When we think of good, we have to consider the question of Good for Whom? Society today, especially the left thinks in terms of the collective good. Where the theist bases what’s “good” as what’s pleasing to God, the secular philosophers have tended to replace God with society. Asking what is good for society. This moral framework, based upon altruism (refer to Ayn Rand for additional insights on this) is the negation of one’s own self-interests in favor of society. Though the altruistic approach seems good on the surface, even to theists, especially Christians, upon further reflection on how this value actually plays out in the real world, one can see the cracks in the secular altruist’s argument. Mainly, how do we define what is good for all of society? We as individuals, cannot determine what is best for society, for we can never have a complete enough picture of what society most needs, at least not to a moral certainty. Moreover, is the simple fact that no individual can act on behalf of society. Is there any evidence that history provides us that leads us to conclude that society is a worthy proxy for God when determining matters of morality? Which society was worthy of such a distinction? The Ancient Romans? The Mayans? 20th Century Europe?
Altruism seems good, even Biblical, but cannot serve as a code of ethics. The problem with altruism isn’t that self-sacrifice is bad, it’s that it allows society, not the individual, to make the call on who is required to sacrifice their own best interests and why. Society is the majority, and altruism makes one’s actions subject to the need of the collective. If free will is a coequal virtue with life, one cannot subordinate it to the whims of the majority. Outsourcing moral decisions to the majority is contrary to the exercise of free will. It is in fact, its negation. Altruism, to the theist, is God offering one of the two greatest gifts to an individual, and the individual saying “No thanks.” To both the theist and non-theist, altruism is the slavish dedication to the whims of the majority, an abdication of personal moral responsibility. Now, self-sacrifice is noble and virtuous if the values of the individual are in accord with the needs of society in that case. If the whim of the majority happens to coincide with those of the individual, then self-sacrifice may be in order, if the individual’s rational best interest matches those of the majority’s. The sacrifice must be of equal and mutual benefit to both society and the individual. History has shown, however, that this is not always the case. The medieval kings of Europe asked their subjects for their fealty, a significant portion of everything they produced, and their freedom in return from their protection, oftentimes that “protection” was from their own soldiers. They in turn lived like well…kings. Communists demand the freedoms and the means for people to make a living, including factories, businesses, and farms be turned over to the state. If the people are lucky, they are allowed to keep enough for basic subsistence. In the former Soviet Union, many were not allowed even that, and millions starved to death. Meanwhile, members of the Communist party lived quite well, thanks to the sacrifices of others. Even today, some of our political leaders want the burden of debts they and others voluntarily took on in hopes of enriching themselves to be taken on by the taxpayers.