Self-interest is human nature. We do what we do because it either feels good or because we derive something from it. If you fancy yourself an altruist, it is because you enjoy being thought of as an altruist. It makes you feel good to think you are a do-gooder, but let’s not pretend there is not some element of self-interest involved as that feel-good feeling is a net gain.
With every single step you take and every move you make, on the inside, you’re looking out for number 1, even if it’s only on a subconscious level. If you search deep down in the recesses of your reptilian brain, this is a truth. It is not a very comfortable truth, because nobody likes to think of themselves as selfish.
Selfish is a very nebulous and demonized characteristic. I say nebulous because who is to say what selfish is? I could look at a business owner and their brand new Tesla and think to myself; "What a fucking prick that guy is." Meanwhile, he might look at his brand new Tesla and mourn the fact he didn’t get the vintage muscle car. It was on sale, in superb condition, and was also $113k cheaper than his brand spanking new firetrap.
But the businessman was convinced by the salesperson that it’s "good for the environment," and this ought to garner him some social credit from the greenies, and maybe even allow him to avoid getting keyed by the ultra-zealous, mean-greenies. He has a new love interest too, one who is an “environmentalist,” and if this doesn’t make her DTF, then what will?
In one way, shape or form, human nature will ensure that this man passes his genes forward. But let’s look at that from the reverse. His love interest; She just wants to do good things for the environment because she thinks she’s a “good person.” However, her reptilian brain has just netted the modern equivalent of a superior hunter-gatherer, one who she has manipulated with the bait of a potential sexual encounter. A couple more high-value purchases to ensure proof of concept, and she will let him put a ring on it.
So what was the point of this little write-up? Well, that’s just my self-interest at play. I want you to question the motives of yourself and others. The goal is not to shatter your faith in humanity when people do self-interested things. Chances are, they're doing it because it’s a win/win situation for both parties. In the business world, this is beneficial until it becomes harmful to others. That’s where things start to get tricky, and when the virtue-signaling games begin.
Corporations have PR campaigns all the time to show how they are a good corporate citizen. This is because if you can think of COMPANY-NAME as good, then you might overlook their monopoly or the other skullduggery they involve themselves in. The truth of the matter is—we all virtue signal, and we are all self-interested. However, we seldom notice when these things are happening around us, to what degree they are happening, and when people or corporations, cloak themselves in “good deeds.”
So beware, be aware, and take note. People will have fantasies about altruistic systems and nation-states. However, when these things are put into practice on a national scale, it generally leads to great suffering because it's out of step with our very nature.
Selfish or not, altruism can be a force for good. However, coercing or forcing individuals to be altruistic by taking something away that would otherwise belong to them is and always has been considered theft. It is, without a doubt, a fantastic trick of the mind to think otherwise.
The image above is brought to you courtesy of Pixabay.