90 Miles From Tyranny : People Are Less Selfish Under Capitalism

infinite scrolling

Thursday, May 31, 2018

People Are Less Selfish Under Capitalism

Why individualism and free exchange make people more altruistic and trustworthy

ears ago, an MBA student of mine had immigrated from Albania after growing up under Communism. She shared with her classmates what she observed to be the most unexpected mindset difference between Americans and Albanians.

She got emotional as she explained how in Albania, charity was rare—caring for anyone other than yourself and your family was uncommon. In contrast, she experienced Americans as generous and caring.

My student described how exasperated she felt hearing the claim that capitalism leads to a survival of the fittest mentality. In her experience, it was the opposite; under communism, the mindset was to not care for others.

Today, she has more reasons to be exasperated. Among broad segments of society, the belief that capitalism teaches us to be so self-interested that we become uncaring about the welfare of others seems to be accepted as truth. As FEE editor Dan Sanchez observes, “Some go so far as to demand the abolition of capitalism in favor of socialism in order to fully restore benevolence and the intentional promotion of the public interest in the hearts of humankind.”

In her book, The Fear Factor, neuroscience professor Abigail Marsh observes, “Majorities of respondents polled in the United States and elsewhere believe that people are, as a rule, selfish, preoccupied with their own interest, and untrustworthy—and getting worse.”

However, widespread adoption of a belief does not make that belief true. Capitalism calls forth altruism.
The Nature of Humanity

Marsh demonstrates that “an overwhelming body of scientific data supports the conclusion that human beings are in no way fundamentally selfish or callous.” In all of us there is the capacity for compassion and, at the same time, the capacity for cruelty and aggression.

Perfect human beings are not possible. According to Marsh, the real question is, “When do we express compassion versus cruelty, and why, and to whom?”

Research findings indicate that “the United States is a more generous country than nearly any other nation on earth.” Confirming the observations of...Read More HERE


jabrwok said...

Charity and altruism are easier if you have wealth to spare. If you're barely getting by on a day-to-day basis, you can't afford to worry about the well-being of others.

Free market economics allow for wealth generation, and hence the luxury of charity. Command economies (Socialism) reduce everyone but the elite to penury, whereat no one can afford to be charitable without endangering his own survival.

Mike Miles said...

I concur.