Coveting Capitalists

Craig Carter has been arguing that capitalism is a sort of antidote for coveting and that it’s those filthy Marxists who want to spend all their time eyeing other peoples’ stuff and prying it away from them. But let’s consider the case of Chaim Witz, or, as you know him, Gene Simmons. On this season of his reality show (Remember when A&E stood for “arts and entertainment?) it’s become apparent that Simmons’ non-stop touring and business dealing (and the attendant “lifestyle” of the jet-setting rockstar/businessman) has alienated him from his own family. At least I think this might be what is happening. Simmons, ever the self-promoter may be staging all of this for ratings (like most other “reality shows“). So for all we know this is a ratings ploy for a show that’s probably slipped in ratings since it debuted. Still, if we clear the hurdle of this huge disclaimer, let’s admit that Simmons is a sort of type of our age. We can consider him like we would consider Raskolnikov as a type of 19th C. youth. Here we go with Simmons the archetype:

So why would a successful man who says he loves his family risk it all with his workaholism and philandering? If we untangle this knot a bit, it’s clear that his business and touring commitments are what give him the space to hang around women his daughter’s age – while supposedly missing his own daughter’s graduation. If he spent more time at home, he wouldn’t have the temptation/opportunity to cheat quite so much. Since willpower may well be a finite resource, this is significant. So why does Simmons stay on the road?

Clearly this man has probably got enough money (he apparently owns his own island) to take it easy and do very little for the rest of his life. He is in his 60s now and surely could continue to work at a slower pace, or just flat-out retire and no one would think that he was some kind of slacker. He has done more than enough to secure a good life for his family. Why keep up this kind of pace, why play this game at the expense of creating distance between himself and his own family?

Now, everyone knows that Simmons is not a Christian (he’s a nice Jewish boy from New York), but he is surely the capitalist par excellence. He boasts about not needing handouts and being beholden to no one. As far as he’s concerned, he’s Horatio Alger in kabuki makeup. And yet here’s a man who is coveting, who is clearly terrified that he might not have enough money. Any rational analysis would conclude that Simmons has enough resources to hedge against, well, just about anything. He could sit at home and live off his investments quite comfortably I am sure. What would you call this man’s drive for more money if not coveting? He seems to not be able to have enough. Is there another word for this kind of self-destructive wanting?