In an article for the Mises Daily, Gary Galles addresses a common fallacy of confusing selfishness with self-interest.
Economists assume that individuals are self-interested. That simply means that there are some things each person cares about; some ends matter more to them than to others. Its consequence is that each person would prefer command over — i.e., the power to decide about the use of — more resources rather than fewer, because that allows us to advance whatever ends we value more effectively than we could otherwise. But valuing command over the disposition of more resources is not a monomaniacal focus on oneself (bold emphasis added).
If all a person cared about was limited to himself or herself, that person’s self-interest could be equated with selfishness. But if someone cares about anything or anyone else beyond themselves, then this differs from selfishness in several important ways (bold emphasis added).
I’m in a particularly blunt mood, so I’ll be direct.
It’s good to discern the difference between the two, but if you think about it, it’s also a moot point.
So what? So what if I, and all other libertarians, are horribly selfish? What’s their point?
I don’t get it. What does it have to do with politics or laws? What does it have to do with the justification for the state? How does forcing me to do what you say make me selfless? Is compliance intended to make us selfless? I don’t comply with the IRS because I’m altruistic. I do it to avoid being thrown in jail and having my property confiscated. I don’t obey laws that were passed on their supposed “virtue” because I’m selfless. I obey because I will be a victim of state violence for disobeying them. Some may call these “selfish” reasons.
So what’s the point? Selfishness and selflessness are both states of mind. As hard as you want to try, you can’t force someone to think or feel a certain way.
What, then, is the objective?
In reality, proponents of state violence are incredible selfish. It’s about projecting and self-deceit as they steal and expropriate in the name of altruism.
Physician, heal thyself.