The Crucial Differences Between Capitalism and Altruism

Jul 08, 15 The Crucial Differences Between Capitalism and Altruism

In a perfect world, capitalism and altruism could exist but such coexistence is not possible in any system we currently know. This is because capitalism and altruism are diametrically opposed concepts. If we examine these further, from a philosophical perspective, it becomes clear that both can relate to one another but cannot truly coexist.

Altruism is Sacrifice

It is not sacrifice when a billionaire gives away 10% of his income to charity, although it can seem sacrificial. True sacrifice would be for that billionaire to cease producing wealth entirely and devote his or her life to self-sacrifice. Capitalists are often expected to embrace altruism, which is a different concept from being charitable.

 photo capitalism-and-altruism_zpsjqqttl9q.jpg

The root of altruism is selfless sacrifice. Sacrifice means exchanging something of greater value for something that has less value to you. We all work to produce for our families and our communities. That is the essence of capitalism: the idea that humans are selfish by nature. Capitalism seeks to tap into the root of all evils, our own greed, and turn that energy toward public good will.

Working Together

There can be capitalists that exhibit altruistic tendencies, and indeed Bill Gates is one example of many. There are multiple people in higher tax brackets that have made extraordinary pledges to donate 10% of their income to charities.

A more appropriate term to describe this relationship between capitalism and altruism is “philanthropy.” Philanthropy takes into account ideologies like a love of humanity, a characteristic that does not exist in capitalism.

Perhaps the primary difference between the two is that one is motivated by emotion, and the other by self-preservation.