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Jul 22, 2010
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Stockholm, Sweden
American conservative politician Barry Goldwater (1909-1998) said:

"The root difference between the Conservatives and the Liberals of today is that Conservatives take account of the whole man, while Liberals tend to look only at the material side of man's nature" (Goldwater, "The conscience of a conservative", 1960, p.10).

That Goldwater citation is spot on. Among Leftists it is commonly believed that "self enrichment" is equal to egoism. But the main reason why people take responsibility for their own lives and try to create a secure economical basis is not to become an encumberment to others. Family members and others in society shouldn't need to fend for "me". After all, they have enough problems already. So it has much to do with care for other people.

Similarly, a nation state that is taking care of business and builds wealth will benefit surrounding countries in areas of trade, culture and tourism. But if it falters economically or otherwise, it will become a pain in the neck for surrounding countries.

The typical ambitious person who develops a business and builds wealth does not do this out of egoistic motives. More important incentives are personal pride and a feeling of responsibility for the community. I suppose, Ayn Rand's philosophy of egoism has done much to denigrate human nature in the eyes of people.

But humans aren't any worse than blackbirds. I use to feed them during wintertime. They are often defensive about feeding places but can also be benevolent. This winter I observed a female blackbird who came to my balcony for the first time. She was quite nervous and it took some time before she dared to jump down to the table with peanuts served. Then it took some time before she dared to take a peanut in her beak.

At this moment a male blackbird came flying up to the balcony, at which she spat out the peanut and flied away screaming to a nearby fir tree. The male blackbird immediately understood the situation. He had not intended to defend the feeding place. He simply didn't know that she was there. So he flew after her and seated himself on a nearby branch where he was facing away from her, while also turning his head to look at her. In this way he signalled non-aggression. Thus he sat for several minutes until she had calmed down. She understood the signal and returned to the balcony to eat peanuts, this time not even slightly nervous. The male blackbird remained perched on his branch, but had now turned around, facing my balcony.

Blackbirds are not egoists, but are entirely empathic. The fact that they have to take responsibility for their own lives is merely the law of nature. It would surprise me very much if human nature is worse in this respect. We have a natural inclination, just like the blackbirds, to take responsibility for our fellow beings. It is merely a matter of showing compassion when it suits the occasion. But to build a socialist machine-society where each and everybody is thoroughly cared for by the state is contrary to nature, and it also passivates the empathic function.

Mats Winther
Depth psychology and spiritual tradition

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