Altruism occurs when (usually) animals cooperate with one another, to the benefit of all of them. One kind of altruism, recognized by evolutionary scientists, is indirect reciprocity, in which an individual gains recognition and admiration for doing generous acts—and along with that admiration comes profit. We all want to do business with people who have a public reputation for generosity.
Nearly everyone recognizes altruism as good. Everyone, that is, except Donald Trump. He seems to believe that it is evil to do good things for other people.
One way that more fortunate countries have of helping the less fortunate ones is through the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization(UNESCO). Educational and scientific exchanges promote world peace, one of the express purposes of the United Nations in general and UNESCO in particular. UNESCO facilitates altruism, especially indirect reciprocity.
But Trump has removed the United States from UNESCO. Not only does he not believe that the United States should promote world peace in this way, but he also appears to hate the reputation for goodness that the United States used to enjoy as a member of UNESCO. It used to be that when the world looked at America, it thought, “they want to help us,” and we got a lot of admiration for that. But today the world looks at us and thinks, “they hate us.” Trump, who is always sneering and insulting everyone else, already promoted this image, and has now backed it up by action. We hereby send the message to the world that, even if you are our friends, we do not need you. We do not even like you.
Trump’s consistent message has been “America first.” But this is not what he meant. Probably every nation puts itself first. What Trump meant, apparently, was “America only.”
America, Trump thinks, does not need the admiration or goodwill of the world. All we need to do is to intimidate them.