Envy harms him who enviesStatism, socialism, and interventionist state are horrific and mad human artifices that are not found in any of the natural 4 economic stages.

The psychological basis of socialism comes down to two human emotions.

First is envy which is a species of hatred for neighbor. St. Thomas distinguishes it from fear that the good of an enemy might harm oneself; from zeal that seeing someone excel arouses in another, i.e., sportsmanlike competition; and from indignation that some good accrues to someone unworthy or wicked. Envy is a sin being directly contrary to charity, since to envy “is to grieve over what should make us rejoice, viz. over our neighbor’s good.” (ST, II-II, 36)

Thus, the 2nd natural economic system, unenforced egalitarian de facto slavery, would never have developed into feudalism if people valued equality for its own sake, hated those more successful than they, and did everything they could to pull down anyone who stood out from the crowd. Feudalism is already unegalitarian. It is still inferior to capitalism, being in part a status society: some distinctions in it, such as between nobles and commoners, are unjustified and would be purified and made otiose by future capitalism. The US Constitution, for example, enshrines this aspect of capitalism in the law: “No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States.” But it begins to enable people to accumulate vastly different amounts of wealth.

Envy is a relational attitude. But the envier “specifically rejects any social relationship with the envied person.” (Schoeck, Envy, 8) Interestingly, Mises denies that the most primitive of my 4 human relations, viz., hostility, is a “relation” at all:

The hostile acts themselves are not only asocial, but antisocial. It is inexpedient to define the term “social relationships” in such a way as to include actions which aim at other people’s annihilation and at the frustration of their actions.

Where the only relations between men are those directed at mutual detriment, there is neither society nor societal relations. (HA, 170)

The envier wounds himself: “the more closely and intensively the envier concerns himself with the other person, the more he is thrown back on himself in self-pity.” (Envy, 8) St. Gregory writes: “When the foul sore of envy corrupts the vanquished heart, the very exterior itself shows how forcibly the mind is urged by madness. For paleness seizes the complexion, the eyes are weighed down, the spirit is inflamed, while the limbs are chilled, there is frenzy in the heart, there is gnashing with the teeth.” (quoted in ST)

Envy seeks the other’s destruction, not even his loot. The pure envier wants the other to suffer, not himself to get better. “The pure type of envier is no thief or swindler in his own cause.”

We can see that enforced slave-equality is supported by the even more primitive war of the envious against all. When given full reign, this destroys society entirely, since people, quite apart from their earning powers, are born unequal in personal traits: “where that which is envied is another man’s personal qualities, skill, or prestige, there can be no question of theft; he may quite well, however, harbor a wish for the other man to lose his voice, his virtuosity, his good looks, or his integrity.”

Natural slave-equality marked by purity of human nature is, with time, more or less smoothly transcended into feudalism. Enforced slave-equality is human nature corrupted almost 100%. The habitual destructive enviers deserve to be placed into a very low circle of hell.

The second emotion is treated exhaustively by Mises as a mutation of envy based precisely on its ignominy:

This search for a scapegoat is an attitude of people living under the social order which treats everybody according to his contribution to the well-being of his fellowmen, and where thus everybody is the founder of his own fortune.

In such a society each member whose ambitions have not been fully satisfied resents the fortune of all those who succeeded better.

The fool releases these feelings in slander and defamation.

The more sophisticated do not indulge in personal calumny. They sublimate their hatred into a philosophy, the philosophy of anti-capitalism, in order to render inaudible the inner voice that tells them that their failure is entirely their own fault. (Anticapitalistic Mentality, 11-12)

(Gregory enumerates “hatred, tale-bearing, detraction, joy at our neighbor’s misfortunes, and grief for his prosperity” among the daughters of envy; that’s what Mises’ fool does.)

Anti-capitalism is the intellectualized version of envy which kills not the individual envied but society as a whole. But it is hardly for that reason a lesser sin.


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