Editorial Note: This piece is being reprinted from a recent edition of The Individual which is published regularly by the Society for Individual Freedom. While elements of it have appeared in other forms on this blog I felt it necessary to reprint the entire work so that the familiar elements may be understood within the entire context. In deference to the Nigel Meeks, the editor of The Individual and his staff, I have delayed posting the entire essay until publication. I would like to sincerely thank Nigel for all of the help and direction he provided in through its composition and would encourage everyone to visit their site at The Society for Individual Freedom
“Sin” and the condition of Man
Man’s life can be summed up as the never ending desire to fulfill certain basic needs. As I am sure that the majority of the readers are familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, I will not waste my time in recalling all of the various nuances involved when discussing these motivating factors. It shall suffice to say that man is driven by want, in his most elemental form he is compelled to quench his desires by the means at his disposal, weather it be industriousness or villainy. The yearning to calm this insatiable beast that forever hounds mankind lends itself to frustration, in part to its never ending pull on the soul of mankind. The end result of this frustration manifests itself in that emotion all too common to man, envy. Much has been written about envy and the power it possesses over man; its ability to blind one out of lust or its detrimental effect on everyday social relationships. Although envy is counted amongst Christianity’s seven deadly sins and universally condemned by religious institutions of all denominations for its adverse affect on the human spirit, the positive effects of envy on man are often ignored despite its beneficial service to those in possession of a superior intellect. The purpose of this discussion is to not only touch upon the negative affects of envy on man, and they are legion, but the power it possesses to motivate man to strive towards a better existence as well as the root mechanisms inherent in the human psyche which manifest said emotion.The negative effect produced by the presence of envy is most pronounced in the man of a lesser intellectual character and the poor who, despite their potential, often fall prey to its devices. As it is, most men fall under these categories, lacking not only the intellectual but the moral understanding of the most effective and satisfying manner in which to gratify their primal needs. It is in these poor wretches that envy takes on its most insidious character, driving men to the depths of moral depredation. In this sort of man instead of utilizing his own means to procure the fulfillment needed to satisfy the urges of the will, he often resorts to nefarious means to thwart his frustrations. As a substitute for industry he turns to the numerous deprivations open to him; gambling, intoxicants, theft, violence, and the sensual pleasures are all that he feels are available to quench the thirst of his will.
I am of the opinion that this is where the perception of envy as sin originates; not in the actual act of envy, but in man’s resultant actions. Men are generally lazy creatures and will often seek the path of least resistance in their drive to fulfill their wants and needs. Therefore in the expedition of life undertaken by every man to stoke this fire within, those who lack that rare balance of will and intellect often succumb to the more easily obtained methods to satisfy their desires. Resulting from his lack of intellect he will often pursue means deemed socially and religiously immoral. While the end result may truly be detrimental to the social order and in the eyes of those who profess to be religious, deemed a sin, the bare emotion of envy is not to be blamed for the despicable action itself. This is a misguided verdict on the part of theologians and moralist of all denominations, as the will to action does not lie at the root of man’s sin. It is the misguided deed, resulting from the absence of the tempering character of the intellect, functioning as a moral guide, which rests as the true source of his corruption. Men predisposed to these means are just as guilty of the sin of ignorance and malice of forethought as they are to any number of condemnations pronounced by the clergy. To blame it on envy alone is to deny that the emotion, or reaction, provoked by envy has no redeeming character in the slightest.
Envy as a Force for Good
What of the morally righteous man? How does envy affect those amongst us who possess a superior intellect enabling him to apply reason and rationality in his quest to satisfy his will? In men of this stripe we remarkably find that envy produces an effect the complete polar opposite as that of the wretch. In the man of intellect we see that envy causes him not to indulge in the ills of society, but instead provides the impetus to increase his production thereby elevating society as a whole. When he encounters others who possess more than he, rather than fall into a state of frustration which leads to anger, he determines to eclipse them through the exertion of his will, combined with intellect, as opposed to succumbing to it. This pursuit in and of it self extinguishes some degree of desire induced by the will for he feel satisfaction in the quest itself, and what desire remains is pleased upon the attainment of his goals. Envy serves as a motivational force in this man as opposed to the destructive or malicious compulsions we observe in the lesser. In the superior man of intellect envy is not a vice, but a virtue, one capable of compelling man to achieve his dreams and in turn elevating the overall plight of society. He depends not upon others to provide the satisfaction his will requires, and instead seeks out methods of his own accord to provide what he needs.
In men of this character the will is balanced against the intellect and both form the complementary elements of a symbiotic relationship. The will thrives as its desires are met and fulfilled while the intellect is free to guide man through his undertakings. Through his pursuit to satisfy his will and its resultant desires he is bound by the tempering effects of the intellect and the moral impetus it places on one’s actions. It is precisely at this point that the differences between the educated man and the man of meager intellectual powers become most evident as it produces a stark difference in the course of action each respectively assume. The intellect serves to modify the behavior of the will through the previously mentioned faculties of reason and rationality, elements sorely missing from those lacking in intellect. It allows him to judiciously evaluate various courses of action and determine the one best suited to soothe the will while holding true to his responsibilities to society as a whole, and his fellow man as individuals. He is bound through the power of the intellect to act in a morally responsible manner while at the same time he is driven to peruse his self interests through a similar approach. Sadly because of the huge disparity in numbers between those who are subject to the woes of envy and those who are amongst the benefactors of its influence, the general tendency is to ascribe to it a negative connotation. In the general sense this could be true, but to do so vanquish the positive effects it often carries and causes the inspiration inherent to its positive character to be ignored.
The Malign Influence of Collectivism
The only excuse that can be made for those present day philosophers and moralists who openly condemn and harangue the virtues of envy rest in the realization that they simply cannot recognize it from within their own ideologically determined frame of reference. To the collectivist envy lies at the heart of all the evils inherent in capitalism, and all those who profess to its positive characteristics must be blinded by their greed and lack of concern for their fellow man. While pointing this crooked finger of accusation squarely at the motivations of the individual the collectivist fails to see the contradiction produced by their faulty logic. All of their actions from inception are the end result of the negative characteristic of envy and its domination over the intellect. The entire premise of the collectivist philosophy, both root and branch, demonstrate for all to see the malignant attributes from which envy, in its unrestrained form, derive its malevolent reputation. Collectivism is simply envy on a political scale for it seeks to right the perceived deficiencies of want on a social level through the immoral act of unjustly confiscating property from the individual and redistributing it across the social strata. Here most assuredly lies the underlying reason envy is held in such contempt by those who have been ordained as today’s great thinkers, as it lays before all free thinking men the hypocrisy of their position.
It too betrays the general powers of the intellect possessed by those who adhere to collectivist philosophies, as it presents the central truth that emotion, chiefly that of envy can easily overwhelm and disarm the powers of the intellect at their disposal. Emotion often trumps the intellect in men of this strip as they often seek to assuage the self imposed guilt resulting from an overindulgence of the will by relying on emotion as a moral compass. The intellect is left to wither on the vine, so to speak, and the will is nourished by any means at their disposal; for its ability to motivate far outweighs what meager resistance its mirror image may still possess. In reality all of their miseries and torments are self inflicted as they neglect any inner yearning or calling to develop the intellect and instead focus on satisfying the primal urges of the will. As a result that mechanism of moral reasoning inherent in the expression of the intellect is absent from the decision-making of the collectivist. Emotion, that spiritual residue exuded by the will, influences every action while rationality and reason, the twin progeny of the intellect, have only marginal influence, if any at all, in the matter.
No Pity for the Poor
It is for this reason that I harbor no pity for the poor in the world today, and in fact hold the vast majority of them in great contempt. The act of neglecting the intellect is reprehensible on various levels, but for the sake of our discussion we must focus on its effect on the motivation of men who suffer from its deficiencies. Please forgive me, but I no longer have the patience to deal with those who wish to remain mired in the lowest depths of the social order. Are there not means available to these people who perpetually contend for the scraps from the table of those of those who contribute to the betterment of our world? This is not to say that I have no compassion for those who are infirmed, whether it be in a mental capacity, those suffering permanent injury to their persons, or those who, now beset by the ravages of old age have fallen into poverty. No, it is not these poor souls of which I am speaking of when I condemn the poor, it is those amongst this division of society who crave not advancement or a better life for themselves but are content to permanently siphon wealth from the upper reaches of the ladder. These dregs are, in my opinion, to be held in the highest form of contempt.
In the lives of the poor the intellect is universally sacrificed at the expense of the impetus of the will. To those who are mired in the depths of poverty the intellect is of no concern for they have been programmed through various nefarious devices that the powers of the intellect are reserved only for those upon whom nature has endowed with a powerful mind and who possess the inherent ability to cultivate it. They all too often fail to understand that they alone possess the ability to strengthen the intellect as the force of their will is all but irresistible. The drive to feed the will becomes all encompassing as its appeasement is artificially achieved through physical pleasures easily obtained in the modern world. They become creatures of their will as it becomes stronger; all the while, through their self imposed distain for any stimuli that might energize the intellect their minds become all the weaker. They, as a social class, suffer from a chronic deficit of self respect and lack the motivation to elevate themselves and develop the means by which they can succeed and contribute to society.
What affliction causes a man to sit for hours on end idly passing the time caring not for what he can contribute to our world and instead expends a tremendous amount of effort into devising new and original ways to defraud the rest of us? Has he no self respect, no drive that motivates him to succeed. The tools are there if he were to only seize them with his own hands and use them in a constructive manner. How sad it must be to lack the basic motivations inherent in the simplest creatures who determine to not provide for themselves and instead depend upon others to provide their basic sustenance. But does the blame rest solely upon their shoulders, or are there more treacherous actions afoot?
Collectivism: The Enemy of the Poor
The argument could be made that those capable of productive contributions to the social order are held bound in their dire circumstances by forces who are content to exploit their misery for political gain. Yes, in a sense the poor are victims, but not of the sort most in positions of power would have you believe. They are victims not of exploitation by the wealthy, but by those of the collectivist mindset who wish to manipulate their suffering into successes at the ballot box. The collectivists are more than willing to talk from both sides of their mouth. One voice cries out for compassion and government sponsored charity, while the other whispers behind the closed doors of the party offices that these people are their path to power and control, and that they must keep them subjugated long enough so that their corpses can line their road power. They promise everything and deliver nothing, again and again, nothing. Strangely enough the poor continue to flock to these charlatans, believing every lie that they are told, despite the fact that they have been told the same thing time and time again, yet they remain in their desperate situation.
Absent are reason and rationality and in their place exist only unfettered envy and hatred for those who possess slightly more than they themselves possess. This represents the most vivid example of the negative characteristics of envy, as it exists within a moral vacuum devoid of the intellect. The poor are not in possession of the tools necessary to reach the realization that they are simply objects by which the collectivist can fashion their misguided utopian delusion. Those in power will never lift a finger to help elevate the poor, either economically or in matters of the intellect, as they are too valuable in the pursuit of their end goal. To break free of the philosophies that hold them in their position of poverty and misery the poor must not only strengthen their intellect but, more importantly, begin to question the basic premise of the collectivist ideology. Without this individual rebellion against what they incorrectly perceive as justice they will forever remain bound in their deplorable state and entertain no possibility of rectifying it.
It is for this reason that the poor deserve contempt. Not out of the sheer fact that they possess no wealth, but because the do not possess the wherewithal to realize a lie when told to them, even more so when told to them multiple times. Blinded by unrestrained envy for those amongst us who produce and consume by the sweat of our brow, they are unwilling to break free from the collectivist chains that bind their minds shut and seek a way other than state sponsored assistance to alleviate their suffering. These poor wicked fools deserve everything that they have, nothing, and despite all of the promises made by their master, that is all that they will ever have. I do not shed a tear for their plight; no I shed a tear for their idiocy and lack of self respect. I pity the poor not because of what they lack but for what they cannot see. Before them lie untold opportunities available to all men in a free society, yet they are unwilling to seize upon them because it is all too easy to sit and wait for the productive members of society to pull them along. They sit and consume promises of equality and wealth if only they continue to despise those who possess more, but theses dreams are never fulfilled. Until these hapless simpletons desist in their self inflicted misery I shall offer no compassion and continue to heap contempt by the score upon their plight.
Breaking the Shackles
It must be made clear to all that while the deficiencies of the intellect that plague the collectivist, and those who they seek to influence, are responsible, to a considerable degree, for the error in their philosophy, it alone can not account for their delusion as a whole. Other factors stemming from their defective epistemology as well as their flawed logic produce any number of foolish assumptions about society and man in general. That being said their deficit in intellect does lie at the root of their affliction and dissatisfaction for it clouds their ontological perspective while at the same time it corrupts their moral understanding of the world in which we live. They are content to live under the cloud of false assumptions and emotionally driven morality and seek no cure for their malady. To the collectivist there exists no deficit of the intellect, for from their perspective they are the sole repository of intellectual thought in the world today. Sadly it is this false premise which prevents them from developing and nurturing the intellect to a degree from which they can construct and implement a sound moral structure that will free them from the shackles of ignorance and deliver them into enlightenment.