Greed (or avarice, cupidity, or covetousness) is the excessive desire for more than is needed or deserved, not for the greater good but for one’s own selfish interest, and at the detriment of others and society at large.
Greed can be for anything, but is most commonly for food, money, possessions, power, fame, status, attention or admiration, and sex.
Indeed, greed seems to be the driving force behind all successful societies, and modern political systems designed to check or eliminate it have invariably ended in the most abject failure.
In the film Greed, for the lack of a better word, is good. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.
Greed and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs The 20th century psychologist Abraham Maslow proposed that healthy human beings have a certain number of needs, and that these needs are arranged in a hierarchy, with some needs (such as physiological and safety needs) being more primitive or basic than others (such as social and ego needs).
Maslow’s so-called ‘hierarchy of needs’ is often presented as a five-level pyramid, with higher needs coming into focus only once lower, more basic needs have been met.
Greed, though an imperfect force, is the only consistent human motivation, and produces preferable economic and social outcomes most of the time and under most conditions.
Whereas altruism is a mature and refined capability, greed is a visceral and democratic impulse, and ideally suited to our dumbed down consumer culture.
Not only that, but it conflicts with our strong survival instincts, giving rise to anxiety about our purpose, meaning, and value.
This so-called existential anxiety, though it may be mostly subconscious, yet manifests in the form of compensatory behaviours, and, of course, greed is one such compensatory behaviour.