Saturday, April 28, 2007

You Shall Have No Gods Before Envy

Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy; its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery. --Winston Churchill

If you are a true leftist, then you shall covet. Your life is built around a chronic feeling of lack for which you imagine that others are responsible. Unlike some of the other commandments, which at least rouse the person into action -- however evil the action -- envy is entirely passive and internal, and can be done from the discomfort of your own head. While it can become active, it is generally powerless unless it embodies a pathological cultural value system or is translated into a collective political movement. Absent the collective will of envy, it can only ruin your own life.

Why is the commandment to envy so central to the nihilistic left? Lying, stealing, murdering and adultery all harm others, but envy seems only to affect oneself. True, it is absolutely corrosive to the self, but why should it be among the five horizontal commandments governing man-to-man relations?

Because envy is not just an emotion, or mental state. Rather, it is a relationship. It is a relationship with an other whom one feels possesses something lacking in oneself. It is actually first an internal object relationship, only projected outward. In other words, there is an envious mind parasite in dynamic rapport with a frustrating object it feels is "withholding" that to which it feels entitled -- ultimately it is a frustrated infant imagining a bountiful breast that is selfishly keeping its infinite supply of milk and other goodies to itself. Therefore, it will either seize the breast or attack it so that no one else can have it. At various times leftists can adopt either strategy toward the breast, which they call their "economic policy."

Now importantly, the leftist necessarily operates in an "insight free" zone, so he naturally focuses on the object of envy, and in fact, builds his entire worldview around feeling enviously entitled to the object he lacks. But a mature person realizes that the absence is within, and that it is infinite. Being that it is infinite, it cannot be filled by a finite object. Rather, ipso facto, it can only be filled by an infinite object. We call this object.... Well, let's not call it anything just yet. Let us just say that man is born with an "appetite for the infinite" which the spiritually naive man confuses with an infinite appetite.

For example, let's say I am envious of John Edwards. He is fabulously wealthy, I am not. It's not exactly fair, is it? I'm much smarter than that vacuous intellectual cipher, plus the parasite made millions by promulgating vile lies and duping juries, while I slave away here in the dark, telling the unvarnished truth and working for tips.

But in reality, I definitely have everything I need, most of what I want, and a lot more than I deserve, so his "disproportionate" wealth is of no consequence to me. Rather, it's his problem. In fact, in order for me to "want" to be him, I would first have to make myself considerably more unhappy by focusing on all the things I don't have, which would leave me little time to be happy and enjoy what I already have. And then, like Edwards, I might have to be willing to compromise and damage my eternal soul and do or say anything to obtain those things I feel I lack and deserve.

Now, don't get me wrong. As Smoov mentioned yesterday, there can be no objection whatsoever to, say, the passionate businessman who becomes wealthy by fulfilling a real need in people. But an unproductive, free-riding parasite such as Edwards operates in the dark societal interstices where envy flourishes. Were some of his lawsuits legitimate? I assume so. But he's not going to give back the millions he defrauded from insurance companies with junk science. In fact, he's not even going to apologize for hurting so many doctors, or for harming so many women and children by driving ob/gyn physicians out of North Carolina, or for making everyone's health insurance premiums just a little higher.

In any event, in order for me to live in John Edwards' "two Americas," I would first have to figure out which America I live in. It's definitely not Edwards' America, so I guess I got the short end of the stick. Damn. I guess I'm one of the cosmic losers being oppressed by his America. Now what do I do? Insist on government mandated haircare? Can I go to the emergency room with a bad haircut, and get it fixed for free? Should we all get vouchers for Rogaine? Why not? Medicare already pays for grandpa's Viagra. Yes, a portion of your tax dollars helps maintain Hugh Hefner's flagging sexual viability -- never mind what the constitution says about the separation between crotch and state.

I guess I would have to begin by identifying and nurturing this feeling of emptiness, or lack of fulfillment, followed by imagining that there is something out there that could make this painful state go away: a 30,000 square foot mansion, a $400 haircut, the presidency. But in my case, I know that these things wouldn't help, for they would just represent a bogus cure for a wound that I myself created. Or maybe it's Adam's fault. Whatever. There's nothing Democrats can do to fix it.

So, I could spend my life envying others, but it would simply ruin my own brief life, and I have more better and less bitter things to do.

And in any event, the only way to give envy some real "teeth" is by collectively joining with other envious individuals and starting a movement. Now, one thing you will immediately notice is that this cannot just be a group of the envious losers -- the perpetually bitter and dysfunctional dailykos types. For one thing, they are indeed losers, and a group of them couldn't accomplish much. Rather, they must form a coalition with the envied, which is why the Democratic party consists of an alliance between the envious and envied -- specifically, those elites who cannot tolerate the murderous "evil eye" of the envious.

This is why it is such a hoot that people still believe that Democrats are the party of "the little guy." In fact, the Democrats have far more wealthy donors than the Republican party, while the Republican party has many more donations from so-called "little guys" -- although no conservative thinks of himself as "little" except in comparison to his spiritual betters -- those with more courage, wisdom, or other virtues.

One cannot help noticing that a disproportionate number of wealthy Democrat donors are people who must unconsciously know that they have no useful talent and contribute nothing to society -- indeed, perhaps even harm society, such as many Hollywood celebrities, infrahuman musicians, and marauding trial lawyers (as a group, not individuals, many of whom are obviously decent people who perform a valuable service). But one way to manage one's own envy is to project it into others and then try to appease it.

I believe this psychic mechanism is at the heart of the dynamic between the envied and the envious left. It is actually a common narcissistic defense. You might say that the empty narcissist projects his infantile "hungry mouth" into the "little people," whom he will feed so as to avoid unconsciously feeling that they will devour him with their envy. Indeed, this is why they are so transparently hypocritical -- i.e., pledging to use no more than one square of toilet paper while flying around on a private jet. Much of their so-called "activism" is simply a symbolic defense against the uncomfortable feeling of being envied by others. It makes no sense in the real world, only in the psyche of the activist.

Likewise, how guilty must Al Gore feel for becoming wealthy by promulgating junk science while jet-setting around with the envied class? So he purchases some bogus carbon offsets to even the psychic scales. Again, it has nothing to do with external reality.


(Most of the following is review material, so paleocoons are dismissed.)

As I wrote last summer, the tenth commandment is a fitting capstone to the first nine, since the injunction against envy is really more of a reward for a life well lived than an ultimatum. For envy is the most corrosive of emotions (or perhaps more accurately, “mental states”), in that it undermines any possibility of personal happiness or spiritual fulfillment. While it often takes the form of longing for what one doesn’t have, it is usually built on an unconscious foundation of being ungrateful for what one has, or even actively devaluing what one has, so that one constantly feels deprived. Thus, envy is often the residue of the inner emptiness caused by unconscious devaluation, "spoiling," and ingratitude.

One thing I have not yet done is fully elaborate the relationships between the various commandments. For example, there is a clear parallel between the first and the last commandments, for if you really appreciate the first, you won't have a problem with the last. Conversely, if you do yield to the temptation to envy, you essentially foreclose the space where God would otherwise be -- again, you turn the cosmos upside down and try to fill an infinite space with something finite.

Ultimately envy is a self-consuming process that leaves nothing but itself standing, like Michael Corleone at the end of Godfather II or Charles Foster Kane at the end of Citizen Kane. Both endings represent envy triumphant. All that is left of Kane is a huge warehouse of meaningless objects frantically acquired during a lifetime spent trying vainly to fill a psychological and spiritual void with possessions. It is appropriate that they are consigned to the fire, as the workers absently toss one after another into the flames.

Here we discover a certain confluence between Buddhism and the Judeo-Christian tradition, for Buddha is famous for his wise crack about desire being the source of our suffering. But actually, he was trying to make a point about attachment to desire. Desires will come and go, like smoke driven by wind. It is only when we attempt to clutch to them that they become problematic.

But even then, as I pointed out in One Cosmos, I find it useful to draw a distinction between appetite, which is natural, and desire, which is often mimetic, meaning that it is not spontaneous but prompted from the outside. Many people give themselves entirely over to this process, and lead "imitation" lives consisting of wanting what others seem to want. They are pushed and pulled around by fleeting desires, impulses and passions, but when one of them is being gratified, it gives rise to a spurious sense of “freedom,” when in reality this kind of ungoverned desire is the opposite of freedom.

It is very difficult to avoid this dynamic in a consumer-driven culture such as ours. It’s the kind of cliché that Petey detests, but we are constantly bombarded with messages and images that fan the fires of envy and mimesis. Sri Aurobindo referred to this as the “vital mind,” and the fundamental problem is that it cannot really be appeased. In other words, it doesn’t shrink when we acquiesce to it. Instead, it only grows, like an addiction or compulsion.

Importantly, the vital mind does not merely consist of impulses seeking discharge. Rather, it can take over the machinery of the host, and generate its own thoughts and rationalizations. We’ve all seen this happen in ourselves. "Yoga" in its most generic sense involves a reversal of this tendency, so that we may consciously yearn for what we actually want, rather than mindlessly will what we desire. This tends to be a constant battle at the beginning. But only until the end. Once again I am reminded of St. Augustine's insight that you had better be careful what you love, because wrongly ordered love is a spiritual catstrophe.

I remember reading Peter Guralnick’s excellent biography of Elvis, which chronicled just how convoluted the vital mind can become if left unchecked. It seems that someone can become so wealthy and powerful that they lose the friction necessary to distinguish between fantasy and reality. A sort of hypnotic, dreamlike imagination takes hold, which can become quite elaborate and unnatural. I am sure this accounts for the general nuttiness that comes out of the typical left-wing hollywoodenhead. They are so far removed from what you and I know of as reality, that they are both ontologically and epistemologically (not to say spiritually) crippled.

“Job one” of the vital mind is to foster a kind of I-amnesia, so that we repeatedly fool ourselves into believing that fulfillment of the next desire will finally break the cycle and bring us real contentment, but most Coons are well familiar with that wearisome drill. For in that gap between desire and fulfillment lies the hidden key. In that gap there is both anticipation and hope. But like the referred pain of a back injury that we feel in the leg, this hope is misplaced onto a realm incapable of fulfilling it. For, as it is written on someone's bumper, "you can never get enough of what you don’t really need."

This pattern of desiring what we don’t really want or need is well beyond merely affecting our spiritual lives. Rather, it is starting to seriously compromise even our physical well-being. At some point in the last 10-15 years, affluence became a more serious threat to health than poverty. The levels of obesity, type II diabetes, and other related health problems have become epidemic. Why? Because people are able to live in the vital mind as never before. The Western world is increasingly full of “poor” people whose bodies look like the most prosperous people of the past. They are still impoverished, but it is a spiritual impoverishment that causes them to try to fill the void with food and meaningless sedentary activities, such as television and video games. In a way, they are more impoverished -- not to say pathetic and lacking in dignity -- than the poor of the past.

Natural appetites can be satisfied, but the gods of abstract metaphysical desire are omnipotent and require constant tribute. That is one of the paradoxes, for one might think that the spiritually developed person lives in an “abstract” world, while the bovine, grazing multitudes live in the concrete world, but it is quite the opposite. The spiritual person becomes very concretely aware of subtle and fleeting little concrete joys on a moment-by-moment basis, where as the vital ones are only tuned into the most gross forms of sensory overload, whether in music, entertainment, or food (and I imagine the porn industry taps into this insensate population as well).

Here again we must bear in mind the limitlessness of the human imagination. We can always imagine something better, something that we don’t have. Any clown can do that. Much more tricky is being grateful for what we do have. Thus, the cultivation of humility and gratitude actively counter the vital mind and its constitutional envy. This may initially feel as if we are being deprived of our horizontal liberty, such as it is, and this is true. However, the whole point is to replace that with a more expansive vertical freedom that is relatively unconstrained by material circumstances, excluding the most dire cases whom we are indeed obligated to help.

And, just like my absurcular book, the commandments circle back around to the beginning, back to where we started, with the holographic first commandment that contains all the others. The secular left turns the cosmos upside down and inside out. As a result, instead of being conditioned in a hierarchical manner from the top down, it is conditioned from the bottom up. This results not in true liberation, only in rebellion and pseudo-liberation, for there can be no meaningful freedom outside objective Truth. The left rejects top-town hierarchies as intrinsically repressive, but the opposite is true -- only in being conditioned by the higher can we actually elevate and liberate ourselves from contingency and relativity.

Or, as Will once put it “Like any physical attribute, if the human intellect is not yoked to and governed by the Higher Intelligence, it runs amok and eventually goes crazy. It's taken some time to get there, but currently, the spiritually bereft intellect is basically in charge of most of the world's influential institutions, which of course means the world is in deep stew. As far as definitions of the Antichrist go, I think this would do OK.”

On the spiritual level, there is simply nothing more satanic than envy. The sword of gratitude is our only defense.


This oughtta work: make it against the law for well-paid CEOs to provoke my envy!


Anonymous said...

i envy tour access and talent.....and Petey.....and all the regular Coons who've populated this site!

Petey said...

Don't envy me unless you want to hear about the farm accident that preceded my entry into this realm.

Jacob C. said...

Seriously, Bob, "The Ten Commandments Of Nihilism" could be a book all on its own.

Smoov said...

This has been a tremendously beneficial series of posts. I believe the envy/gratitude rubric is of critical importance to living well. I used to be quite envious of all sorts of people. In recent years I have replaced this (mostly, I still envy guys with Mercedes SLR McLarens) with gratitude. In fact, when I first started to do this--when I became spiritually awakened enough to know that such a thing was even possible--I could feel the interal snarled corruption dissolve and dissipate, almost physically. The experience is very, very real and has made a huge difference in my life.

Simple gratitude for the abundance bestowed upon us--for the simple fact of our existence--is a fortifying, cleansing tonic which leaves one feeling lighter, happier and freer. Leftists cannot do this since by definition most leftists have nothing or nobody to whom they can direct their gratitude. To whom should the leftist be grateful? Karl Marx? The State? The Party? Charles Darwin?

Willing a sense of gratitude toward God is one of the most tangible, never-miss proofs of God's concrete reality that I have known in my life. The effect is immediate, reliable and transcendental in quality.

jwm said...

I love the hills in Southern California. While they do not represent the most spectacular, dramatic, or majestic scenery in the state, like Yosemite, or Big Sur, they speak to me. Sing would be a better word.
Unfortunately, a lot of other people love the hills too. People with ambition, plans, and money. For years I've watched ridgelines flattened, canyons filled, and soft round hillsides carved into geometric blocks crammed as full of houses as the law will allow.
It used to be easy to rail at "greedy land developers". You know- The earth belongs to the People, and those bastards are wrecking it to line their fat pockets with money. They have to be stopped! That's it! The government ought to just take that land away from them and...

Hey- wait a minute.


developer in training said...


So are the greedy develpers good or bad? Isn't this a reson to advocate a middle path instead of the extremist views presented here? Curious. Your thought stream seems so...normal. :)

Ricky Raccoon said...

Just on the general subject of the 10 commandments, I am stating the obvious here but only because on thinking ‘generally’ or ‘pulled back’ about them myself here along with you everyday, I started to wonder if, say you could have 9 of them or 11 of them.

I realize the perfection of God so the question at some point quickly answered itself for me: considering either number 9 or 11, (obviously a scary set of numbers there worth noting, but beside my point), 9 obviously would leave out one of the commandments, any of which you choose are critical, and 11 would imply that anything critical was somehow left out of the other 10.

But continuing the thought process I arrived at a couple of other stops along the way. I have 10 fingers this is the intended design of the human body. Merely a wonderfully convenient way of knowing not to forget any of them? These are also separated down the middle, just as the 10 commandments (first 5 are for the vertical, send five are for the horizontal) the 10 fingers are separated to each hand of five each.

I don’t think this type of thinking is related to numerology, I’m frankly not interested in whatever that is. It’s not about the numbers so much as noticing a reflection in the horizontal of something from the vertical that is so basic and yet universal at the same time. Here our bodies are yet again designed to mirror the vertical (in His image).
And on, and on and on.

Ricky Raccoon said...

Jacob C,
I’d buy such a book in a heartbeat.

GLASR said...

OMGoodness! "can be done from the discomfort of your own head." That's a keeper, into the punch line file it goes. Apps, extensions are well, uh, um, ah, infinite!;~{) HA!

I am hoping the lawn has reached the point of dry enough to mow. The mind numbing roar of mower, blower and whacker. The smell of just cut grass. Heaven on Earth. This is its(the lawns) second cut and I'm going to cut it on a "forty five", always elicits "You need to get a life" comments from the neighbors. They're probably right. Do get pangs of guilt when the surgically sharp mower blade zzzzzzzzzips the patches of wild flower out the chute but they'll be back in a few days. More of 'em too. Hmmmm .... bag or rake? I read that raking can slow your heart rate, lower your blood pressure and clear your head.

I do not envy folks with lawn service. Feel kinda bad for them.

Read you all tomorrow. ;~)!

Ricky Raccoon said...

Echoing your point..
I since realized too that there is a distinct difference between feeling envy and appreciation (you said gratitude – same thing in this context). The physical feelings are the same to a certain extent. Let’s say I’ve always loved Michelangelo’s David. There’s no way I could have it, but I love knowing it exists. And that’s always been enough for me. Previous the Mercedes felt the same to me as David but in addition to that I mixed with it that I wanted to have it. Now, I just appreciate its beautiful design. I don’t have to have it. I don’t at all want it or want to do the things I’d have to do to get it. There are other things now that give me more pleasure that that are either free or practically are.

jwm said...

Developer in training:
Sorry for leaving my conclusion unspoken. There was a point when I had to realize that my own views were inconsistent. If I believed in the right of private property ownership, then I had to side with the land developer, whether I liked what he did or not. If he loses his rights I lose mine as well. The truth is, I was not seeing the developer's "greed". I was feeling my own enviousness. I coveted the beauty of a hillside that belonged to someone else. If I really were concerned about saving the hills I would do the Huge amount of work required to earn the money to buy the land and save it. I'm not that kind of ambitious. Build on, brother.


Gagdad Bob said...

I see no conflict whatsoever between true conservatism and the conservation of virgin nature -- indeed, the former mandates the latter, which is close to an ultimate value, since it is God's beauty that is being conserved for our edification and uplift (not to be confused with radical environmentalism). It's one reason why I am not a libertarian.

developer in training said...


Conclusion deduced. Thanks for the explanation anyway. I just understand the feeling you voiced so well. I think there oughtta be a law...

...then when they make one, it carries its own backside.

My dad told me once about standing out on a beach in NoCal envying someone's cliffside home, when he realized he was currently enjoying the same view this "fortunate" had, but was incurring none of the concern of a property owner, not to mention the dollar details, taxes, etc. He concluded he'd rather be standing where he was, enjoying the view for free anytime he needed it rather than paying for it constantly by living there.

I still agree. It's all in the (state of) mind. Yet we spend so much time on our lawns...:)

developer in training said...


I see your above comment as the whole point of this blog: examining the details. (I could be wrong of course!)

The fact that you see no conflict shows your (IMHO) evolution as a soul. The fact that the developer probably sees more beauty in his creation of a subdivision (and the jobs & homes & opportunities it creates along with the drainage problems, habitat destruction, etc.) speaks to his own evolution as a soul. It is not without a huge amount of focus and energy that one creates a subdivision out of a hillside.

And the devil is in the details. As is a life lived according to one's choosing. All we can do is make consious choices, then not blame anyone else for the results. Again, IMHO.

uss ben said...

"Therefore, it will either seize the breast or attack it so that no one else can have it. At various times leftists can adopt either strategy toward the breast, which they call their "economic policy."

The equal misery commission.

Definitely a bitter jealosy mixed in.

uss ben said...

"In fact, the Democrats have far more wealthy donors than the Republican party, while the Republican party has many more donations from so-called "little guys" -- although no conservative thinks of himself as "little" except in comparison to his spiritual betters -- those with more courage, wisdom, or other virtues."

For leftists the distinction between the "little guy" and the elite is material power with a choreographed false humility as a bonus.

uss ben said...

"Now importantly, the leftist necessarily operates in an "insight free" zone, so he naturally focuses on the object of envy, and in fact, builds his entire worldview around feeling enviously entitled to the object he lacks."

Insight free zone dovetails nicely with the gun free zone.
Everyone FEELS safe.

Skully said...

"We can always imagine something better, something that we don’t have. Any clown can do that. Much more tricky is being grateful for what we do have. Thus, the cultivation of humility and gratitude actively counter the vital mind and its constitutional envy."

It's always good to be reminded of that eternal wisdom!
Thanks B'ob!

Susannah said...

"However, the whole point is to replace that with a more expansive vertical freedom that is relatively unconstrained by material circumstances, excluding the most dire cases whom we are indeed obligated to help."

It's funny how relevant your discourses are to my daily conversations with my husband. We were just commenting today that the richest person in the world is the one who experiences the presence of God in daily life. Nothing else can substitute.

"Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world."

Bob said...

You make me proud to be a conservative!

terrence said...

1) This reminded me of the guy in India who said he wanted to come to America to see poor people who are obese (as opposed to starving or being dead).
2) Saint Paul is the one I envy – he said similar things about being contentment with what we have; and he, obviously, was not blowing smoke.
3) A wealthy guy told his wife he wanted to be buried with all his money. As a good Christian, she complied. However, she put all his money in her bank account and wrote a cheque, which she put in his casket before he was buried. She told a friend, “If he can cash the cheque, he can have the money”.

NoMo said...

Susannah said "...the richest person in the world is the one who experiences the presence of God in daily life. Nothing else can substitute."

How profoundly true.

Furthermore, "possession" of this most valuable of all treasures is immune to envy - for it is freely available to all who reach out for it.

God be praised!

MizzE said...

B'Ob - I noticed your new jammies, but I had a confusing time locating them. Would you help me out?

Dougman said...

" who experiences the presence of God in daily life."

FWIW, something articulated to my wife and i today.

While we were seperated she could not understand how i came across (to her) as cold and detached, not only from her but also from our children.

I asked her, "If you were to awaken one day and find that everything and everyone was taken away from you, could you still be happy?"

"Of course not", she relpied."I can't imagine being without my children, they are my life."

My reply was that i could and did, on a daily basis, find myself thanking G-d that i had the vessel that is my body to experience all the pain/pleasure in this realm that is the physical world that is paradise to the Spirit.Every day.

I also relayed that it scared me to feel so grateful while walking away from our children who were suffering for various reasons from my absence.

Crap! i have to go back to work now, there is so much more i want to explain but there is just no damn time!

suthen belle said...

I would like to hear more about your "farming accident," Petey. You are the most interesting thing about his site, I swan. Do tell moare...

tsebring said...

Bob...great way to end what has been an awesome series...if this was being spoken somewhere, I'd probably pay to see it. Envy is indeed the central premise on which socialism and communism are founded. It is envy, whipped up by leftist philosophers and demagogues, that drives the rise of leftist regimes and movements. And I agree that it's mostly an individual phenomenon. However, I'm not sure that it's really as "powerless" as you say. Envy is a force that I believe has lethal potential in both individuals and groups. The Virginia Tech killer is a prime example; his rants indicated a psychopathic envy of people whom he perceived as having it better than he did. That same envy, when elevated to the level of a mob, a political party, or an entire nation, can produce catastrophe when it is channeled outward into psychotic anger and hatred. It is that envy channeled into collective psychosis that drove Mao’s Red Guards in China’s deadly Cultural Revolution, and drove the soldier of Cambodia’s Pol Pot, to murder tens of millions. To me envy seems like yet another manifestation of arrested development, with that part of maturity that involves growing beyond “I WANT!!” somehow arrested. Again that provides a possible explanation of leftism’s appeal to the young. You yourself Bob used the example of Michael Corleone, who murdered or drove away everyone around him, friends and loved ones alike, out of envy and powerlust ( a side effect of envy). And who was the first envier of all? Cain. And Abel, the first victim of it. It’s been around that long, I’m afraid. I think we should not underestimate the power of envy to propel violence that threatens all of us. Of course, the left would, as they do with all of their sins, give it another, more sugar coated name; “social justice”. The robbing of the affluent to give to the alleged poor is social justice to the left. What they really mean, sometimes, of course, is “payback”. I wonder if one explanation of why the left is so soft on crime that involves ordinary folks (not celebrities or downtrodden minorities) is that they see it as exactly that, and smile a little smile inside when it comes over the news. The jailing of two border guards and the freedom of the drug smuggler they shot, one of the most glaring total reversals of good and evil I’ve ever seen in this country, is probably an example of that. As you have stated, only a connection to the Higher Intelligence (God, for those in Rio Linda) can pull one up from the iron grip of this destructive force.

River Cocytus said...

Thought came to me during workout - Leftism as a modern phenomena seems to be envy given power by intense guilt. So it is a combination of mass envy and mass guilt - the envy acts like a devouring mouth and the guilt like a carrot...

Envy always existed, but the individuation necessary - as from Judaism on up - to experience guilt (instead of mass shame - which may be more of a reasonable state of mind than mass guilt?) was not there to complete the circle.

And so it would see to me that the occurrence of leftism as we know it was an inevitable side effect at some point of a Christian-thinking society becoming affluent. All that it takes to make leftism is a good dose of populism gone awry, and you've got plenty of fuel for envy. For while everyone has something to envy, it is easier to 'reason' a poor, struggling person into envy than it is a rich man.

And contrariwise, it is easier to motivate a rich man into guilt than a poor one.

The bad populism - which interestingly resulted in the Federal Government stepping in at the very end of the 19th century - rode right on the end of the group of nasty little movements that came around in the late 1800's. (Not to say all was bad.)

This I think is why O'Reilly troubles a number of my conservative friends. It really isn't his bombast or attitude; they could just be part of his shtick, and honestly, are quite amusing. Instead, it may just be the creeping populism in his mindset that worries them.

But again, I may be wrong. That is just my intuition about it.

Sal said...

Gratitude is a big factor in humility, as well. It would include the honest appreciation of one's own gifts and abilities, as well as other's, without comparing them enviously.

Which is why I try not to say I envy anyone's talents, but that I appreciate what a gift they are in whatever situation.

late to the party on vocation and economics. The system of Distributism - my man
Belloc's blind spot- falls down on some fairly obvious human realities - not everyone is equpped to be an entrepreneur.
Not even a mom and pop quik stop owner.
So good for Smoov, in his sphere, and Bob, in his.

Having volunteered for years in a relief agency, I can attest that the envious/covetous give off actual vibes. You can spot them before you're out of the Fruit section.
Thankfully, they're also rare.

dilys said...

Slightly OT, but relevant to the entire series: Some here will enjoy this, on language and holiness, by David Mills, editor of Touchstone Magazine.

Now it's time (credits to Mother Goose & Grimm).

Ricky Raccoon said...

Thanks, Dilys.

I haven’t finished it yet, but quickly reminds me of Clever Clinton’s use of the word ‘contributions’ in place of the proper word ‘taxes’.

jwm said...

I'll add my thanks, Dilys. That was a pithy pre-post morning's read.


Reliapundit said...

heyt doc - long time noe see!

technically, the sin of which the left is guilty is COVETOUSNESS, not envy.

Reliapundit said...

From The Mahabharata
Santi Parva, Section CLVIII
Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli

Yudhishthira said: I desire, O bull of Bharata’s race, to hear in detail the source from which sin proceeds and the foundation upon which it rests.

Bhishma said: Hear, O King, what the foundation is of sin. Covetousness alone is a great destroyer of merit and goodness. From covetousness proceeds sin. It is from this source that sin and irreligiousness flow, together with great misery. This covetousness is the spring of also all the cunning and hypocrisy in the world. It is covetousness that makes men commit sin. From covetousness proceeds wrath; from covetousness flows lust, and it is from covetousness that loss of judgment, deception, pride, arrogance, and malice, as also vindictiveness, loss of prosperity, loss of virtue, anxiety, and infamy spring. Miserliness, cupidity, desire for every kind of improper act, pride of birth, pride of learning, pride of beauty, pride of wealth, pitilessness for all creatures, malevolence towards all, mistrust in respect of all, insincerity towards all, appropriation of other people’s wealth, ravishment of other people’s wives, harshness of speech, anxiety, propensity to speak ill of others, violent craving for the indulgence of lust, gluttony, liability to premature death, violent propensity towards malice, irresistible liking for falsehood, unconquerable appetite for indulging in passions, insatiable desire for indulging in ear, evil-speaking, boastfulness, arrogance, non-doing of duties, rashness, and perpetration of every kind of evil act,- all these proceed from covetousness.

In life. men are unable, whether infants or youth or adults, to abandon covetousness. Such is the nature of covetousness that it never decays even with the decay of life. Like the ocean that can never be filled by the constant discharge of even immeasurable rivers of immeasurable depths, covetousness is incapable of being gratified by acquisitions to any extent.

The covetousness, however, which is never gratified by acquisitions and satisfied by the accomplishment of desires, that which is not known in its real nature by the gods, the Gandharvas, the Asuras, the great snakes, and, in fact, by all classes of beings, that irresistible passion, along with that folly which invites the heart to the unrealities of the world, should ever be conquered by a person of cleansed soul.

Reliapundit said...

Generally, an unreasonable desire for what we do not possess. In this sense, it differs from concupiscence only in the implied notion of non-possession, and thus may cover all things which are sought after inordinately. Classified under this general head, we may have covetousness of honours, or pride; of the flesh, or concupiscence properly so called; of riches, or covetousness proper (Latin avaritia), or avarice. When covetousness of the flesh or of wealth has for its object that which is already the lawful possession of another, it falls under the ban of the Ninth or Tenth Commandment of God; and such desires, wilfully indulged, partake, as we are told by the Lord (Matthew 5), in their malice, of the nature of the external acts themselves. For he who deliberately desires the possession of another manUs lawful wife or goods has already in his heart committed the sin of adultery or theft. In its specific meaning, covetousness looks to riches in themselves, whether of money or of property, whether possessed or not, and pertains less to their acquisition than to their possession or accumulation. Thus defined, it is numbered among the sins which are called capital, because it is, as St. Paul says (Timothy 6), a radix omnium peccatorum.

The capital sin of covetousness is in reality rather a vice or inclination to sin, which is sinful only in that it proceeds from the unholy condition of original sin in which we are born, and because it leads us into sin. And so far is the desire--natural in us all--to acquire and hold possessions from being reproved as offensive by God, that, if kept within the bounds of reason and justice and resisted triumphantly in its inordinate cravings, it is positively meritorious. Even when indulged, covetousness is not a grievous sin, except in certain conditions which involve offence of God or the neighbour, e.g. when one is prepared to employ, or does actually employ, illicit or unjust means to satisfy the desire of riches, holds to them in defiance of the strict demands of justice or charity, makes them the end rather than the means of happiness, or suffers them to interfere seriously with oneUs bounden duty to God or man. Nourished and developed into an unrestricted habit, it becomes the fruitful mother of all manner of perfidy, heartlessness and unrest.