Okay, so I came across the following this afternoon and had to comment:
I then said that while I don’t like to use absolute moralist terms like “good” and “evil,” one has to at least define them and use them as reference terms if you want to communicate with people. One can therefore say that the essential core quality that has to exist as a behavioral platform for evil to flourish is selfishness. Selfishness — “not them but me, not the greater good but mine” — is where all bad and ugly things begin.
This little gem insanity/ignorance/evil is brought to you by a blog called Hollywood Elsewhere, which given insightful statements like this one, will not be one of my preferred reading haunts. So why do I bring it up, and why do I bring it up as why I’m a New Ager when the rest of the article is all about how conservatives are evil and should be done away with. Well, this is one of those other reasons that I can’t quite bring myself to go to one of those more traditional religions. Pretty much every traditional religion I can think of tends to agree with that statement up there to one degree or another. ‘You are evil when you do things for yourself,’ they say, ‘it is only when you serve others that you are good.’
Now before I get into how New Age belief can be different (and I’m sure that you could interpret any religion to say what I’m about to, it’s just now as surface obvious as it is with New Age beliefs) let me deal with what selfishness is and isn’t. A dictionary definition on the word selfishness tends to run something like this: A chief concern for one’s self and well-being. Now what exactly is wrong with that. Anyone who doesn’t have concern for their well-being is probably not mentally stable. Now of course you could claim that there are people who sacrifice their lives for beliefs, causes, fellow soldiers, family, ect who aren’t crazy…and I would agree with you, but they’re still selfish…they’re acting off the thought of ‘I couldn’t live with myself if such and such happened’…it is still in their best interest to act in a way that causes very short-term harm.
The problem is that most liberals, or most people for that matter, have this bizarre habit of forming things into opposite pairs. On one end they have altruism, where you have concern for others, and on the other you must have selfishness where you are evil and have no concern for anyone but yourself. I’ve actually been told that by liberals…it’s probably why one of my calming mantras is: Liberals are stupid, they can’t help saying stupid thing. Liberals are stupid, they can’t help saying stupid things. (Repeat that while watching the news it will make for a much more calming experience).
The reason for this, is that human nature can’t be neatly fit into 2 either or categories. If you’re going to break it down to as few categories as possible, then to be accurate you have to break it into 3: altruism, rational selfishness, and irrational selfishness/hedonism. Now despite moron-boys hesitancy to use the words “good” and “evil” some of these are clearly good and some are clearly evil. Rational self-interest, ie selfishness, is good. The other two are evil.
GASP! you say. Altruism evil?
Yes Altruism is about the worst evil in the world. Altruism says that you should do things not because you get pleasure out of them, but because you are here only to help other people. Anything done for yourself is bad, anything done for others is good. There’s a flaw in that logic though. Basically it says that your life is worthless–after all if it had value than you should have some concern for it–but since you shouldn’t have concern for it, then your life must be worthless. Now liberals and extreme religious zealots will try to wiggle out of this and fudge the line between rational selfishness, just like they tried to fudge the line between hedonism and rational self-interest a minute ago when they told you thinking about yourself, being selfish, is wrong…don’t fall for it, it’s a trick. Altruism means you can have no concern for yourself. If you do it because it makes you feel good, that’s rational self-interest, not altruism. But let’s get back to the problem with altruism. The logical problem is, if your life is worth nothing then how can anyone else’s life be worth anything. After all we are all human, and if my life is intrinsically worthless, then your life must be intrinsically worthless by nature of being human…so why should have any concern for something that is worthless. But wait the liberal/zealot shouts it’s not anyone one individual, it’s the whole of society that has value not individual lives. Let’s see if that works
Nothing times everyone on the planet…
0 x 6,500,000,000= oh wait that still equals nothing because anything time zero is nothing. (It’s failure to do basic math like this that leads to liberals being so unable to balance budgets). And while I know the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, that’s usually assuming the parts had some value. So if society as a whole has some value then individual life has to have some value. Hence pure altruism can’t be right.
But then you tell me that all I’ve just said is crazy philosophy and has no relevance in real life. Okay, fair enough, I’ve seen some pretty crazy philosophy that I can’t quite say has anything to do with reality so lets put it to the reality test. Lets look for examples of pure altruism in real life…that in political terms would be called…ummm…what’s that word… communism which demands everyone serve the higher concept of society and fascism which demands everyone serve the higher concept of the state/race. Even a cursory knowledge of history tells anyone that altruism in that sense tended to end fairly poorly and violently, resulting in genocide and the most torturous standard of living imaginable. Or we could look to the Middle Ages where everyone lived not for themselves but only for God…there’s a reason this is also called the Dark Ages. Pretty much the same standard of living in Eastern countries where the king was revered as a god. All in all the practical benefits of any system that preached altruism was misery for everyone, with the exception of some hedonistic bastard(s) at the top.
It is only rational self-interest, the belief that your life and the lives of others have value that works to better ourselves and others. We do what benefits us, because our life has meaning and value. We should make sure we don’t intentionally hurt others while we seek our happiness, because their lives have value too. THe nature of seeking what is best for ourselves, in competition with others, is what drives progress and excellence.
Why is this a New Age concept. Because unlike most traditional religions, New Age belief doesn’t say I was born into sin (read without value) and must serve only God’s will not because it makes me happy but because it’s his order (a disgustingly Kantian duty based philosophy) nor does it say I am only an ego (read worthless) that must be dispelled into nothingness when I reach Enlightenment. New Age belief says I am a soul (of value), a Son of God (read you don’t get more valuable than that), that just happens to be hampered by an ego at the moment (which in trying control you with fear and false dichotomies, like only offering you a choice between self-denial through altruism or self-indulgence through hedonism). To be with God, to reach Enlightenment, I must have concern for myself and make myself happy, because being with God is a happy thing. And I should do things that help other people, not because I should out of some sense of duty, but because it makes me happy. And New Age philosophy is the only one I can find that consistently embraces that truth.
So back to our idiotic quote
One can therefore say that the essential core quality that has to exist as a behavioral platform for evil to flourish is selfishness. Selfishness — “not them but me, not the greater good but mine” — is where all bad and ugly things begin.
well, history has shown that the greatest evils of all time have all been propped up with “the greater good” and the greatest advancements in human evolution have been done by people who were out to do great things. I leave you with this thought from Adam Smith:
“It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self-interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages.”–Wealth of Nations