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Single Idea 19788

[catalogued under 25. Society / D. Social Rights / 3. Social Equality / d. Economic equality]

Full Idea

If one sees a handful of powerful and rich men at the height of greatness and fortune while the mob grovels in obscurity and misery, it is because the former prize the things they enjoy only to the extent that the others are deprived of them.

Gist of Idea

The pleasure of wealth and power is largely seeing others deprived of them

Source

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality [1755], Part II)

A Reaction

This seems to be an accurate picture of ancien régime France, and it still applies to modern plutocrats. The pleasure of nice house is not that is very good, but that it is better than other house. Inequality gives a lot of pleasure!

Book Reference

Rousseau,Jean-Jacques: 'The Basic Political Writings', ed/tr. Cress,Donald A. [Hackett 1987], p.78