Envy is one of the seven deadly sins. The others being lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath and pride.
We all display some of them - Mine are lust, wrath and pride. But reading Clarkson's article Reviewing a Rolls Royce on Sunday and that of Giles Coren (via), ripping Toynbee's latest execrable book to shreds, I was reminded at how envy is probably the defining characteristic of leftism. They call it egalitarianism, but really it is motivated by a desire to pull the lucky and talented down to the mediocre level of the peasantry. Anger, violence and crime are, in this world view, a justifiable reaction to some having more than others. Never mind the extra work, hours, education, training and probably ability (certainly luck too) too that being successful requires, the attitude of the Left is to remove hope from the people - all of them. Coren puts it beautifully
Despite Dave [Walker] and Polly's best doom-mongering efforts, the kids on the trip show great enthusiasm for going to Oxford. So Dave and Polly leap in: “Did the Brent students know that over half the students at Oxford and Cambridge come from private schools? They had no idea and it shocked them.” Yeah, that's right, Polly, you step in and piddle on their dreams, why don't you. Tell them they've got no chance. It's your way, after all. (Furthermore, that statistic is another gross exaggeration as a correction in The Guardian admitted yesterday.) It's not Oxford itself that holds back kids like this, it's sour old Trots like Toynbee.What he doesn't do is say why they are so quick to dash any raised expectations. By telling them that the rich and successful are doing unto the poor, there's no prospect that the poor will ever improve their lot. Therefore there's no reason to work a bit harder, get the promotion, or start your own business. Certainly no reason to risk disappointment and strive for the gleaming spires of Oxford. No hope of ever breaking out of the hell of means-tested benefits and wage-slavery. Instead the Toynbee prescription is for the poor to be grateful for the mean crusts thrown their way by benevolent socialists like her, who are the only people who really know what's good for the working class. The fact that this keeps the likes of her at the top of a tree has absolutely nothing to do with it.
Clarkson points out the difference in attitude between the British and The Americans
When they see a man pass by in a limousine, they say: “One day, I’ll have one of those.” When we [brits] see a man pass by in a limo, we say: “One day, I’ll have him out of that.”And that is one reason why the Americans are richer than us. They do not tax the rich to penury and demand that Sloth, the defining deadly sin of Britain's underclass be subsidised out of hard-earned money. True, champagne socialist gits like La Toynbee can never feel the satisfaction of money hard earned - receiving a place in the commentariat by hereditary right completely without merit, and as a result will never feel the same indignation I do when I think of money I earned going up the veins of some idle smack addict whose entire lifestyle is enabled by the welfare state. Of course big-state Democrats want to instil the same sense of righteous indignation and unmerited entitlement on the poor of America that they've already achieved with the Black portion of it. When that happens, the Global Hegemony of the Great republic will be as dead as Pax Britannia without a democracy to hand the torch to. Does anyone think Chinese global leadership will be a good thing?
So Toynbee says 50% of Oxford students are from the 10% or so that go to selective or fee-paying schools, and expects us to be shocked. Well there's still a chance for the rest. It's just harder for the individual to rise above the tyranny of low expectations to which a state education condemns the young. And this is the most insidious part of the politics of envy - the indoctrination of a fatalist acceptance of a mean a tawdry status quo - one that the elite are trained to avoid, which is why the Public Schools dominate British public life more than at any time since the end of the War.
Is the whole of state education - the leftism, the all must have prizes egalitarianism, the low expectations, the dumbed down testing, the failure to teach any form of free thinking or critical appraisal and the history syllabus which seems calculated to make any Briton feel full of self loathing and post imperial guilt all part of a plot to keep the plebs in their place? Worse, Is it part of an international communist plot to weaken capitalist societies* - it certainly seems like it! Heaven forbid that a bit of pride in excellence, a joy in beauty and knowledge for its own sake and an acceptance that it is better to try and fail than never try at all be instilled in our young by the gelded nobodies who infest the teaching profession. In their place is a sense of indignation, of ennui, of open-palmed expectation combined with a loathing of the better off creates a society in which the best you can hope for is to get wasted on a Friday night after a week manning a call-centre terminal doing exactly what the computer says. With such narrow horizons, when you see a Rolls Royce you vent your anger and scrape the paintwork with your keys.
One can't have someone owning something beautiful, now can we?
*In case you think I'm bonkers, the answer to both of these questions is "no"