Egoism Will Destroy Democracy

A group picture during the G7 Foreign and Development Ministers summit.

Perhaps one of the most conspicuous phenomena in recent years is the deterioration of the public’s trust in the authorities. Whether it is demonstrations against Covid restrictions, protests against economic reforms, or riots against policies on any topic from education through migration to defense, the public is losing trust in its elected officials in democratic countries. The problem is that the most selfish and exploitative are reaching the top positions, and people are not blind to it. Until we correct the abusive nature of our relationships, regimes will become increasingly corrupt until they fall apart altogether and war and violence take over.

Because we are narcissistic, we take to narcissists and place them at the helm of our countries. Instead of choosing people who will cater to our needs, we elect the most egoistic people to run our most “open” societies. Recently, the self-absorption of leaders has made them so corrupt that people can no longer ignore it. Finally, people are waking up and they are angry.

Since the 17th century, contemporary democracy began to take shape as parliaments began to form, and kings and the clergy began to cede power to elected bodies. Democracy reached its highest status after two world wars, when democratic countries saved the world from despots in Germany, Italy, and Japan.

Following World War I, a first ever intergovernmental organization emerged, the League of Nations, which later changed its name to the United Nations, and whose principal mission was to maintain world peace.

But neither democracy nor the United Nations lived up to the promises they made. Democracy did not provide real freedom of expression, although for a while it made us feel like it did, and the UN has been a total failure when it comes to maintaining, or even advancing world peace.

Worse yet, over time, humanity has become increasingly egoistic, a trend which has only accelerated in recent years and still continues. People today are so self-absorbed that if you test them by the standards that were used only a few decades ago, they will “qualify” as narcissists.

Because we are narcissistic, we take to narcissists and place them at the helm of our countries. Instead of choosing people who will cater to our needs, we elect the most egoistic people to run our most “open” societies. Recently, the self-absorption of leaders has made them so corrupt that people can no longer ignore it. Finally, people are waking up and they are angry.

On the one hand, citizens’ intensifying resentment toward governments is a good sign, indicating that people are realizing that our leaders are not leading us anywhere good. On the other hand, it is a precarious situation since the volatility of the social tensions could lead to intense eruptions of violence whose nature and outcome are anyone’s guess.

Another peril that stems from our growing narcissism is that unless the government gives us exactly what we want, we cannot accept its legitimacy. Democracy is built on the governance of the majority, while considering the needs of minorities. It is not built to contain a situation where minorities are constantly subverting under its foundations. The growing destabilization can lead to one of two outcomes: anarchy or war. Neither is welcome.

In order to prevent what seems like an inevitably doomsday scenario, we need to address the root cause of the dissolution of free societies: human egoism. We can do this only if we cater to our egoism by showing that it is in our own best interest to cooperate and be considerate toward each other.

The current reality demonstrates all too well that we cannot move without affecting numerous other people. Any delay in the production or supply chain of almost any product immediately creates worldwide delays that hamper economies and disrupt the lives of billions of people the world over.

Humanity produces abundance of everything. Every single person in the world could be satisfied if only we cared for one another and wanted it to be this way.

If we realized it and acted on this realization, we would create a completely different world. We would not need to worry about totalitarian regimes since denying others freedom would be tantamount to denying freedom from ourselves.

Co-dependence creates affinity. When people are sympathetic toward each other, they begin to care for one another not only on the emotional level, but also on the physical and material levels.

Humanity produces abundance of everything. Every single person in the world could be satisfied if only we cared for one another and wanted it to be this way.

Therefore, instead of attempting to stifle other people’s egos or (worse) hiding our malice under a veil of fake smiles, with knives behind our backs, we should harness our egoistic tendencies to our collective benefit. If we realize that each of us is dependent on all of us, our egos will tell us what to do in order to guarantee that every one of us is satisfied and happy.