Modern Leftist elites are instead primarily self-destroying - only secondarily (and contingently) self-interested - even when 'self' is considered in a extended fashion as including genetics, ideology or both...
Think about it - unlike any other elites, modern Leftist elites are neither patriotic/ nationalist, nor are they religious - so they strategically destroy the basis of their own power, they destroy the basis of their own prosperity, and they officially hate reproduction - even if they do have children take no mind to the long term health and happiness (let alone salvation) of these children.
They hate themselves - and have created a vast propaganda apparatus (in education, public administration, law and of course the mass media) against people of their own type.
Indeed the characteristic of modern Leftist ideology is that they regard their own spontaneous self-interest as something which must be confessed and overcome - and submitted to the self-interest of other specific groups. The outcome is a chronically-tormented state - but for a few PC Saints there is a kind of blissful ecstasy in witnessing and abetting one's own destruction and the destruction of everything one values; a PC martyr's last living memory being his own murder precisely by those whose interests he most assiduously promoted.
Of course, if you are already assuming that elite behaviour must be explicable in terms of self interest, then you can indirectly, and by looking behind the obvious, find or invent ways in which modern elite behaviour is self-interested.
But that was never necessary in the past: past elites were self-loving, self-confident, self-glorifying - openly, obviously, primarily.
No - modern Leftist elites really are essentially what they seem - that is, they are ashamed and want to destroy themselves along with everything else.
A very advanced, pure and refined form of nihilism.
Your post got me to thinking- when I see Egyptian movies from the days of black-and-white film, I always get hit with an odd realization: Egypt used to be a lot like America was during that period. At least as far as their entertainment goes.
If I were to mute the volume on a black-and-white film, I wouldn't be able to tell from the clothing, settings, or style whether I watching an American film or an Egyptian film. Perhaps it is the influence of the British occupation, but my mother remembers days when all the girls wore very short dresses, and she grew up after the Brits left. A woman would get stoned if she tried to that in modern Egypt. And looking at pictures and reading stories about and written in that time period from Egypt, it's as if I often can't tell the difference between Egypt and America during that time period. Of course, closer examination will reveal differences, but they're hard to spot at first glance.
But nowadays, they're completely different.
Anyways, what your post got me thinking was that it seems almost as if everyone went through a hedonistic "cars, riches, romance, and glamour" phase, and when that didn't work out, they tried to repent. In the West, liberal extremists destroy themselves through liberal policies; in the east, Muslim extremists quite literally blow themselves up.
I'm probably seeing a connection that isn't there, and I'm sure there's much more involved, but I just found that thought unusual.
To be self-interested requires some rationality as to one's self-interest and thus some consideration of Good and Evil.
While the nihilist is limited to "You die today, I tomorrow " mentality of Gulag
@Gyan - Well expressed.
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