Altruism is repeatedly confused with charity, and yet the two very differing concepts continue to be used interchangeably to the detriment of both individuals and society at large.
‘Charity’ is defined as: “1. the providing of help to the poor; 2. that which is given to help the needy; 3. an institution, organization, or fund to aid those in need; 4. tolerance; leniency; 5. an act of good will; 6. brotherly love.” (Funk & Wagnalls) These are in fact among the acts and values associated with charity.
In contrast, ‘altruism’ is defined as “selfless devotion to the welfare of others.” (Funk & Wagnalls) That’s not charity; that’s activism disguised as charity. It is the Left’s virtue signal for political causes that are far from anything that could be considered ‘selfless.’
Warned Ayn Rand: “Do not confuse altruism with kindness, good will or respect for the rights of others. These are not primaries, but consequences, which in fact, altruism makes impossible. The irreducible primary of altruism, the basic absolute, is self sacrifice – which means, self immolation, self-abrogation, self-denial, self-destruction – which means: the self as the standard of evil, the selfless as the standard of good.”
Consider the contrast in civility when those on the Left debate or confront those on the Right. While the ‘altruistic’ Left expresses hatred, intolerance, and a refusal to engage with others, the Right instead demonstrates true ‘charity’ towards those on the Left through tolerance and respect, despite fundamental disagreements. This is no coincidence.
Far beyond charity, altruism represents a moral code, the one upon which all ideas of the Left are based: sacrifice of the individual to the collective. This is utterly destructive to the process of reason, and to the establishment of values necessary to maintain human life and purpose. And that’s exactly how the Left wants it.
Explains Ayn Rand: “Reason is the most selfish human faculty; it has to be used in and by a man’s own mind, and its product – truth – makes him inflexible, intransigent, impervious to the power of any pack or any ruler. Deprived of the ability to reason, many becomes a docile, pliant, impotent chunk of clay to be shaped into any subhuman form and used for any purpose by anyone who wants to bother.
“There has never been a philosophy, a theory or a doctrine which did not also preach submission to the power of some authority. Philosophically, most men do not understand this issue to this day.”
A resurgence and understanding of Ayn Rand’s philosophy would go a long way towards combating irrationality in a way that’s Just Right – through the use of reason combined with a charitable attitude.