Quote: F. Scott Fitzgerald, about the rich.

“Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand. They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different.”

—–F. Scott Fitzgerald

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4 Responses to “Quote: F. Scott Fitzgerald, about the rich.”

  1. Nemo Says:

    Is that a self-reflection or a reflection on the environment where you grew up?

    • philosophicalscraps Says:

      I don’t think it’s either. I do think it’s true. As Sam Bee said when Trump’s son referred to The Donald as a “blue-collar billionaire”: That’s not a thing. As much as some of us want to believe some billionaire really understands us, if he didn’t grow up poor then he (or she) does not. Mitt Romney, who also comes from money but lacks the darkness at the center of Trump’s being, revealed that when he talked about how he and his wife lived after college. They may have lived frugally, but they also came from really good schools debt-free; most of us will take years or even decades to pay off our student loans. Trump was asked in an interview if he had sacrificed for the nation; he responded by listing all the businesses he’d run for his own enrichment, the fact that he had employees who drew salaries, though not so much that they kept him from being a billionaire; that he built lots of big buildings and put his name on them, like an ancient pharaoh. At least Ramses understood himself and knew that these monuments to his power were monuments to himself. But in fact, Trump’s definition of “national service” is probably pretty common in his social circle and at the Wharton school. http://www.gocomics.com/doonesbury/2006/11/20 and on through the week. Opinion surveys done of the very rich have found that their opinions on such things as health care, tax policy, and a range of other issues is often very different from the majority opinion of citizens of their own country, but very similar to the views of the very rich from other countries. Their only contact with middle-class and poor people is likely to be people who want their money, or who need jobs, or who know that the rich person can squash them like bugs. The power imbalance ensures that they never have to hear themselves being contradicted, and indeed would have to work hard to find anyone who would contradict them. They are different beings. They live different lives, have different values, different hopes, different fears. It’s no wonder Trump describes the “inner city” as a hellscape; from his vantage point, it certainly appears unlivable. His father probably understood the world of most people better, and his children, being even further removed, understand it even less. I think this song is insightful, those less bitter than Fitzgerald: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjIVSVGMWEk

      • Nemo Says:

        I’m reminded of what Huxley wrote, “Democracy is, among other things, the ability to say ‘no’ to the boss. But a man cannot say ‘no’ to the boss, unless he is sure of being able to eat when the boss’s favour has been withdrawn.”

      • philosophicalscraps Says:

        Good point. That is probably part of why Amartya Sen argues that true democracy has to include not just free elections, but free markets, free press, and rule of law. If you have a diverse and vibrant workplace, the worker can get another job; but if laws restrict individual freedom while allowing the powerful to act without constraint, then being able to “vote” is pointless.

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