The Politics of Envy Makes You Less Free and a Lot Poorer?
The book’s thesis is this: envy is different from jealousy, and it is even more destructive. Jealousy is where someone says: “You have what I want. I cannot get it on my own. So, I am going to take yours away from you by force, preferably through politics.”
Envy is different. Envy is where someone does not say anything, but he thinks the following: “You have what I want. I know that I can never get it. I am going to destroy what you have, so that you will not be able to enjoy it.” It is the politics of arson.
Schoeck made an observation: you can negotiate with somebody who is jealous. Maybe you can figure out a way that you could share some of what you have, and he will be bought off. This is surely what goes on in modern politics.
The author made another point: you cannot negotiate with somebody who is envious. The fact that you are in a strong enough position to offer him something of value further enrages him. He resents the fact that you have so much that you might be willing to give up a little of it in order to placate him. It is your position of strength that angers him. He wants to strip you of any sign of superiority over him. He does not want to become beholden to you. If he gained anything as a result of a negotiation, he would still feel as though you were in a stronger position than he is. He would far rather see you devoid of whatever it is that you have than gain anything from you.
In other words, you can deal with the jealous person; you cannot deal with the envious person. Envy is therefore a sin that it is almost impossible to deal with in somebody else.