Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The Creed of Greed

I don't know about you, but personally I'm sick to the back teeth of the old capitalist "greed is good for you" argument. Here's what I had to say to someone peddling that garbage over on the "Energy Resources" list:-

> Is self interest a bad thing? Eliminating greed (self
> interest) could in fact resulting in a not caring
> about the self, to the extent that concern about
> continued existance may not matter.
> Do rich industrialists create more good by investing
> in jobs or giving away their resources?
>

This is the confused thinking which typifies the classic capitalist argument. Greed is NOT the same as self-interest.

In times of hardship in a society, the penalty for greed is death. When resources are so scarce that they have to be rationed, and co-operation is the only path to survival, the greedy are normally eliminated by the majority for endangering the viability of the whole. It is greed which has driven our existence on Earth to the brink of catastrophe.

Stafford Beer, the eminent cybernetician and advisor to Salvador Allende of Chile (the former democratically elected president) amongst others, defined freedom as "the maximum autonomy available to an individual without threatening the viability of the system as a whole", where viability means the capability of independent existence.

Greed is the violation of freedom, and, as the book says, the wages of greed are death - either of the society, or of the individual, or both.

Thus, self-interest (i.e. life not death) lies in moderation rather than greed.

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