Madness is badness of spirit when one seeks profit from everything. Aristotle
The overriding importance we place upon the dominant need for endless profit displays all of the symptoms of human addiction. If you accept that compulsive behaviour is a fallible human condition, I believe that when we created profit, we activated the compulsive qualities within the money we use for trading with each other.
After all, the poppy is a beautiful flower, but becomes a powerful drug when transformed into opium. Grain and grape are harmless and nutritious foods until transformed into whisky, wine and brandy.
Profit stimulates the compulsive impulses of greed within the barter process, as we strive for that big fix of something for nothing.
The primary symptoms of compulsion, I would suggest, include:
- Obsessive behaviour – A single focus on the fix, and little else.
- Irresponsible behaviour – A fix at whatever cost.
- Compulsive behaviour – Constantly repeating actions and behaviour known to be detrimental, or of high risk.
- Denial – That a), b) and c) above are not the case.
In the pursuit of profit, a couple of hundred years ago Britain became Great on the back of the slave trade. Here, the tantalising myth of something for nothing – captive human beings – carried with it scant regard for the misery this pursuit of profit caused.
Justification for those actions can, in part, be derived from our makeup as hunter/gatherers, and the need to fulfil the basic human drive for both achievement and survival.
However, the excitement that came from hunting for food was tempered by the fact that there was little benefit in gathering more than we needed, because the excess rotted back into the ground. The greater the excess, the greater the waste.
On the other hand, we can gather and hoard limitless amounts of profit without seeming deterioration of the commodity. This subtle, but significant, difference to our gathering instincts for survival seems to me to stimulate the compulsive forces within us.
We are now seeing this played out across the globe as our beautiful Planet is ravaged by greed rather than the need to fulfil our basic requirements of sustenance. The potential for Unlimited profit growth from limited planetary resources is a ‘no brainer’.
As this becomes increasingly evident we are turning to more extreme sources of profit. The support services within Society, be they education, healthcare, transport, water or energy, like the slave trade, are now being plundered regardless of the impact it has upon the people.
In the financial arena the limitations of profit from planetary resources has seen our ingenuity turn to flighty ‘financial instruments’ that few understand. They are eagerly traded in global ignorance, because of the vast profits they are capable of, resulting in the financial disaster of 2008.
We see addiction at work here as financial organisations continue the very activities that created the last disaster as the compulsion for profit repeats this blind irresponsibility. This time it will not be the taxpayers that pay but the investors as their savings are stolen to replace the bad debt and losses.
For me the true obscenity of this addiction is the profit derived from the human misery of war. Here we see vast amounts of profit derived from the sale of ever more sophisticated and expensive armaments. Whilst this has been going on for centuries, since the Iraq war a new source of equally vast profits is now being made from the, (often shoddy), rebuilding programme after the war has ended.
It is bad enough to get this double bite at the cherry from the sordid business of warfare but to deliberately cut back on the quality of what is rebuilt for the sake of profit and such vast profit at that, is repugnant beyond words.
We are now told by the Pentagon that warfare is likely to be a constant part of Life in this 21st century. With the advent of terrorism fighting against the cancer of a greed driven Western Capitalism, they have created a self-perpetuating source of profit from human misery that points to the worst possible aspects of this addictive condition.
I believe Capitalism suits us as a species. When properly regulated it inspires and motivates individual endeavour. However, like a heroin addict with a credit card, the frenzy of unregulated abuse that Capitalism is now overdosing on will eventually lead to the destruction of this beautiful Planet and its inhabitants, unless we tackle this sad human fallibility . . . and tackle it soon with strong government!
Until the next time
Thinking from his Book: Global Magna Carta. Returning Power to The 99% . . . If They Want It! By J T Coombes