Adam Smith got the corruption of class, wealth and power sussed

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I do rather like this quote from the massively under-read 'Theory of Moral Sentiments' by Adam Smith (published 1759) quoted in a comment on this blog today:

This disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and powerful, and to despise or, at least, neglect persons of poor and mean conditions, though necessary both to establish and to maintain the distinction of ranks and the order of society, is, at the same time, the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments.

I think that showed just where Smith was coming from.And please do read it in the context of the time. Whether such admiration of the rich and powerful is now necessary to 'establish and to maintain the distinction of ranks and the order of society' is decidedly debatable and I would argue wholly unnecessary.

For the record the quote comes from Part I, Section III, Chapter II entitled 'Of the origin of ambition, and of the distinction of ranks'.