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Can Anti-Social Behavior Form the Foundation for Societies?

Can Anti-Social Behavior Form the Foundation for Societies?

By Dennis Loo (6/3/14)

Those who argue that selfishness is the most authentic human trait need to account for something: How is it possible for society to exist if most people in society behave selfishly? If most individuals are self-centered and are therefore engaging in anti-social behavior - i.e., they treat their own individual interest above those of the group and those around them - then how can society, which requires for its very existence that people cooperate in a network of mutual interdependence, even exist? 

It's true that selfishness and self-centeredness exist in varying degrees within societies outside of tribal societies. It's particularly pronounced in capitalist societies where individualism and the pursuit of material wealth are emphasized. But even in capitalist America where these traits are the most encouraged and lauded, if it were really true that people were in fact primarily selfish and greedy, workers could not work together. Teaching and mentorship more generally - which depends essentially on giving to others - would not exist. Children would not be nurtured and raised by their parents because to be a parent means that you have to sacrifice a great deal of your time, energy, and resources to support your children. People would get into car accidents constantly because they would not abide by the rules of the road and would not exercise any courtesy to others on the road. The collusion that goes on between oligopolistic sectors of the economy (e.g., between and among cable companies, oil companies, airline companies, etc.) who agree not to undercut each others' prices so that they can all charge more for their services, would not exist. In other words, even the sector most marked by ruthless competition demonstrates at least some marked signs of cooperation. Sporting contests could not happen because in order to compete in sporting competitions, the competitors must cooperate in the form of agreeing to abide by those rules and to meet at a certain field of competition at agreed upon times, to respect the decisions of referees, and so on. Groups such as couples could not exist because there are frequent differences between individuals in couples over what they want to do or how something should be handled, and if they were not at bottom cooperating in spite of those inevitable differences, then their being in a relationship with each other would have to end. 

The foundations for sociology and anthropology as social sciences rest upon the core fact that no matter what kind of economic organization exists among human beings, whether it's primitive communal society or industrialized capitalist society, cooperation and mutual interdependence must exist. If this were not always and everywhere true no matter what the ruling ideology is, then human society itself would be impossible. Human existence would be impossible because being human is not primarily a product of having human DNA. In order to become human you have to be taught and socialized into becoming a human being. Most of this occurs unconsciously in that people don't explicitly think about why they observe social norms. They generally do it because they've been raised to do so and nearly everyone except the insane and very young children realize that they need to abide by social norms. Why do social norms exist? Because without them we could not exist in groups at all. 

What those who think selfishness is an immutable human characteristic are doing when they argue for the neoliberal perspective of a "war of all against all" is mistaking the dominant ideology of our society for the actual operating and living conditions of our and any society. Since the system rules that we live under are invisible, it is difficult, though not impossible, for people to recognize those rules as the governing ones. The reason why people are so shocked by the behavior of someone like Elliott Rodger who went on a killing spree in Isla Vista is because he violated rules fundamental to our very existence as a society. The reason people despise mothers who in the rare instance kill their child is because without mothers nurturing and protecting their children, we could not continue to exist as a species. The reason why in a much milder context most of us are a little upset when we hold the door open for someone walking behind us but the person we are helping doesn't even act like they notice this favor is because our interactions with each other can only continue because we help one another and acknowledge that cooperation. When we get upset about something like the preceding, we don't generally know why we're upset on a conscious level because the rules of social interaction are so ingrained in us and so important that they operate on an unconscious level most of the time.

To say, by the way, that there is mutual interdependence even in capitalist society isn't the same thing as saying there isn't exploitation under capitalist society. Exploitation exists side-by-side with and can only continue to exist through a foundation of unconscious cooperation, coercion and deception. When enough of the working class and other sectors realize that capitalism's defining characteristic is exploitation, that it is a system that can only be changed through a radically different system, and that it is destroying the earth, then they and their allies will cooperate consciously to dismantle this economic and political system and replace it with one that is consciously governed by the logic of social need being paramount. Then the actual operating conditions of cooperation can be matched by a ruling ideology that explicitly recognizes the actual needs of society rather than an ideology that clashes with humanity and the planet's actual needs and that justifies tearing the social fabric and treating the planet and people as inanimate objects to be ruined for private profit. 

Comments   

 
0 # jnandez 2014-06-04 19:03
It is very easy to at first think that selfishness is at the very core of a human being. I used to think this because I would refer to how a small baby acts. A small baby for example cries whenever they want anything and does not cater to anyone's needs but their own. But babies, whom are not fully developed humans, are not actually selfish but are learning to live. Fully developed humans learned how to survive and would not have done so alone and selfishly.
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0 # giovanna serrano 2014-06-05 02:26
I find it interesting on how you say about first babies being selfish. But rather than selfish indeed like you say they are learning the way of life. However it is rather as we get older that we start learning about being self centered and therefore, behave in anti-social behaviors. As fully developed humans that we learn to be we are not taught so by independently or selfishly but rather we are taught to survive by other humans.
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0 # tiffany 2014-06-08 17:02
I agree with both the comments above yet one thing that caught my attention is when you said that we are not "taught so by independently or selfishly," though I agree it made me think about what they are teaching us. They teach us to survive in a world with so many other people yet they teach us to be independent, with that people can take different approaches. That in order to be independent one might have to act selfishly.
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0 # SOC 123 2014-06-11 00:31
I understand what you are saying, but are humans completely selfness? I mean when we volunteer and do charities is that considered selfness? Or is it selfish because we want people to know the good we do?
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0 # agris 2014-06-05 23:51
I like this understanding of the word selfishness. I would have never thought to think of a babies needs in such a way. This makes me to rethink how I use the word selfish in my vocabulary and the understanding I've had of it in all my life experiences.
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0 # Natalie Rivera 2014-06-08 21:00
Many of us are seamlessly conditioned by society to be selfish, unless our family instills compassion and consideration for others. Our society is fast paced, and competitive, and being ethical does not always equate to success many. However, I feel that true success should be viewed based on morals and ethics not material things.
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0 # cglov3r 2014-06-09 02:27
Yes, it is in fact very easy to assume that selfishness is at the core of majority of the human species. I used to believe this as well. I assumed many of the social issues that exist were due mostly to the ideals of individualism and that everyone was out for themselves. While this may be true os some, it is not in fact true for most of society. The issues that exist do so because of the system under which we live. And, they continue to exist under this system because people do not realize its existence.
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0 # soad 2014-06-09 05:55
I agree with your statement. Babies don't know anything, they are born and given everything- toys, care, food, etc. However a babies parents sacrifice everything to make sure their child is okay and nothing wrong will happen to them. Although children are known for being selfish, they do grow up and learn that not everything is about them. Although we are taught that we have to be independent and we have to work to get what we want, we're still taught this from other people. We're rarely ever completely independent and selfish because we do rely on the help of others and vice versa.
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0 # tiamari 2014-06-10 00:09
I used to think that humans were inherently selfish. I can now understand that humans are social beings. Humans are interdependent on each other.
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0 # Belinda Kil 2014-06-11 21:47
I also think that it is very easy to think that "selfishness is at the very core of a human being" especially when looking at how a small baby acts as well. Although, all the actions that a baby displays is one that seems selfish, the actions should not be taken that way. Because baby's are not developed anywhere near an intelligent level until years of growing and learning we shouldn't call or explain their actions as selfish. Because a baby cannot communicate the same way we adults can right away, they do whatever they can to communicate their needs. This can seem selfish, but they just don't know any better.
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0 # Susan Torres 2014-06-04 20:40
This greatly reminds me of a topic we were discussing in another sociological class. A term that greatly describes this belief that selfishness is an authentic human trait is doxa. Bordieu refers to doxa as attunement between the objective world and our perceptions of it which result in the misrecognition of the world as natural. Certain beliefs has been so engrained into us that we believe they are natural. It can better be explained through the dominant class ( capitalism/ elite) and the working class. The dominant class in a way naturalizes the ways that they exercise dominance over the working class. Selfishness could be seen this way in which its a way to keep us divided and have the working class think in an individualistic way. It is seen as something natural that existed without any human creation when in fact it was. This could be a reason why many of us make the mistake of saying that everybody "deep down" is selfish but as the article mentions cooperation is necessary.
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0 # jnandez 2014-06-05 20:08
Many people may have accepted this naturalization because of Darwinism and Herbert Spencer's "survival of the fittest". Unfortunately they are misinterpreting these ideas. What they were ORIGINALLY referring to was natural selection, where successful biological traits are passed onto following generations over time. The sad truth here is that many people manipulated this phrase and ideology to justify and implement the idea that only the fit can and must survive. Here, people think that all must fend for themselves to become more “fit”/ benefited i.e. selfishness. So things like inequality are justified within the economic and political infrastructures . Thus, humans become blind to it and think it is natural.
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0 # agris 2014-06-05 23:40
"Teaching and mentorship more generally - which depends essentially on giving to others - would not exist." I can see how this could be selfless however, if one is thinking of teachers and mentors in today's society it can also be argued to be selfish. For these reasons, one how many teachers do we have at schools and instituions that come to work on a daily basis and reuse to be paid in wages? Second, how many teachers or mentors that open their homes, personal lives, weekends, or any and all hours of their lives to their pupils? People are selfish possibly by nature, possibly but the capitalist country we live in. But my point is that there is always an incentive to do what we do wither it be out of personal satisfaction or personal gain.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-06-06 03:10
The point is not that people who are in service positions do it for free. The point is that those who do those kind of jobs aren't doing it mainly for the money. Otherwise you'd have to abandon doing any teaching because you don't go into for the money.
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0 # Natalie Rivera 2014-06-08 21:17
Yes Dr. Loo, true success is measured by doing what one enjoys. Money is important and material things are nice, but it is more valuable to live a life in which one contributes to others. Unfortunately, one does not always receive recognition for a selfless career, but helping others is a reward in itself. I wish more people felt the same way. It has been a pleasure for me to be a student in your class this quarter.
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0 # Marisol Parra 2014-06-08 23:32
Agree Natalie that society is materialistic; people will do whatever it takes to fulfill such power. Capitalist is the logic of profit which is capital the poorer are exploited by the rich. Throughout life we are taught to be selfishness in order to achieve profit. If we look at the systems coercion is practiced upon society.
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0 # Natalie Rivera 2014-06-09 19:22
Yes Marisol, we are conditioned to be selfish by society. This is because we live in a fast paced society, in which we are expected to produce instant results. We are taught that instant results will keep us at the "top" of our game. Therefore, indeed this can be considered coercion of our system.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-06-09 19:33
Quoting Natalie Rivera:
Yes Marisol, we are conditioned to be selfish by society.
To be more specific, it's the dominant class and dominant economic system of capitalism that promotes this ideology of selfishness. Society in the generic sense can't function in actual fact based on selfishness since society requires cooperation to even exist.
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0 # Natalie Rivera 2014-06-10 03:45
Thank you for breaking it down Dr. Loo. This makes sense, since capitalism can not exist without a group of individuals to control and exploit. Those of us that do not belong to the dominant class, are conditioned to follow the ideology promoted by capitalism. Yet, as you mentioned we all need of each other in order to exist. So perhaps in some form capitalism has layers, since there are always layers within layers of dominant classes.
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0 # Agris 2014-06-08 23:01
My point is not that teachers are soley there for the money but more that there is always a personal gain wither it be financially or personal satisfaction that it is hard to say that an action can be considered selfless. If there was no personal satisfaction; if we did not feel like we are doing the right thing by speaking up; if we do not feel good by donating food and clothes to the homeless, would we as people still do it? That is a tough statement to make because as human we have emotions and they will be tied to everything we do. Just as discussed in class people are in pursuit of pleasure and not of pain. For me and with that in mind how can one classify selfless from selfish?
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0 # Danielle waldman 2014-06-08 23:09
I agree that people are selfish and individualistic , but saying that teachers are selfish because they do too get paid is completely untrue. I do not know a single person that has gone into the teaching profession because of the pay. Teaching the children of the future is one of the most selfless occupations out there today. And teachers do bring their work home with them. My mother is a teacher and is constantly working and building relationships with students and their families because she does it not for the pay but for the children.
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0 # Jason Kubanis 2014-06-12 00:12
I completely agree teachers are the most unselfish, I personally know a special education teacher and she takes her work home every single night. And no most teachers that I have met have gone into teaching because they love having the influence on the future. And they love making an impact whether it is only one student or multiple students.
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0 # FAVELA001 2014-06-12 04:27
No matter what the profession is, one cannot live in our society while refusing wages. How would they live? As Dr. Loo mentioned, most teachers aren't in the business of educating (and at times babysitting) another persons child because the pay is lucrative. How many students come in to class and offer to buy a teacher dinner, or stay late and help clean up or simply walk them to their car late at night? Teachers are constantly opening up as much as they can. How selfish is it of you to say that a teacher should be available at any and all hours? Are they not permitted to lead a life like you simply because they've chosen a profession that serves others? How many teachers allow for extensions and extra credit because you claim "life" got in the way? Allowing you an extension or extra credit is interfering on their life. It is requiring extra time and attention because your "life". They do this, not because they get paid more or receive any more incentive.
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0 # agris 2014-06-05 23:48
"The reason why in a much milder context most of us are a little upset when we hold the door open for someone walking behind us but the person we are helping doesn't even act like they notice this favor is because our interactions with each other can only continue because we help one another and acknowledge that cooperation." I don't understand this analogy. I have never once been even a slightest bit bothered for not receiving a response to such a social interaction. However if a door is not opened for me it is a bit insulting. For instance recently on a date as I approached my dates car he did not open the door for me and continued to sit in the car without hesitation. Is that similar?
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-06-06 03:08
Yes, that is similar.
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0 # MarieB 2014-06-08 22:38
I think the idea about holding doors open for others is just one of those unexpected things that beckons a smile and positive, unexpected social interaction. It's like paying it forward and karma, you hope that by doing something pleasant for others without any expectation of reward will somehow inspire others to do the same and make society better. I'm a huge believer in that, and even though it takes some motivation and effort to write thank you cards or smile at strangers or cover the change of the person before you in line, things like this would hopefully happen more if more people did them, because people remember nice things.
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0 # Agris 2014-06-08 23:06
I definitely agree. I feel expressions of manners and etiquette is something we as people do in hopes and possibly expectation that others would do to others. I could even say it has become a habit for members that reside in a community. You do it to not upset those around you and you feel good by acting out a simple gesture of kindness to those you live around.
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0 # tiffany 2014-06-09 01:23
I agree with this comment. I believe that you shouldn't expect anything nice to be done to you but you should never hesitate to do something nice for strangers. Walking on the street and exchanging smiles when eye contact is made, open doors and thank you's should be social interactions done by everyone. Yet that is not always the case and that is why we should not be be disappointed or offended. There are different people in the world and I believe if we continue to live by these social interactions society will become more positive.
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0 # Danielle Waldman 2014-06-11 22:44
I too agree that people should do nice things for others, but I think that many people are offended when the same gesture is not returned to them because it is so very common and it is much as a social norm as the other way around. We do those things not because we want to do good but because we have been socialized to do them and so when someone does not return that favor we are annoyed because we start to expect the similar behavior for others around us.
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0 # Luvlife1 2014-06-09 02:10
I definitely agree that it's like paying it forward and Karma. I understand that sometimes if I make a small gesture towards someone and they don't acknowledge it it's okay but if they do it definitely motivates me to continue doing it more often.
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0 # Heng Chang 2014-06-09 03:55
Yes, I agree. Sometimes as human beings, we should learn to do things without expecting anything in return because in reality, not everyone will be like you. Not everyone will treat you the way you treat them and if you are doing something and expecting it in return, it will lead to disappointment. Do it because you want to and is willing to.
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0 # SOC 123 2014-06-11 00:36
I really liked your comment. You gave me a different perspective. I didn't realize that when I do nice gestures I subconsciously do it to get good karma and hopefully someone would so a nice gesture back to someone else.
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0 # Dbug 2014-06-06 00:40
It would not be possible for society to exist if most people behaved selfishly.
In fact we need each other in order to survive. A common fallacy is that individuals are more important than systems. In actuality, systems are stronger than individuals and no matter what kind of economic organization exists among human beings, cooperation and mutual interdependence must exist. As social creatures we are dependent of other people.
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0 # Aria 2014-06-10 18:05
I agree with what you have written Dbug. As a society we are governed by systems that not everyone is fully conscious of. It is like a fish in a fishbowl - when the fish is in its bowl it does not think about the water it is in and its environment, but when it is taken out it sees what is really surrounding it. We really are social creatures and without people working together, our society would fail. Maybe not everyone has to behave selfishly, but we all need times where we can behave selfishly to help us get to what we want/need sooner. If we always relied on others for everything, we would not get a lot of things done.
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0 # marcos1 2014-06-06 07:11
A lot of people don't realize how much we actually need each other to survive. A lot of children have this problem with their parents, taking them for granted, not grasping what they really do for them. They think to themselves that they'll move out and blah blah blah, until they're faced with the reality of bills and how hard it is to make money. So too many people look down on other people, like immigrants that work in the fields, or take the back-breaking jobs. There would not be a need for immigration if we had a more leveled playing field across the world but that's a different topic. I do however believe that people are selfish, it isn't what drives them, but it is one of the things that we have in our essence, just like being selfless is. Whichever one of those we feed more is the one that wins.
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0 # minnie 2014-06-08 22:32
I agree with what you have stated marcos1. What I believe that also contributes to the reason why “a lot of people don’t realize how much we actually need each other” is the way that people are socialized. American individualistic society advocates that the individual is greater than the group. When the societal norms become a part of us, they play a key role in the way we view situations and how we handle them. However, I do not feel that everyone is doomed to societies’ rules and that there are people who hold collectivistic tendencies and live within an individualistic society. I believe that if individuals were to place more emphasis on their belonging to a group, they might think and/or act differently
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0 # Daniel Gomezzzzz 2014-06-06 18:50
This can be considered an aspect of the contradictions within individualism. Contradictions that (as you have pointed out) are being expressed today in a state of sheer individualism as the primary philosophy of society. As Margaret Thatcher has stated rather bluntly "I think we have gone through a period when too many children and people have been given to understand “I have a problem, it is the Government’s job to cope with it!” or “I have a problem, I will go and get a grant to cope with it!” “I am homeless, the Government must house me!” and so they are casting their problems on society and who is society? There is no such thing! There are individual men and women and there are families and no government can do anything except through people and people look to themselves first.." This has left immense inequality and devastation for many, being left "on there own", rather than interacting and getting what they give into society.
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0 # comparar seguros de 2014-06-07 00:41
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0 # bobbybmartinez 2014-06-07 01:46
I feel as though, selfishness is a characteristic that was formed by the rise of capitalism. Capitalism in its essence would not be true capitalism without selfishness. After all, capitalism's drive is to maximize profit, and it is nearly impossible to do so without selfishness and exploitation.
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0 # MarieB 2014-06-08 22:52
I think that is politically true along with other social factors, because selfishness had to have existed before the political system of capitalism was invented. The US has been ranked as a very vertical-indivi dualistic society, compared to a horizontal-coll ective society that places their priorities on their friends and family and community. I guess it depends where you go in the US because we hear of the kind and hospitable small town mentality compared to the busy and cautious city mentality.
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0 # Dbug 2014-06-09 00:36
Capitalism would be impossible without selfishness and exploitation. This outlook has also been used to explain success of individuals. Many believe that success is due to the individual's own hard work, but disregard the hard work others (for example parents or teachers)have done for them. They have also contributed a great deal to allow success. Parents and teachers set foundations that allows us to rise. If we truly lived in a society that was driven by selfish and self-centered individuals we wouldn't be able to learn nor survive.
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0 # bobbybmartinez 2014-06-07 01:54
@dennis Loo

I agree, I myself went to a private school all of my life, and it is true that most teachers at private schools get paid less than those that teach at a public school, With that being said, I had some of the best teachers I could have asked for, I truly believe that I would not be where I am today if it weren't for those teachers that helped me along the way. I believe that people do care about others and how society ends up, if not then there would be no teachers at all, lets face it, they are some of the most under paid jobs out there.
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0 # tiffany 2014-06-09 01:24
I completely agree with you. Sometimes taking a teaching job isn't by choice, whether its public or private school, its a job. Yet, the occupation chosen is one that takes some caring.
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0 # Manuel Arias 2014-06-11 05:07
i do see your point, i initially didn't agree with it, but looking back i did had some great teachers who i am really thankful for what they do. they do tend to go the extra mile for their students, you can see when they care for your education because they believe in you and push you to do better. they don't get pay what they should, and they are there doing what they love. it shows they want the best for our society to do better.
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0 # Sinnerman 2014-06-07 09:33
Society could arise from naturally selfish being if it was established by those who originally planned to benefit from it. Being self-centered doesn't necessarily mean being anti-social, for it is very possible to act in your own interest with harming or impacting society.As to the role of jobs like teaching have rewards such as payment, social status, and personal fulfillment which all have a selfish aspect to it. Don't have much of a reason against the idea that parenting is a waste of time for a selfish individual to be honest. My problem with this argument though is that we aren't the starters of this society, and honestly we don't have a choice whether we want to be a part of it or not. The people have given the government so much power that even if someone decided they weren't a part of society and broke all the rules the government would just come and lock them away. At this point no one has any choice but to go along with rules or leave civilization completely via antartca
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-06-07 15:27
Quoting Sinnerman:
My problem with this argument though is that we aren't the starters of this society, and honestly we don't have a choice whether we want to be a part of it or not.

You've stated my point yourself: we are all brought into a pre-existing group (i.e., society) and we don't have a choice about that. We could not survive or become human without a pre-existing group. This was how it was from the very beginning and will be so as long as humans exist. That is why the notion of selfish motives being the foundation of society is not possible. If altruism is at bottom selfish, as you and some others argue, then there really are better ways to be selfish than to be self-sacrificin g. Do people who help others such as pick up their fallen groceries for them really do so mainly because it makes them feel better? Or do they do it because they know that we are better off when we help each other because we are a group?
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0 # Sinnerman 2014-06-07 23:00
I know that I'm not representative of human nature, but upon analyzing my own reasons for acts like helping someone with groceries it isn't selfless. I usually do it to attempt to distinguish myself as a harmless, good person when compared to the stigma of "dangerous-ness " minorities face. Usually I don't even really want to help them, and I end up doing so while still arguing in my head "don't bother".
I would put forth that people are altruistic because society expects and actually demands it from certain people depending on their roles. For example I have a hard time believing firefighters are all acting completely out of selflessness, and that the prestige, money, and social stigma they would face for cowardice aren't motivating factors behind their behavior.
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0 # Karla Garcia 2014-06-08 13:21
i believe that to some degree most people are selfish but we are taught to try and repress those feelings because it is frowned upon to be like that. and its true if we as human beings were just selfish than we wouldn't be able to co-exists with others and there for we wouldn't be able to have children because having children means giving everything you have to make sure they have everything they want and a selfish person couldn't be able to do that no matter how hard they tried.
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0 # Luvlife1 2014-06-09 02:19
I completely agree with you on the fact that most people are selfish to some degree, and most people can't freely express what they really want because it would not be fully acceptable, i.e. if a fireman wants the recognition of being brave and the status that the job comes with they would hide with the portrayal of saving people's lives.
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0 # Jessica Ulloa 2014-06-08 17:25
Dr Loo has stated many times before in class, Human beings live in a pre-existing system called society; therefore it would be very difficult to state that our foundation of society is made up of selfish people. I find myself one of those people who become bothered when another person does not acknowledge the courtesy that I have done by holding the door, instead of letting it slam in their face. Yesterday I went to the Mall and I held the door for a family. I tend to hold doors for those behind me regardless of their age, ethnicity, gender, etc. I do this because I feel it’s what I am ‘supposed’ to do per social norms. The look on the woman’s face when I held the door was as if she was in shock; I get this time to time when I hold the door for another person; Apparently to them it is uncommon for another person to help out another person. We do live in a society where we all have to work together to continue the society.
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+1 # mdAngel 2014-06-08 19:44
It is sad to think in todays world that people being selfish has become second nature. We intend to worry about our own well-being and the fear of others hurting us before attempting to help them. Society has become more about "me" rather than "we."
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0 # Natalie Rivera 2014-06-08 20:44
Unfortunately we live in a materialist society, that is motivated by instant gratification. Our society expects instant results, and does not practice the virtue of patience. Many walk all over others in order to attain what they want. It seems that selfishness has no limits.
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0 # jnc 2014-06-10 19:46
I agree with your comment. People today are less patient and want instant results for anything. Individuals will knock over people next to them in an effort to reach the top. Because people have become to be so selfish, there is no unity or sense of community. And since there is no community, there can be no change to the problems that are relevant around them. If people learn to put their selfish needs aside and work together with one another, change would be evident.
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0 # Shannon Barkley 2014-06-09 04:38
This is a very true comment. Not only are the consumers, which is everyone in society selfish, but also the big business owners and creaters are highly more selfish. These companies just keep putting out new versions of the same product and they have a large part of society wanting to by the next best thing continuosly. If networks would just have a couple of the same phone instead of a new one every year, then maybe society would not be so caught up with the mind set of having the next best thing. "Society becoming more about "me" rather than "we" is so true, unfortunately. People have these goggles on of how can I make my life better rather than looking how they can be better and how it affects the people around for the better, and helping out others too.
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0 # Jessica Rodriguez 2014-06-08 20:27
I know very few people who believe the war against all, and i think that there selfish but in a ambition type of way. which the goal is to earn money, especially when your not "rich". i don't believe that anyone is truly selfish, it just doesn't exists. at the end that person will do what there doing for themselves and for someone else as well.
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0 # tiffany 2014-06-09 01:27
I agree. I think that a person who is truly selfish would not have any social interaction at all. That means they wont be married, wont have children and would not keep in touch with family or have friends. Any of those relationships mean being selfless in a way, therefore not truly selfish. In terms of ambition to earn money, yes, people will do anything to go up and stay there.
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0 # Natalie Rivera 2014-06-08 20:37
I agree, those that are being exploited outnumber those that exploit them. Those that exploit are well aware that they are outnumbered by those that they exploit. For this reason, deception and fear are used to exploit. However, if and when the exploited become aware of their true power, then will there be a revolution and change.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-06-08 20:50
It has no limits in the sense that capitalism as a system has no limits for its selfishness.
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0 # Natalie Rivera 2014-06-09 19:46
Very true, and this brings to mind a class example discussion on the matter. We discussed the fact that many of the products we use are made in third world countries. In these countries people are exploited, by working in inhumane conditions for hardly any pay. The rich own the companies that that exploit their laborers, in order to quickly produce a large volume of products for consumer use. The more products are sold, the more money is made.
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0 # zzchi 2014-06-08 21:45
I was reading a book the other day, and it talked about exploitation under capitalism. I could not help but to think anyone who trades their labor for pay is being exploited in one way or another. Granted, people with higher educations are compensated more in their pay, but they are still being exploited. The working class, on the other hand, work strenuous jobs and long ridiculous hours just to make ends meet. However, they sometimes, do not make ends meet. I believe we have a crude system that shifted to benefit those in power and those who make the rules. In no way does exploitation look or sound appealing, so lies are told and deception takes place. Nothing will be done until the working class realizes what is going on and takes a stand to fight back.
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0 # minnie 2014-06-08 22:06
I think it is fascinating to realize that from birth we already belong to a preexisting group. This article reminded me of Edward Sutherland’s differential association theory in regards to intimate groups. I very much agree with the notion that peer groups are a big factor in determining how one will interpret something. I think it is also interesting to note that although American society tends to advocate individualistic values, the capitalistic society which we live in needs to survive off of mutual interdependence . I am not ignoring the fact that there isn’t exploitation however. We need one another as humans to survive. I think this fact needs to be reinforced in our society so that we as a species will strive for the greater good.
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0 # BBalty 2014-06-09 01:28
I completely agree with the points Dr. Loo has made in this article. Society is a thing within itself and it exist as a system. Since it is a system is also has a system logic which is the interdependence of the individuals within it. We cannot be inherintly selfish and self centered because that would go against the logic of a society. Therefore it proves that we are not selfish as a species, it would have been impossible for us to have made it this far if that were true. Like Dr. Loo mentioned this still does not mean that explotation cannot exist. It actually further proves that the people who are expoliting are dependent on the fact that they have individuals who they can exploit.
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0 # Christine Lopez 2014-06-09 01:48
Looking back at the power point slides imperialism the highest stage of capitalism. " The very nature of capitalism profits by dominating markets and capitalism =drive for profits".
Not everyone is selfish some people might be selfish because they are competing for resources or to gain power. everybody needs someone that is why group work and society work better when most people agree and help each other. most people have gotten really far in live because they have had someone to help guide them through the right direction.
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0 # Sme 2014-06-09 03:33
In the social sciences the concept of nature vs nurture is always discussed as being an important part of societies. When we talk about humans being selfish we are talking about nature and who we are and this shows a form of survival that we have since we are born, but there is also the nurture factor that affects all of us, we are able to function as a society due to the fact that we have others. We depend on other from the moment we are born. Societies exist because we need other in order to survive without nurture from others humanity would not even exist.
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0 # Heng Chang 2014-06-09 03:51
As babies, we are immature and selfish because all we wanted was attention, and we were ignorant. We didn't know what society was and we didn't need to get along with anyone or anything because we had things our way and we were the center of the "world". It is as if we were born to be selfish because it's part of human nature. But as we get older and become mature beings, we learned that in order to survive we need to control our wants and ideas and let other thoughts flow in also because we need other people to survive and in order to get along well, we need to learn how to cooperate.
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0 # Shannon Barkley 2014-06-09 04:31
Just as a generic answer to the title, no anti-social behavior can not lead to a society. As explained in the article people need the interaction of other people to be able to live, function and go about their everyday lives. If everyone was indulging in this anti-social, selfishness behavior, then it is almost like the society is just every man for themselves and everyone just exhists around one another. Although they may exhist around one another, if the do not have a mutual interdependent relationship then a society can not be formed and people would be going in all different directions.
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0 # karen cornejo 2014-06-09 06:03
The whole idea with being selfish as babies amd then growing out of it sort of seems unfair. A new born baby has no way of living on it own so it is obviously dependent on his or her parents to survive and crying for them is not a for of selfishness but a sign of communication because that is the only way they can communicate. Of course as they get older they grow out of that and become less selfish but more self centered because they now know the things they want and how to get them
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0 # Sherlock 2014-06-09 08:44
I think there are a lot of moments in a person's life where they act selfish without realizing it. I think that there are times where people do nice things for others, not just because they are trying to be a good person but because they expect the recognition and praise that goes a long with helping someone. I myself, have caught myself thinking that several times. We are so in tuned with how social systems are supposed to be and with the manners that we are taught as kids that we learn to expect praise for doing these things and when we don't get it, we feel upset. However, that can be seen as a selfish thing, since we are not doing it just to do it. I think it would be great if more people were selfless and giving, but feel as if that is becoming more and more rare with each new generation.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-06-09 09:06
Quoting Sherlock:
We are so in tuned with how social systems are supposed to be and with the manners that we are taught as kids that we learn to expect praise for doing these things and when we don't get it, we feel upset. However, that can be seen as a selfish thing, since we are not doing it just to do it.
The fact that it's common for peo to expect others to appreciate it when we do them a favor isn't a sign of selfishness. It's a sign that social life consists of mutual expectations and inter-dependenc e. If we don't show others that we appreciate it when they give us an assist, that failure to show appreciation is a sign of someone who is anti-social or at least someone who hasn't learned the basic rules of social intercourse. Cont.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-06-09 09:10
Cont.: Thus, it's not inappropriate to expect normal courtesy from others and it's not a sign of selfishness for us to expect some sign of appreciation because if we're operating in a community in which others can't be counted upon at least most of the time to show that they understand that we need each other in order to survive and thrive, then the essential glue that holds a society together is missing. The view you're articulating is that peo, to be truly altruistic, must act as if they are NOT inter-dependent on others. That behavior, however, is not only unrealistic, but is actually a kind of individualism because it's based upon seeing oneself as not connected to others in a give and take relationship. It's based on the idea that one is only a giver and never a receiver. That is a one-sided and unreasonable position to adopt. What is commonly seen as "altruistic" then is in fact a concealed form of individualism because it's a rejection of the common bounds of mutual inter-dependenc e that link us all together as a community.
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0 # Sherlock 2014-06-10 05:49
I feel that you took part of my comment out of context. I in no way, meant that people only give and never receive. I believe multiple people can do both. However, I feel that people are not being taught the "basic rules of social intercourse" as often nowadays. I work in a customer service job and see children everyday with their parents not learning proper rules and etiquette. However, I still believe that people are in fact interdependent on one another. People need each other to survive, no matter how anti social you are. Yes people need space alone from time to time, but that doesn't mean they don't ever need to speak or see people. I never meant from my previous comment that people didn't need each other.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-06-10 17:02
I don't think I misunderstood you. You said that altruistic peo are those who expect nothing in return for what they do and that therefore no one is really being altruistic in society. I pointed out that that definition of altruism is a mistaken notion and the fact that generally peo DO expect to be acknowledged for their doing things for others isn't a selfish thing at all but an understanding of the necessary ground rules are for a society to even exist.

As to the point about peo needing each other: Yes, we do as you say, need each other and I would agree with you that selfish entitlement is being all too much encouraged nowadays.
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0 # Slovebee 2014-06-09 18:05
Part 1
I agree with the main theme of this article. I also do not think that anti-social behavior can form the foundation for societies. I just don't see how that can work. If everyone was found to be anti-social then the idea of a system/society would be counterproducti ve. Some part of me believes we all have an innate want to cooperate and work with each other, to show those around us love. And I think we also have a capacity to be selfish at a very early age; especially when we see young toddlers grabbing for a toy and yelling, "Mine!" Even if the parents have done their best to teach them how to share and maybe have never yelled the word "mine" around their child. Well, where did the child learn that from? Like we talked about in class, SOC 302, we are social creatures. We need systems and the people who make them up.
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0 # Slovebee 2014-06-09 18:05
Cont... Part 2
We need them for survival and we need them to be happy. This reminds me of 'Into the Wild', where the main character runs away to survive on his own and find happiness between him and nature. He spends years trying to find himself until he realizes that any kind of fulfillment and happiness comes from those around him, it comes from those whom he loves.
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0 # Viceless 2014-06-10 02:49
Human beings especially in Capitalist societies are pretty selfish. Does that mean in every instance every day that we are all selfish? Or that there aren't people who are more or less selfish than others? No. There are exceptions to every rule and people vary in their actions based on moods as well. To say that our society is not inherently selfish is not completely true. When we break it down people are mainly looking out for themselves and anything that they have a vested interest in. That means there own personal belongings as well as any people they feel belong to them in a way. For example if a parent were to hear that a daycare building had collapsed that their child along with 20 others were in who would that parent run in trying to find first? Their child would be priority 1. Now if they found their child and knew they were safe that parent may well help other parents look for children even if that meant they themselves may be harmed in the collapsed building.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-06-11 14:04
Quoting Viceless:
When we break it down people are mainly looking out for themselves and anything that they have a vested interest in.
If you were to look at the last 10 articles or so that I have posted at this website and also read the comments thread for my many comments in response to some other people's comments, you would see that I have explicitly argued against this very notion vigorously as contrary both to the empirical evidence and as contrary to the basic principles of sociology. If what you say here were true, that peo are mainly selfish, then sociology would not be and could not be a science.
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0 # Viceless 2014-06-10 02:52
Cont. People can afford the luxury of being unselfish when they do not necessarily have much at stake. But if a belonging of theirs is at risk along with a belonging of someone else you can believe that the owner of said belonging, person, etc. is going to focus on their own life first.
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0 # James Dewey 2014-06-10 22:46
(part 1 of 2)I feel as though there are a lot of extremes in this argument. To counter the example of the people abiding by the rules of the road, if people were motivated by pure selfishness then wouldn't self preservation and preservation of ones belongings be under the category of selfishness? It would then behoove the selfish driver to make sure as to not hit anyone, in order to preserve both their Self's and their Car's bodily integrity. The same could be said of the couples example, if someone were truly motivated by hedonistic selfishness then it would behoove that person to tailor their behavior in order to maximize what they can use their partner other person for.

I feel as if selfishness is more apparent in the capitalistic society than this article makes it out to be, just not the same type of selfishness. It is true that profit at all costs is the capitalists motto.
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0 # James Dewey 2014-06-10 22:46
( part 2 of 2) However, what leads a company to resort to exploitation as a means of profit. There are honest companies out there such as Starbucks who are concerned with ethical business, and red-bull who are concerned with mass marketing, where even though they are still making a profit the amount of exploitation to their workers is kept to a minimum. A selfish company such as McDonalds, or British Petroleum who put the need for profit above health, and environment moral standards. So in turn the issue lies with how much the capitalists concerns themselves with profit and how they get it, and the trait that would dictate how much profit one wants is greed and selfishness. Which sounds like is the core problem this article has against selfish companies.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-06-10 23:13
This really comes down to a question of what is at the heart of sociology and what makes it a science. If what you say in your comment were true, that self-preservati on rather than social preservation were key, and if different companies are different in the degree to which they abide by the logic of capitalism, then sociology would not be a science. Part of the issue here is that you are substituting system logic for variability of degrees of behavior by individuals and corporations. Is Starbucks governed by the drive for profits? Yes, absolutely. Are they as cutthroat about it as say BP Petroleum? No. There is scope within a system for different individuals to behave in varying ways. But both Starbucks and BP are capitalist companies and offer shares on the stock exchange. The fact of their variability in the traits of CEO's doesn't undo the fact that this is a specific economic system guided by the logic of capital accumulation. Cont.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-06-10 23:17
Cont. Exploitation is not a choice was to whether or not a corporation will exploit workers and resources. Exploitation is the way that all capitalist corporations must operate. Their CEO's are variable in terms of how extensively they are going to exploit but they all must exploit. "Fair Trade" coffee, for ex., isn't all that it appears to be. If you judge these things on the basis of the variability rather than the norm that governs them overall, then you are going to see the trees but miss the forest. That forest, or more generically put, the system, is what allows sociology to be a science because the fact of systems' existence and the governing logic of them is what makes most social behavior and in this case specifically economic behavior normative. The fact that something is normative doesn't mean that everyone does it to the same degree. There are exceptions to every rule. But there ARE rules. Cont.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-06-10 23:23
You're arguing in essence that individual variability is more significant than the norms. That would mean that no system really exists and all that is notable and significant is individuals. That would mean that there are no patterns in human behavior and therefore sociology could not be a science. When I refer to patterns I don't mean that absolutely everyone and everything behaves exactly the same. To use an analogy here: you could similarly argue that the fact that some men are not male chauvinists and not male supremacists means that patriarchy doesn't exist. Patriarchy is a system of beliefs and practices. The fact that some men aren't patriarchal doesn't mean that patriarchy doesn't exist. Similarly, the fact that some corporations aren't as cutthroat as other corporations doesn't refute the existence of capitalist exploitation as the governing logic of the system of capitalism.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-06-10 23:35
The reason I've gone on in response to your comment and why I've stressed this point in numerous articles and in class is because if you reject this premise for sociology on the basis of what the wider culture has taught you and perhaps what your personal observations lead you to believe, then you can't really get the rest of sociology and make full sense of it since it's the keystone for the whole edifice.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-06-10 23:34
Quoting James Dewey:
Which sounds like is the core problem this article has against selfish companies.

It's a redundancy to say "selfish companies." It's like saying a "bloodthirsty vampire." Vampires have their nature, just like corporations. They might and do vary in the degree of it, but they are all fundamentally after profit and they all exploit human labor and resources. Some might be nicer about it in some ways, but they all operate in the same basic fashion. As Zimbardo points out about the famous Stanford Experiment, some students who played guards were not as sadistic as other student-guards were, but not a single one of the guards broke ranks with the guards and condemned their fellow guard's sadistic behavior. Cont.
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0 # Manuel Arias 2014-06-11 00:47
as mention in the article selfishness is the most authentic human traits, i would agree to that. first, ever since we are little we tend to only care for our things, and we always want more, or we want what the other person has (toys, phones, clothes) not caring what it will take to get it. and i know as a society we must function together in order to make it work, but it does not mean we are not selfish because of that. i see the main corporations being selfish, because they are controlling/eli minating all other little companies that get in their way.they go for what they go for what they want without caring about the effect it will bring to the company and its employees. we are always selfish, we just have to know how to work it to out advantage to get what we want.
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0 # Belinda Kil 2014-06-11 21:34
I felt that this article brought up many agreeable and disagreeable points. I agree with the point that it "kind of is" impossible for human's most authentic trait to be "selfishness" for the same reasons the article explained. But I also think that it could be possible for human's most authentic trait to be "selfishness". The article basically explained that the basis of society and the very essence of society would be impossible if human's authentic trait was selfishness. But what if human's most authentic trait really is selfishness, and because they know that they can't exists unless they coexists they work together for that important reason. I think that this kind of thinking could be possible, and even if this kind of thinking isn't apparent and obvious. I believe there are traces, one obvious example being exploitation. Working together is one thing, but when one only thinks for themselves they could work with others but use them in the end for themselves, hence: exploitation.
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0 # Nice Psychopath 2015-02-24 04:40
As a psychopath, I think that even sadistic selfish individuals are cooperative, simply because sometimes it is more profitable.
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Elaine Brower 2

Elaine Brower of World Can't Wait speaking at the NYC Stop the War on Iran rally 2/4/12