It’s Time To Stop Being Kind To People
Pathological kindness has become one of the greatest threats to civilization.
From top-to-bottom, society has conditioned us to think kindness is an unmitigated good. The golden rule to “do unto others as you would have others do unto you” is one of the most remembered lines of Jesus, but the lesson is near ubiquitous across both the world’s religions and secular moral philosophy. To be kind is one of the first lessons we teach our children. Our greatest works of fiction have focused on the heroism of kindness. Even our advertising frequently uses the morality of kindness to ingratiate us to brands.
But far from an unmitigated good, kindness has a dark side. The once virtuous cell of kindness has metastasized into a cancer. The evolution of kindness, manifested in the unparalleled cooperative ability of mankind, enabled the development of civilization.
In contemporary times, however, pathological kindness has become one of the greatest threats to bring about its destruction.
In the beginning, kindness was not a luxury, but a need. To escape the poverty and starvation inherent to the state of nature, humanity had no choice but to learn to be kind to each other in order to successfully cooperate and produce what they needed to survive. As the great economist Ludwig von Mises explained, “[w]e may call consciousness of kind, sense of community, or sense of belonging together the acknowledgment of the fact that all other human beings are potential collaborators in the struggle for survival because they are capable of recognizing the mutual benefits of cooperation, while the animals lack this faculty.”
“However,” Mises continues, kindness was not developed as a virtue purely in the abstract. “we must not forget that the primary facts that bring about such consciousness or such a sense are the two mentioned above. In a hypothetical world in which the division of labor would not increase productivity, there would not be any society. There would not be any sentiments of benevolence and good will.”
Kindness became a virtue precisely because it’s productive. But, in a world of abundance, kindness instead now often eats away at the resources of society. In a prosperous, advanced society where individuals have moved up Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, expressions of kindness towards those who cannot or will not help themselves has been able to develop as a dominant virtue.
Kindness towards those who cannot help themselves is indeed a virtue; anyone of us could fall into this situation through no fault of our own. But kindness towards those who will not help themselves, who seek to leech off of us rather than contribute to society’s progress, is where virtue slips into vice. Most dangerously, those who are successful at taking advantage of society’s kindness rarely admit they will not help themselves, but wear the mask of those who cannot.
When a scammer takes advantage of your kindness to profit at your expense, we all know they’re the bad guy. But when someone claims victimhood and takes advantage of you by passing laws and regulations, we’re supposed to call that the justice of democracy.
This is the politics of Leftism, from the Jacobins through classical Marxism and now wearing its more fashionable woke regalia. A class group or cultural group (including race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, etc.) flips morality on its head by claiming itself as oppressed—those who cannot help themselves—and appeals to the vice of kindness to gain legal advantages over other groups and redistribute resources towards itself.
To be clear, not everyone on the Left is a manipulative leech. Numerically most will be manipulated hosts. But their manipulators fit a personality type known as the dark tetrad: narcissism, psychopathy, machiavellianism, and sadism. Amongst other traits, dark tetrad types tend to present with a sense of entitlement and a victim mentality. Studies have demonstrated a strong link between the dark tetrad personality and politically correct authoritarian behavior, which includes a belief in censorship of words and ideas deemed offensive by the authoritarian, that those who utter these words and ideas should be punished for it, and a belief that alleged perpetrators of crimes against a victim group should be treated as guilty before proving their innocence.
Distinguished evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins brilliantly explains in the video below how evolution leads to the existence of such dark tetrad behavior. A world full of kind people is evolutionarily unstable as it creates an incentive to take advantage of the productive ability of the kind masses. But if those who live by leeching off of others become dominant in society then it’s just as evolutionarily unstable, as society collapses from its inability to produce. A society mostly full of kind people, but with a few leeches, can last for the long run.
In an era where victimhood culture is becoming dominant, we are moving into unstable space. It wouldn’t be the first time such an unstable arrangement had the opportunity to destroy a civilization—just look at the Soviet Union. While dark tetrad personalities only constitute about 7% of the international population, in the contemporary West the leech’s activism appears to have led to a far larger percentage of their hosts accepting their destructive ideas. These hosts are overrepresented amongst the world’s upper classes given that being higher on Maslow’s Hierarchy provides more of an opportunity to extend pathological kindness. Rob Henderson has famously labeled this phenomenon “luxury beliefs.”
So what do we do about this problem? You read it already: it’s time to stop being kind to people. Not everyone, obviously, kindness is usually a virtue and should be extended to everyone who wishes to cooperate to build our shared society in peace and productivity, and should also extend to the many well-intentioned hosts of bad ideas who know not what they do.
But when it comes to the leeches, it’s time to cease acting as if it’s a moral virtue to extend endless kindness to those who seek to gain at your expense. Feeding their victimhood and entitlement is what provides an incentive for them to continue; like training an animal, when the rewards cease the behavior will follow.
As the French economist Frédéric Bastiat put it, “[w]hen, then, does plunder stop? It stops when it becomes more painful and more dangerous than labor.”
Yes, many already express hostility and disgust towards the woke and mock them online (and sometimes in person), but how many speak of it with clarity as a moral virtue to do so? To make the leech’s hosts stop feeding them, they must understand that their overextended kindness is a moral evil.
At least one woman understood this: Ayn Rand. Rand spoke of the “virtue of selfishness,” pioneering clickbait tactics with an intentionally provocative phrase designed to grab people and force them to think, but that when explained becomes more agreeable than at first glance. “Selfishness” to Rand did not mean gaining at another’s expense, as the leeches (or “parasites," in her words) do, but acting in one’s long-term rational self-interest. That includes being kind to those who work cooperatively with us to make the world a better place, which is most people most of the time. But to be virtuously selfish, in Rand’s view, one must oppose altruism: self-sacrifice for another’s gain.
Unkindness towards those who deserve it needn’t and shouldn’t be a permanent attitude. Those willing to stop using victimhood as a weapon should be met with forgiveness. Perhaps they should even be treated with disproportionate kindness to encourage others to also give up their maladaptive beliefs. We want to reward people who stop their pathological behavior and join the cooperative harmony of human civilization. But until then, we must be brave. We must be willing to be seen as black sheep in order to fix society’s broken morality.
Don’t be kind to those who seek your destruction, and know and say loudly that you are right not to do it.