This selection from Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments is three of the most profound paragraphs in the history of political-economic theory. Adam Smith contrasts the "man of system" with the "man of benevolence." The latter respects the rights and opinions of others, while the former is afflicted with the conceit that he has the ability and imperative to run the lives of others.

The chess-board metaphor is brilliant in depicting the fallacy of socialism. The selection anticipates the great work of Friedrich Hayek's The Fatal Conceit. We can see why so many economists turn their backs on these classical insights--to the extent that society accepts the command system, then power accumulates to the politicians and economists in charge.

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