When we seek to discover the best in others, we somehow bring out the best in ourselves.
In a society of little economic development, universal inactivity accompanies universal poverty. You survive not by struggling against nature, or by increasing production, or by relentless labor; instead you survive by expending as little energy as possible, by striving constantly to achieve a state of immobility.
Although a system may cease to exist in the legal sense or as a structure of power, its values (or anti-values), its philosophy, its teachings remain in us. They rule our thinking, our conduct, our attitude to others. The situation is a demonic paradox: we have toppled the system but we still carry its genes.
A population weakened and exhausted by battling against so many obstacles -- whose needs are never satisfied and desires never fulfilled -- is vulnerable to manipulation and regimentation. The struggle for survival is, above all, an exercise that is hugely time-consuming, absorbing and debilitating. If you create these anti-conditions, your rule is guaranteed for a hundred years.
If, in looking at the lives of princes, courtiers, men of rank and fashion, we must perforce depict them as idle, profligate, and criminal, we must make allowances for the rich men's failings, and recollect that we, too, were very likely indolent and voluptuous, had we no motive for work, a mortal's natural taste for pleasure, and the daily temptation of a large income. What could a great peer, with a great castle and park, and a great fortune, do but be splendid and idle?
Certain it is that scandal is good brisk talk, whereas praise of one's neighbor is by no means lively hearing. An acquaintance grilled, scored, devilled, and served with mustard and cayenne pepper excites the appetite; whereas a slice of cold friend with currant jelly is but a sickly, unrelishing meat.