I know nothing about psychology, but I’m guessing this proposition is hardly novel: people’s underlying motivations are often misunderstood, even (especially?) by themselves. This is why I can’t believe in rational markets, altruistic Galtians, or impartial pundits. Even if people believe they’re being rational, altruistic, or impartial, there’s a good chance that they’re not, and, to take it one step farther, their belief in their own rationality/altruism/impartiality may well indicate that they are merely delusional or narcissistic.
Atrios makes a good point apropos of the lock-out instigated by the mighty job-creators at the NBA:
Too often we assume that Homo Economicus is truly just motivated by the money, or more ridiculously the financial interests of the shareholders of the companies they run. The truth is, Our Galtian Overlords are frequently just assholes because they are assholes, not because being assholes will actually make them any richer.
Likewise, Charles Pierce translates Ruth Marcus’s cry of the wounded school-marm thusly:
“I are an actual journalist. Please note my concern for the First Amendment, a quaint notion that I believe applies to me and to the eight people I had dinner with last night, and not necessarily to potty-mouthed high-schoolers.”
Marcus most likely wants to silence “potty-mouthed” high-schoolers because their tweets in some way undermine her own her influence, whether she or not she admits it (or even knows it).
When I discuss the American political scene with tote-baggers, the notion they resist the most is that we should question our Galtian and Village overlords’ underlying motivations. When I tell them, for example, that the establishment wants to cut Social Security and Medicare simply because they enjoy fucking the middle-class over, they tell me I am insane. When I ask them what other motivation there could be for replacing a reasonably efficient government health-care system with a less efficient private health care system, they have no answer.