To my mind one must draw a distinction between greed and the necessity of familial protection and self-advancement.

Firstly it goes without saying that we will protect our families and ourselves at the expense of others were this situation ever to arise. It is an example most often quoted freely by people in the affluent West who have never found themselves genuinely faced with this sort of choice as a justification for the looking after number one mentality. The reality is that in impoverished backgrounds it is people’s ability to bond together that often gets them through this sort of adversity, it at least serves to give them solidarity and therein occasionally hope. Many have said before that nothing unites like a crisis.

Secondly we will always seek knowledge, a healthy human is a curious human, we look for new challenges and to learn new things. If left bereft of learning we stagnate both physically and mentally. Humans need stimulation. Self-advancement, or self-fulfillment is a part of this, we follow what our instincts tell us will be interesting or give us some form of enjoyment, of course such pursuits are highly individual in terms of the combinations that make up everything that interests one person but we often look to enjoy with like-minded individuals. Most often the only pleasures that truly need to be enjoyed alone are entwined with the very fact of being alone, that is to say these are the pleasures of having a little time to ourselves, a little space, a chance to relax before rejoining the throng of a social hubbub.

There is a clear distinction between a path that follows these natural and biological urges and one that does so at the expense of others. The latter is a learnt characteristic, in this respect there is no selfish gene, we wish to further ourselves but cannot realistically do it all alone all the time, nor I believe do we inately do so. We are constantly looking to form groups, unions, collectives for all manner of things from work to play, from religion to recreation from when we are young right up to we die. We instinctively know that this is the most effective method of furthering ourselves and our languages are littered with sayings to support this.

‘One man is not an island’. ‘United we stand, divided we fall’. ‘Divide and rule’.

Despite this there remains a prevalent school of thought that claims greed and individualism are natural instincts. I would refute this, and I would draw upon nature to do so. The individualist approach is splintered, each loses their voice amongst the noise of others, a few may be loud enough to be heard but the majority cannot be. It is therefore largely useless to all but the select few and this is an inefficient way to do things. Nature is not known by and large for its inefficiency because evolution has weeded it out, the efficient forms of survival persist whilst the less so die out. So where does the notion of greed come from?

Young children tend to display the nurturing instinct for smaller, younger or more vulnerable peers, it is only when they feel under threat personally that they don’t generally act this way, and later once more learnt characteristics come to the fore. There is without doubt a latency within us, a potential to be selfish, to hoard at the expense of others. This tendency has led to many people and many empires overstretching themselves and exposing inefficiency which has ultimately led to their collapse. But a latency is not an inevitability. We are not pre-determined beings and therefore both good and bad potential go very often unrealised.

The PR machine for the wealthy and powerful is like them, wealthy and powerful, so we cannot expect it to be anything but good at its job. The divide and rule tactic has taken a far more systematic approach during globalisation than any could have foreseen as we are witnessing the wholescale duping of the majority across the world, and what is more it is done so efficiently that people are continuing to vote for what they believe is good for them when actually it is good only for those controlling the voting system. Remember the quote “If voting really changed anything they would have made it illegal.” If you don’t believe this is true look at where you get the information from and whether it is in their interests to be impartial.

The whole individualist mentality works on the premise of instilling in you a belief that you have some intrinsic value that is worth more than someone else, to set you apart from people who might otherwise be considered equals. Thus you are to feel that you deserve these opportunities, should you get them, then, in this frame of mind you will believe that you have earnt them and not see them as a wholly arbitrary set of circumstances related to birth, geographical position and genealogical history. All around us differences are highlighted, exposed, phrases like “clash of civilisations’ and how people ‘stick with their own.’ We are taught to look at our differences in race, in creed, in colour, in beliefs and morals, our geographical locations etc. I have already sought to identify how this can split opposition to a system as in the American presidential race.

The people who have prospered under this system against what would normally have been the accepted expectations due to their cicumstances are often the most zealous of proponents of an individualist mentality, you would expect them to be, a turkey no more votes for Christmas than someone who has benfitted from the system undermines their own legitimacy by admitting that it was all down to luck. At this point these people will interject and say that it is about taking your opportunities when they are offered but this is a subsidiary point, if you have been endowed with the skills to identify an opportunity you are already ahead of much of the world who do not have access to education and training and the only opportunity they seek is having enough food and water to survive the day.

Many do not seek to bring about a change in this system because they have been suckered into the lottery mentality. The it could be YOU way of thinking. Having seen such riches and having been brought up within a system that teaches us to value the material things as paramount we feel that because we are worth something that the opportunity will come to us eventually and therefore any change in the system will deny us what is rightfully ours. The odds of this actually happening are akin to that of the lottery itself. However sowing the seeds of hope in those who have not has kept those that have immune from what would otherwise be seen as quite natural dissatisfaction with the distribution of wealth and resources. It is the principle of dropping just enough crumbs from the big table to keep people interested without it ever being enough to make any real difference.

Song Of The Day ~ The Shins – Turn On Me