Jealousy, Envy and Fear—The Emotions of Politics
Negative emotions rule the ballot box
Jealousy. In the dictionary this is defined as—suspicious or fearful of being displaced by a rival.
Envy is defined as—a feeling of grudging or some what admiring, discontent aroused by the possessions, achievements or qualities of another. The desire to have something that is possessed by another.
In common use jealousy has come to mean; desiring something that another person has. This is not exactly as the dictionary definition but has become the meaning used by many people.
There is so much pain felt, so much hurt caused, so much blood shed, so many good things given up; because of jealousy; but as you near life's end, you reflect on motivations and start asking yourself, why is it that such ramifications can be caused by so little. The things that aroused jealousy and envy, while you were young, do not seem so important once you approach the end of your life. This may be the factor that causes older voters to be less inclined to support radical extremism, whatever the political direction that extremism takes.
Why are so many political activists driven by feelings of thwarted entitlement? The three negative emotions may be the cause of this. All are generally false feelings but they misdirect the mind and other emotions. In the young they can be so very powerful that they become self destructive.
These three emotions are the main negative emotive energies that humans can generate and they generate vast amounts of negativity in thought, expression and physical action. This appeals to the thoughts of all individuals who feel deprived and jealous of others. In human emotive energy the cause, such as laziness, inability etc., are not considered by the person with the negative feelings. They will blame others for the consequences of their own actions and so build up this cloud of resentful and aggressive thoughts.
Those with little control over their thoughts and those with little rational thinking, will become convinced they are the victims and anyone who they are jealous of, is the cause. They become so enraged they do not consider consequences, they just want to vote down anyone who does not agree with their warped and distorted views. Rational and constructive argument will not even dent the wall of irrational anger these people build around themselves. They consider themselves entitled to material reward and success even when they have made no effort towards getting these. They can also consider themselves as entitled to demand that others comply to their own narrow views.
Socialism and fascism both use these feelings to gain votes. The political leaders of socialist parties are not themselves overcome by the three negative emotions but they recognise the advantage, at the voting stations, of promising such people great reward for no effort. They also know that claiming they will take away possessions from those who have earned or, due to hard work of parents, inherited them; will appeal to the jealousy of others.
The fascists use similar methods, except they promise power to the disaffected, not free money. Both are empty promises. If fascists get power, the cannon fodder of the take over, are still left with no real power just as if the socialists govern, the poor remain the poor. History has shown they do not eradicate poverty. They may use very creative statistics to claim they have but there are still rich and poor. It is just that the rich, other than the leadership of the party and their senior bureaucrats are not as rich as they were and the really wealthy people have left the country.
Once in power, politicians appear to fall under the influence of fear; fear of loosing power, fear of having some fault or failing exposed, fear of being usurped by rivals, even fear of not achieving their personal objectives. It is paradoxical but it does appear that in times of serious national crisis, such as war; where failure of leadership can have the very worst of consequences, do we get real leadership. It may not be the same politicians who were in power at the start of the crisis but whoever takes power seems to shake off the petty fears of personal failure, and so they rise to the occasion and become decisive and robust in their governance. It probably helps that many of the everyday problems; that despite all the promises made during election campaigns, are largely outside of any politicians ability to solve; get pushed to one side, these “day to day” problems actually become less important to the majority during times of very serious national crisis.
Is there a way democracy can be achieved without the winning party using the negative forces? It is theoretically possible but the modern party system is a “professional” industry. Well paid careers are obtained based on results, not by conviction about any political idealism. The media encourages “sound bites” of apparent certainty not rational exploration of ideals. These twin factors, professionals aimed at winning only and a media that demands instant appeal; have the effect of encouraging the use of the negative emotions. Appealing to voters positive expectations, encouraging the striving towards improvement for everybody, suggesting self sacrifice will lead to prosperity for all; gets buried very rapidly, under a media storm of ridicule.
This may be a sad reflection on modern democratic governance but facing up to the present reality is the first step towards constructing a better way for the future.