Lately I've experienced a growing phenomenon in the social surroundings I'm in, often in discussions about politics and religion. It should come as no surprise that global warming, growing uneasiness about the "democratic censorship", and the ethnic conflicts currently rampant in most of the multicultural societies in the West, stir up an exorbitant amount of debate in public media, social groups, schools, cultural centers etc. This means that all people, from the high-intellectuals down to the self-declared morons, are engaging in hot conversations on how to tackle these issues. Before we saw the immediate effects of these ideas (materialistic capitalism, modern democracy, multiculturalism), our political dogmas ensured that we were striving towards Freedom and Unity after the Second World War. Stalin was gone, Hitler was more than dead, and the atomic bombs never went off -- we were on our way to heaven.
Some 60 years later and we're starting to see where we're heading: millions of species vanishing from the face of the earth, catastrophic climate changes, democracies covertly censoring public media, not to mention the disasters of multiculturalism with societies trying to decide which cultural values to take a stand for (they can't decide, so they automatically relapse into liberal consumer societies with a material symbol that unites all people: money). To this effect, people are now seriously beginning to get worried, wondering how humanity will fix the obvious screw-ups this time.
It is in this current social climate that I every day speak to liberals, humanists, Catholics, and democrats, about the hot topics of the week. And the more people I debate with, the more I begin to understand how our modern society is able to create a facade that falsely and deliberately tells people that "we'll be able to solve these problems in no time", while still nothing is actually done to fix the basic problems; people today use egoism dressed up as altruism.
The notion of altruism is hardly a new thing, and has been around in Europe ever since the Judaeo-Christian religions decided to wipe out what they perceived as "Pagan heresy", introducing instead the grand idea of Heaven and morality. The basic concept within this morality was that of the seemingly innocent altruism: Jesus died for us on his cross, oh, he suffered so much, therefore we must suffer too. Followers of these belief systems replicated these ideas through their individual lives, dedicating their time and energy to "helping the weak and poor".
Post-modern philosophers like Friedrich Nietzsche were of a different opinion: they saw altruism as an effective way of establishing a relation between predator and victim. The basic idea behind this was that the altruist served as a giver, while the "victim" became a receiver, totally dependant on the relation itself, which automatically gave the altruist a position of effective power, as he or she could defend the relation by referring to individual morality: "I help other people, how can that be selfish?"
Today, when we see people from humanistic organizations collecting money to help the starving people in the Third World, we ask ourselves the same question. One person I spoke to, whose friend worked for such an organization, had an easy answer to his involvement: "They pay you cash". Here we see another side of the altruist: the devilish egoist, hiding his actual intentions behind a facade of "good will". This is why altruism is so tricky: anyone can claim to "help people" by referring to a relation solely based on the principle of "give and take". The business companies defend their fast-food restaurants that each year increases the amount of overweight people in the West, by simply stating that they're making food that people want. Leftists scream for freedom and justice, knowing the potential in globalizing business trends for the working- and middle classes - "equality sells", they confirm. And Jesus - who egotistically endured endless pain for humanity, probably wasn't that stupid when he realized that he'd have a large portion of people following his ideas by simply glorifying his own individual suffering.
Despite the obvious flaw in altruism, namely that any action can be disguised as being good spirited as it "helps people", most people don't think of the endless pranks that are played on them. Every day I meet people on the street distributing pamphlets and holding a picture of a starving African child while asking by-passers to make donations for their organization. While many people simply walk by, too busy heading to work or McDonald's, some people are fooled by the innocence of the message and begin discussing donation possibilities.
The people who stand on the street are not actually interested in helping Third World children, because if they were, they'd do something to reduce the massive overpopulation there (which is the main reason why food and fresh water are scarce commodities there). Of course, this would deprive people of the sacred individual freedom to have (an unlimited number of) children, and, therefore, they opt for the easy way: use the inherent guilt in most Westerns (who throw away that disgusting restaurant salad, while people on the other side of the globe would kill to get half that plate) to make some quick cash, then pat themselves on each others shoulders, exclaiming "yep, we're good people; we're doing everything we can to help the weak and poor, God bless you all".
Because God is another interesting character when we study the modern altruism in action. Among the people I currently find most fascinating, are (surprisingly) the Christian ones, mostly because they a) belong to the few people that in the modern world defend traditional values and b) actually dare to believe in something other than money and their own ego (or so I thought). You see, altruism and its logical forefather - 'morality' - can be expressed by symbols or ideas. One of the most popular symbols - which becomes the player on the football field - is God. I've also met several Christians who claim to be religious simply because they feel too many people narcissistically "think of themselves", rather than caring about "all people" as devoted Christians do. On the surface this seems nice (especially for someone like myself with a deep love for magic and idealism), but at the end of a discussion I usually find myself speaking with an individualistic moron, who is not willing to let go of his or her own ego.
Likewise, this phenomenon commonly occurs when discussing democracy and its inherent flaws. A religious person will claim to be altruistically anti-egoistic, while simultaneously explaining how horrible dictatorships that violate the "individual freedom" are and how the environment must be saved by "sharing our wealth with the poor Africans", etc. etc. What all of these "religious" people have in common, is that they use their faith to become "important" as individuals. When it all comes down to it, they're not that interested in helping the poor, because if they would, they'd drop the minor donations that cause no actual change in the system, and instead be ready to violate some individual freedoms to do what's best for humanity as a whole (God bless you all). They'd promote holistic spirituality instead of a cheap dogmatic version of the same old materialism under which Europe has suffered for over 2,000 years. But you see, this is a part of their plan; their so called "solutions" are known non-working ones, so they'll continue making insignificant "changes" so that they can maintain the altruistic relation between giver and taker, Jesus and weak/poor/handicapped.
Vegetarians often fit into the same model, feeling bad about eating animals, but having no problem being part of a consumer-driven society that results in the extinction of countless species every single day. Likewise, Leftists say they want to help the workers and the poor, while at the same time they sell out national industries to foreign countries ("global co-operation", remember?) and take cabs home to their two-million-dollar-flats in the segregated suburbs (multiculturalism...for those who cannot afford better?). Liberals whine about individual freedom, but cannot see a problem in denying free religious schools a place in society, censoring Internet, and complaining about "political terrorists" - it's all about "preserving freedom".
In conclusion altruism, as a modern phenomenon, is a sickness that must be seen for what it really is: disguised egoism. Don't be fooled by another loser who wants you to "save nature" by replacing light bulbs and turning down the heat in your living room - it's insignificant in the face of global overpopulation and overconsumtion. Most people you meet will have been struck by this altruism, and constantly prattle on about how they want to "help others"; what they really want is to appear as the new Jesus of the modern age - knowing that with it comes power and a lot of cash. Morality works the same way, disregarding its preferences: death is not fun, competition means someone has to lose, and not all are fit to be leaders. Answer? "You shalt not kill", "We Are All Equal" (repeat twice every hour), "You matter too, vote for us". While it's hard (and sometimes outright impossible) to know if a person works for a task out of idealism or egoism, the key is to analyze his method and effect. An altruist claims to work 8 hours every day for humanity's sake and ignores better options if they violate individual rights (something Christians, democrats/liberals, and humanists share in common). It's as if Jesus manifested as a dysfunctional modernist, looking for the next business plan to become rich. Do what's right - nail them to the cross and let them cry, while you will spend your time creating change in this God-forsaken world of madness.
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