As a libertarian, I respectfully make no bones about my belief that the highest value a country can embrace is the rights of the individual. With that, government’s major legitimate function is simply to protect those rights. This creates an environment where people can create value and trade freely with one another. (Protected from force and fraud).
This results in a very prosperous society for all; one in which a huge middle class exists and where charity abounds for those who truly cannot help themselves.
“Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other peoples’ interests first.”
Before answering, let’s take the question even a step further: “wouldn’t this focus on the rights of the individual make being part of an athletic team, a business team, a charity or committee nearly impossible? I mean, if one (or, if everyone!) is putting their own individuality first, how can they put other peoples’ interests first; how can they be part of a cohesive, effective unit?
Here’s my response to both:
A rational individual understands that he or she benefits most from cooperation with others (i.e., an “other-focus” rather than a “self-focus”).
A very simple example is the person who sells a product or service. They complete the sale (accomplish their individual goal) only by providing value to the other person. To do this, they must focus, not on their own needs, but on the needs of that person. By the “nature of the thing” they must put the other person’s interests first.
Now, take that same principle in terms of any type of relationship, whether business, social, sports, or romantic. It plays out the same way every time.
Politically speaking, the question might be: “Well, if individuals are so much better served focusing on other peoples’ interests, why, Bob, do you take such issue with big government and Socialism? After all, this is where the rights of the individual are totally subjugated and the interests of the whole are put first?
Aside from the fact that socialism hurts the masses (especially the poor and middle class) and freedom helps everyone, the reason is simple: One is based on choice and the other on force.
And, to me, that makes all the difference.