Is the EA movement foundationally flawed? Do we have everything backwards?

Altruism is taken as axiomatically good. Yet what if we are just blinded by our own collective self-image. We ignore Gandalf’s wise invocation and go ahead and use the proverbial ring of power “from a desire to do good.”

We forget though the consequences such world-historical ambition, whether embodied in a fantasy ring or allocating billions of dollars to the greatest and highest good: “But through me, it would wield a power too great and terrible to imagine."”

Denying the shadow of EA’s motivations only means that they drive the community ever faster forward. The idyllic EA ego — the do gooder, the savior of humanity, the selfless sacrificer of income for the benefit of all, the ostensible altruist — simply hides far more mundane motivations.

The allure of high status. The freedom to earn big money without guilt. The absolution of doing The Right Thing. EA work can be incredibly soothing to the ego. Yet as Jung showed, we must learn to accept ourselves before we can ever hope to help others.

It is time that EA confronted its shadow: ambitious egoism, the conceptual and acronymical reversal of effective altruism.

What is the crazy Ozymandian dream that scares you? What is the world-changing, humanity altering hope that you hold inside? What is the base self-aggrandizing deep desire that drives you to externally “altruistic” acts?

Without this community-wide integration of the Jungian shadow, this entire EA movement is doomed.

The inquiries begin here and now. With you reading this post. Search your soul. Share your shadow. Do you part to help EA become what it must, the mature movement with the potential to truly save humanity.

The comments are open. What are you waiting for?

“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”

— Carl Jung

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