“The modern self…is a discrete and separate subject in a universe that is Other. The self is the Economic Man of Adam Smith; it is the embodied soul of religion; it is the selfish gene of biology. It underlies the converging crises of our time, which are all variations on the theme of separation – separation from nature, from community, from lost parts of ourselves. It underlies all the usual culprits blamed for the ongoing destruction of ecology and polity, such as human greed or capitalism. Our sense of self entails, ‘More for me is less for you’; hence we have an interest-based money system embodying precisely that principle. In older, gift-based societies, the opposite was true.
The urge to own grows as a natural response to an alienating ideology that severs felt connections and leaves is alone in the universe. When we exclude world from self, the tiny, lonely identity that remains has a voracious need to claim as much as possible of that lost beingness for its own. If all the world, all of life and earth, is no longer me, I can at least compensate by making it mine. Other separate selves do the same, so we live in a world of competition and omnipresent anxiety. It is built into our self-definition. This is the deficit of being, the deficit of soul, into which we are born.”