watch nature programs on public television. In every program I’ve seen, human beings are depicted as the enemy. These programs portray humans as vicious, violent destroyers of birds, wildlife, forests, rivers and oceans. Nature is seen as ‘pure,’ ‘fragile’ and ‘innocent’ (including child-eating hyenas and alligators). Environmentalists or their sympathizers create these programs, so the programs reflect the environmental movement’s deepest attitudes toward the human race. …

“Here’s what one environmentalist had to say about loggers losing their jobs: ‘Loggers losing their jobs because of Spotted Owl legislation is, in my eyes, no different than people being out of work after the furnaces of Dachau shut down.’ ”

— Joel Turtel, writing on “The Eco-Radicals’ Real Motives,” Friday at theconservativevoice.com

Celebrity offense

“By now, you’ve likely read or heard that Paris Hilton got sentenced to 45 days in jail for violating her parole by driving with a suspended license. …

“Her celebrity status may indeed have hurt her, especially if the judge got the impression that Hilton thought her money and fame would allow her to get away with her misconduct. Then again, shouldn’t public figures, especially rich and powerful ones, be held to a higher standard?

“After all, Joe Six Pack is hurt a lot more by a drunk driving offense than a Paris Hilton. She can afford the best legal counsel, whereas even a run-of-the-mill attorney’s fees will seriously affect Joe Six Pack’s lifestyle. A fine of, say, $2,500 is nothing to Paris Hilton but perhaps a month’s take-home pay for him. A suspended license is devastating to most of us; someone with her resources can just hire a chauffeur. So, yeah, when she thumbs her nose at the law after being given a second chance, she ought to be slapped with a stiffer sentence.”

— James Joyner, writing on “Paris Hilton Jail Sentence Unfair?” Saturday at outsidethe beltway.com

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