Gonzalo Fernández de la Mora

Member of the constituent Congress of Deputies

Gonzalo Fernández de la Mora y Mon (Barcelona, 1924 – Madrid, 2002) was a Spanish essayist and politician.

Quotes edit

Egalitarian Envy: The Political Foundations of Social Justice (1987) edit

Translation by Antonio de Nicolás. New York: Paragon House publishers.
  • For something to be envied it must have two conditions: it must be valuable and it must belong to someone else. This “belong to someone else” is essential: there is no envy without an ownership. And why is it necessary that the good have an owner? Because what is envied is not the particular good, but the joy that it normally carries with it to its owner. The preoccupation of the envious is the happiness of his neighbor. But not all forms of happiness are envied: it is also necessary that the envious person misses the extra happiness that the other enjoys. Envy requires a relative emptiness of happiness and finally the acknowledgment that it cannot be filled in an acceptable space of time. Envy is the pain one feels in the presence of someone else’s happiness, a superior, desired, inaccessible, and unreachable happiness.
  • Envy is pain at someone else’s happiness; jealousy is the pain we feel when we fear that someone else may interfere with the monopoly we have over the person who makes us happy. The envious wishes to deprive the other of something, while the jealous person feels dispossessed of someone he feels belongs to him.
  • [E]nvy does not provide any valid information about the surrounding environment. On the contrary, it presents the superior person as an enemy and a scandal, and not as a friend and a model; it narrows and darkens the vital horizon, instead of opening it up and shedding light on it; it identifies the envious’s path of happiness with other people’s, and this produces self-ignorance and depersonalization…
  • Why [do politicians] appeal to deleterious envy rather than to creative emulation? For the reason that emulation does not accentuate the division, and division is what interests the polarized political class. Emulation distributes energy along the whole group and does not promote the formation of incompatible factions.
  • Demagogues appeal to envy because its universality makes potential victims of all people and because the invincible inequality of our own personal capabilities and of the irremediable limitation of many social goods makes it inevitable that the majority will feel inferior to certain minorities. The promotion of this envious feeling of inferiority is the dominant political tactic, at least in the present age. The demagogic promotion of envy, as with everything else that refers to this unpublishable feeling, is not carried out in public but undercover.

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