11 votes

For Humans to Progress We MUST Learn to Channel Envy Productivley

I believe more strongly everyday that desire accounts for 99% of 'bad' human action. So, this is an extremely important topic to address. Please try to keep this in mind in the future.

When confronted by sufficient desire to provoke action there are three general options for the actor to choose from:

1. Take what causes the desire by use or threat of force against the possessor.

2. Trade with the possessor for what is desired.

3. Learn how to acquire something equivalent to what is desired through one's own productive capacities.

These can be applied to any situation where desire is present. For instance, suppose one man desires another man's attractive wife. Option 1 may lead to rape at gunpoint. Option 2 could entail paying the couple a sum of money in exchange for a favor. Option 3 may cause the envious man to seek a woman with similar qualities.

I urge you to brainstorm whatever mischievous actions you can conjure up and attempt to find a place where this doesn't apply. Keep in mind that desire also occurs when a person may potentially lose something. Even most of the seemingly unconscionable actions performed by sociopaths result from some manifestation of desire.

For humans to progress, our species must learn to channel desire productively on a large scale. The ever present "option 1" must be avoided.

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deacon's picture

what about the ones

who have no envy?
say people who live by simple means
have everything they need to function on this planet,and all else is a burden
i have a roof over my head,a warm bed,and a vehicle to drive,if i
choose to go somewhere
i desire nothing more as i have all i need
i do not have the best(as others see it) but it serves the purpose
i do not need a big fancy house with many rooms,nor want one,as that
for me would be a waste
i do not desire a fancy car(they are have the same function)

setting your expectations to high,can cause depression

Do you have all that you want?

"What about the ones who have no envy? Say people who live by simple means."

Being without envy doesn't mean you live a simple life or possess very little. It means you possess what you produce, and your contentment isn't based on what others possess.

Productive people are anything but simple or without means. They just aren't envious. They desire, and put their efforts towards productive ventures.

You're hinting at the hierarchy of needs, which implies that if we just give covetous people their basic needs through force, they too can transcend their covetous nature. They won't. Envious people will always want MORE, because there's always somebody else who has more.

deacon's picture

by simple,doesn't mean going without

i meant,i have what i need to function the way
i want and need too
things are just tools,you got your bigger tools,and smaller
tools,but still tools
Dewalt makes the firestorm brand hand tools,i bought the firestorm
got the same quality tools,and saved almost $300 (i do admit to
liking the orange better that the eyesore yellow :))

i said nothing of force,i my comments fit me,as yours do you

setting your expectations to high,can cause depression

Well, way to trash any value in your own post.

You come back and nit-pick at anyone who comments?

This is the article that got my posting privileges revoked:

I didn't mean any offense, fishy...

I was just trying to state my opinion and maybe start a discussion.

Michael Nystrom's picture

Rather than channel it, how about transcend it ...

Or transform it?

I've always thought that at the root of envy is self loathing, or worse, self hatred.

What I disagree with your post about is that it takes envy as a given, as if one will always feel that burning desire. A fourth option is simply to be happy for someone because they're rich, successful, have a beautiful house, a beautiful wife, etc., and likewise to be happy with yourself for whatever station in life you find yourself.

One way to do this is simply to understand that all stations in life are temporary - that all of this is an illusion. Riches, success, fame & fortune all come and go. The beautiful wife may die, or may leave. etc.

I understand where you're coming from. But to do what you're talking about takes a high level of self awareness. If one has that level of self awareness, then why not take it all the way - up, to the highest level possible.

At any rate, I gave you an upvote for starting the conversation and bringing ideas to light for people to consider and hopefully better themselves. Channeling envy is still better than wallowing in it!


All art is only done by the individual. The individual is all you ever have, and all schools only serve to classify their members as failures. E.H.

Hmmm. I would think envy comes from self-love.

Loving one's self above all others and desiring the best for one's self while wishing the worst on everyone else.

Christians should not be warmongers! http://www.lewrockwell.com/vance/vance87.html

Michael Nystrom's picture

I wouldn't call that love

"wishing the worst on everyone else" ?

That isn't love.

All art is only done by the individual. The individual is all you ever have, and all schools only serve to classify their members as failures. E.H.

Oh I definitely agree. It's not loving others, but it is

love of self.

Christians should not be warmongers! http://www.lewrockwell.com/vance/vance87.html

The way I look at it...

is that wanting is not the problem. It is actually a useful survival tool that can increase the overall productivity. For instance, how fast would technology progress if people were completely content with wagons & telegraphs?

Personally, I make it a point not to keep up with the Jones, but I still see things that I want. And, if I want something bad enough, I find a productive way to acquire it.

Desire and envy are closely related

"wanting is not the problem."

Correct, but wanting (desiring) and envy are two different things.

Desire and envy are closely related, but one serves our covetous nature leading to destruction and injustice, the other serves free will.

Desire is what made people decide to progress past wagons and telegraphs. Desire in and of itself is not evil or destructive. We justly desire to take another breath, so we fill our lungs. We justly desire food, so we plant a garden. We justly desire fast travel, so we build cars.

An envious man covets with malice, and if you won't share the fruits of your labor he'll help himself by force, and failing that, set pigs loose in your fields.

Desire can serve good. It's good to want to be productive. Envy is bad from conception. Nothing good comes from emboldening covetous people, that is unless you consider evil and destruction to be your aim.

Some men DO try to use mans covetous nature to further their agenda, and they can do that because they've come to accept that they serve evil.

JFK: "For we are opposed around the world by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies primarily on 'covet means' to further it's sphere of influence, on infiltration instead of invasion, on subversion instead of elections, on intimidation instead of free choice. It is a system which has conscripted vast human and material resources in the building of a tightly knit highly efficient machine that combines military, diplomatic, intelligence, economic, scientific and political operations. It's preparations are concealed, not published. It's mistakes are buried, not headlined. It's dissenters are silenced, not praised. No expenditure is questioned. No secret is revealed. That is why the Athenian lawmaker Solon decreed it a crime for any citizen to shrink from controversy."

I'm speaking in the sense of the first definition that you....

posted below, namely - a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another's advantages, success, possessions, etc.

If no person ever had anything different from another, there would never be any discontent. I speak of envy in the broadest sense of the word.

How about an equality of misery?

"If no person ever had anything different from another, there would never be any discontent."

Incorrect. My contentment isn't based on what another person has compared to me. I don't covet. The only productive purpose envy can serve is to use it to spread understanding and encourage people to transcend their covetous nature.

If a persons contentment is based on comparing what they have to others, they're going to live a miserable life irregardless of anything we try to do. Evvy is a destroyers path to equality and contentment.

Envy is counter productive; destructive. If we were all naked, homeless, and starving, living in a state of true equality, there would be nothing but discontentment and death.

There's no way to fan the flames of envy for productive purposes, that is unless you're a destroyer.

I don't think I am being clear enough...

I have equated envy with desire for possessions - which is reasonable according to the definition that you posted originally and I later cited. With that in mind, envy doesn't necessarily have to carry a negative connotation. If a person desires something, it necessarily means that that something is in someone else's possession.

Where I somewhat stretch the meaning of envy is in the case of the potential loss of a possession. I do this because the desire to keep is analogous to the desire to acquire only applied to something already possessed. The feeling is the same, so I don't see any reason to give it a different name.

Discontent - I would define as - not content or lacking content.

If a person was completely content with things the way they were, there would be no reason for that person to acquire anything beyond what was already possessed. As long as that person's possessions remained static, they would be content. On the other hand, discontent motivates one to acquire new possessions.

I am nearly certain that if I had used the word desire rather than envy, we would not be having this conversation. If that is so, I think we're trying to split hairs unnecessarily.

Your argument seems to be rooted in mandating that envy have a negative connotation while I disagree that this must be so.

You've made yourself PERFECTLY clear.

"I have equated envy with desire for possessions - which is reasonable according to the definition"

That's why I gave you the definition, because I knew you'd try and talk your way around the meaning of "ENVY" thinking it can serve some productive purpose. Envy is the unjust desire for what ANOTHER PERSON possesses. My contentment isn't based on anything you possess.

You've incorrectly equated envy with desire, thinking envy can serve some productive purpose, but it can't.

Are you an Anarchist? Do you want to destroy?

Is there a reason I get down-voted by Anarchists who want to fan the flames of envy and pretend I'm nuts talking about mans covetous nature? Do you honestly believe envy can be of service to liberty?

We'll have to disagree....

however to suit yourself, you can replace envy with desire when you re-read the post, and my points are still just as valid.

It is an unavoidable fact that if you desire something that you do not personally possess that that thing you desire belongs to someone else until you acquire it.

Both envy and desire share the synonym - covet

This is why I don't care much for names. While things are very clear in my mind, semantics sometimes serve to ruin the message.

For instance, while everything I said in the post is valid with respect to my intent, we have wasted productive time arguing about what boils down to nothing more than how broadly applicable the word envy is with respect to personal desire.

Are we not supposed to understand the difference?


1.to desire wrongfully, inordinately, or without due regard for the rights of others: to covet another's property.
2.to wish for, especially eagerly: He won the prize they all coveted.
verb (used without object)
3.to have an inordinate or wrongful desire.

TO DESIRE WRONGFULLY, and as you've shown, you don't know that to "envy" is to desire wrongfully. You want to figure out how to use peoples unjust desires to serve productive ends, and it can't. IT can only serve YOU if your goal is to steal or destroy.


1.to wish or long for; crave; want.
2.to express a wish to obtain; ask for; request: The mayor desires your presence at the next meeting.
3.a longing or craving, as for something that brings satisfaction or enjoyment: a desire for fame.
4.an expressed wish; request.
5.something desired.
6.sexual appetite or a sexual urge.

The reason you don't care much for names is because you don't want to address the meaning words have. Words convey meaning, and Anarchists hate words that express an Anarchists true purpose; to destroy.

To call "covet" a synonym of "desire" implies people don't know the difference, and THAT I could agree with. Look around the world and you'll know nearly everything men desire is born from and feeds their covetous nature.

If you searched all the earth, could you find even one honest man who only desires what's rightfully coming to him? In our world, there IS truth to calling covet a synonym to desire, and that's why no government or Anarchist utopia can ever sustain itself. They're both destroyed by covetous men.


1.a word having the same or nearly the same meaning as another in the language, as happy, joyful, elated. A dictionary of synonyms and antonyms (or opposites), such as Thesaurus.com, is called a thesaurus.
2.a word or expression accepted as another name for something, as Arcadia for pastoral simplicity or Wall Street for U.S. financial markets; metonym.
3.Biology . one of two or more scientific names applied to a single taxon.

"a word having the same or nearly the same meaning as another in the language"

In this case; "nearly the same meaning" makes for a world of difference, because ignoring the differences leaves all our desires unjust, and you know that's untrue. If you disagree, stop eating. Stop breathing. Stop fighting for liberty.

In mathematics, if a=b & b=c, then a=c

That is why mathematics is superior. Language is many times too ambiguous.

It's not covetous to desire.

Not knowing the difference between justly desiring something and coveting implies you know nothing of liberty.

Again; you don't "covet" the air in your lungs. It's just for you to desire air in your lungs. You don't covet the food in your garden. It's justice to reap what you've sewn. It's a matter of justice, and justice begins with liberty.

As I've said many times, Anarchists are worthless to liberty, because they don't know the difference between desire and envy, and need to pretend they can snap their fingers and mans covetous nature disappears. They don't know where injustice is born or what threatens our liberty, mans covetous nature. They fear justice because they want to destroy, and don't know why somebody CHOOSES to use violence to take what they covet.

Again, are you an Anarchist?

Since you like to cite dictionaries, I will cite a thesaurus...

From thesaurus.com:

Entry - Desire (verb)

Synonyms - aim, aspire to, be smitten, be turned on by, choose, cotton to, covet, crave, desiderate, die over, enjoy, fall for, fancy, give eyeteeth for, go for, hanker after, have eyes for, have the hots for, hunger for, like, lust after, make advances to, partial to, pine, set heart on, spoil for, sweet on, take a liking to, take a shine to, take to, thirst, wish for, yearn for

You seem to be prime on trying to label...

Collectivism is definitely detrimental to liberty.

Envy never enters the equation when a person is the original producer of a good. I never said that it did. The post addressed instances where the actor was not the producer.

Air is not a good. Feel free to read the first chapter of Man, Economy, and State.

deacon's picture


is also the wanting of things that shouldn't be yours

i can have the want of a better house,and go buy one
but it is wrong to steal anothers

setting your expectations to high,can cause depression

desire is not the same as envy.

when I see a new tool that can help me to do a better job. it is desire not envy that propels me to purchase.

You're obviously advocating option 3

But I think you missed a way to accomplish it. Your suggestion was to "learn" how to avoid it but that leaves out the action of doing. I KNOW how to do lots of things that I will rarely do so those things would get dealt with in one of the other options (or not at all).

Alternatively, let's consider a 4th option. If you remember the Martian disintegration gun? What if we had its opposite - a Venusian integration gun. That would be a device where we could simply make anything we wanted to appear out of nothing. I doubt that many people would envy someone's possessions if they could get their own that easily. If you accept that premise, then we only need to discuss how to make it happen.

While an integration gun does sound farcical, in reality, we could do the same thing. We could turn the world towards abundance and away from scarcity. It wouldn't solve the "woman" example but the rest would be on the table.

Our current technology already allows us the ability to run the whole of society on 15% of the current labor. If we removed the chains placed on it by the banking elites and the corporate greed that resulted (i.e. the ties between money and the social ladder), labor would quickly be valued at 6-7 times its current rate. This would lead to most social problems, including envy, diminishing more than by any campaign telling people to be good.

Either option 2 or 3 are productive, imo...

Let me know when the integration gun is complete, I will envy your possession of it.

You jokingly laughed off my suggestion

If I had such a gun, you would not need to envy it. You could simply ask that I integrate one into existence for you. Then you could have your own and even pay it forward to the next person.

That's the whole concept of abundance. The problem is people have been so trained that they can't have abundance that they think it sounds ludicrous. In reality, if we solved the money crisis and the equality crisis, we could indeed, have abundance for all. The counter-intuitive aspect is that it would even take less resources and labor than we expend now. That's how much smoke has been blown up our street.

So, you want abundance? Be specific and I'll give a specific example of how to make that happen.

Each of us owning and controlling the gun is key.

IF such a gun existed, it would be deemed the most dangerous thing in the world, bought off and buried, destroyed, and should anybody mention it, they would be ridiculed and told to go put on their tinfoil hat.

Our planet is ran by people who view overpopulation as the greatest threat to humanity; Malthusians who call poison medicine and murder "healthcare for poor people". They view people as a scourge, as a disease, like a runaway herd of deer feeding on what they think they own. They see themselves as having dominion over mankind.

How hard do you think it would be to create what you're talking RIGHT NOW through mechanized industry, a perpetual motion machine that spits out clean food? I know, perpetual motion machines don't exist, but that's where cheating comes into play.

Imagine a perpetual motion machine that gets its fuel from the sun and distillation; free energy. What if you could build a mechanized farm that ran on rails and free energy, a perfect expression of recycling and mans ingenuity; would you? What if you could feed all all the worlds people without them EVER having to work again... Good or bad?

How long would it take before that technology fell into the hands of an evil man who'd try to control it and god forbid, turn it off, knowing people were dependent on the machine? What if the only people interested in building such a machine are the same ones who want to turn it off in the first place?

That's what Communism is really about, creating a machine that's sure to break down, and getting everybody on it's nipple before it does.

We need an integration gun in each household, controlled by those who give life value, otherwise those who give human life LESS than no value end up at the levers of power.

What if?

What if I redefined that gun as "a collection of businesses making those products and being liberty minded and equality concerned"?

What if I said that they have consciously avoided any pitfalls which would allow them to be taken over, government regulated or bought out?

What if I said their products and services were all based on overly abundant resources but they still were resource efficient?

What if I told you that their goals included balancing the entire planet's equality?

And what if I told you that their business model was such that this could happen via the local movement across the board?

What if I said that they have already been operating under the radar?

As to your population thoughts, I refer to you my other comment a few minutes ago on this post.

I agree...

that if everything could be made absolutely abundant, there would be no need for envy. So hypothetically, the creation of absolute abundance would present a fourth option, but we both know that this option is not practical. It violates the first law of thermodynamics, and not even governments can break the physical laws of nature. For instance, if gold could be created as easily as money could be printed, the gold standard would provide no restriction on government spending. In reality, resources are limited. They cannot be created out of thin air.