Friday, January 13, 2012

The Virtue of Selfishness (I love me some me)

All too often we decry selfishness as being something awful.  We are told that we must think of others, that we must sacrifice for our fellow man.  We are told that there is no I in team and that only through cooperation with others can we succeed.  While there are times and situations where these idioms hold truth, they have begun to be applied to all aspects of life.  The president preaches of what we must rally together to do for this country, of the sacrifices this group or that group must make for the benefit of the collective.  He says that America wasn't made great by a single individual.

Well, he's right about that last.  America wasn't made great by a single individual.  America also wasn't made great by a collective.  In fact, the collective that we are becoming is what is destroying us now.  No, America was made great by not one individual, but many individuals, selfishly striving to be their individual best.

So, let's go back to talk about this Collective-Think and what it means.  Collectivism is the idea that only through sacrificing the self and doing for the benefit of others can you succeed.  This idea that no man is an island, that no man's success is his own accomplishment, but instead the accomplishment of all of society.  This leads to the conclusion that the man who succeeds owes a debt to society that can only be claimed by the government on behalf of society.  Society then lays the groundwork for your next success and the success of your neighbor.  Does this sound good to you?  It's terrifying.  It's terrifying as much for the justification it provides for the government to reap the rewards of your success as it is for it's power to discourage the individual efforts required to actually achieve success.

Meanwhile the word selfish is being cast as this great evil.  Selfishness is connected with dishonesty, theft, corner cutting, and vice.  So, when people hear that I am encouraging selfishness they wonder about the safety of those around me.  I can't want to be selfish except that I must take advantage of those around me.  You see, that's how this game is played.  First, you poison what you oppose, then you turn what you support into a virtue.  No longer. 

Selfishness is the virtue I support.  If my seeking to create the best life for myself benefits you, good for you, but I didn't do it for you.  I do for me, for my happiness.  Selfishness does not mean that I will cheat you, only that I will bargain hard and try for the best results for myself.  Selfishness does not mean I will not support private charity.  I enjoy the warmth and satisfaction that providing this gives to me.  Selfishness does not mean that I am a miser and am not "generous" with friends and family.  I value my friends and my family.  I value their happiness and satisfaction.  These are worthwhile considerations for me.  Selfishness is what makes an individual strive for success.  Selfishness, in it's virtuous best, is the heart of individualism.

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