Monday, 9 August 2010

The altruistic individual in society

The most promising member of parliament writes:

Plato makes the mistake of thinking society faces a choice between collectivism or selfishness. In fact, altruistic individualism is possible, without individuals living constantly in a state of subjection and sacrifice for some group. In our time, as in Plato’s, this error provides a defence of collectivism which is unjustified.

Society is the cooperation of individuals. In my view, one great advantage of a society based on equality before the law, freedom, peace and property is that it can bear selfish individuals without harming the whole of society. More than that, perhaps such an order is the only one which exploits the selfish individual to the benefit of other people.

What has changed since Plato's time is that we are immeasurably wealthier, so more individuals than ever are in a position to be charitable — or would be, if the state confiscated less of their wealth.

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