Today, we are discussing greed. What is greed? Why is it dangerous? How do collectivists use selfishness against the individual?
How do You Define Greed? Why is Greed Dangerous?
“A Conformist is a man who declares, ‘It’s true because others believe it’ – but an Individualist is NOT a man who declares, ‘It’s true because I believe it.’
An Individual declares, ‘I believe it because I see in reason that it is true.'” – Ayn Rand
Greed is an intense and selfish desire for something, especially wealth, power, or food. Greed can manifest in a multitude of ways:
- The emperor who is obsessed with his legacy. He willingly consumes the lives of his subjects by forcing them to build him monuments, which will stand the test of time.
- A Casanova greedy for sexual conquests uses manipulative, abusive, and destructive tactics to increase the number of women he sleeps with.
- An average man decides to steal from others to satiate his want for newer, shinier toys.
Today, I want to talk about greed. During this conversation, I will highlight why greediness is wrong. Then, I will rebuke the tired claim that individualism is a philosophy of avarice. Next, I will argue why collectivism is the philosophy of greed and destruction. Lastly, I will conclude by detailing how individuals can avoid becoming greedy.
Is Greed Good?
No. Greed is an unhealthy, destructive obsession with accumulating resources because of arrogance, paranoia, or power-lust. Greed always spells doom for the individual and society.
Firstly, greed has no end. Avarice is a bottomless pit needing to be filled. A greedy person can never have enough money, obtain enough food, or garner enough power. They are always hungry for more, and their obsession leads them to ignore everything else, including virtue.
Secondly, greedy people use morally evil methods to satisfy their desires. The covetous are not virtuous. To be greedy, one has to reject gratitude, generosity, loyalty, honesty, and other vital virtues. For example, a politician obsessed with power is going to lie, cheat, and steal to secure his position and grow his base. He may accept bribes or lie to voters. Instead of viewing his job as a way to help others achieve freedom, he will restrict the freedom of individuals to increase the power he has.
Thirdly, gluttony is unsustainable. A sexually greedy man does not think about how his sexual conquests belittle the women he uses. A greedy wife does not care how her baseless divorce will lead her broken husband to possible suicide. Neither does a greedy thief care how his actions will affect his victims and their trust in others. Greed is short-sighted and focused on fulfilling a momentary want.
Why Individualism is not about greed
Individuals can be greedy. However, individualism is not a philosophy of avarice. For the following reasons, individualism is not a philosophy of greed:
Individualism is about appealing to an individual’s virtues to achieve mutual success
“The argument for liberty is not an argument against organization, which is one of the most powerful tools human reason can employ, but an argument against all exclusive, privileged, monopolistic organization, against the use of coercion to prevent others from doing better.” – F.A. Hayek
The greedy politician lies to gain power. A desperate Casanova lies about his wealth to obtain sex. The covetousness thief steals to gain possession of objects. The greedy rarely care about morality. They do not think about authenticity, gratitude, or generosity. Their minds are focused on fulfilling their bottomless wants.
However, individualism, as a philosophy, is focused on morality and virtue. Individualism focuses on the individual’s virtuous growth, development, and achievement. You cannot remove virtue and morality from the equation and pretend you have individualism.
Furthermore, individualism is about voluntary interactions that mutually benefit both parties (i.e., capitalism). A greedy man cannot thrive in such an environment. His cut corners, ruthless tactics, and abusive manipulations will fail to succeed around virtuous, free-thinking individuals (which we do not have in this society).
If a man wants to sleep with a woman, he has to form a relationship with her. Otherwise, he is not focusing on sustainability. If a woman wants the goods of others, she has to learn to work smart and purchase those items. If a woman wishes to divorce her husband, she must do so reasonably and in a way that helps both of them land on their feet. Otherwise, she is not loyal.
It is immoral to lie, cheat, and steal. It is abuse to manipulate others, so you take from them what you want. Individualism, as moral philosophy, does not advocate for any immoral actions. Thus, it does not support greed.
Preparation is not greed. Neither is accumulating resources.
For some reason, having an emergency fund, health care, and backup food, water, and similar resources is greed. Such an attitude explains why most people are broke, in debt, and lack proper funds for emergencies. Furthermore, this misguided mindset shows why we are trillions of dollars in debt as a nation, as an educated populace, and as credit card users.
Rid yourself of such demonic voices. Preparing for a rainy day does not make you greedy. You are smart, calculated, and responsible when you recognize life is challenging and unpredictable. People who live without personal safety nets are foolish and short-sighted.
Remember, greed is bottomless. Your backup supply of food should last you a few weeks. Your emergency fund should keep you afloat for six to twelve months. Lastly, your skill growth should make you dynamic in the marketplace without preventing you from seeing your family and friends. Preparation has a reasonable limit. Therefore, don’t depend on your irrational, self-hating society. Always prepare for the worse life has to offer by building your wealth, learning new skills, reducing your consumption, helping others, and being virtuous.
Discernment is not Greed
Discernment is the ability to judge well. Discerning individuals will examine whether a person, thing or activity is worth the individual’s resources. Having a judgmental eye does not make one greedy. Being discerning makes one wise.
A fool freely gives his resources to whoever comes. You are foolish if you give your money to the first corporation with a silly advertisement. It is unwise to give your time, energy, and freedom to the first politician who promises you everything. Furthermore, it is foolish to give your resources to the first beggar who asks.
Therefore, you should have standards and apply them. Having standards does not make you greedy. An individual should have expectations about who they sleep with. You should have rules about what businesses you patronize. You should only spend your resources on those who are loyal to you.
Don’t listen to the manipulators, thieves, and abusers. Be discerning. Don’t freely give of the resources you possess and have worked hard for. Being cautious and reasonable with your property is not avarice.
A Man Is Free To Use His Resources As He Sees Fit
Lastly, your resources are yours. I’m always confused about how, as Thomas Sowell once noted, it is greed to want to keep what you earn but not greed to take from others. If you work every day for the resources you have, then they are yours. You are not selfish for wanting to use your property as you see fit.
I wrote this post to help individuals understand how important it is to avoid self-hatred for what you have. To hate what you have earned with your sweat and blood is unhealthy and indicative of a broken mind.
You are not evil for wanting to keep what you have. You are not a horrible person because you know how to utilize your resources better than the government, churches, corporations, and collectivists.
Furthermore, only the individual knows how to use personal resources effectively and efficiently. No one knows your wants and desires better than you do. When collectivists take what you’ve earned and call you “greedy,” they are declaring themselves morally better than you.
However, don’t wallow in debt trying to appease corporations. Avoid cheering on politicians who will drag your society into crushing debt. Ignore religious institutions who guilt you into paying for a “sin-free” life.
Your resources are your own. Do with them what you will.
The True Arbiters of Greed: Collectivists
As always, the attacks on the individual reveal the projection of collectivists. Let’s stop going on the defensive and point out the ways institutions and their defenders are greedy.
Collectivism, as a philosophy, rejects individual sovereignty. Collectivists detest personal wisdom, ability, and responsibility. They want to share everything, from pain to success, amongst the collective.
Let’s look at the three ways collectivists reveal their greed and desire to have what they have not earned.
Collectivists Always Claim the Resources of Others
Collectivists want to claim the resources of others. When they discuss the rich, for example, do collectivists attack the federal and corporate system which sustains such impossible wealth? Or, do they want to open the free market and allow competition to reduce incredible wealth? Of course not. They are greedy, not hard-working, and forward-thinking.
They prefer, of course, to “eat the rich” because they want the rich’s resources. They do not want to expand economic opportunities. Why? Because they would have to work hard for everything they want and collectivists have never fought for that.
Another example: look at the deadbeat brother who tells his sister she owes him. He argues they are family (another involuntary collective) and she has to help him when he gets in trouble. Despite her protests, he keeps pushing, manipulating, and deceiving, until he manages to coerce her into funding his bad habits. If we look at them as individuals, the sister should reject him as being immoral and irresponsible. However, we have this collective called the family where greed is permitted, and virtues such as loyalty are not.
Collectivists do not like to work. They are not virtuous, humble people seeking opportunities to grow their wealth or develop their character. They are selfish, greedy people who want to take from others. Pay attention to their guilt trips and narratives. Notice they never advocate for more freedom, so they and others can live a better life on their individual terms. They always support the transfer of resources and opportunities from one group to another. This redistribution of property is another clear example of greed.
Collectivists Convince Themselves They Are Wise
“All political theories assume, of course, that most individuals are very ignorant. Those who plead for liberty differ from the rest in that they include among the ignorant themselves as well as the wisest. Compared with the totality of knowledge which is continually utilized in the evolution of a dynamic civilization, the difference between the knowledge that the wisest and that the most ignorant individual can deliberately employ is comparatively insignificant.” – F.A. Hayek
Collectivists want to take from others to use resources as they please. They believe themselves more capable of handling your time, energy, and money than you are.
How is this not greed? Look at the nationalist who wants his neighbor to pay for the misguided war the nationalist desired. Why should his neighbor and his neighbor’s kids pay for a war which has no end? “Becuase it’s for the health of the state!” i.e., the health of the collective known as the nation. How is it not greed to force someone to pay for something they don’t want? Especially a war which objectively leads to worse results, less safety, and more debt?
The nationalist believes, as all collectivists do, that his membership in a club (this club being the nation-state) somehow grants him wisdom. He is wise and forward-thinking enough to know what path his country should travel. He also knows his neighbor should be forced to walk this path even if there’s no sound reason in doing so.
A more individualistic society would respect the needs of the neighbor. Maybe the neighbor can’t afford higher taxes or more government inflation. Therefore, debates would be commonplace. Furthermore, the nationalist would have the opportunity to pay for the war directly with money out of his own pocket (along with regular taxation). Additionally, the government would have to objectively, and morally, prove the war was in the nation’s long-term interest.
But we do not live in such a society. We live in a culture of greed where your neighbor can force you to pay for whatever he wants. As long as he has the majority vote, his desires will be upheld, no matter how insane or short-term those desires are.
Collectivists Love To Claim The Accomplishment of Others
“If some peoples pretend that history or geography gives them the right to subjugate other races, nations, or peoples, there can be no peace.” – Ludwig von Mises
Collectivists love to lay claim to the accomplishment of others. They want to be acknowledged for the hard work others have done. Look at how identity nutjobs claim the achievement of someone else a part of the nutjob’s race, gender, or sexual group. Suddenly a poor, lazy, and idiotic white man can be elevated to the level of a genius. Why? Because people in the past who looked like him were more accomplished than he is.
How is this not greed? How is it not avarice to claim you are noble because you share a skin pigmentation with someone else? Or a gender? Or sexuality? How is it not greediness to claim you have been troubled or abused because you look similar to others who have been abused? As a black man, I can not declare myself a victim of racism simply because I have ancestors who were victims. Such a declaration is not honest, nor is it loyal. My declaration would be dishonest, immoral, and a clear sign of greed.
Remember, greed involves desiring the unearned to fulfill your bottomless wants. Collectivists love to claim the success of others because collectivists have an infinite need for accomplishment and validation. However, they are not virtuous individuals. Thus, they are not developing character or creating personal achievements, needed to build a healthy self-esteem.
So they take from others. They claim successes and tragedies they were never involved with. Such a tactic is typical of manipulators and yet another clear sign of greed.
How To Prevent Greed From Developing in Your Heart
As I stated earlier, individuals are capable of greed. We are not free from vice because we adopt the philosophy of individualism. You must always be vigilante of your faults. Here are some ways to avoid greed:
- Don’t just accumulate resources – Prepare for the rainy days. However, if you have excess wealth, then invest it. Invest in your future, your children’s future, or in the health and wellbeing of your community. Give what you can when you can, and you’ll avoid greed.
- Identify a weakness you have, then fight them – Do you have a weakness for fast cars? Or, do you like to claim the achievements of others? Character faults can lead you down a dark path. The more you tolerate character flaws, the more likely you’ll develop a greedy nature to satiate those flaws. Identify your weaknesses and put a tight lid on them.
- Don’t listen to the collectivists – Collectivists dislike you. They don’t want you standing tall and doing good. They prefer to cut you down. Don’t listen to them when they call you greedy or selfish.
- Spend time helping virtuous people – Help people. Generosity is the best virtue for preventing greed from forming in your heart. Volunteer, give money and be kind to others. The more you help people, the less obsessed you will be with the pointless accumulation of resources.
- Be proud of your desire to plan and protect others – Never be ashamed of your desire to protect others by preparing for the rainy days. Don’t be like the collectivists who never care what the future holds.
Individualism, Collectivism, and Greed
“The man who does not value himself, cannot value anything or anyone.” – Ayn Rand
One of my goals with this blog is to help individuals protect themselves from the voices seeking to undermine your mental health and potential. As an individual, you need to be aware of the manipulations and insults others will throw at you.
Greed is a common insult leveled at the feet of individualists. However, I hope that, after reading this post, it holds no weight with you. Collectivists are greedy and desire your resources. Don’t give in to their belittling. Your property is your own, and you should do everything you can to protect it.
- Have you ever been called greedy or selfish? How did you feel? What was the moral makeup of the person who accused you?
- Think of all the ways you know collectivists, governments, churches, and corporations show and practice greed. Are any of your personal faults as egregious as those institutes?
- What are the ways do you help others? How are you generous with your time, energy, and money?
To better understand capitalism, individualism, and other individual-focused philosophies and theories, I suggest regularly reading the following:
Please remember that it’s important to do the actionables. You’re not on this earth to simply read but to do. To become an individual, you must act more than you consume.
*Image credit to Unsplash.