Should we criminalise envy?

Cross-posted at the Australian Libertarian Society

One of the most pernicious statist tactics in recent years has been the creeping criminalisation of human emotions and the sanctioning of a growing litany of "thought-crimes". It is claimed by collectivists that deterring and punishing actual criminal behaviour is not an adequate standard of a civilised society - we must crack down on all deviant thoughts and their spoken manifestations lest anyone be "incited" to commit crimes the very moment they absorb these insidious ideas.

In this context, the first candidate for censure has been the ubiquitous "racist" bogeyman and its accomplice, "hate". The very existence of "hate" is claimed to be a threat to "social cohesion", while "racism" is said to lead directly to "property damage", "violence", and, in more extreme cases, the Nazi Holocaust. This exact argument was deployed in a Western Australian Government consultation paper on "anti-vilification" legislation; the same arguments formed the basis for the Victorian Racial and Religious Tolerance Act, which aims to outlaw any public expression that might "incite hatred" or "serious contempt" against others, particularly on the basis of race or religion.

Assuming we are to accept these arguments at face value, and taking the essential methodology without challenge, we might be prompted to seek out other well-documented examples of "attitudes" and "thoughts" leading to widespread carnage. For example, were there any other significant genocides that might rival, or even outstrip, the Nazi Holocaust in recent history? And what "thoughts", attitudes and ideologies were responsible for the actions of the protagonists in each instance? After all, if we are interested in maintaining at least a veneer of consistency, why on earth wouldn't we be concerned about ALL of the potentially lethal "thought-crimes" that might be proliferating at this moment?

Clearly, then, one would be interested in inquiring more closely into the two regimes that killed far more people than Nazi Germany - Communist China and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. In both cases, the raison d'etre of the state was the abolition of private property and the coercive redistribution of wealth from the "bourgeoisie" to the "workers" - that is to say, the radical application of egalitarian ideology.

Both China and the Soviet Union instilled an intense envy of the "rich" in the minds of the party cadre, and called for the expropriation of their productive assets, followed by their extermination as a social class. The result was the mass murder of well over 100 million people. Ipso facto, the unprecedented Communist genocide of the 20th Century - if we are to use the same methodology of the "anti-racist" Left - was directly attributable to the proliferation of feelings of envy towards the productive classes (i.e. the capitalists). According to this template, it follows that not only were the depredations against life and property in the name of communism criminal, but all thoughts and spoken attitudes that were inculcated as such were also criminal. Thus, we reach the inescapable conclusion that the single most destructive emotion of the last 100 years was that of envy, and that all steps must be taken to stamp out envious attitudes and their destructive first cousins. Egalitarian-envy is to Communism what race-hate is to Nazism.

The legislative implications are therefore the same as they would be for the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act. Nobody should be allowed to incite envy of another person on the basis of their assets, property, wealth, income or occupation. There should be financial sanctions against the "inciter" and a failure to comply with said sanctions should lead to one's immediate incarceration. A failure to introduce legislation to this effect is just asking for another Pol Pot. Moreover, if we are serious about cracking down on all manifestations of "envy", we must accept that any expression of egalitarian attitudes be punishable by law - lest another Communist genocide be brought on - and this necessarily includes the advocacy of a political platform that calls for wealth redistribution of any description. After all, if it is illegal to call for a moratorium on African immigration to Australia, why shouldn't it be illegal to advocate a property tax? The former attitudes might lead to 20 million deaths, but the latter could kill at least 100 million.

But let us withdraw from the extremities of our arguments for anti-envy legislation - which are no more hysterical than the arguments for "anti-race hate" laws - and focus on the potential day-to-day disturbances and injustices that might flow from the terrible blight that is envy. It does not take a great leap of the imagination to suggest that egalitarian attitudes will not only increase the unjust financial burden on the productive classes through greater tax-aggression by the state, but will also foster a general disrespect for property that could manifest itself in graffiti, vandalism, loitering and similar violations. Just as "racism" might lead to verbal and physical harassment of innocent people, the financial consequences of envy cannot be easily dismissed.

In conclusion, the proliferation of envy, and egalitarianism, poses the greatest threat to the well-being of Australian society. We must seek to eradicate these perfidious attitudes through statutory fiat...or we could simply be consistent in abstaining from government interference in public expression no matter what, and tearing down the entire state-sponsored "anti-racist" edifice immediately.

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