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How Greed Saved The Human Race

Updated on October 4, 2014

Greed Saved The Human Race Yet It Still Has A Bad Name.

Greed has a bad reputation. Religions tend to see it as avarice and a mortal sin. In the history of human evolution it certainly was a virtue and a virtue of such great magnitude as to have probably saved the human race on more than one occasion. Lately I have been unintentionally feeding squirrels, mice and birds . Every time that happens I notice that when these other animals have the choice between small nuts and very large nuts most of the time these smaller animals chose to consume the largest ones that they can grab first. Animals are greedy? It actually seems they are and that greed is hardwired into their instincts. You can see it up and down the food chain. Lions given the choice of a wilder beast or a rabbit will go to kill the larger animal first if it seems obtainable. In the fields and forests one notices that plants will grow as to cast a shadow on other plants to hoard the direct sunlight. Plants don't share and neither do animals. That may not be the definition of greed but it certainly has the same results.

Our Greedy human ancestors in prehistoric times would have had survival advantages over humans that were not greedy just the same as other species. In order for human altruism to occur in the first place some humans would have had to be greedy enough to retain food for later on and work to preserve it while others instantly consumed having nothing in the way of "capital" left. Humans in families or tribes that stockpiled food before a harsh winter would have had the ability to survive or be at risk of others who had consumed everything when consumption was easy or they could decide to become altruistic and share. Those who saved nothing were greedy when consumption was easy and that would have been the avarice that is sinful because later on the greedier people would have power over them. Altruism is either forced upon people or it is a mater of free will because of a sense of sympathy. Civilization grew up where kings tended to have large storage areas for food as a primary source of capital at the beginning. Archeologists have discovered royal storehouses going back as far as the ancient Egyptians and there are ruins of what are thought to be King Solomon's store houses.

Greed would have saved the human race in prehistoric times on many occasions because the greed that leads to the hoarding of food would be the only thing that would allow altruism to occur. There is no altruism among the starving. It is those greedy souls who hoarded everything left to eat that would have the power of altruism. Thanks to Karl Marx today coercive altruism is one of the greatest faults of any society. Marx did not invent coercive altruism but he did turn it into a communal art form. The idea that the state has innate altruism and individuals cannot is a major theme of Karl Marx's thinking. The state then becomes greedy itself as to have the means to promoted altruism which is not very altruistic in the purer sense. The facts and mathematics are clear that those who have the means to give can be altruistic where as those that have no means to give can ask someone else to be altruistic towards them or demand it. Greed would have saved the human race more than once in human history and pre-history because the capitalism starting with having food as capital when easily available is what would have made altruism possible or if not altruism it was a way to hire people to help in the efforts of living by trading food capital for work participation.


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