“For the love of money is the root of all evil.” – 1 Timothy 6:10. This is a familiar quote from the King James version of the Christian Bible. But it seems to embody a universal truth. When one looks at all the crime in the world, most of it is motivated by greed and money. So if one were to remove money from society would that cause a dramatic reduction in crime?
It is really what money represents that is at the root of this question. Money after all consists largely of inexpensive paper and metal coins. In the distant past money used to be made of gold which did match the value for which it represented. But even gold only represented the Value of the actual goods or services being acquired. It is Value which is key to answering the original question. Value is what makes something worth having or desired. It is usually a crime when one takes something of Value belonging to another in defiance of law.
Belonging is a tricky word that has legal connotations as distinguished from possession. Belonging means legal or legitimate ownership whereas possession is the physical state of having control over something whether one has a right to it or not.
Evil comes into play when someone gains possession of something of value to them that allegedly belongs to another. Greed is the urge to posses something they value that doesn’t belong to them. I think greed stems from hunger and our survival instinct to take from nature what we need for survival but now extends to wanting to possess things not needed for survival but are otherwise of value.
Getting back to the original question if we were to remove everything of monetary value from society would this eliminate theft or greed related incidences? By removing the root cause of a problem one would expect to remove the behavior itself. The only way to remove the root cause for greed is to either remove all things of desire and value from the environment, give everyone equal possession of everything, or give everyone everything they want.
None of these options can currently work in large communities but there are smaller communities where people living in communal like settings that come close to eliminating greed like crimes. Many of these communities are religious based but there are non-religious communal living communities in Sweden and elsewhere that have eliminated almost all thefts and crimes of greed. But people in such communities must want to live under such equal and often simplified communal living facilities. Such communities have no locks and doors are only used to keep out the weather. People work to earn what they need for their families and give the rest to the community for food and supplies. Salaries are no secret. Everyone chips in to help sustain the community. Such communities provide a high sense of security and equality not found elsewhere in society which make them attractive to certain people.
So the premise that greed is fundamental to the human condition is not necessarily true. It depends upon how close one is to a survival state and how socially and economically equal people feel in a community. This is not communism because it is volunteer and these communities are not governed by the teaching of Karl Marx.
Is it possible to have such a social environment on a large scale? I don’t feel it is currently possible. But I do believe it is possible in the distant future. I describe such a society in 100 Years from Now: Part 8 – Jobs and Economics. It describes a future where all our needs are provided by robots and technology and where no one works for a living and were money no longer exists because everything is provided for. All three elements of greed no longer exists because greed has been gradually removed from the human condition in the intervening 100 years. Since greed is not a fundamental human trait it is possible to eliminate it as has largely been done in voluntary communal living communities. Things such as jealousy and crime are consequently greatly diminished.