Blogs > Liberty and Power > Envying the Rich

Mar 18, 2004 9:43 pm

Envying the Rich

While I also believe Martha Stewart has been bashed unfairly by the government, I hope that, as suggested by Keith Halderman, political progress in America does not depend upon a decline among the poor envying the rich.

First of all, anyone who has read much on envy, see my essay Egalitarianism and Empire, or more importantly, H. Schoeck, Envy: A Theory of Social Behavior, or has taught school, or even watched a little human action, ought to recognize that the really destructive envy, for the"A," for example, comes from the"A-," or"B+," and not from those lower down, the"C"s etc., the so-called masses. Ever try to explain to a"B" student, who claims to have studied twice as many hours as the"A," why that person received a"B"? The"C"s seldom bother to argue.

The same is true with respect to status and wealth! It is those just lower down who most envy those at the top.

American politicians like to use envy for their own ends, and it is highly unlikely they would try to devise ways to use it more creatively for society. Envy is inherent in Hierarchy, which is evident in nature throughout the animal world -- and isn't going away. As I have noted elsewhere, Tocqueville believed the engine driving Democracy was Envy.

The Cartheginians, to appease envy appear to have burned about 20,000 first- born males children of the upper classes, offered to the God, Molach-Baal, to appease the envy in the society. We are fortunate, that society lost to Rome.

On the other hand, in victory, the Romans borrowed crucifixion from the Cartheginians, and that appears much in vogue these days, at least among movie fans who like their blood and gore on celluloid. Or is it DVD now?

In the interaction of civilizations, much more important than Huntington's so-called" clashes," who knows what weird idea to appease envy might be adopted in the West. Certainly our new immigrants bring with them an interesting pile of cultural baggage! That's what the Romans thought about a new, strange, eastern religion called Christianity.

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Max Schwing - 3/18/2004

I believe in the principle of money for succesful work, but given the development of markets all around the world, I think I am left alone.

I don't like to condemn or envy rich people, but there are certain rich people like investment bankers who have no success but get more and more money. How can you name it just, when a worker is fired, despite doing a good job and an Investment Banker gets a million, despite his loss of 300 000 dollars?

The late chief of Investment of the WestLB had lost over 5 million dollar, but still got one million as an extra before she lost her job!
This is not what I connect with capitalism and achievement promotion.