October 22, 2011 § 1 Comment
Unni Drugge writes (search for “Unni Drugge: Mer avund åt folket” if you want to go to the source for my amateur translation below):
“I wanted to write about enviousness, a notion that has often and readily been used as an argument against criticism.
‘They are just jealous’
the criticized and his/her promoter use to exclaim.
The alleged envy is usually about looks, wealth, status, exposure and power. When the criticism is dismissed as low envy it becomes dethroned and you can’t question the one that has been allotted unreasonable favors anymore.
The envy is seldom put together with the notion justice. Shouldn’t every folksy revolt embrace some form of envy: why shall this special social class or group be rolling in abundance? Have they really deserved it?
It is when the ground for certain individuals and groups advancement and privileges feel wrong that envy is in fact a badly needed fuel for change. When looks, inherited titles, threats, cheating and ass-kissing is lying behind success the envy grows from a moral conviction, from a deeply hidden sense of justice.
Still, it’s amazingly few that give words to this need for justice. People may be jealous at the neighbor’s home, car, wages account etc, but on the whole people seem to be satisfied with this [is it really so???].
The easily amused crowd (what that consists of?) is sitting in front of poor entertainment programs on TV and kindly smiling at silly jokes. They admire new-rich celebrities showing their tasteless homes, which they have been able to get exactly because of the crowd’s admiration.
Yes, people are rather tolerant than envious towards certain groups’ unique positions [but not at others as you will see below in comments made on this blogposting]. In this something beautiful of course lies – tolerance and generosity is of course nice human qualities – but there’s also a depressing aspect with the compliant crowd. It isn’t enough jealous [or rebellious]!
Harboring enviousness namely means that you consider YOURSELF worth the advantages the object for the enviousness enjoy. Thus lack of enviousness doesn’t only mean that you are generous. It can also be about feelings of inferiority. And what joy or usefulness do we have from such feelings? What the privileged class/layer is gaining from this is of course clear, but how does the democratic development benefit from this?”
Yes, people are kept from rebelling? Are being controlled in fact? Not allowed the freedom to think, react, feel, question (as if they were reasonable, intelligent persons)? See below about positive thinking. And what is genuine, rightful, voluntary generosity? Not directed by anybody, neither by other individuals (on whatever power position) nor the society?
The commentator mulan says:
“We are about to get a divided class-society again where we shall find ourselves in realizations that we have done the wrong choices in life (not that we were born into the wrong class, as earlier).
For example, some stupid idiots were stupid enough to get educations [or no educations!?] that don’t give them dough/money or status. They just have to sit there in their ‘looser-class’ and silently accept how the ones that ‘made the right choices’ are succeeding! This is how today’s mentality feels and is briskly mirrored in media.
Envy is that you have failed in the ‘freedom-to-choose-fucking-society’ [so you have only yourself to blame!].
However, working in artistic occupations is more complicated than that.
The average Swede and the powers-that-be can be jealous at how ‘fun’ we have and how ‘free’ we are, but we have to accept that we are nothing worth seen to being paid (we are often seen as consumers/waste [not nourishing, compared to certain other groups that are really doing something really worthy for the world, who should be very well paid!? If you speak up about this people are looking at you horrified]).
We artists are not allowed to feel envy over other people’s wages or safety because we have after all made our own wonderful free choices [blame yourself].
I’m not jealous, but I demand a waking-up and a revaluation for the art [handicraft etc] in the society, i.e. for JUSTICE.”
And Anja continues with:
”I’ve always got upset over the weak argumentation from the ‘burghers’ [dismissing criticism and people questioning states of affairs]: ‘They are just jealous!’ ‘The Swedish jantelaw’ etc when people are questioning their privileges. It’s an enormous fucking projection!
[parenthetically: but the jantelaw isn’t even ‘Swedish’ really!? It was actually the Dane Aksel Sandemose who coined it less than hundred years ago, and it’s not only applicable to the Scandinavian countries, see the Tall poppy syndrome and the Crab mentality].
Are there more jealous people than the burghers?
They are so sickly constituted that they are jealous at people who have it WORSE than they have.
That people get a social allowance they can live on – without not even having to get up in the morning [horrible! Yes, who is jealous at who?]!
Just GETTING from the society. That thought drives them crazy.
That people who are ill should get time, money and space to try getting healthy. That the sick person should get a breathing-space by the society, just getting – with giving nothing in return. That awakes enviousness!
I have even heard burghers talking enviously about people who are in psychiatric wards: ‘What a luxury laying there and not being forced to do anything, getting the food served and being looked for.’
From this you can draw two conclusions:
Burghers are seriously disturbed people or the burgher-life is much harder than we could have imagined.
I know what I believe!”
When you don’t have better arguments or facts to defend differences in conditions and treatments for certain individuals or groups (criticism probably on good grounds as there are no better arguments) you have to resort to using “attributions” like “envy!”?
How were we raised early in life when it came to envy I start to wonder? Envy between silblings for instance (where the child felt envy on maybe quite rightful grounds. How did the unfair treatment feel in the small child we once were, and what happened with those feelings)?
And how were feelings like anger, sadness, fury etc handled on the whole? How does all this affect our adult life? We are either asking nothing or too much? The (rare) individuals who were treated fairly as kids don’t ask too much OR too little?
Also came to think about the Master Suppression Techniques the Norwegian woman Berit Ås coined? Used for silencing the one (usually) under in power.
Is this freedom; not being allowed to question or feel, to think, react etc?
We are entitled to our feelings, all feelings. But we aren’t allowed to act upon them to harm another person.
Not allowing is about trying to control the other person? And can be about emotional abuse.
Are we also respecting the struggles of the privileged more than those of the under privileged?
The American therapist Jean Jenson has said interesting things about this.
Dictatorship can have different guises? Some more obvious than others? And some feelings are more easily played on? Rightful criticism and questioning be dismissed? And in such circumstances noone feels well?
Addition October 23: Came to think about Barbara Ehrenreich’s book “Bright-Sided: How Positive Thinking Is Undermining America”, another “decree” of how to think or not to think. And now I also start to wonder about what kind of freedom that is?
Societal rules, yet not always loudly outspoken, that you shall be positive and shall not be envious, what’s that about? Can’t this be some kind of dictatorship and the opposite of freedom? And “toe the poeple to the line”?
Yes, it’s a fine trait to be generous (and maybe even positive), but…
PS. The group in the video, The Deportees, talks in an interview about that…
“It’s like we are all living on [isolated] islands nowadays. There is no space for community. The individualism is like a deadlock/blind alley. There is a lack of [common – AND individual?] dreams, big dreams, to believe in dreams.”
One of the members felt very bad for a long time, and what he experienced influenced their last CD.
I can’t help but reflect as follows: isn’t it strange that people in the richest countries in the world are consuming antidepressants to horrifying high degrees. Shouldn’t you start to wonder about this? If people are really given the freedom shouldn’t they feel better? Or do they really have the freedom? Are they told, more or less outspoken, what to think and feel and how to react, and how not to feel think or react? If people really were respected wouldn’t they feel better? So how about the so called “freedom”? Has “somebody” defined it for everybody in a similar manner as we, the people, are told (“implicitly”) to be positive and not envious?
Here is the group’s homesite.
And we are jealous at our peers, but not at those with much more resources than we have!? What kind of psychological phenomenon is that?
Weren’t we also taught early to share? The Dutch therapist Ingeborg Bosch points out that this demand early in life probably makes us less willing to share as adults, or how she puts it (and this demand also implies that the child isn’t willing to share; you have to teach it!? And the adult teaching the child this, is she or he willing to share with her/his peers in turn? Doesn’t the child notice this, if not consciously so unconsciously?).
Isn’t it something contradictory here? Generousity is a fine trait, but what about “sharing”? Or rather contributing to the “common good”? And of course you can discuss what the common good is too?
What Drugge wrote really awoke lots of thoughts.