Whether his interests center round his own physical needs, or whether his he takes a warm interest in the welfare of every human being he knows (altruism), the ends about which he can be concerned will always be only an infinitesimal fraction of the needs of all men.
This is the fundamental fact on which the whole philosophy of individualism is based. It does not assume, as is often asserted, that man is egoistic or selfish or ought to be. It merely starts from the indisputable fact that the limits of our powers of imagination make it impossible to include in our scale of values more than a sector of the needs of a whole society, and that, since strictly speaking, scales of values can only exist in individual minds, nothing but partial scales of values exist- scales which are inevitably different and often inconsistent with each other.
From chapter 5, “Planning and Democracy” from The Road to Serfdom by F.A. Hayek. Originally written in 1944.
The presumption that greed or even the productive channeling of greed is the essence of capitalism is the greatest misunderstanding of its opponents. Capitalism is about the competition of ideas. Capitalism is not about channeling greed productively; it is about removing limits to human imagination. Whenever central planning replaces the market mechanism, unknown options with endless potential are replaced with the limitations of an elitist few. The brightest leaders we have can never know a tiny fraction of what the universe of individuals can imagine. Belief in the ideas and imagination of the many individuals is the most important quality of an American leader.