AVARICE: the insatiable addiction of rampant acquisition

Avarice is a self-serving aspiration to exploit resources in the absence of adequate resistance. In humans it is the rapacious desire for resources in excess of what is equitable. The greedy individual or group has no internal feedback self-limiting controls. If there are no external physical barriers to prevent acquisition, the rapacious continue the accumulation of resources so that ultimately, greed is limited only by external physical force or the boundaries of the natural world. The avaricious imperialistic desire for the neighbours fertile river plains is limited only by the capacity of the invaded to resist, or the encircling mountains.

The stark reality, in biological terms, is that by means of the processes of war and politics, evolution has favoured the acquisitive to prosper. On innumerable occasions human groups have aggressively acquired resources of land, energy, materials and labour at the physical expense of another group. The conquering group then proceed to use their expanded resources to both enhance the propagation of their own egotistic-greed genes and restrict the gene pool of the subjugated. Basically therefore the human species has evolved with a significant gene-pool of esurient individuals. There have been numerous attempts to promulgate the counter-acquisitive ideals of egalitarianism, communism, socialism, altruism, and so on, but the seemingly inevitable consequence of the maturation of any such established endeavour, is the growth within of a greed malignancy of some form or another. As soon as an opportune niche occurs for avarice it will be exploited.

Moral commandments against greed have about the same influence as praying does in preventing an invasion of locusts. Ethical injunctions aimed at discouraging rampant acquisition are even less effective than notices erected in a garden banning the presence of airborne pathogens. The presence of legal, ethical or moral controls are in themselves no impediment at all to the avaricious unless the administrators of the controls actually possess the physical power to enforce them. All 'persuasive' controls must have the capacity to inflict dire consequences lurking somewhere in the background, otherwise they are indifferently flaunted.

In many ways, whether greed is 'good' or 'bad' is irrelevant. Pragmatism is the over-riding consideration before undertaking any attempts at control. A society must protect its sustainability against any internal threats by individuals. It would be very unwise to allow one person to acquire control over communal resources. The individual that contrives to accumulate all the available land, water, minerals, food production, telecommunications and so on, are a social threat and will need to be limited. The greedy individual is focussed on the level of their acquisitions and not on the welfare of the community at large. Allowing all of one resource to be in the basket of one self-interested egg-collector is social disaster in the making. It is the distribution of resources that is the pragmatic strategy to provide some insurance against catastrophe.