Liberty Commentary

Envy, Guilt and Self-Destruction

by Bob Wallace, StR

Oh, if only the Left was right and people were infinitely malleable blank slates! My heart would soar if it was true. All the differences between men, women, races and ethnic groups – if they were all environmental, just twiddle some societal knobs, and presto-chango! We’d get just about as close to Heaven on Earth as we’re going to get.

But the Left isn’t right. Actually, they are as wrong as can be, which makes their Procrustean attempts to level people always lead to cultural and societal suicide. Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union are gone, China has given up its blue Mao uniforms, and Cuba will collapse soon after Castro shuffles off. The United States ain’t in such good shape, either.

But if the Left believes we are John Lockean wax tablets, why is it so obsessed with envy? Leftism, in fact, in based on eliminating envy – making us all identical and equal, like quarters, or those Stormtrooper clones in Star Wars.

Is envy inborn in us? One of the oldest stories in the West, that of the Garden of Eden, tells us it is. Adam blames Eve, and Eve blames the serpent, a symbol of envy. Worse, murder enters the picture through their children, when Cain kills Abel because of his envy of him.

What a story! The introduction of evil and murder into the world through envy and blaming your problems on other people – through scapegoating. All of it is explained in a short story about four people. Shakespeare should have been so succinct.

Too bad people these days have so little understanding of the destructive effects of envy (and the Seven Deadly Sins in general). Perhaps our “religious leaders” aren’t doing their jobs and are instead regaling their flocks with fantasies about the Rapture and Tribulation.

It’s bad enough when individuals blame their problems on innocent people, but it’s far worse when groups do it. People are herd animals, social, imitative and hierarchical – and herds don’t have much more brains than a sea squirt, though they’re far more dangerous.

Herds not only barely have any brains, they have no gratitude. Not a drop. You can’t be grateful and envious at the same time.  Herds embody the worst qualities of mankind and none of the better. Even Aesop noticed that thousands of years ago.

So when one more successful group tries to help a disadvantaged group, it doesn’t work. It not only doesn’t work, it backfires in a big way. What it creates, like clockwork, is ingratitude.

“It is astounding that countless benefactors allow themselves to be persuaded over and over that ingratitude with the resulting hatred is a rare and special case,” writes Helmet Schoeck in his magisterial book, Envy.

Read the rest at this link.