- Capitalism and Alternatives -
What 'self-interest' really hides
Everybody pursues his private interest and only his private interest; and serves thereby, without wanting or knowing it, the private interests of all, the general interests. The point is not that, with everyone pursuing his own private interest, the totality of private interests, that is the general interest, is attained. Rather, from the same abstract phrase the conclusion could be drawn that everybody mutually hampers the assertion of the interest of others, and that instead of a general affermation a general negation results from the bellum omnium contra omnes. The point is rather that the private interest is already a socially determined interest and can be attained only within the conditions set by society and with the means provided by society; that is to say, the private interest is bound to the reproduction of these conditions and means. It is the interest of private people; but its content, as well as the form and the means of realization, are given by societal conditions independent of all.