Profit is an Addiction . . . and We Have to Face this Fact


Millennia ago, when we bartered firewood for meat we could see how much firewood we needed to cook the meat and how much meat we needed to feed ourselves, making it easy to trade with each other to satisfy our immediate needs.

When we created money, we introduced a whole new can of worms into the business of barter, without realising it. This money we had created was useless in directly feeding, clothing and sheltering us.

Because it was not an essential commodity it was difficult to work out what it was actually worth. This complication meant that an intangible value was placed upon a shell/coin, which could then be bartered for tangible items such as a cow/sheep/water/clothing etc.

It is here that human nature then took over. The individual with money sought to transfer as few useless coins as possible, in return for as many essential life-sustaining goods as possible. In that moment, profit was born.

The spurious nature of this value has ignited human fallibility to greed ever since, creating a belief system that promotes making larger and larger amounts of profit, with seemingly no ceiling. If you accept that compulsive behaviour is a fallible human condition, I believe that when we created profit we activated the compulsive qualities within money.

After all, the poppy is a beautiful flower, but becomes a powerful drug when transformed into opium and heroin. Grain and grape are harmless and nutritious foods until transformed into whisky, wine and brandy.

The effect of compulsion upon human behaviour is well-known, manifesting in a fixation for the high provided by whatever commodity, or other illusion-producing activity (sex), has attracted us.

Profit stimulates the compulsive impulses of greed as we strive for the big fix of something for nothing.

The primary symptoms of compulsion, I would suggest, include:

a)   Obsessive behaviour – A single focus on the fix, and little else.

b)   Irresponsible behaviour – A fix at whatever cost.

c)   Compulsive behaviour – Constantly repeating actions and behaviour known to be detrimental, or of high risk.

d)   Denial – That a), b) and c) above are not the case.

As the drug addict/alcoholic will forego the need for proper food and clothing to maximise financial resources on the fix, so corporations will hold down their biggest expenditure, the wage roll, in the interest of the profit fix, producing an environment in which workers across the Planet are permanently enslaved to low wages.

As with any addiction the narrow beliefs supporting the drive to maximise the fix are self-defeating. In the case of alcoholics and drug addicts their health is seriously affected and can result in early death.

In the case of profit, Corporations rely on consumers and governments to purchase their wares whilst striving to hold down the amount of money they return to those people and bodies in taxes and wages, causing the slow death of Society.

The addict’s narrow focus upon the fix is also evident in the increasingly aggressive behaviour of Stock Markets in their demands for higher profits. A drop in corporate profits from £200 million to £50 million sends them into a state of apoplexy because of the constant and unrelenting pressures to outstrip the last set of financial results. This in turn can see corporations, like any addict, embarking upon devious behaviour to hide the reality of their situation.

Many businesses have operated successfully for decades, if not centuries, and it is not business practice that I am now questioning but the intensity of the business environment that has become addicted to greater fixes from aggressive Stock Market behaviour.

The Banking collapse of 2008 is waiting in the wings to repeat itself again because those involved are in ‘denial’ that there is a problem – classic addictive behaviour – and until it is recognised and addressed we will continue to abuse ourselves, with devastating consequences for Society and this beautiful Planet.

Until the next time

This is taken from his book: ‘Global Magna Carta’ Returning Power to the 99% . . . If they want it! By J T Coombes