Subject: Re: request

Date: Mon, 27 Jul 1998 17:04:51 +0100

From: John S Moore <>

To: julie <>

I am sending you some of my notes with very little editing. I can't say

whether they will be of any use, but I feel I could probably make them the

basis for an interesting article, if I took the time. Please feel free to

come back and ask me anything, about my views, my references, or whatever.

Also, I would like to publish them on my site, and would like to include

your first e mail request, if you have no objection. And please remember

these are rough notes, and not to judge me too harshly.


AN191 (1994)


Failure of the political perspective. What is essentially oppressive, not

something political at all, but what one feels pressured to think. The

political is a very crude instrument when aimed at a lot of the

dissatisfaction people feel.

Ordinary ambition may be despised. But then those ordinary ambitious feel

intense hostility to those who would undermine the value set on their


What holds people down, ideas, values.

The actual sadistic pleasure taken in the exercise of power. The sadistic

pleasure attractive young women feel in the discomfiture they cause young

men. The constant battle as to what value is to be set upon some or other


Always there is war. Throughout the war there are pleasures, triumphs,

sadistic delights. Young women experience a lot of these.

To middle-aged man woman irritates and attracts, she attracts because she


What is true religion? Unravelling all these secret sources of delight.


Power, will, effectiveness.

The Mephistophelian bargain with which the young are immediately faced. The

success that is held out, that is a suppression of individual will. That is

like a participation in the sadistic joys of others. The prevalence of

homosexuality in the art world, one manifestation of this.

The sadistic pleasures that are taken in discomfiture, in frustration, and

thwarting. So many of the pains you go through are something someone else

enjoys. Like the erotic bond that keeps society going.

Schadenfreude, which is said to be so German and which Schopenhauer saw as

the infallible sign of a bad heart. Lucretius on the ship in a storm. If I

feel powerful, it is because I am aware of what I have overcome.

Real secret of the Faust legend, of soul sale.

Someone in pain reacts with hostile emotion.

What is wrong with the lust for vengeance? Every sense of class put down,

every sense of being the subject of disdain.

AH 87 (1989)


My defence of liberty is not of liberty for all. It is of my liberty.

For my view of life to be clear, it must be differentiated from what it is

not. One could envisage the corruption of a communist view of life creating

confusion, demoralisation, undermining the other principles on which one

wants to live and which one wants to communicate.

Obstructing and frustrating possible achievement. Here felt as

objectionable as much as when explicitly murderous and persecuting.

'saboteurs and wreckers'.

To object to something one must have one's own faith, and what right has

one to that?

Freedom myth, one needs to find historical allies and precedents. Make out

one's idea has appeared before.

The past has its own meaning, one says. But the past is a continuous

dialogue. Is meaning is never fixed but requires interpretation.

Painful feeling that one must lose youthful self confidence in whatever one

chooses to assert, one's implicit certainty in the rightness of the values

for which one is willing to fight.

Later, if one retains one's beliefs, one has to base them on the firmest of

rational grounds.

Often to oppose a threat one chooses the strangest allies. The anti-Jacobin

allies himself with the church. The oppressiveness of the church may be

hardly noticed. As ally against threat of greater oppression, it seems a

champion of freedom. The concept of English freedom has generally been

supported, even by most reputable Tory writers.

Thus in one's anti communist fervour, one's endeavour to escape from the

mind forged manacles of communism, America may seem a positive force of

liberty. In contrast to the narrowness and dogma of revolution, counter

revolution seems rich and subtle.

Any concept of freedom requires some strong solid power as its basis and


One might choose democratic America, or old England. Basically it is the

power that one endeavours to make in ones image.

Instead of England or America one might choose Christianity, Islam the

Catholic Church, the Aryan race.

Upon these one endeavours to impose one's own myth by historical


Freedom is for most people an important value, it is not the same as power,

but it is the field in which power is to operate.

What makes any war worth fighting? One's concept of freedom is relative to

the power with which one identifies.

Do we wish freedom for the people's of Eastern Europe? What freedom?

The sadistic traveller. Concept of someone who likes travelling among

oppressed peoples, as it heightens the contrast, and makes him feel good

about himself.

In the USA note that it is the democratic party that is historically

militaristic. It is the party that abhors foreign communism out of a passion

for human rights. Vietnam.

Inegalitarianism. Modes of imperialism. Acceptance that some people are in


AE 174 (1986)


Historical writers who never fail to remind us of the poverty of the

majority of the people.

Consider the modern abundance of food and goods, One could almost say that

it is too great in certain countries, including this one. Such abundance is

not necessary for happiness. In a sense it is irrelevant superfluity. Should

all modern English enjoyment be blighted by a constant awareness of the

poverty stricken Chinese? As we contemplate and try to understand the past,

it is a mistake to project our own standards into the minds of our

ancestors. All poverty is relative deprivation.

The middle classes in the past were no more oppressors than are modern

travellers in poor countries. Nor would the poor, except the extreme poor,

be necessarily unhappy I comparing themselves against them. Emerson's view

of the English was of Cockneydom, a healthy vigorous and energetic people.

Moderns project an irrelevant class envy into the past.

To be deprived of something one has causes painful discontent. But if one

never has it will not matter. Unless one is titillated and tempted with it

to the point of intense frustration.

Projecting this onto the past we make the poor seem horribly unhappy and

oppressed. But it is doubtful if they generally were so. Someone I know who

has lived in Russia and Saudi Arabia reports that the inhabitants are no

happier or unhappier than we are.

Is it a sin to enjoy the poverty of others? Schadenfreude. Anyway, what its

pleasure, what is abundance? What is the good taste that makes pleasure

satisfying? It is the expression of humanity in its wholeness, in its will

to power. Mere abundance means little, it is limited in its power to

satisfy. Abundance without taste. But taste is elitist, it includes

Schadenfreude and the will to power.

A late civilisation is one in which democracy of taste has come to prevail.

Late Egyptian society was in one sense elitist and aristocratic, and in

another democratised and therefore decadent.

AE 321 (1987)


Pevsner perambulation around Rotherhithe, Bermondsey etc.

Around the warehouses today. The beauty of this. Yet how are we to see it?

Imagine back to the days of the thriving docks. The poetry in all this. Yet

there is also something depressing. Think of George Gissing. Two kinds of

distastefulness. Work itself is distasteful. The London working class was


What makes this aesthetically acceptable? Schadenfreude. Human compassion

destroys the aesthetic effect.

Science Museum the aesthetic delight in scientific discovery. Sympathy with

a condition of triumph. The beauty of churches, that they are not concerned

with drudgery. A church is for contemplation, contemplation is not some

extraneous addition.

Gustav Dore, artist of the London docks. With art we enter into the

emotional state of the artist. Like the church, art is directly for

contemplation. But contemplating the docks, one is enjoying a form that was

not designed for contemplation.,

One achieves a form of mental triumph. Contemplation is itself a triumph

over willing.

Free from the pressure of work, free from too close a human sympathy, free

to contemplate people for their picturesque qualities, disregarding the

aspects of them they would prefer to be judged by, yet aware of this


Aesthetic enjoyment of human beings involves a measure of dehumanisation.

Too much sympathy, too much inclination to take people at their own value,

as in the case of Gissing, even perhaps Schopenhauer himself.

Here again, morality is opposed to art. England at the moment is prone to


To abstract, that is essentially sadistic, and the essence of art. Vide

Picasso. His abstractions and distortions of the human form are profoundly

artistic. They reveal clearly and explicitly something that is involved in

all aesthetic enjoyment.

All aesthetic pleasure involves a deliberate forgetting of certain aspects

of existence.

One perceives a form and delights in it, but form is abstracted from matter,

which is to say that in its absoluteness the form is not the whole of the


The opposite of the aesthetic. The smelliness of the people.

ZZ 348 (1985)


Orwell versus Frank Richards.

Orwell at St Cyprian's experienced harshness of the class system He

experienced it at one of its most oppressive points. His socialism was the

same as his support for the French Revolution, a vengeance against the class

system. The oppression that is an intrinsic part of the levelling idea is by

no means incidental in the minds of its supporters.

Anger and resentment breed aggression. The desire to hit out and hurt. The

revolution hurt the privileged, the aristos. Even a humane egalitarian order

will be painful and oppressive to those who experienced themselves as


De Sade, as well as doing a Carneades on the enlightenment, emphasised

clearly how deeply rooted in oppression is human society.

If Orwell approves the Revolution, despite the September Massacres, despite

the Terror, then this is because he approves of its idea, which many find

repulsive. But it is this repulsiveness which is half the point. There is

schadenfreude in coercing those people who find it most uncongenial. One may

imagine these, with the rage of the excluded, as one's erstwhile oppressors.

The idea of equality thrust down everyone's throats can be most offensive.

The joy of victory presupposes the agony of the defeated.

Points of oppression in any system people deny and ignore. Everyone likes to

assert the sole validity of his own perspective. This involves essential

oppression. For there are those who if they had to accept that perspective

would certainly suffer, in one way or another, given situation and


So in insisting on the universal validity of one's own perspective one is

promoting suffering, oppressing.

It takes De Sade to bring this all out as if it were a conscious awareness,

and insist how all pervasive it is.

People deny it because they want to be thought good and just.

KK 363


VV66&, (1983)


Social scientist as power freak. Neutralisation of moral disputes and

criticisms by reducing everything to statistical phenomena.

Pythagoras. All things are numbers.

Attempt to take social reality and reduce it to numbers. The triumph of

discovering these numbers affords what feels like a satisfying explanation.

To understand social reality one is prepared to be satisfied with this. A

certain coarseness of temperament. One will not personally feel the need to

participate tin the sort of frustration that can create statistical

anomalies. One has a satisfying sense of power and can afford a blasé


Take frustration as a key. Frustration is the source for dissatisfaction

with our institutions. But how is it possible to feel satisfied with our

institutions? Is it when they offer personal power? Or does that not quite

get to the heart of it?

Is not satisfaction connected with idea of a satisfying explanation? And is

there not special satisfaction in the idea that other people do not have

that satisfaction? Is not reductionism intrinsically satisfying because of

its offensiveness? Schadenfreude Lucretian style. Amused contempt for the

frustration, for all the sound and fury. Yet such contempt is not all


The main merit of your position is that it enables you to feel superior.

Your values have no merit in themselves, apart form the contempt they enable

you to feel for others.

You replace all frustration and dissatisfaction with the joy you take in

your numbers.


Often one adopts values because they are offensive to others and through

them one is enabled to feel superior.

The tough minded ones.

The social scientist. His message. He aims to dissolve all the sound and

fury through his peculiar deterministic schemes. Why take account of ideas?

Ideas are not measurable.

In a way you feel superior, you are not involved. You are inimical to

creative achievement and you solve nothing. But I am not trying to argue for

existentialist style involvement. My sympathies are more with Winch's attack

on sociology (Idea of a Social Science).

Philosophies of life reduced to statistics. All discontent reduced to

statistics. The great difference that is made to life by ideas. The idea,

satisfaction with these numbers.

I see life in terms of the different ways in which it is valued. The ways

in which people look at it.

The other way is to look at in terms of numbers. To feel contempt for the

ideas people use to interpret it. Arrogant dogmatism. Treating ideas as not

mattering. If ideas do not matter then any ideas will presumably do, any

values are good enough and the more vulgar and philistine the better if you

want to be really offensive.

Making statistics rather than philosophy the basis for social action.

But you do have a perspective, that is your schadenfreude, your power, your


By despising ideas you render it impossible to solve the problems those

ideas came into being to solve.

The result of this is that the only solution on offer is a power hierarchy

based on yourself. You neutralise ideas, neutralise them as weapons.

To what extent is any problem capable of solution? Whatever your social

order, there are the strong and the weak. By making it more difficult for

certain groups of people to resolve their frustrations and their

dissatisfactions you make sure that those groups will remain weak divided

and unhappy, rendering it possible for other groups to rise to positions of

power, happiness and success. If you destroy the happiness of one group of

people that of others is thereby increased. This will not show up in a

statistical survey as a significant change.

vv 174

“Despite some influential social theories, it may be that Man experiences his membership of a group not as fulfilment but as diminution. . Thus membership of the group would be for man a compromise with his true being, not the culmination  of his existence but its curtailment. This is a necessary experience for nearly everyone if hi is to acquire certain values such as economic security, the acceptance of his children into society etc. But even in the most ‘socially minded’ men there is a residue of stubborn , proud individualism, the core of his existence as a human being which fills him with Schadenfreude when he is able to help impose upon others the same loss of individuality that he himself has painfully experienced”. (Schoeck ‘Envy’ p88-9)


SCHOECK, Helmut. [Der Neid.] Envy. A theory of social behaviour ... Translated ... by Michael Glenny and Betty Ross. London: Secker & Warburg, 1969.

julie wrote:

> i was wondering if there was any way you could send me or email me your

> writings on schadenfreude... it would be a big help in the research i am

> currently doing... any assistance on this topic would be wonderful...

> thank you

> Julie

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