Greed and Violence
Copyright Stefan J. Malecek, Ph.D. December 24, 2021: 1855 Haiku, Maui, Hawai'i
The crushing weight of contemporary society continues its onward rush, as we approach what is euphemistically called “the holidays.” I know some people (most?) might be surprised to be reading (hopefully) someone’s exposition here who is not terribly pleased or excited about this time of year.
For me, it is artificiality exponentialized. Living in a global society that is infected by the money virus, I find things getting even more amped up during this period of the year, when we are bombarded with even more advertising and pressure to spend even more money than ordinarily. And for what?
We are told (and expected to believe that we will feel better about ourselves and “make” others happy with extravagant gifts and raucous gathering at which we eat and drink too much. This speaks very relevantly to today’s topic.
I question: From whence did these notions arrive? Who created them? And why?
The simple answer can always be found by asking: Qui bono? (Who benefits?) I have found through the years that even the most seemingly inexplicable events can be explained by the answer to this question, because undoubtedly someone is always benefiting, even from the most seemingly outrageous or bizarre behaviors.
The simple answer here is, of course, business people, banks, retailers and all of the associated industries. But, if one were to look more deeply, one might see a more complex set of operations occurring beneath the surface. One might see a pattern or blueprint, a schematic, upon which the entire workings of the world (at least the contemporary society) have been created.
These mighty forces are constantly at play in humanity, creating a picture of how and why the world we live in works (or does not, depending on your point of view). Rao spoke of the “psychopathic business model” the British East India Company developed almost 400 years ago.
Let’s take greed as an example. The Oxford Dictionary of Psychology defines it as “Excessive or rapacious desire, especially for wealth, or possessions.” It is the most intense and virulent of all addictions. It is the "norm" or lingua franca in Western societies. “Naturally one should be greedy!” is an assumption that feeds and is fed by, two closely related phenomena: the concept of enough and the productivity illusion.
There is not, and can never be, enough of anything physical, even mental. Such states of satiety are extremely transitory, driven by a vast, aching inner emptiness seeking to be filled externally. Such acquisitions serve the purpose of temporarily “fixing” that craving. In this sense, it is an addiction. Various hungers drive us to devote the bulk of our time and energy pursuing the illusion of (always temporary) satisfaction, and then, again and again, to seek more in the failed aftermath. The key to this usurpation of consciousness is greed. Greed is the supreme addiction.
Underlying this universal experience is the ravening sense of lack of completion and unfulfilled wholeness. I posit this as a shame-based artifact promoted by the unexamined belief and mandates of many, many generations of individuals who simply pass along their delusions from generation to generation. They become concretized and considered to be “normal,” such as the belief that violence and war are “natural.” Or, if one were to look at the obviously false idea: “Net worth equals self-worth.” But the drive to have more in order to be more, is influential. It is directly linked to the idea that producing more results in a net benefit. (It may do so in the short run for a few, but overall, only feeds the illusion).
Violence of all sorts (against oneself and others) is intimately related to shame and rage. It depends on the degree to which one’s healthy emotions have been suppressed and/or disowned. When one is not allowed an outlet through normal neural and emotional circuits, rage may become magnified.
All children are taught to protect and idealize their parents, even see them as “gods”—certainly the parents are far more powerful than themselves. Children may learn to harm themselves instead of others, suppressing legitimate anger and hurt. Children may even adopt quasi-adult behaviors in a process known as adultification, or role inversion.
Potter-Effron and Effron once noted that individuals with “mirror hungry personalities” may experience tremendous “narcissistic rage” episodes when their immediate needs aren’t met—they experience any rejection as a threat to their sense of self, and respond by attacking the source of danger. Underneath all this is the lingering risk of empty depression that reflects a “sense of non-being.” Laing spoke to this as “primary ontological insecurity.”
Albert and his associates once noted: “Most people develop acceptable self-images by accommodating their values to the logic of their activities, which are in turn structured by society’s institutional boundary…therefore, powerful pressures push people to seek only what society is prepared to bestow upon them.”
Thus we arrive at the current state of toxicity and technology, attempting to “fix” the errors of the past created by ignoring the vibrant beauty and aliveness of the Living Planet in favor of an artificial way of life run by base instincts and machines, ignoring love and empathy at our own continuing risk and the degradation of the Earth itself.