Mike Lieber (U28550@UICVM.BITNET)
Mon, 6 Mar 1995 17:36:39 CST

Gee, sorry about that. I misread the post. I thought the challenge was to
find examples of greed in non-western, even pre-contact societies. Now I
understand that it is capitalist greed that formed the challenge. This would
restrict all examples to those under a capitalist regime, thus eliminating
all societies with non-capitalist economic systems. I'm assuming that greed
in those non-capitalist societies doesn't count in the hypothesis. Thus, on
Kapingamarangi Atoll, where I have done research since 1965, land theft
before colonial contact does not count but land theft after colonial contact
does, even though the circumstances and strategies for stealing someone
else's land have changed little if at all. Or maybe land theft doesn't count,
since land tenure is still organized by descent and inheritance, so land greed
is non-capitalist, while theft of items bought with money from copra production
that comes from land ownership does count as capitalist greed. Well, maybe
that doesn't count either, since stealing taro or breadfruit puddings is also
a case of theft of processed products of the land (and definitely pre-
capitalist). How about the case of stealing sugar and flour from the house of
someone who works for the government in a wage job? That's capitalist greed,
right? So what do we do with the case of the government worker's older
brother, who simply goes to the latter's house and takes the flour and sugar?
The younger brother may not like it, but he can't say anything, since that's a
relative, even if the bastard could buy his own flour and sugar. There are
people who do that on the atoll, and they are considered greedy. But is it
capitalist greed? Damn, I'm all confused now. Someone with wisdom needs to
deal elegantly with these ugly data. I guess I just lack the theoretical
spophistication to do it myself.
Mike Lieber