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  1. #1

    Default Capitalism has institutionalised envy?

    I frequently hear capitalists accuse socialists of stoking peoples envy or accusing anyone critical of inequality as being merely envious of others but reading Daniel Bell, who I reckon is a bit more difficult to place politically, he suggests that status competition in consumer socieites has lead to the institutionalisation of envy.

    So instead of being something which anyone, socialist or otherwise, could import into cultural or political struggles its something which is already there and infact underpins the economy itself.

    Would you agree or is it just too easier to believe the former than the later? Or could the later be true but the former true too? I think perhaps its a case of each but capitalising on accusations of envy has pretty much been restricted to the political right wing.

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    Socialists understand that wild economic imbalance actually will fuck up the economy eventually, and usually rather than feeling envy they are aware of the social injustice of certain people suffering needlessly while others take more than they could ever possibly want or need. They see human potential in a wider segment of the population and see human potential as something other than simply acquiring things. They also understand that poverty increases crime, and that it actually is self-serving to maintain a certain social balance. So no, I don't think any of that is about envy. Some of it could be about envy, but I wouldn't say it's the prime motive, or even one of the top five motives of intelligent socialists.

    On the other hand, extreme socialism and communism can also stagnate the economy, and create an overly-authoritarian state.

    I see bad things about both. That's why I've become more politically moderate and open to new ideas about government as I've gotten older.

    But of course envy is an important aspect of capitalism; like my grandfather used to say, "I didn't know I needed that until I saw it on TV."

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    ⒺⓉⒷ Eric B's Avatar
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    The whole "envy" charge is just the conservatives' deflectionary tactic regarding the bad side of capitalism. It's not envy when you have to struggle the way we do every couple of decades, but then they come up with this philosophy that if you just pull up your bootstraps, then you can be rich. (Ignores all the other factors, like talent, type and timing).
    But then they still get to complain about taxes, and how much they think the poor are getting, and without "working" for it. So you can accuse them of envy of the poor.
    Which is more ridiculous?
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    Capitalists have to defend themselves in some way. Luckily they can get away with such blatant projection as calling the downtrodden envious, greedy, lazy and whatever else, simply because they're in total control. Of course the irony is that they rely on these negative human instincts to keep their system working.

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    pathwise dependent FDG's Avatar
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    I'm not terribly sure. I believe each person has still a choice when it comes to envy, or lack thereof. Of course, I'm speaking about people above poverty level - anything below that segment has a kind of "justified" envy, basically their envy is a failure of the economic system. Saying that left-wingers are just "envious" is obviously trolling, a kind of trolling that can be debunked easily be showing how there's a good number of left-leaning millionaires.
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    Senior Member LunarMoon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FDG View Post
    I'm not terribly sure. I believe each person has still a choice when it comes to envy, or lack thereof. Of course, I'm speaking about people above poverty level - anything below that segment has a kind of "justified" envy, basically their envy is a failure of the economic system. Saying that left-wingers are just "envious" is obviously trolling, a kind of trolling that can be debunked easily be showing how there's a good number of left-leaning millionaires.
    Yes, but it's not as if these people even vaguely make the majority of the upper class; the majority of the Republican Party is actually made up of successful businesmen and entrepreneurs, while the Democratic base is made up of low-income individuals who could very much have jealousy as their motivation. While I agree that it would be extreme to say that pro-socialists are always envious or non-envious, I nonetheless believe that there is a disconcertingly large segment of the left who are driven by such personal feelings. Certainly enough to bring up the point without "trolling".

    Edit: Edited in order to go more in depth. As stated in the original version of this post, and in the upper portion of the current one, fiscally liberal millionaires seem to be very much be the exception and not the rule.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LunarMoon View Post
    Yes, but there are also an even larger amount of blue collar Republicans; it's very much part of their base. While I agree that it would be extreme to say that pro-socialists are always envious or non-envious, I nonetheless believe that there is a disconcertingly large segment of the left who are driven by such personal feelings. Certainly enough to bring up the point without "trolling".
    Yeah, I'm not certain about the percentages, but I still feel it's not a particularly brillant argument, since there's a "significant" (albeit not a majority) number of exceptions. It might be that a part of the electorate feels this way, yet it can't truly be used as an ideological construct if it's not generally valid. IMHO, of course.
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    Senior Member Moiety's Avatar
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    Currency has institutionalized envy.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric B View Post
    The whole "envy" charge is just the conservatives' deflectionary tactic regarding the bad side of capitalism. It's not envy when you have to struggle the way we do every couple of decades, but then they come up with this philosophy that if you just pull up your bootstraps, then you can be rich. (Ignores all the other factors, like talent, type and timing).
    But then they still get to complain about taxes, and how much they think the poor are getting, and without "working" for it. So you can accuse them of envy of the poor.
    Which is more ridiculous?
    Yeah but Daniel Bell was suggesting that envy was vital to the economy, without envy there wouldnt be consumerism and the economy would grind to a halt, its considering the context of relative abundance which capitalism has created in most developed economies but none the less. Imagine for instance the if no one was making reference to anyone else and satisfied with a world devoid of leisure or conspicious consumption, could be pretty boring and alienating, perhaps just as alienating as the status quo.

    If it is normative and everyone experiences it, and it also underpins the economy, conservative attacks on tax or redistribution as envy arent really correct.

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    It's all about balance and fairness. If a person wants what another have but is unwilling to work for it, then it's an unhealthy attitude. But it's equally unhealthy for a person to be willing to work hard and make sacrifices without any expectations of reaping the benefits of his effort.

    Extreme capitalism or socialism is bad.

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