30 juli 2012

The Utopian Illusion of Abolishing Greed

Just some brief, general thoughts on the challenge of creating sustainable development.

A lot of the green activism is quite leftist. The mantra that to achieve peace, equity and global sustainability we must abolish greed and the want for profit is often raised in these forums. I do not believe abolishing greed is possible. Greed is part of the human nature just as altruism and care for others is. Neither one can be completely eradicated. That is an utopian illusion.

Thus we must stop deluding ourselves and look at the issue pragmatically. Communism is perhaps the most famous political attempt at removing greed, but it only lead to it festering among a chosen few instead.

Greed cannot be removed. And if greed cannot be removed, it must be incorporated.

Pure greed is not sustainable, but neither is a society that attempts to structure itself without it. I would be the first to agree that the capitalist systems of today are not perfect. But I do believe that if governments can just set the right perimeters for what is profitable, and what is not, then the hunt for profit is the solution, not the problem.

Of course governments seldom succeed well enough in defining this parameters. But to ensure that they do, rather than chasing utopian illusions, should be our focus within the global sustainability movement.

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