Friday, June 25, 2010

Humanitarianism Is Not New

“Humanitarian behavior is not a characteristic peculiar to modernity. Examples abound of primitive societies in which to express admiration for the property of another is to be given it. Nothing is withheld. Such behavior is often believed to be generous and loving, but its real motivation is fear. People correctly consider the power of envy so great that it is worthwhile to lose almost anything rather than invoke its malevolence against themselves. There is no reason to engage in productive economic activity, because that increases wealth and thereby elicits envy. Thus the society remains primitive. The kind of “generosity” that gives under those circumstances can be called humanitarian but not for the reasons usually assumed.” (Herbert Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction, p. 58).

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