“There is, it is true, an idealistic theory according to which democracy is the best form of government. I think myself that this theory is true. But there is no department of practical politics where idealistic theories are strong enough to cause great changes; when great changes occur, the theories which justify them are always a camouflage for passion. And the passion that has given driving force to democratic theories is undoubtely the passion of envy …

Women regard all other women as their competitors, whereas men as a rule only have this feeling towards other men in the same profession. … Whoever wishes to increase human happiness must wish to increase admiration and to diminish envy. … The habit of thinking in terms of comparison is a fatal one. When anything pleasant occurs it should be enjoyed to the full … Envy, in fact, is one form of a vice, partly moral, partly intellectual, which consists in seeing things never in themselves but only in their relations. …

Unnecessary modesty has a great deal to do with envy. Modesty is considered a virtue, but for my part I am very doubtful whether, in its more extreme forms, it deserves to be so regarded. … Modest people believe themselves as be outshone by those with whom they habitually associate. they are therefore particulary prone to envy, and, through envy, to unhappiness and ill will. … Imagine how unhappy the life of a peacock would be if he had been taught that it is wicked to have a good opinion of oneself. … But where every peacock thinks himself more splendid than any of the others, there is no need for … repression. …

In an age when the social hierarchy is fixed, the lowest classes do not envy the upper classes so long as the division between rich and poor is thought to be ordined by God. … The instability of social status in the modern world and the equlitarian doctrines of democracy and socialism have greatly extended the range of envy. …

While it is true that envy is the chief motive force leading to justice as between classes, different nations, and different sexes, it is at the same time true that the kind of justice to be expected as a result of envy is likely to be the worst possible kind; namely, that which consists rather in diminishing the pleasures of the fortunate than in increasing those of the unfortunate. … It is not to be supposed that out of something as evil as envy good results will flow. Those therefore who from idealistic reasons desire profound changes in our social system and a great increase of social justice must hope that other forces than envy will be instrumental in bringing the changes about.

A man who is happy in his marriage and his children is not likely to feel much envy of other men because of their greater wealth or success, so long as he has enough to bring up his children in what he feels to be the right way. …”

aus: Bertrand Russell: The Conquest of Happiness. New York: Signet 1951 [Originalausg. 1930], S.51-56.


08/10/2007 (20:53) Schlagworte: EN,Lesebuch ::

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