Friday, October 07, 2011

The Destruction Called 'Envy' and Who Uses It

We turn to Russell Kirk.

It would be easy enough to list other moral be­liefs and cus­toms that are part of the foun­da­tion of a pros­per­ous econ­omy, but we draw near to the end of this book. So in­stead we turn back, for a mo­ment, to one vice we dis­cussed ear­lier—and to the virtue which is the op­po­site of that vice.

The vice is called envy; the virtue is called gen­eros­ity.

Envy is a sour emo­tion that con­demns a per­son to lone­li­ness. Gen­eros­ity is an emo­tion that at­tracts friends.

The gen­er­ous man or woman is very ready to praise oth­ers sin­cerely and to help them in­stead of hin­der­ing them. Gen­eros­ity brings ad­mi­ra­tion of the achieve­ments and qual­i­ties of other peo­ple.

The warning (and prophesy) follows:

A spirit of gen­eros­ity to­ward oth­ers is still at work in Amer­ica. But in much of the world, a very dif­fer­ent spirit has come to pre­vail. In Marx­ist lands, envy is ap­proved by the men in power. Pri­vate wealth and per­sonal suc­cess are de­nounced on prin­ci­ple. The Marx­ist in­doc­tri­na­tor de­lib­er­ately preaches envy. By ap­peal­ing to that strong vice, he may be able to pull down con­sti­tu­tions, classes, and re­li­gions.

Be­cause the mar­ket brings sub­stan­tial suc­cess to a good many in­di­vid­u­als, the Marx­ist hates the mar­ket. A con­sis­tent Marx­ist de­clares that when two peo­ple ex­change goods in any mar­ket, both are cheated. Yes, both—that is what the Marx­ist says. Ex­change it­self is “cap­i­tal­ist op­pres­sion,” the Marx­ist pro­pa­gan­dist pro­claims. Cer­tainly there is lit­tle prof­itable ex­change in Com­mu­nist coun­tries. En­vy­ing the mar­ket’s pop­u­lar­ity and suc­cess, the Marx­ist de­nounces the mar­ket fu­ri­ously.

In the long run, the en­vi­ous so­ci­ety brings on pro­le­tar­ian tyranny and gen­eral poverty. In both the short run and the long run, the gen­er­ous so­ci­ety en­cour­ages po­lit­i­cal free­dom and eco­nomic pros­per­ity.

Almost as though he had heard Obozo and Pelosi before he wrote the essay, eh?

Evidently Kuhner (WaTimes) read the same essay.

Occupy Wall Street — a movement composed of communists, anarchists, socialists and anti-globalization student radicals — is spreading. Protests have swelled in cities including New York, Washington, Los Angeles, Chicago, Denver and Philadelphia. The protesters are gaining influence and numbers. A ragtag group of hippie students has turned into a potent political force.

Occupy Wall Street seeks to demonize big banks, large corporations and capitalism. Its goal is to overturn America’s economic structure. The protesters are calling for wealth redistribution, fees on bank profits and massive tax increases on the rich. Many are demanding a socialist revolution — the confiscation of private property and nationalization of the economy. They are the heirs of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels and Vladimir Lenin. Their aim is to impose the hammer and sickle upon America.

Marx & Co. are (reportedly) coming to Milwaukee on October 15th.


Grim said...

From an Aristotelian perspective, a virtue should have two opposites: thus, generosity should be on a scale that runs from envy to some vice that has to do with being insufficiently concerned with preserving your and/or your family's wealth, so that others end up having to take care of you:

Envy --- Generosity --- Wasteful

Of course, as Aquinas and Aristotle both note, the virtue won't be always in the precise center of the scale. So if you are in a position in which the source of your wealth is greater and well-assured, you might be even more robustly giving than the term "generous" indicates. This virtue is called "liberality" in Medieval literature, and it's just a different point on the same scale.

Envy --- Liberality --- Wasteful

Dad29 said...

Point well-made. Certainly, 'generosity''s opposite number is not the vice of envy.

But charity is.