“Peek greed” – this is what Sir Paul Collier calls the present state of mind, both in business and society. But the resistance against the most obvious forms of market excess is growing. Collier’s most recent book “Greed is Dead,” co-authored by fellow Oxford economist John Kay, offers a scathing take on the pillars and premises of economy and society. The central thesis is that a culture of irresponsible individualism has led capitalism to an inflection point.
Collier is also one of the initiators of our programme “The Foundations of Value and Values,” whose first cohort of fellows will join us in the fall and whose purpose is to rethink the assumptions behind Homo Economicus. Collier takes a very fundamental approach to this question, indicating that a misrepresentation of human nature underlies most mainstream economic thinking and that the crudely Darwinistic view of “us“ has been debunked by a great deal of recent scholarship on evolutionary biology.
We, it turns out, are not just greedy, selfish and egotistical creatures. Humans actually thrive on empathy, collaboration and solidarity. Which is good news if you seek to envision new forms of community, as does Collier.