Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Envy is the Root of Egalitarianism By Henry Strickland Constable 1897


Envy the Root of Radical's Equality-Worship

Equality-worship is founded on envy. "But," says Mr. Percy Greg, as also the poet Longfellow, "the master passion of democracy is envy." Now, let us see how the case stands. Envy is proverbially the vilest of passions. "It is," says Bacon, "the special quality of the devil." But, says the science of the day, diabolic passions are called diabolic —that is, evil in the extreme degree—because they have been proved by the experience of untold ages to be ruinous to happiness in the extreme degree. Then envy is ruinous to prosperity and happiness in the extreme degree. But envy is the special vice of democracy. Then democracy must be ruinous to mankind. But there are all degrees of democracy. I suppose, then, the conclusion we must come to is that democracy beyond a certain degree is ruinous; and, undoubtedly, experience and history hitherto show this to be the case; and we have nothing else but history to go by. "Ultra-democratic institutions are made," says Macaulay, "for the destruction of both liberty and civilization." Of course one race of men will bear a greater degree of democracy than another. So, doubtless, the greatest question that a nation can ask itself is: "What degree of democracy can I bear without falling back to a lower stage in the development from barbarism?" Sir Charles Dilke says that the Asiatic races will never bear democratic institutions.

Sometimes equality-worship comes not from envy, but from Utopian or gushing weak-mindedness. The test of honest, genuine belief in equality is simple. Does the equality lover habitually get the dirty, drunken, thieving tramp to sit down at dinner with him and his family? If he does, however foolish he may be, he is an honest man. According to this test, I wonder how many rich Americans are honest men. They all profess to believe in that clause jof the Declaration of Independence which proclaims that fall men are equal. Then, do they have negroes and Chinamen at their balls and dinner-parties?

A lady was once holding forth at her dinner-table to Dr. Johnson on the beauty of democratic equality. "Madam," said the Doctor, "your footman here seems a well-behaved young man; I think he might sit down at the table with us." The silly woman said nothing more about equality to Dr. Johnson. Plutarch tells a similar story. Lycurgus said to a man who was belauding equality: "Try it in your own household." Poor old human nature is, I suppose, poor old human nature for ever and ever.

"Nine-tenths of Radicalism," says Bulwer, "is envy." "Envy," says Balzac, "is the curse of democratic France." Envy and hatred are inseparable. But hatred is the extreme manifestation of the evil principle in man, and is, according to Dr. Maudesly, "very closely connected with insanity. 'Bad,'" he says, "is a terribly near relation of 'mad.'" Again, all hatred and want of sympathy and of goodwill is, necessarily, accompanied by its corresponding stupidity exactly to match. But national stupidity in sufficiency means national ruin. Thus we see how envy and hatred of all superiorities may turn a nation into a community of fools, madmen, and devils. At least this must be the necessary logical deduction from the above sayings of the wise.

It is a fact that sometimes a whole nation will become insane—-" bad and mad," as Dr. Maudesly has it. France undoubtedly became insane at the great Revolution. Insanity sometimes takes place in the smaller communities within a community. A whole school of girls has sometimes gone mad and hysterical together. Whole communities have been afflicted with a general suicidal mania. At the French Revolution the whole country was afflicted with a mad, malignant, envy-and-hatred-inspired craving for equality; the nation's evil passions had completely the upper hand for a time. But this, in fact, was national insanity. France became "bad and mad."

Mr. John Morley, who has tried to lay coats of whitewash on Robespierre and his fellow-devils, talks of the glorious principles of the French Revolution, which he seems to think were never heard of in the world before.

How about these glorious principles of "liberty, equality, and fraternity"? Well, to begin at the end, fraternity is nothing but a weak word for Christian charity, as described by St. Paul; so there was nothing new there. Liberty is what England had been striving for for centuries before the French Revolution, so that is not a new idea; and equality, as everyone knows, is as old as the hills, being simply the social condition of savages. Still, there was one new thing in these "glorious" principles-—namely, crying out for both equality and liberty as if they could exist together in the same nation. This astounding belief undoubtedly was new, and can be accounted for only by the fact that the French nation at the time was mad.

The Radical or Socialist of the envious or malevolent class (the working partner of the Radical firm) means a poor, pitiful creature, full of effeminate envyings, whining unceasingly to his Government: "Oh, do prevent anybody from being richer than I am"; or, "Do prevent anybody from being better educated or cleverer than I am; it is so very disagreeable to see people driving horses when I have to walk, or doing cleverer things than I can do. Besides, my wife does so very much dislike seeing other people's wives dressed smarter than she is." In fact, he is a deplorable wretch, without a spark of manliness in him.

Equality, or sameness, means stagnation and death, *l whether in the spiritual or physical world. "Why," says the fool, "did not the Creator give us an equable and uniform climate, free from hurricanes, cold, and heat?" Because hurricanes, though they kill a few, save the world from death, by preventing stagnation of the air, and thence pestilence. "A uniform climate over all the earth," says Mr. Stopford Brooke, " means the death of all living beings." "The fool who asks for it asks," he says, "for a stagnant atmosphere and a rotting sea."

So it is with the fool who asks for equality among men. He really asks for stagnation, decay, and rottenness.

"In England," says M. Gallenga, "well-being is more widely spread, and reaches a lower stratum in society, than anywhere else in the world." This has come from England having hitherto preferred liberty to equality. The great effort of our Socialist-Radical or French school of politicians is to do away with this exceptional prosperity by the introduction of those French ideas of equality and sameness that lead to stagnation, decay, and rottenness.

A writer in the Spectator of October 10th, 1896, says that he "detests Socialism as a stereotyping of humanity in one sordid form." Of course people with sordid natures wish for sordid natures everywhere, inasmuch as they can conceive nothing higher. "Nobody can fly above himself." Mediocrity, says the French moralist, generally condemns everything that is beyond itself.

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