The fortunes of others

Leon Wieseltier isn’t my favorite pundit (not that it’s relevant, but I can’t see his name without remembering the time his hair guest-starred on The Sopranos), but he does a good job laying out what is wrong with the mildly disguised Randian sociopathy of Paul Ryan. Especially nice is his highlighting how the philosophy of Adam Smith is actually in 180 degree opposition to Rand, by quoting the very first sentence of The Theory of Moral Sentiments:

“How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortune of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it except the pleasure of seeing it.”

Wiesltier’s article is really morality 101, something everybody should have learned in elementary school, and it is kind of shameful that what he says needs to be said.

It also made me realize that my premises are wrong. I mock libertarians as they were 30 years ago, a small cult of jumped-up geeks, with a politics that was repulsive but not dangerous, because nobody really took them seriously. Now these beliefs have entirely infiltrated oen of the two major political parties, where they swirl around as part of a vile brew whose other elements are religious fundamentalism, racism, and vast quantities of money; an intellectual toxic waste site that threatens to engulf the entire polis.

I could give myself credit for presicence for latching on to the dangerousness of this belief system early on, but in truth I never believed that this crap would be taken seriously by adults; that it would actually be empowered.