Re: Resentment

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Sat Jul 07 2001 - 00:35:32 MDT

Lee Corbin wrote:
> Samantha writes
> > Lee Corbin wrote:
> > > I claim that only the very reflective have any chance in
> > > these cases of knowing whether their animosity towards
> > > others stems from actual injustice, or merely from envy.
> >
> > I think that envy will always arise towards those considered
> > more capable than oneself under economic and sociological
> > systems based primarily upon scarcity models. In such systems
> > the premise is that there is not enough to go around so the most
> > able or in some sense best should get the most first, perhaps
> > leaving too little for oneself.
> Scarcity is a sufficient condition for envy, but, I think
> hardly necessary.
> > As we come into increasing abundance the basis for envy
> > should decrease if and only if our social, economic and
> > even psychological systems adjust accordingly.
> If you mean eventually providing people with the means to
> re-engineer themselves to suppress the kinds of envy that
> they're not fond of, only then do I agree. But otherwise,
> I don't know what you mean by such an "adjustment".

What I mean is that many of the base level assumptions
that are formative to these institutions are highly in flux
as we approach Singularity and we need to make adjustments
accordingly if those institutions and aspects of ourselves are
remotedly going to be grounded in what is or helpful to us.

> Also, I suspect that you are here projecting your own healthy
> motives and psychological disposition. Do you know that a
> huge number of people are so motivated by envy that it wouldn't
> matter how rich they were so long as someone else was vastly
> richer---and even more annoying---famous? You should try
> talking to some of them some time; their hatred of the rich
> and powerful far exceeds any concerns they have for the
> poor, and far exceeds any actual deprivement anyone has.

But what did this psychological state grow out of and how
can it best be overcome in time? Keeping the system as it
is far beyond the point where that makes any sense is not
likely to be helpful at all.

> > If we truly want to reduce envy and simultaneously get
> > more of the people behind full progress then we need imho
> > to find ways of sharing the increased wealth that are more
> > effective.
> For sure; ever since Engines of Creation, at least, only a
> few die-hard followers of the old model have been upset by
> the idea of free food, clothing, and shelter for everyone
> once it becomes cheap enough.

> > I do not believe that the market economy by itself is doing that
> > sufficiently.
> Do you mean to imply that some re-distributive scheme could
> have been better applied in recent decades? If not, you're
> certainly making it sound that way. It definitely sounds
> as though you have a better idea, at least for the future.

I mean that I am gradually coming to believe that something like
a guaranted income is logical and necessary.
> > At the bottom end it is far too easy to fall into economic
> > destitution in the US today. There are too many people
> > working two or more jobs under poor conditions just to manage to
> > survive at all for me to believe that the market alone leads to
> > the good life.
> I'd agree that "the good life" cannot flow from just the
> market. But I dispute that in the United States one even
> needs to work at all in order to survive. Provided that
> you are willing to be institutionalized, or live in the
> streets, one hardly *needs* to do anything at all. (Of
> course, few people would have the psychological stamina
> to go all the way, and refuse all the inducements to at
> least help out, or work a little---but thousands of people
> each year manage to do it.)

In my late teens I was "on the streets". It was a different and
in many ways gentler time than this one. It was very difficult
even with basic sanity and full determination and a good mind to
get off the street. More so than I would have thought without
that experience. Being institutionalized is hell and obviously
neither that or being homeless is any sort of solution or at all
conducive to the happiness and well-being of self and others.
is the fact that one can sort of survive there any indication of
fundamental health of a society. So I see little point in
this here.

> > Too many people that do have better lives are have more
> > debt than savings and are only a few paychecks from
> > bankruptcy and perhaps homelessness.
> In every case, this is due to a lack of education---specifically
> the memes of thrift, prudence, and determination.

BULLSHIT. It is also due to a culture that has bought hook,
line and sinker that mass-consumerism is the only thing that
keeps us all from poverty and guarantees economic "health".

> > Upstream their are too many of even the technologically
> > elite who have no life but their work, not only or even
> > principally because of their love of the work, but due
> > to the shape of the economy and the conditions of their
> > unemployment within it. Something is out of kilter.
> Perhaps their psychology.

No. It is not that simple. Have you worked in software? I've
seen the pace accelerate and re-accelerate not out of any joy in
creation or creative zeal but out of fear of falling behind, of
not delivering something/anything before the competitors did, of
scrabbling for something anything to sell rather than often
making any real dent in the real needs of the industry. Every
year I have watched it get a bit worse and more pervasive.

Some of us even put in way more hours because it is our only
hope of "getting ahead" enough to squeeze in what we believe
really should be done.

This is much deeper than simply personal psychology.

- samantha

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