Egoists and other self-interested folks often bring up the notion of “human nature” as if it were some deducible characteristic.
The problem is that historical evidence cannot be used to argue human nature in a vacuum. If a few masters hold a hundred men in slavery, and the slaves compete to survive, this says nothing about the nature of humans.
It is understandable – though fallacious – to reason that competition and strife are natural; after all, it is the observable reality. However, there is no empirical basis with which to pursue the argument that it is human nature, as opposed to systemic factors – inequality, domination, exploitation, hierarchy – that produce this result.
When we talk about cooperation – collectivism, socialism, communism – viewing it against the existing statist, capitalist paradigm, in which one must compete to survive, is useless. If one arbitrarily limits himself to being kept in a cage, he will remain so. So when we talk about such revolutionary notions as cooperation – which transcend the arbitrary and baseless limits often set by so-called “human nature” – think big: upright-walking, tool-making, fire. In fact, think bigger. The way I see it, either social evolution is coming, or our species (and in many senses, the earth) may very well die off (among other somber scenarios). Surely, we wouldn’t be the first humanoids, nor the first homo species to pursue such paths.
Competition need not exist. It is simply a function of our incredibly barbaric society – a monument to the primitive state in which we find ourselves. Those ethical positions which argue in favor of self-interest as a guiding principle seek to perpetuate this.