My friend, Neil Remington Abramson, comments as follows (e-mail correspondence reproduced with permission):
I have been reading on the debate as to whether human nature is good (Mencius), evil (Xunzi), or neither (Gaozi). Interestingly, Xunzi defines evil as self-interested, and Mencius seems to concur contrasting profit vs. righteousness and benevolence. There is a recognized debate between the two.
And then this connects to evolutionary psychology’s two basic human strategies of self-interest vs altruism.
And isn’t politics like this? Political conservatives, across countries, are perceived (and self-perceived) as being self-interested, while socialists are perceived (and self-perceived) as being more altruistic. And each group is inclined to regard itself as good and the other as evil.
And is it the same with the erosion of traditional religion (altruism) in a very self- interested society? The evangelicals do well, preaching God will make you rich.