The belief that all men are motivated by selfishness, cynicism tends to breed selfishness and materialism, and also apathy regarding matters of morality, including religion, politics and social injustice. It also tends to foster social conflict for material goods, domination, elitism, and exploitation.
The first cynics were members of a Greek philosophical sect founded by Antisthenes of Athens.
Cynicism is most generally noticeable in countries with a very high standard of living (Western industrialized countries) and where society and social values are no longer cohesive. Elsewhere, in feudalistic or slave societies and those with very severe political repression, cynicism may take the form of a total disregard for the welfare of others.
Bosnia has demonstrated that Europe is at its core as cynical and divided as at any time in recent European history. In the pantheon of the many culprits of Bosnia, Western cynicism now occupies its own particular place of dishonour.
Cynicism as a virtue confers the capability to cut through hypocrisy and cant.