Sunday, May 6, 2012

Resentment and Politics

Roger Scrunton wrote (Arguments for Conservatism, pp 157-158):

However the party that founds its rule on resentment will never feel at ease in the world that it creates. It will be like the puritan, as defined by H . L. Mencken, subject to 'the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, might be happy'. It will suspect that people are proceeding with the old way of life, expressing their energies, enjoying their successes, achieving the peace and happiness which the resentful are forever denied. The ruling party will tirelessly search for the weeds of human industry, the first frail tendrils of ownership, the timid attempts of people to grow together in their 'little platoons'. It will never be certain that the emigres, Jews, bourgeoisie, kulaks or whoever have been finally destroyed, and will be haunted by the sense that for every one killed another comes to replace him. The order of resentment will be forced to confiscate not only the free economy but also the clubs, societies, schools and churches which have hitherto been the natural instruments of social reproduction. In short, resentment, once in power, will move of its own accord towards the totalitarian state. 

In many ways this is what we are seeing in the "hate the rich" approach of the current cycle.