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Helping Others and Capitalism

One of the core problems with capitalism is that it leads to a great divide between two main types of people: those who know how to make great sums of money, and those who take small bites of that money by working their lives until retirement (assuming they will even have one).

The same ideology that promotes individual freedom and free markets can also devolve into an oligarchy, a society ruled by a rich minority. This is just like how democracy can turn into a tyranny of the majority.

Communism, even though it was a failure in execution that led to the foundation of oppressive dictatorships, was a philosophy that at least gave us a reason to care about others. It promoted unity, patriotism, caring for your fellow men and women, and altruism—values that are often overlooked by more capitalistic societies.

Therefore, even though capitalism brings much liberty to the economy, it fails to answer the following question: why should we care for someone when they do not serve us in any way? Why should we help others when our efforts can be invested elsewhere, such as in making even more money?

If we wish to promote both our individual liberties and the importance of altruism to people who are unable to reach the same achievements as we did, such as making lots of money or getting a steady job with a reasonable pay, we should at least consider the social unification behind socialist and/or communist philosophies, along with the importance of providing welfare to those in need.

Indeed, the sad truth about capitalism is that it very much disregards providing social security to the poor, the disabled, and so forth, since its main goal is to make the market as free and as unregulated as possible—even at the cost of poverty, poor mental health, and even suicide that might occur among many of those who are not as good at making money as those who flourish within a capitalistic society.

I am not being stereotypical towards the rich. I am sure some rich people can be very nice, humane people, who won't hesitate donating to charity every now and then. This article is more directed at those who prefer immense capital gain over their high capability of helping those who need their help, not only individual people necessarily, but organizations as well, most specifically, governments with the ability to spare some money to welfare.

The "paradox" the mostly-capitalistic world has led to today is that even with all the material prosperity we have, including in first-world countries, this abundance is not sufficient to combat poverty, not because there isn't enough abundance for everyone, but because that abundance is at the hands of the more-privileged minority of the world. Those who rule global corporations and have, arguably, more money than they'll ever need, and more money the average or below-average person will probably never have in their lifespan—less for the most, most for the less.

The pursuit after optimal monetary gain, even if heavily desired, seems to put altruism at a lower priority, thus leading to the economically-disadvantaged to remain in their current state, most likely for the rest of their lives—the poor have too little and the rich have too much.

If we, theoretically, were able to distribute the current wealth, the rich might become less rich (but still rich), but at least the poor could be able to live a better life by getting rid of debts, affording academic or professional education, and generally raising their overall quality of life. All there is to do in order to do so is to make the richer a bit less rich, as if it makes a practical difference to begin with.

As a writer that lives on disability money, I became slightly wealthy myself, not because of the income (it is far below minimum wage) but because I live in an ascetic manner. If you wish to make more money without completely depending on others, you can make a better use of your income by buying as less as possible, and still find some satisfaction in life.

It's not a plan that everyone would find acceptable to pursue, but I assure you that by lowering your expanses significantly you can become a bit wealthier than you are currently. It can make you less dependant on extra revenue sources to sustain your living, or extra help from others. For more on that I recommend reading this article.

Alas, not everyone who is ascetic will be able to become slightly wealthier, since not everyone has a reasonable income, if at all. That is, while the rich live in luxury, the rest will probably never be able to experience it empirically.

This is the unfairness of the capitalistic system, which puts the highest priority on generating more and more unnecessary material gain, rather than the welfare of the citizens or their good health. It is a system that rewards people mostly if not entirely for that very pursuit, even if others would die of not being able to afford the simplest of things, while the rich can buy them by the hundreds, if not thousands, without necessarily ever consuming them all.

To wrap this up, I would like to confess that even though I consider myself an egoist (I put myself in a higher priority than others, but not in any way superior to others), I still have a great urge to contribute to others and even help others in need if I can.

During my National Service, I even helped strangers when I didn't have to, from an old lady who did not know where she needed to go, to a foreigner who did not know Hebrew, to an employee from another department who needed a box physically lifted to the other side of the hospital I volunteered in (I volunteered in Shamir Medical Center in 2018, formerly known as "Asaf Ha'rofe". I was an office clerk).

This is because I realize that we cannot do everything by ourselves, and thus external assistance can help us flourish beyond our current state. I realize that if I won't help others when I can, I'm no better than those who can share their resources, but decide not to, on a frequent basis.

It thus hurts me, as an egoist, to not be of good service to others, as ironic as it may legitimately sound to you. Thus, my drive for altruism comes from my desire to be a good, accomplished, and helpful person—a drive that might as well exist in those who can better this world, far better than I can.

Enoy a source about moral egoism. As someone who isn't a social being, I still want to be a moral one. It's all part of the business. Please note that I do not support universal moral egoism, a variant mentioned in the source. People are free to choose their own ethical philosophies.

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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