In Defense of Selfishness | Peter Schwartz

Summary of: In Defense of Selfishness: Why the Code of Self-Sacrifice is Unjust and Destructive
By: Peter Schwartz


Dive into the compelling arguments presented in Peter Schwartz’s book ‘In Defense of Selfishness: Why the Code of Self-Sacrifice is Unjust and Destructive,’ as it calls into question the widely accepted virtues of altruism and self-sacrifice. This summary will lead you through the exploration of the consequences of altruistic beliefs, the link between altruism and collectivism, as well as the often-overlooked potentials of selfishness. Challenging moral norms, this book summary aims to demonstrate how altruism can ultimately rob individuals of their own identity and sense of self-worth, and how embracing rational selfishness can pave the path to long-term happiness and societal progress.

The Flaws of Altruism

Altruism, the doctrine of self-sacrifice, is widely accepted as a moral act. However, it requires subordinating oneself, giving up possessions, money, goals, and interests for the good of the group. Governments often adopt altruistic policies, even though they can be illogical, as in the case of airline safety. The real consequences of altruism are rarely explored, and it often generates a false dichotomy between the needy and the providers.

The Myth of Public Interest

The concept of public interest is a myth, and proponents of altruism argue that society benefits from personal sacrifice, which is false. The book argues that the idea of altruism ultimately leads us to collectivism, making individuals dependent on the society rendering them helpless, and any form of collectivism leads to totalitarianism. States care for individuals to profit from them.

Altruism: A Dangerous Belief System

Altruism, the selfless doctrine, not only controls your sense of morality but also manipulates your thoughts. In an altruistic society, disagreement is bad, and individuals are expected to follow the group blindly. The irony is that this belief system doesn’t even help those it claims to benefit. Altruism leads to a lack of individual identity and can even take away one’s ability to love. Moreover, it pushes people into believing that their lives should be handed over to the group, and selflessness becomes an end in and of itself. The altruistic ideology also leads to the redistribution of wealth, and the highest goal is to achieve a complete lack of selfishness. However, this only makes people dependent on others and conditions them to paternalism. Hermann Goering’s comment about Hitler’s unusual economic policy exemplifies how altruism can lead people to believe in falsehoods. This controversial belief system should be a warning to us all.

The Benefits of Rational Selfishness

The concept of selfishness has often been deemed immoral and harmful. However, true selfishness is a rational act that is founded on reason, logic, and the pursuit of individual happiness. It motivates people to operate through voluntary exchange with others, where both parties are satisfied. Selfishness also encourages self-love and the protection of one’s values and life. In this way, the doctrine of rational selfishness encourages individuals to avoid being enslaved by the needs of others and to pursue their own happiness and well-being.

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