RE: Resentment

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Wed Jul 04 2001 - 22:05:52 MDT

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".

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.

> 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.

> 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.)

> 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.

> 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.

(But as I said at the outset, it'll be just great when those
of us who don't want to don't have to work to get goods and


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