Cuff and colleagues examine th

Cuff and colleagues examine the widely held idea that human
beings are naturally selfish and competitive – that selfishness is in the
nature of all living things – as an example of an ideological concept:

Such a view has two features which are common among
ideologies: the suggestion that it is simply in our nature to be selfish and
self-interested; and the implication that there is nothing we can do to change
it because it is built into our natures. From the Marxist point of view, we are
not innately competitive in this way. To talk about the natural, immutable
competitiveness of the human species offers a false picture of our human
natures. Such theories serve to justify a socio-economic system – competitive
capitalism – which is based on unrelenting individual competition. These ideas
justify that system by suggesting that, first, it gives full rein to our
fundamental human natures and is therefore best suited to us and, second, there
is little point in disapproving of or attempting to moderate the
competitiveness of the system since it is our nature to be competitive . . . In
one way or another, systems of ideas play this ideological role of convincing
people that they cannot change their society, or that it is not worth their
effort to try changing it.

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