When most of us look at the matrix, we see that if we are selfish, we are theoretically guaranteed getting at least 50% of what we want from a particular situation, and we may get as much as 100% of what we want. On the other hand, if we cooperate, the matrix states we only have a 50% chance of getting 90% of what we want, and a 50% chance of getting nothing. This seems like a perfectly sane rationale for selfishness, and as Marx pointed out, it is, in a purely materialistic sense. This simple fact is why we should never approach things from a purely materialistic point of view; and why Marx, as brilliant as he was in laying out the faults of laissez-faire capitalism, was doomed to fail with his solutions. Unfortunately for Marx, when he died in 1883, Freud was only two years out of medical school, and had not yet created psychoanalysis.
In a purely human and societal sense, selfishness is insane.
In order for it to work, it requires us to treat both ourselves and other people as 'things,' not human beings, which as I have said elsewhere constitutes the basis of evil. We must alienate ourselves from our own humanity, and that of our fellow humans, in order for this system to succeed. It is a system which makes perfect sense to a criminal or a paranoid -schizophrenic, like Nash , or anyone who is fearful that they won't get what they believe is their 'rightful' share, which, given human nature, is generally more than they are justly entitled to. It is not a workable system in the long term for any society, because without cooperation, there can be no society.
The matrix for the 'Prisoner's Dilemma' says that honest cooperation will always get both sides most of what they want, while experience has shown us that selfishness will potentially get us an unexpected and undesired result, such as global thermonuclear war. If the long-term interaction of large groups of humans is viewed as an indeterminate, non-zero sum game, which the experts say it is (even though parts of the interaction between individuals may be a determinate or zero-sum game), then logically, for the group as a whole, honest cooperation is the best choice for group interaction."
One of the most important bits of information that is contained in the above paragraphs is the fact that more-or-less mentally healthy human beings have an innate understanding of two concepts: selfishness and fairness. Altruism is not an idea the average person automatically grasps. This is another reason why I believe that it is fairness and selfishness are opposites, while altruism and selfishness are inverses. (See my two OpEdNews articles " Illuminating Dichotomies ," and " Parabolic Thinking ," for more on this idea.)
Over the last three years, it has become more and more obvious that the selfishness of the One Percenters: the Wall Street bankers, hedge fund managers, and merger and acquisitions specialists; are incredibly destructive for America's economy in particular, and the World's economy overall. The tax breaks given to the wealthiest Americans over the last thirty years, and to many of the Western Democracies wealthiest citizens over the last fifteen years, have demonstrated that the rich as a group cannot be fully trusted with their money in terms of what is good for their nations or the world. The large speculative bubbles in the world of finance, especially the derivatives bubble that nearly wrecked the World's economy in 2008, are a direct result of the One Percenters around the World using the stock and commodity markets as if they were a gigantic casino, with fewer rules and more risk, not only for themselves, but the World around them.
Classic economic theory states that much of the money that capitalists make is supposed to be plowed back into the source of their capital: farms, mining concerns, manufacturing plants; small shops and factories; transportation. communication and other logistical systems; all of the sources that originally generated the capital. This is done not only to improve the quality and quantity of items produced, while lowering their per unit cost, but also to increase both workers' wages and shareholders' dividends. This in turn allows both the employees and the shareholders to afford either more of, or a newer version of the item, or even completely new and innovative products, from Henry Ford's Model T to Apple's i-Pad.
Part of the purpose of the tax system today should be to help insure that corporations and their owners reinvest most of their profits in improving their capital assets and expanding their workforce, rather than take all of the profits and spend them in a frivolous or predatory fashion. Because of the Michigan Supreme Court ruling in Ford v. Dodge (1919), corporations no longer have any responsibility to the public good, or that of their employees, or the long term fiscal health of the company. The corporation's sole responsibility is to maximize the dividends paid to its shareholders in a given time period. Only by assessing taxes that make it advantageous to do the right thing--according to classic economic theory--are corporations forced to act in a socially and, in the long term, financially responsible manner, rather than greedily gobbling up competition, engaging in dangerous financial speculation, and providing often undeserved bonuses and luxuries for the chief officers and board of directors.
These facts are making Vladimir Lenin appear to be as much of a prophet as Karl Marx, as Paul Craig Roberts pointed out in his October 6, 2009 OpEdNews article "Marx and Lenin Revisited." To quote from former Reagan Assistant Treasury Secretary Roberts article:
"Marx predicted the growing misery of working people, and Lenin foresaw the subordination of the production of goods to financial capital's accumulation of profits based on the purchase and sale of paper instruments. Their predictions are far superior to the "risk models" for which the Nobel Prize has been given and are closer to the money than the predictions of Federal Reserve chairmen, US Treasury secretaries, and Nobel economists, such as Paul Krugman, who believe that more credit and more debt are the solution to the economic crisis."
Ouch! The truth hurts.