Of all the deadly sins, only one matters. In a sense, every sin – deadly or otherwise – flows from this one: greed. Greed is the triumph of “me” over everything else in the universe. One’s sense of self-worth is disconnected from reality in the worst way possible. “I alone can fix it”. No one alone can fix anything. But one person – all by himself – can cause the entire planet a remarkable amount of pain and destruction. Vlad Putin – regardless of his PR spin – is the poster boy for greed. He may long to restore the glory days of Greater Russia, but nothing he’s done has made a return to the days of Greater Russia any more likely. Meanwhile he’s used his power to enrich himself at Greater Russia’s expense.
The army Putin sent to invade Ukraine is crap from top to bottom. And the only reason that’s true is because Vlad Putin is greedier than he is anything else – and that includes “evil”. When Putin leveraged his way into power in 2000 – a spy chief using kompromat and his network of spies – he could have reimagined Russia as a modern player in the modern world. He didn’t. Instead, he wanted Russia the way it was – but could never be again. Vlad simply refused to accept the “could never be again”.
Conservatives want to conserve the past above all. If they could freeze in amber all of the past that’s currently practiced in the present, they’d do it. Originalists believe America should still live the way the founders lived. Don’t forget, they wrote “All men are created equal” while not really meaning it about ALL men (though they absolutely did mean the “MEN” part). Only men like them (rich, Christian, white land owners) were actually “equal”; everyone else was kidding themselves.
These same “men” also made a deal with the worst devil imaginable: slavery. Compromising with slavery compromised America’s ideals right from the start. Let’s be clear about what slavery actually is first and foremost: stolen labor. The whole point of enslaving someone is to get their work product for nothing. Whatever it costs to clothe, house and feed the slave? That’s the cost of doing business. So long as the slave’s work product outpaces what it costs to keep the slave? Slavery will be a “good idea” from a “bottom line’s” point of view.
Imagine, for a moment, if the American South had NOT had slavery as a viable alternative? What if all those cotton and sugar cane and tobacco plantations had to pay every last field hand, every maid, every butler, everyone a fair market wage for their labor? Would the Confederacy have even ever existed?
One of the more pathetic arguments to justify the Confederacy is that very idea – that slavery was inevitable because the crops involved were so labor intensive. That is such a slaver’s way to view the world – through an “inevitability” lens: slavery was inevitable because someone had to pick those crops so that white guys could get rich.
Greed goes hand-in-hand with monotheism because monotheism inspires the terrible idea that one’s wealth is approved of by the divine when no such thing has happened of course. No one has actually “earned” their outlandish wealth. They have pocketed the wealth that belongs to countless others. They’re not “captains of industry”, they’re “thieves”. Not the same thing – except when crony capitalism is in effect.
I’m one of those socialists who believes capitalism and socialism can co-exist – as they do in various northern European countries. The ones where the happiness quotient is highest. Greed still exists there of course, but the adults in the room have seen (and enacted social policy that makes real) that a happy, healthy, secure citizenry is a more productive and wealthier citizenry by a ton. Social democracy is a better, quicker antidote to what ails us – to a bigger, better, stronger, more resilient America better geared to succeed in the future. A rising tide won’t just float all boats, it will help every last boat succeed and thrive. What’s so bad about that?
The shortest distance between these two points – where we are and “there” is to eliminate greed from our lives. If we could inoculate ourselves against it like it was COVID or polio or German measles, we’d do it. At least we should – because greed never does anyone any good except the greedy – and only then for a short amount of time. Even the greedy become their own eventual victims. If only to save them from themselves, we should declare war on them.
On their greed.