Socialism does not only produce collectivist, egalitarian oppression of the individual. It is, by nature, envy-choked, with its agenda requiring deep divisions.
Without doubt, envy stands as the most corrosive element of human nature. To encourage or foster it among a citizenry has disastrous consequence. The ideal of unity, the ideal primary objective of any national leader, is a casualty of socialism. The ideal of human achievement is similarly rendered either impossible, unlikely or undesirable, by a leftist agenda.
It will then, with these root philosophical causes in mind, occasion little surprise to Americans to learn that their English-speaking cousins, and Western-European nations, possess the most unattractive tendency imaginable: resentment of others’ success.
Americans who travel to England or Australia or Germany are taken aback at how brutally unkind these cultures are to their public figures, how hateful they are toward anyone with a degree of success (genuine or perceived) or money, and how willing they are to ascribe an individual’s achievements to something other than their own ability. The Australia I grew up with, and still live in, is hostile to anyone with initiative, self-esteem and the ability to make money. In this sense, these cultures are profoundly leftist in the worst sense.
And these cultural instincts once ingrained do not stop at the door of personal political opinion; even conservatives in these nations cannot divorce themselves from them. To display individuality, to not conform, to make your own rules, equates to lack of recognition, at best, or steady personal and media assault, at worst. It explains the great brain drain of the West, which has for the last half-century flooded into the United States.
So well-known is this phenomenon in Western cultures, aside from the US, it even bears a name, gifted by social scientists. Called the “Tall Poppy Syndrome”, its name stems from Australia, and refers to the flowering plant which, much like humans, range in physical size. A popular practice of a rancher or farmer is, for aesthetic purposes, to cut poppies to size. This involves the lopping of the poppies which stand out due to their height. It’s an entirely non-US term, and a pejorative metaphor to describe the activity of limiting or destroying those that have sought to elevate themselves in a distinctive way.
Australian golfing legend, Greg Norman, a hero of mine, in his book “The Way of the Shark” said that the difference between America and Australia (perhaps closest in culture) could be summed up this way: An American teenager is on his way home from school and sees a bright new red Ferrari, and thinks “Wow! I want one of those. I’m going to do everything I can to get it.” An Australian teenager in precisely the same situation sees the car, and proceeds to key it.”
While most concede the presence of the tall poppy syndrome, few will accept the link to the socialistic nature of cultural foundations, or that the mentality is positively collectivist. Even fewer have attempted to effect change, most preferring to simply put up with it, or move to a place where they may be better treated. It is of no surprise that almost all prominent film stars, or sport stars, choose to live in America, rather than their home country.
It is a warning to America not only about how fortunate it is that its founders ensured that envy or collectivism was not at its foundations, but also how America can expect a cultural change in this aspect, should it proceed to pursue a path of European-style socialism.