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What are some examples of greed in the history of mankind? They can be any examples of greed, like in wars or anything else.

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mwestwood eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Check out Napoleon's reign.  He even had to return some Egyptian artifacts that he had stolen.

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Kristen Lentz eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I would say Hitler's decision to invade Russia was a clear instance of greed.  He had conquered most of Europe and there is a good chance he could have consolidated his areas and defended them against Great Britain and the United States effectively if he didn't have to fight WWII on two fronts.  His greed led to his ultimate defeat.

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Alec Cranford eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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One clear example of greed, to me at least, was the policy of Indian removal in the Southeast (and really everywhere else.) In the Southeast, though, Indian peoples, especially the Cherokee, had done everything the government asked of them in terms of assimilating to western culture. Many of them had adopted plantation agriculture, they came up with an American-style constitution, and a written language. Yet despite this, and even a very unambiguous ruling by the Supreme Court to the contrary, removal of the Cherokee continued apace. There was no justification for this beyond those based on race, power, and the alleged right of white people to the riches that the Cherokee nation made possible.

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litteacher8 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Our entire human history has been driven by greed, but the time of imperialism might be on the strongest examples.  The European countries decided that they deserved to take over the world, and they sent out representatives who proceeded to decimate, enslave and exploit populations of other continents.  We still feel the effects of it.  The African slave trade might not have been the first, but it has certainly made a great impact.

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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You can say that all of human history centers around greed of one sort or another.  One obvious example of greed would the Spanish conquest of the Incas.  The conquistadors were so greedy for gold (and other things) that they ruthlessly destroyed the Inca Empire and took it for themselves.

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Mike Walter eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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How about the Great Recession that we are supposedly slowly coming out of now? I'm not an economist, but I believe at least part of the cause was due to mortgage based investments that were risky but made a lot of money for people who sold them and then washed their hands of them. Eventually the mortgage market collapsed and other people were stuck holding the bag (which no longer had any money in it).

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truthseekah | Student

The greed for money, power and control has been pervasive throughout history.  Most every event in history has greed at its center.  I don't necessarily believe it is innate in us as humans, but more likely engrained in us through indoctrination.

salimj | Student

From the beginning of time to the present day we see greed everywhere. As one of the above debaters has mentioned the story of Adam and Eve itself is an example of greed. Everything was there for Adam but still he commits sin because of his greed. It goes through Abel and Cane. Even the present day rulers and business men are not free from this greed. Why to say more everyone of us are ruled by this fact

angel-girl | Student

Greed for power! Adolf Hitler!

alphawolf9 | Student




alphawolf9 | Student

evrybody today , :(

etotheeyepi | Student

I have no crystal ball, but I wonder if people who invested in Facebook at $38  per share during the initial public offering might look back and decide that their greed of not gaining triumphed over their fear of lose.  Today Facebook closed at about $28 per share.

bairdgran | Student

How about the Ludlow incident in Ludlow,Colorado?

Greedy Mine owners vs. miners [ who try to get unionized]

A great example of selfish greed, control, and the things someone would do to keep it.  This also sounds like our Modern Day politics.

najm1947 | Student

Whether poor or rich greed is always there to serve personal desire of individuals and nations. Pakistan is a poor country but the rulers' greed for power and money is unending. Pakistan's PM Gilani is holding to power in spite of the Supreme Court ruling and is spending lavishly on foreign tours. In case of rich, one may see the role of US to invade Iraq for its interests in oil and power in the region. So from the story of Cain and Able to this present time greed is there and will remain as long as the human race exists. Only the hell fire can quench their thirst.


thisuserhasmadeabadusername | Student

Today- the government is based largely on corporate interests.

etotheeyepi | Student

Jacob Bronowski does not use the word, greed, in this short video, but I think he means that war is an organized form of greed.

etotheeyepi | Student

Greed has been around for a long time.  One might remember the story of Cain and Able or of Jacob and Esau.

Knennewick man, a 9300 year old fossil, had part of a spear lodged right hip bone at a 77-degree angle, but, remarkably, the spear did not cause his death. One might speculate that he had something someone else wanted and hence the spear wound.


Another possible prehistoric victim of greed, Otzi the Iceman, a 3300 year old fossil, died after he had suffered two fairly serious wounds, in addition to a blow to the head. One was to his right palm, a deep cut that occurred between 3 and 8 days before his death. The other was a wound in his left shoulder. In 2001, conventional x-rays and computed tomography revealed a stone arrowhead embedded in that shoulder.


etotheeyepi | Student

One must wonder if the Aztec conquest of Mexico or the Inca conquest of Peru could be an examples of greed.

I'm sure that the Bankers who made the mortgage investments mentioned in post number #2 would argue that they made mortgages as a matter of diligence, not greed. One might wonder about the connection between the pity for low income people and the passage and modification of the Community Reinvestment Act, which led to the aforementioned loans.  Maybe the pity was greed.

People may have become involved in the Triangular Trade, which brought slaves to Brazil, the Caribbean, and the British colonies of North America, with a view toward diligence, but after one trip on a slave ship, they must surely have seen it as greed.  If I were to become a historian, I might study how early advocates of abolition switched from one view to the other.

For example, John Jay, Governor and First Supreme Court Justice, was an early advocate of abolition.