Selfishness Quotes

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Quote Author Cited
Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else. Frederic Bastiat
The love of liberty is the love of others; the love of power is the love of ourselves. William Hazlitt
It is too difficult to think nobly when one thinks only of earning a living. Jean-Jacques Rousseau
What are your masses [of humanity] but mud to be ground underfoot, fuel to be burned for those who deserve it? Ayn Rand
The strength of representative democracy is its ability to slow down those in power who wish to govern by blank cheque, but also those not in power who wish to yank the state about on the sole basis of their self-interest. John Ralston Saul
me-firstism Michael Lerner
Everyone thinks chiefly of his own, hardly ever of the public interest. Aristotle
Selfish men, and this country is not without them, men whose mounting bankrolls loom larger than your happiness, corporations without souls and without virtue, those fearful that this government might impinge on what they have grown to regard as its immemorial right of exploitation will whisper against us. They will call us radicals. They will say that this is the first step on the road to socialism. Richard Bedford Bennett
A political huckster, who lives upon the reputation as well as the wealth of his ancestors; intense egotism being the characteristic of his appearance, and selfishness that of his action. Boston Atlas
Seek a common good beyond your comfort. George W. Bush
They have got as far as they can go, because they own their land in common .... there is no enterprise to make your home any better than that of your neighbors. There is no selfishness, which is at the bottom of civilization. Till this people will consent to give up their lands, and divide them among their citizens ... they will not make much more progress. Henry L. Dawes
Great nations rise and fall. The people go from bondage to spiritual truth, to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependence, from dependence back again to bondage. Benjamin Disraeli
A small acquaintance with history shows that all governments are selfish and the French governments more selfish than most. David McAdam Eccles
I don't believe the makeup of America is as solid as it was 40 years ago. Society has become more selfish and, as a result, less dedicated to the common good. Millions hail a culture that is now more concerned with money and appearances than with genuine accomplishment. Barry Goldwater
Short-sighted is the philosophy which counts on selfishness as the master motive of human action. Henry George
How the Russian revolutionists loved each other before they had anything to divide! Edgar Watson Howe
Until nations are generous they will never be wise; true policy is generous policy. All bitterness, selfishness, etc., may gain small ends, but lose great ones. Washington Irving
The rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes. Andrew Jackson
The selfish spirit of commerce which knows no country, and feels no passion or principle but that of gain. Thomas Jefferson
Taxes on acquired wealth would be the fairest solution. But such taxes have met an invincible resistance among the possessors, who are the most powerful. … The selfishness of possessing classes is not reducible. We have to adopt to it. Gaston Jeze
Protectionism is a monster ... the essence of human injustice. It is the acme of human selfishness. It is one of the relics of barbarism. Alexander Mackenzie
It is nothing less than a shocking indictment on western society that we spend so much on ourselves and so little on those on have nothing. George Carey
How few are there, who, having a family, children, and relations, do not spend more on the maintenance and education of these than on their own pleasures David Hume
The United States is pursuing a series of goals (spreading democracy, asserting its hegemony, securing oil supplies) that are ultimately incompatible. Slavoj Zizek
How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortune of others, and render their happiness necessary to him. Adam Smith
Whenever any one of them [world leaders] hath striven to improve its country’s condition, his motive hath been his own gain Bahaullah; Husayn Ali Nuri
A good chief gives, he does not take. Mohawk Indian Tribe
Each bird loves to hear himself sing. Arapaho Tribe
You can always hear the people who are willing to sacrifice somebody else's life. They're plenty loud and they talk all the time. You can find them in churches and schools and newspapers and legislatures and congress. That's their business. They sound wonderful. Death before dishonor. This ground sanctified by blood. These men who died so gloriously. They shall not have died in vain. Our noble dead. Dalton Trumbo
Our civilization is built on competition, and competition evolves itself crime to so acute an infatuation has the lunacy of self-interest carried our dominant opinion. Henry Demarest Lloyd
We contend against reason, philosophy, and nature itself; forget the great rule of doing to others as we would they should do unto us ; and after wasting our blood and treasure to no purpose, we at last sit down faint and exhausted, abandon our vain projects only because it is impossible to pursue them, and then leave it to the reasoners of a succeeding age to show how egregious has been our folly, and how blind our fury. William Smyth
[Politicians and political party] leaders themselves, though they originally may have meant nothing but their own aggrandizement, become many of them in time the dupes of their own sophistry, and are as eager for this great reformation as the weakest and foolishest of their followers. Adam Smith
Men in their private capacities may be allowed to prefer their single profit, but should consult only the general good in public councils. Charles D'Avenant
Slavery, like all other great systems of wrong, founded in the depths of human selfishness, and existing for ages, has not neglected its own conservation. It has steadily exerted an influence upon all around it favorable to its own continuance. And to-day it is so strong that it could exist, not only without law, but even against law. Custom, manners, morals, religion, are all on its side everywhere in the South; and when you add the ignorance and servility of the ex-slave to the intelligence and accustomed authority of the master, you have the conditions, not out of which slavery will again grow, but under which it is impossible for the Federal government to wholly destroy it, unless the Federal government be armed with despotic power, to blot out State authority, and to station a Federal officer at every cross-road. This, of course, cannot be done, and ought not even if it could. Frederick Douglass
The ends you serve that are selfish will take you no further than yourself; but the ends you serve that are for all, in common, will take you even into eternity. Marcus Garvey
The school of laissez faire, of which you seem to be a pronounced advocate, has produced great men in advocating the theory of each for himself, and his Satanic Majesty taking the hindermost Samuel Gompers
We corrupt the word of truth, and mix ... our doctrine with what is common and cheap... in order to turn the adulteration to our profit, and accommodate ourselves to those who meet us, and curry favor with everyone, becoming ventriloquists and chatterers, who serve their own pleasures by words uttered from the earth, and sinking into the earth, and, to gain the special good will of the multitude Gregory of Nazianzus
In all history no class has been enfranchised without some selfish motive underlying. If to-day we could prove to Republicans or Democrats that every woman would vote for their party, we should be enfranchised. Carrie Chapman Catt
History of Ireland—lawlessness and turbulency, robbery and oppression, hatred and revenge, blind selfishness everywhere—no principle, no heroism. William Allingham
All history attests that man has subjected woman to his will, used her as a means to promote his selfish gratification, to minister to his sensual pleasures, to be instrumental in promoting his comfort; but never has he desired to elevate her to that rank she was created to fill. Sarah Moore Grimke
Politics is not an end, but a means. It is not a product, but a process. It is the art of government. Like other values it has its counterfeits. So much emphasis has been placed upon the false that the significance of the true has been obscured and politics has come to convey the meaning of crafty and cunning selfishness, instead of candid and sincere service. Calvin Coolidge
The hopes of the Republic cannot forever tolerate either undeserved poverty or self-serving wealth. Franklin D. Roosevelt
Beware of all men who would turn the tasks and the necessities of the nation to their own private profit or use them for the building up of private power. Woodrow Wilson
A superior man thinks of what is right. A small man thinks of profit. Confucius
There is nothing democratic about the Whig. He is essentially a cold and selfish aristocrat who believes that the British Empire was created by Providence and exists for no other purpose than to keep in power a few Whig families. Randolph Churchill
His military experiences have been confined to shooting a fleeing Spaniard in the back on the slopes of Kettle Hill in Cuba.... No other conspicuous American public man would behave with such squalid selfishness. William Randolph Hearst
There is not a more mean, stupid, dastardly, pitiful, selfish, spiteful, envious, ungrateful animal than the Public. William Hazlitt
... the wrong and evils of the money-piling tendency of our country ... giving all power to the rich and bringing in pauperism. Rutherford B. Hayes
In the ideal socialist state, power will not attract power freaks. People who make decisions will show no slightest bias towards their own interests. There will be no way for a clever man to bend the institutions to serve his own ends. And the rivers will run uphill. David Director Friedman
The inescapable fact is that when we build a society based on greed, selfishness, and ruthless competition, the fruits we can expect to reap are economic insecurity at home and international discord abroad. Thomas Clement Douglas
It is absurd to suppose, if this is God’s world, that men must always be selfish barbarians. Charles Fletcher Dole
Economic Man faces a merciless world alone and unaided, his hand against every other's. Lionel Trilling
Persons in high situations must particularly guard themselves against selfishness and vanity. An individual in a high and important situation will easily see a great many persons eager to please the first, and to flatter and encourage the last. Leopold II
The Portuguese are, as you say, a most inconceivable set of selfish politicians Queen Victoria
After I asked him [a student] what he meant, he replied that freedom consisted of the unimpeded right to get rich, to use his ability, no matter what the cost to others, to win advancement. No decent society can tolerate that definition. Norman Thomas
The social organization of work is the most complicated and difficult problem that humanity has ever had to solve. it requires the free participation of all to the joint common work, and, consequently, to a reconditioning) of men that bring them to overcome their selfishness and understand their duty towards themselves and towards the community. Afrikan Aleksandrovich Spir
When a man makes his personal interests the mainspring of his life and he is greedy to make use of everything that can benefit him, he naturally enters into conflict with other persons, acting also in their own interests, hence the disagreements that can become a hundred years old, and drive whole generations to a mutual hate.. Afrikan Aleksandrovich Spir
The Republican Party has been captured by a bunch of extremists … People who maintain that markets will take care of everything, that you leave it to the markets and the markets know best. Therefore, you need no government, no interference with business. Let everybody pursue his own interests. And that will serve the common interest. Now, there is a good foundation for this. But it's a half-truth. George Soros
All for ourselves, and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind. Adam Smith
The news is being flashed far and wide, and before our earth has revolved on her axis every civilized community within the reach of the electric wires will have received the tidings that civic freedom has been granted to the women of New Zealand. ... It does not seem a great thing to be thankful for, that the gentlemen who confirm the laws which render women liable to taxation and penal servitude have declared us to be "persons"... We are glad and proud to think that even in so conservative a body as the Legislative Council there is a majority of men who are guided by the principles of reason and justice, who desire to see their womenkind treated as reasonable beings, and who have triumphed over prejudice, narrow-mindedness and selfishness. Katherine Wilson Sheppard; Catherine Wilson
I have learned, by some experience, that virtue and patriotism, vice and selfishness, are found in all parties, and that they differ less in their motives than in the policies they pursue. William H. Seward
On the question of racial discrimination, the Addis Ababa Conference taught, to those who will learn, this further lesson:, That until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned:, That until there are no longer first-class and second class citizens of any nation; That until the color of a man's skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes;, That until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race; That until that day, the dream of lasting peace and world citizenship and the rule of international morality will remain but a fleeting illusion, to be pursued but never attained;, And until the ignoble and unhappy regimes that hold our brothers in Angola, in Mozambique and in South Africa in subhuman bondage have been toppled and destroyed; Until bigotry and prejudice and malicious and inhuman self-interest have been replaced by understanding and tolerance and good-will;, Until all Africans stand and speak as free beings, equal in the eyes of all men, as they are in the eyes of Heaven; Until that day, the African continent will not know peace. Haile Selassie
For the purpose of acquiring gain, everything else is pushed aside or thrown overboard, for example, as is philosophy by the professors of philosophy. Arthur Schopenhauer
The balance between the cooperative and altruistic tendencies and those which are disoperative and egoistic is relatively close. Under many conditions the cooperative forces lose, In the long run, however, the group centered, more altruistic drives are slightly stronger. ... human altruistic drives are as firmly based on an animal ancestry as is man himself. Warder Clyde Allee
Socialism proposes no adequate substitute for the motive of enlightened selfishness that to-day is at the basis of all human labor and effort, enterprise and new activity. William Howard Taft
… a good society ensues from the selfish pursuits of individual men. Leland Hazard
Adam Smith did not foresee powerful labor unions or social welfare or heavy technology. He marveled at the productivity attained by division of labor in the making of pins. He knew nothing about single electric-current circuit breakers big as a house. Although accumulation of capital from profit and its reinvestment in productive equipment were cornerstones of his philosophy, the scale of investment required for the subsequent technological advances was beyond his ken. Amusingly, he saw no future for the corporation, because, in his opinion, such an artificial body could not marshal the selfish, driving search for profit so fundamental to his system. Leland Hazard
The current public aspiration seems to be: Get what you can. Can what you get. Sit on the can behind gated fences. Patricia Schroeder
...the smallest minds and the selfishest souls and the cowardliest hearts that God makes. Mark Twain
The liberty to live for self alone becomes in time a weary bondage. Florence L. Barclay
Republicans ... are conservatives who think it would be best if we faced the fact that people are no damned good. They think that if we admit that we have selfish, acquisitive natures and then set out to get all we can for ourselves by working hard for it, that things will be better for everyone. They are not insensitive to the poor, but tend to think the poor are impoverished because they won’t work. They think there would be fewer of them to feel sorry for if the government did not encourage the proliferation of the least fit among us with welfare programs. Andy Rooney
Whatever miseries this war brings upon us, it is making us wiser, and, we trust, better. Wiser, for we are learning our weakness, our narrowness, our selfishness, our ignorance, in lessons of sorrow and shame. Better, because all that is noble in men and women is demanded by the time, and our people are rising to the standard the time calls for. For this is the question the hour is putting to each of us: Are you ready, if need be, to sacrifice all that you have and hope for in this world, that the generations to follow you may inherit a whole country whose natural condition shall be peace, and not a broken province which must live under the perpetual threat, if not in the constant presence, of war and all that war brings with it? If we are all ready for this sacrifice, battles may be lost, but the campaign and its grand object must be won. Oliver Wendell Holmes
Political parties exist to secure responsible government and to execute the will of the people. From these great tasks both of the old parties have turned aside. Instead of instruments to promote the general welfare they have become the tools of corrupt interests, which use them impartially to serve their selfish purposes. Theodore Roosevelt
We must especially beware of that small group of selfish men who would clip the wings of the American Eagle in order to feather their own nests. Franklin D. Roosevelt
I swear by my life, and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine. Ayn Rand
The moral foundations of a society do not extend only to its political system; they must extend to its economic system as well. America's commitment to capitalism is unquestionably the best example of this principle. Capitalism is not, contrary to what those on the left have tried to argue, an amoral system based on selfishness, greed, and exploitation. It is a moral system based on a biblical ethic. There is no other comparable system that has raised the standard of living of millions of people, created vast new wealth and resources, or inspired so many beneficial innovations and technologies. The wonderful thing about capitalism is that it does not discriminate against the poor, as so often has been charged; indeed, it is the only economic system that raises the poor out of poverty. Capitalism also allows nations that are not rich in natural resources to prosper. Margaret Thatcher
No one should be allowed to throw a region and even the whole world into chaos for selfish gains Xi Jinping
… as a rule capitalists and entrepreneurs are not saints excelling in the virtue of self-denial. But neither are their critics saintly. Ludwig von Mises
Hitler is a very great man, like an inspired religious leader—and as such rather fanatical—but not scheming, not selfish, not greedy for power, but a mystic, a visionary who really wants the best for his country … Anne Morrow Lindbergh
No one expresses very great faith in the unselfishness of human being and everybody seems to acknowledge the fact that we must count on a certain amount of greed and willingness on the part of some human beings to prey upon others. Eleanor Roosevelt
… as a nation we haven't expected our government to show foresight in the development of the land. We have allowed individuals to do as they thought best and they could hardly be expected to have an altruistic attitude on the future. Now we are faced with lands that must be returned to buffalo grass or trees in order to prevent the suffering which many of our people are enduring today. All of us will gladly help in the emergency but I hope we will do more than that, and set ourselves to studying the things which have caused these conditions and never rest until our government remedies them. Eleanor Roosevelt
The major forces in human nature: self interest and caring for others Bill Gates
Politics these days is a disgusting game of mudslinging, filled with selfish people with selfish aims. Munir Butt
Slavery is founded in the selfishness of man's nature -- opposition to it is in his love of justice. These principles are an eternal antagonism; and when brought into collision so fiercely, as slavery extension brings them, shocks, and throes, and convulsions must ceaselessly follow. Repeal the Missouri Compromise -- repeal all compromises -- repeal the Declaration of Independence -- repeal all past history, you still cannot repeal human nature. It still will be the abundance of man's heart, that slavery extension is wrong; and out of the abundance of his heart, his mouth will continue to speak. Abraham Lincoln
It is enlightened selfishness to build up the ability of other nations to a higher standard of living. We thus produce wider markets for ourselves as well as the rest of the world Eleanor Roosevelt
Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders’ equity, myself included, are in a state of shocked disbelief Alan Greenspan
I have been much impressed in my experience at Washington, by the way, with the infernal selfishness which is so evident at the hearings on the tariff questions. Too many of our people are "after theirs" in the tariff problems, but equally insistent that other lines of business--producing materials they must buy--should get out on the free trade limb. Arthur Capper
There is or there has been in the past much selfishness in the northern White man's motives in opening up Africa, and in his interference in the disorders of the Black man or the Brown. Harry Johnston
Signs everywhere now show a great moral awakening—the cleaning out of rotten business & still more rotten policies. But we’ve only begun! For the first time, men were questioning the fundamentals of democracy, inquiring whether we truly had self-government in America, or whether it had been corrupted by selfish interests. This questioning came not alone from what one might call the working class, but from middle America as well. Ray Stannard Baker
The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy, that is the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness. John Kenneth Galbraith
It is impossible for either nations or individuals, in the management of a dispute, to have the benefit of two opposite chances. They may be, from the first, moderate, pacific, magnanimous; they will thus secure certain advantages, and they will lose possible advantages. They may, on the contrary, be haughty, warlike, and selfish ; their chances and advantages will then be the reverse of the former. It is impossible to unite the two. William Smyth
Competition has brought about two great opposing opinions; one that Government should do nothing, the other that it should do everything. The first arises from the contemplation of the immense wealth heaped up under a system of unimpeded individual action, and of the extraordinary folly and selfishness of the customs and legislation that controlled such action in the past. The second arises from the sufferings which unimpeded individualism has brought upon the working classes, who cry out that Government is bound to protect them from misery and starvation Arnold J. Toynbee
Why don’t more doe-hard abortion opponents fret over embryos discarded during the course of IVF [in vitro fertilization]? The reason is that destroying an embryo in pursuit of a baby is part of a noble struggle, whereas destroying an embryo to finish high school or law school or even to put enough food on the table for other kids is considered selfish at best. Katha Politt
We have become too much a society of consumers rather than a society of citizens. Norman Lear
Men will always be powerfully influenced in their Opinions and Actions by what appears to be their particular Interest. Benjamin Franklin
That spirit of freedom which, at the commencement of this contest, would have gladly sacrificed everything to the attainment of its object, has long since subsided, and every selfish passion has taken its place. It is not the public but private interest which influences the generality of mankind; nor can the Americans any longer boast an exception. George Washington
The only one that matters is me. I am the only one that matters. Donald Trump
This is why it’s so hard for women to publicly accuse men of predatory actions. The victims are perceived as dramatizing and self-important. They risk not being believed. Or getting blamed. Or having crimes investigated improperly. Or being called selfish, mendacious. Women suffer automatic credibility deficits when leveling such accusations, while men enjoy “himpathy,” -- the “excessive sympathy sometimes shown toward male perpetrators of sexual violence. Kate Manne
The whole history of the world has been the struggle between the selfish and the unselfish. Garson Kanin

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