I'm continuing my reporting on the next installment from Conservative Estimate, the recently founded website that is devoted to demolishing Conservatism.
Last week, Alfred George began to examine the Myth of Self-interest, the belief that everyone acts out of self-interest, but the combination of all these self-interested actions results in the best possible outcome. He showed that Self-interest cannot be the fundamental motivation for human beings, that it is just a synonym for selfishness, and that it has an undeserved respectable reputation because it is often confused with “enlightened self-interest.”
Today Mr. George shows that people who believe this Myth are miserable, whether or not they know it.
Let us skip over the swirling orange design to discuss his argument.
Since the Myth of Self-interest is so unfounded, as Mr. George showed last week, one would think that few people would be inclined to believe it. On the contrary,
there are plenty of believers who are quite pleased with themselves for having understood the deep secret that the suckers have failed to comprehend—the power of complete selfishness. Unfortunately for them, nothing is harder to break, nor more certain to be smashed if ever broken, than self-satisfaction.Such people will become isolated by their selfish behavior:
Most decent people do not like to be around someone who treats them badly. Those who do are self-debasers, whose adulation could not really satisfy the needs of such an arrogant “strong” personality, since it is the adulation of a weakling who doesn’t know the Great Secret of being totally selfish.When is it possible for such people to learn that behaving as they do makes them isolated and miserable? Only when their self-satisfaction is smashed:
Indeed, the only person who could possibly have a relationship with a die-hard believer in the theory of Self-interest would be another person who is in on the Great Secret. But a person like that would be totally selfish too. As a consequence, the two of them would never be able to form any sort of bond that didn’t debase the other in their own eyes, because as soon as the one of them did something for the sake of the other, the recipient would lose all respect for the giver.
Only when they come to see that their habit of selfishness always leaves them feeling empty and unsatisfied. Only when the ache of loneliness or the sting of dissatisfaction becomes more painful than the pleasure of self-satisfaction at knowing the Great Secret. And if that never happens, then they remain the same predominantly selfish and self-torturing people until the day they die.A miserable life: that is the wages of living according to a lie.
You can read the whole post here:
Tomorrow Mr. George promises to discuss why believing the Myth of Self-interest makes friendship impossible, and how it poisons life unnecessarily.
I'll be reporting back each day as a new installment appears.