Russ Roberts at Cafe Hayek has a lovely piece titled “Motives vs. Results,” exploring the motives of those who promote liberty, and how they compare to those who might instead promote big government.
I wrote of the article on Facebook:
A beautiful explication of why one could and should promote political freedom as a way to improve the world. It reminds me how much I wish Ayn Rand had not made the strategic error of over-emphasizing the value of greed and selfishness. Why not emphasize our harmony of interests, instead? Or the tremendous role of win-win relationships, in a free society? There are so many awesome arguments to be made for respecting other people’s rights, and having our own respected, without making it sound like we’re proponents of narcissism and living narrow, self-centered lives. Some of us get that Rand’s vision is compatible with a loving concern for others — and also why she was an uncompromising critic of altruism. Meantime, she remains ridiculously vulnerable to radioactive allegations about her own motives.
Caring for other people is so basic to human nature. Many studies are showing that it’s intrinsic to our own happiness.
We who embrace Rand’s philosophy need to be able to point out what’s wrong with self-sacrifice and mandated altruism without making ourselves feel like we should somehow be apologetic about or in any way suspicious of our deep, genuine, heartfelt concern for other people.
Because that deep, genuine, heartfelt concern for other people is not only important for our own happiness, but also lies at the root of a healthily functioning free society — arguably even more so than in more compulsory societies, which pit people’s interests against one another.