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Envy the key to success or failure of a nation

By Jack Wheeler


The Ten Commandments, listed in Exodus Chapter 20, are a mixed bag. Some are acknowledgements of universal moral truths accepted by most all cultures in most all times: don't lie, steal, kill, or cheat on your wife or husband. Some provide wise advice: respect your mom and dad, take a day off each week. Some are spiteful demands of obedience by a vengeful tyrant: if you revere anyone else, your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren will be punished. There is one, however, that stands out as a historical pinnacle of moral vision -- the tenth and last: "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor's." This moral demand not to envy, together with a corollary, is the key to peace and prosperity for any people, culture, or nation.

The corollary is this: As envy is a vice, so is capitulation to it. Disobeying the Tenth Commandment, either by people envying what they didn't earn themselves, or by people so afraid of envy they allow it to flourish, is the single greatest cause of war and poverty in the history of mankind.

Envy is the source of primitive and traditional cultures' belief in Black Magic, the fear of the envious Evil Eye. The fundamental reason why certain cultures remain static and never evolve (e.g., present-day villages in Egypt and India that have pretty much stayed the same for millennia) is the overwhelming extent to which the entire lives of the people within them are dominated by the fear of being envied.

It is an accepted practice among certain tribes in the Amazon that when a woman gives birth, she tearfully proclaims the child to be ugly. In a loud mortified lament that the entire village can hear, she asks why the gods have cursed her with such a pathetically repulsive infant. She does this in order to ward off the envious black magic of the Evil Eye, the Mal Ojo, that would be directed at her by other villagers if they knew how happy she was with her beautiful baby. Anthropologists observe that for most primitive and traditional cultures, "every individual lives in constant fear of the magical aggression of others... there is only one explanation for unforeseen events: the envious black magic of another villager."

Pandering to the envious, and intimidating those who are afraid of them, is the path to power of all modern demagogues from Lenin to Tom Daschle. What anthropologists call "Black Magic," Marxists call "Exploitation," and the Democrats call "Tax break for the rich." All three of the great political pathologies of the 20th century are based on rejecting the Tenth Commandment: Nazism, preaching race-envy toward "rich exploitative Jews"; Communism preaching class-envy toward "rich exploitative bourgeois"; Moslem terrorism preaching culture-envy toward "the rich exploitative West." Envy-mongering has always been and continues to be the underlying strategy of all variants of the political Left, such as the Democratic Party.

It is envy which makes a Nazi, Communist, or Terrorist. It is the fear of being envied which makes a Liberal, and is the source of "liberal guilt." This is most easily seen in the children of wealthy parents. Successful businessmen, for example, who have made it on their own normally have a respect for the effort and the economic system that makes success possible. Their children, who have not had to work for it, are easier targets for guilt-mongering by the envious. So they assume a posture of liberal compassion as an envy-deflection device: "Please don't envy me for my father's money -- look at all the liberal causes and government social programs I advocate!" Teddy Kennedy is the archetype of this phenomenon.

This is also why Hollywood is so liberal. The vast amounts of money movie stars make is so grossly disproportionate to the effort it took them to make it that they feel it is unearned. So they apologize for it. The Liberal's strategy is to apologize for his success in order to appease the envious. Liberalism is thus not a political ideology or set of beliefs. It is an envy-deflection device, a psychological strategy to avoid being envied.

Then there are those who are terrified of envy even though they have earned success themselves. So many Jews are liberals because such lethal envy has been directed at Jews for so many centuries that it is little wonder they consider avoiding envy to be a necessity of life.

One definitive characteristic of both envy and the fear of it is masochism. Envy is not simply hatred of someone for having something you don't - it is the willingness to masochistically give up any chance of ever having that something yourself as long as the person you are envious of doesn't get to have it either. Further, the more one fears being envied, the more one is driven to masochistic self-humiliation in attempts at envy-appeasement.

Now it is possible to perceive the passions of the Left as Frenzies of Masochism. What could be more idiotic and masochistic than to oppose missile defense? This opposition cannot be understood unless one dispenses with its rhetoric and rationales and realizes that these folks at their emotional core do not want their country defended. The lunacy of the "global warming" hoax cannot be comprehended other than its masochistic advocates do not want their civilization to prosper.

The lethality of Liberal Envy-Appeasement is that liberal guilt and self-loathing is projected onto the various social or tribal collectives to which the liberal belongs and are a part of his self-identity. Self-loathing is transformed into a loathing for one's society or race. White male liberals become auto-racist and auto-sexist: racists towards their own race, sexists towards their own sex. Dimwit demagogues like eco-fascist environmentalists, femi-nazis, animal and homosexual rights types, get their strength from the liberal's fear of their Evil Eyes. As the Amazon tribeswoman who says her baby is ugly, so the white male liberal says his gender, his race, his country, his civilization, and even his entire species is ugly.

The future of our economy, our culture, and our civilization depend on an antidote to the corrosive social poisons of envy and envy-appeasement. That antidote lies in teaching folks to adhere to the Tenth Commandment - and in providing a palliative to the poisons themselves. That palliative was provided by Aristotle.

The antidote to envy is emulation. In the Rhetoric (ca. 350 BC), Aristotle distinguishes the two: "Zelos, emulation, is a good thing and characteristic of good people, while phthonos, envy, is bad and characteristic of the bad; for the former, through emulation, are making an effort to attain good things for themselves, while the latter, through envy, try to prevent their neighbors from having them" (Rhet. 2.10.1). Aristotle invokes the ancient wisdom of his 8th century predecessor Hesiod: "There is not one kind of Eris (Strife), but all over the earth there are two. One fosters evil war and battle, being cruel. The other is the elder daughter of dark Night, and she is far kinder to men. She stirs up even the shiftless to toil. For a man grows eager to work when he considers his neighbor, a rich man who hastens to plough and plant and put his house in good order. Thus neighbor vies with neighbor to hurry after wealth. This Strife is wholesome for men." (Works and Days, 11-24.) Aristotle concludes that "Whereas phthonos, envy, is censured because it seeks to harm another, zelos, emulation, is praised because it encourages a person to attain excellence on his own merits" (Rhet. 2.11.1).

Aristotle's envy-emulation distinction provides a virtual crystal ball in predicting success or failure of a culture, nation, or institution. Those whose leaders appeal to envy and its appeasement are headed economically and politically downhill. Those whose leaders appeal to emulation are headed to success. Examples of the former are America's elite colleges - Cornell, Yale, et al - which have become fascist cesspools of envy and envy-appeasement.. They are surviving only on the inertia of their prestige. Plus, it goes without saying, the Democrat Fascist Party itself run by Tommy Daschle, Dickie Gephardt, and Slick Willie's poodle Terry McAulife.

Let's focus now, however, on the opposite trend. A number of "Tenth Commandment Governments" have recently come to power by appealing to emulation and not envy. The elections of Vicente Fox in Mexico, GW here in the US, Ariel Sharon in Israel, Junichiro Koizumi in Japan, and Silvio Berlusconi, taken as a group surely comprise the most significant geopolitical phenomenon in the world today. The entrenched forces of corruption and envy (in Sharon's case envious terrorism) are arrayed against them. It is with these leaders and their countries that you want to place your bets on the future of freedom. If the world's new crop of Tenth Commandment Governments succeed, they can lead the world into the Long Boom of peaceful prosperity. If they fail, bad karma may well descend upon our successive generations.

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