- Racism and Black Lives Matter: Worldview Reflections
- The Human Race, Antidote to Racism!
- Two Forms of Racism
- Postmodern Racism: Ideological Social Justice
- What is “Whiteness”?
- Racism Is in the Human Heart
- Three Important Distinctions Regarding Racism
- Hope in the Midst of Racist Despair
- Envy, Emulation and Racism
- Envy, Emulation and Racism, part 2
Envy, one of the roots of racism, often springs from the faulty assumptions of zero-sum economics.
The Judeo-Christian worldview establishes a positive sum economic model. God created an open universe, open to God, angels and imago Dei humans. In this economic model, the creation is to be stewarded and wealth created.
The zero sum economic model is born out of an atheistic worldview which recognizes no transcendent reality. Only the physical universe is real. Man is a animal who has evolved from a swamp. Like other animals, he is a consumer of resources, which are fixed or limited, found in the ground.
These two different worldviews create two very different ideas of what the world is like and how it works. Jewish scholar Dennis Prager notes this in his commentary on Genesis 26:13-15, the story of the Philistines’ envy of Isaac’s prosperity mentioned in the previous post.
As unlikely as it may seem, these three verses are among the most important in the Torah. They also demonstrate why the Torah is as relevant today as it was three thousand years ago—because it illuminates human nature, and human nature doesn’t change.
These verses encapsulate Jewish and human history. Instead of emulating the successful, most people envy them, and then often wish to destroy their wealth—and sometimes even them.
The most notable exception to this unfortunate rule of human nature has been the American people. Until almost the present day, Americans tended to react to people who had attained material success not by resenting them but by wanting to know how they could emulate them. This seems to be changing as more Americans join others in resenting the economic success of other people. Like the Philistines here, most people would rather fill the wells of the world’s Abrahams than learn how to dig wells with water.
Zero Sum Economic Assumptions
An atheistic, naturalist view of the universe sees wealth as a zero sum game. Resources are limited; if some have more than others it is unfair, even immoral. Maybe they have stolen their wealth from others.
Yes, our fallen world, includes corruption and theft that impoverishes others. This is sin. But here we are referring to the impact of a naturalistic world and life view that leads to resentment and envy. Among the many sources of racism, one of the worst is the envy, jealousy and victimhood based in a zero sum model of economics.
But there is an alternative, rooted in the Scriptures of Judeo-Christian theism. Wealth is created by human beings. It is generated and preserved by human imagination, hard work, the pursuit of excellence, and delayed gratification. Every human being is made in the image of God and blessed with skills, abilities and interests that can be developed for human flourishing.
George Gilder, economist, futurist, and writer has examined the theme of envy vs. emulation in the history of the Jews from the patriarchs of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to the modern day state of Israel. In his book The Israel Test Guilder states,
History, however, favors the view that poverty springs chiefly from envy and hatred of excellence – from class-war Marxism, anti-Semitism, and kleptocratic madness. It stems from the belief that wealth inheres in things and material resources that can be seized and redistributed, rather than in human minds and creations that thrive only in peace and freedom.
Through the Jews we have the divine revelation of one God, creator of a universe with natural, transcendent and moral qualities, an open system with a moral framework. Wealth does not come from the ground, it is the product of human discovery, ingenuity, creativity and hard work.
Zero sum economics leads to socialism and Marxism
Modern economic Marxists, as well as postmodern cultural Marxists, function from a closed system. Their zero sum model feeds resentment of entrepreneurs whose creativity, hard work and pursuit of excellence have built wealth. (For more on this see The Roots of the Global Economic Crisis and here: Socialism vs. Capitalism.)
Anti-Semitism is largely a product of envy. The Jewish people have been hated and discriminated against for over 3000 years because they revealed to the world that God exists and that we life in a moral universe. Their virtuous living within the framework of a moral universe led to creativity, entrepreneurship and the generation of wealth.
Hitler, a modern atheist, was a racist socialist who resented the Jews because of their moral monotheism and business success. Hitler functioned from a zero sum mindset and saw the wealth creation of the Jews as something to be despised, not emulated. He aggressively applied Darwinian ideology in German society to destroy Jews. Anti-Semitism is perhaps the greatest and most consistent manifestation of racism.
Guilder writes: “Socialism everywhere expresses envy of excellence by treating the works and wealth of the successful as the wages of sin. Nazism simply specifies the sin as the result of a Jewish conspiracy.”
Postmodernism animates Antifa and Black Lives Matter. By the way, Antifa was born in 1932 in Germany as an anti-Fascist arm of the German Communist Party (KPD).
As we have written elsewhere, Cultural Marxism’s Critical Racial Theory (CRT) defines racism in cultural terms. In this framework, those who function within Judeo-Christian theism are the oppressors. The virtues that lead to flourishing—self-reliance, personal responsibility, objective thinking based on reason and science, the dignity of work, the natural family of father, mother and children, delayed gratification, growth and progress in life, etc—are seen by postmodernists as oppressive vices. “Whiteness” is racist.
Postmodernism promotes “anti-racist” racism
CRT says non-white people are not racist but are the victims of racism. The postmodern mindset breeds anti-racist racists. They profess to be anti-racist but are prejudiced against whites. This parallels the fascist Antifa: they use fascist techniques in their claim to fight fascism. The very wealth and human flourishing produced by the virtues of Judeo-Christian Theism are envied. But instead of emulating these virtues, the postmodern anti-racist racists seek to destroy those who articulate and function by these virtues.
Postmodern hatred of the white race is misplaced. What they hate has nothing to do with race. Rather, it’s the fruit of Judeo-Christian virtues and Western Civilization which has enshrined freedom and produced unrivalled prosperity.
The sin of envy is the root of much of today’s racism. The antidote is emulation. A positive sum economic model frees people to discover and apply those principles and virtues that lead to human flourishing and the creation of wealth. Emulation is far better than envy!
Webster’s 1828, produced in the context of a biblical worldview, defines emulate as
To strive to equal or excel, in qualities or actions; to imitate, with a view to equal or excel; to vie with; to rival. Learn early to emulate the good and the great. Emulate the virtues and shun the vices of distinguished men.
Instead of living a destructive life of envy, far better to lead a productive life of emulation. Love and appreciate what others have achieved. Understand the virtues that led to their achievement. Seek to follow them.
Stand in faith before the Creator of the universe and Savior of the world. Abandon the lies of atheism. Repent (literally be “re-minded”) and live within the framework of the biblical world and life view. Seek to emulate the patterns that lead to human flourishing and the creation of wealth.
As Gilder has written,
But although our choice is free, the result of our choice is intractably set by the moral law that governs the outcome of human endeavor as strictly as the laws of physics that govern the planets. The envy of excellence leads to perdition, the love of it leads to the light.
Will you be a victim and pursue a life of envy, or will you be a free moral agent and pursue excellence and human flourishing?
- Darrow Miller