Ego & Hubris
By Bryan Caplan
I don’t know what’s more amazing:
2. That self-described “strident leftist” Harvey Pekar collaborated with Malice on the project. (Malice wrote most of the script, Pekar adapted it and gets authorial credit, but I say it’s still an autobiography).
3. That I stumbled across this book at random in the Fenwick Library stacks just weeks after briefly meeting Malice at the Cato interns’ reunion.
Overall, it’s a great read; after all, why else would Pekar promote a serial Ayn Rand-quoter? Like Pekar, Malice fills his life with petty conflicts with teachers, parents, relatives, co-workers, and bosses. Unlike Pekar, though, Malice gets along very well with his own kind. A key turning point in his life:
When we [the Bucknell College Republicans] were on the Mall in D.C. I left the group and started walking around. D.C. is a very tiny place. Like an oasis in a desert, I came on Cato, and like an oasis there were palm trees growing in the lobby.
Malice rushes to get an internship, and isn’t disappointed:
It was possibly the best experience of my life. All the interns were very, very smart and all were radical, so we got into really deep discussions all the time. And since we were all so-called extremists, no topics were off limits for debate and no speaker was dismissed as a nut.
The book is packed with cringe-worthy stories of Malice’s avoidable conflicts with the world. As a proponent of libertarian friendliness, I don’t approve; but at the same time, it wouldn’t be friendly to condemn him. His approach is a little harsh for my taste, but it’s more civilized than it looks. As he explains in this interview:
I consider myself an anarchist and an elitist. Meaning I do not
recognize official social hierarchies, but I am aware that such
hierarchies naturally and inevitably exist. So I try to defer to my
betters and to expect respect from my inferiors. But you should always
be polite to people, because it’s very hard to judge which they are at