Altruistic, 

Re-Establishing Altruism As A Viable Social Norm

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Relationships & Altruism

Millions of people are crowded into cities, but living a lonely existence. Why do people trust in money but doubt their fellow man?... While capitalism thrives on individuals' isolation, altruistic economics encourages strong relationships between family, friends and neighbours.

Just as the economic growth statistics take no account of the social realities behind the numbers, so the 'developed' world arranges human interaction in deliberately impersonal ways. The job market is focused on skills and away from personality. People are encouraged to pursue a career for the sake of the money, with little regard to the results of their actions on others, even on those closest to them.

In the busy, stressed world that is sometimes referred to as 'developed', it seems harder than ever to maintain strong, healthy relationships with our friends and family. Personal relations are more healthy in the financially poorer nations of the world.

Few could deny that personal relationships are a very important part of life, and yet classical economics has very little to say about them, as compared to anonymous, faceless, concepts such as 'market forces' or 'maximizing profit'. Many industries feed off people's fear and social isolation - a society of weak, depressed and exploitable individuals is more profitable for companies than one in which people enjoy strong relationships with family and friends. What are we to make of advertisers that try to encourage people into a 'relationship' with a particular company or product?

Supermarkets may be cheaper than corner shops, but does this necessarily mean they should replace them? Is a competitive model capable of encouraging people to work together and care for one another? The social blindness of an increasingly money-minded worldview should not be overlooked. Relentless pursuit of economies of scale has lead to large, impersonal institutions devoid of personal relationships.

Many tower blocks built in the 60's and 70's were conceived from sound economics and architectural models, but proved useless because they were designed with little thought about the community life of the tenants. A social and financial system with little thought to human relationships is just as flawed.

Consider a consultant who uses the classical capitalist model to choose who to work for - he works for the highest bidder. Simple. An altruistic consultant, by contrast, would choose the task which helps people the most. How can he know who he will help the most? The cold calculus of mathematics is gone - immediately, he cannot start to estimate this without having relationships with the potential clients. In practice of course, people have a mixture of altruistic and capitalistic motives - but the more altruistically they behave, the more important are personal relationships, and the stronger they become.

We should never forget that money is a fiction. It is always a mistake to let it make our decisions for us - they should be made for people by people. That means personal relationships.

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