The Myth of the Do-Gooder

There’s the old saying that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Much like the adage that absolute power corrupts (absolutely), the spirit or intent of what is being said is accurate, but the actual statement itself is slightly off.

The real road to Hell is paved with the pretense of good intentions. It is a common mistake to take people at their word who say they are “only trying to help” or that their political agenda is out of selfless, noble desires.

These people are known as “do-gooders,” and in my opinion they are among the most dangerous people involved in politics. What makes them so is that they genuinely believe they absolutely, unquestionably know what is best for other people, so much so that they are willing to employ coercion and aggression to get their way.

When logic and reason fails to persuade, appeals to emotion via “I am only trying to help!” comes out, followed by force.

The Messianic complex cannot be understated; they strive to control others in the self-delusion that despite any pain, suffering or harm they cause to others, it’s in their best interest and if they would stop fighting change their lives would improve.

These are the people to whom the end justifies the means.

Ironically enough, these do-gooders operate from a similar, those distinctly separate vein of selfishness libertarians get accused of. That libertarians can be selfish is both true and irrelevant. The question is whether or not an action, selfish or not, violates property rights. The most selfish a libertarian can be is simply wanting to keep that which they earned and own.

Do-gooders, however, are equally selfish; and worse. They want to keep what is theirs and take what is others, in keeping with a quasi-sociopathic logic. They also engage in selfish behavior and project it onto others by feigning selflessness.

But let us examine their oft-repeated exclamation that they are only trying to help.

When it comes to do-gooders, the telltale sign of a true believer is one who stubbornly refuses to let go of an ideology or political solution which has long been disproven through repeated (and failed) experimentation.

Several examples are the War on Poverty and the War on Drugs. Both have cost taxpayers trillions of dollars, and yet no gains have been made in either reducing drug use or poverty levels, which have remained stagnate ever since a war on being poor was declared in the 1960s. They have also contributed significantly to the destruction of civil liberties and the bloated budgets of federal bureaucrats.

Yet, progressives and conservatives still cling to these ideas, because to left it go would be to surrender the power they so crave. If their intent is to help people, then their actions have to be based around what is practical, i.e. what actually achieves their goal. If getting people out of poverty or reducing drug use were the true goal, the questions they would ask, and therefore the solutions they would propose, would be different. What actually gets kids to stop using drugs? What actually helps people get out of poverty? Is what we’re doing truly making progress?

These questions are only answered indirectly, because they are inconsequential to the real accomplishment of gaining and using state power.

Do-gooders are not trying to help anyone but their own ego – and their wallets at the same time.

By their fruits ye shall know them; “do-goodners” are almost exclusively interested in using the state to solve societal problems, many of which are the direct result of prior state intervention.

Food for thought.

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One Response to The Myth of the Do-Gooder

  1. Pingback: Hell’s Angels | The Anarchist Notebook | Libertarian Anarchy

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