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A Twenty-First-Century History of Greed


A Twenty-First-Century History of Greed

Tom Engelhardt

Think of it as the all-American version of the human comedy: a great power that eternally knows what the world needs and offers copious advice with a tone deafness that would be humorous, if it weren’t so grim. If you look, you can find examples of this just about anywhere. Here, for instance, is a passage in the New York Times from a piece on the topsy-turvy Trumpian negotiations that preceded the Singapore summit.


At the moment I can’t think of a better author to tell the tale of ‘Greed’ than Tom Engelhardt. Each chapter could be mounted on Tom Dispatch and carried in the New Yorker … surely material to top the bestseller list.

In that volume, I wonder about the tracking of cause and effect imbedded in parasitic capitalism. The “externalization of costs” - from slavery to stock buybacks to collapse a potentially healthy eco[nomy]-system in the truest sense of the Greek Oikos.

The institutionalization of [representative political] schizophrenia and schizophrenic rationalizations somehow seem to serve as the ‘externalization’ of empathy (something for someone else to exercise) and its exponentially compounded consequence of unbridled narcissism. This primordial stew boomerangs homo sapiens [supposed sapiens] into reverse by uncounted epochs/eras/millennia for which there is no known unknown name or even unknown unknown name, because it is neither new nor old, it is like a tumor so large it is carried in a wheelbarrow growing a new mouth and babbling so loud that what is left of the original person has only the strength to push the wheelbarrow to reach some desired destination.

An incisive history of greed could very well provide us the necessary surgical instruments as well as the necessarily equipped operating room to get to work on bringing the patient back on the road to recovery. I use the singular here because I consider the collective as a singularly essential denomination - all of life: both humanity and ecosystems as indispensable “collectivity” so scorned by the narcissism resulting from the parasitic tumor.


If “you” want to see that $1 Trillion a year stop going to the Military, and instead have it come back to the People in the form of Infrastructure, Education, Increases in Social Security, Medicare, Social Programs, and Taxes on Corporations and the Wealthiest, the best thing that “you” can do to send a strong message to the current political establishment elites is, change your political party affiliation from Democrat or Republican to Independent, Green, Socialist, or any other group “not” affiliated with the Devious Duopoly.


It’s unfortunate that Tom just regurgitates the Official Conspiracy Theory about 9/11 here. Unravelling that criminal enterprise, perpetrated by the intelligence agencies of both the US and Israel, is the key to peace, reality and justice around the world.


My great philosophical insight on this is really pretty simple; “we are falling and will continue, and we are really truly fucked”. I’m 71 and won’t have to live through the long and brutal fall, so in that sense I can take some solace.


Corporate elites have convinced Americans that wealth is the answer to everything.


You may very well live to be 100 Patricia.

Roll another one, take a deep breath, and be ready when the time comes to be heard.

Listen to “Fight the Good Fight” by Triumph.
Perhaps you’ll gain some inspiration there.


If we continue to poison our planet and, thereby, poison ourselves out of existence, there won’t be any future historians to record this century of greed. I suspect the survivors of this century’s folly will have all they can do to just to stay alive.


True, every story by him here on CD has it. Makes me wonder why, or for who.


A great essay here by Engelhardt, one with which I agree …100 %. The choices made, and the paths followed, by our Political, Military and Financial “leaders”, over the last 25 years especially, have set in motion what is most likely an irreversible national decline.

We had a chance for a better world and we blew it!


Excellent comment!


Dear Sixth Extinction: please hurry.


Naw, I’ll listen to “Don’t Bogart that Joint” & “Alabama” (Neil Young song).