Success: Proof of Virtue?

Tuk tuk drivers sleep in hammocks in their vehicles in Phnom Penh on September 8, 2022. Photo by TANG CHHIN Sothy / AFP

The poor—or those who did not really succeed in life—being lazy, would only be getting what they deserve while the wealthy—those who “succeeded”—would owe their fortune to their work and virtues.

Here are, in essence, the remarks at the very least ill-chosen recently made by the woman in charge of a women’s association that triggered utmost indignation on social media and led the Prime Minister to intervene in the debate to say that people are of equal worth.

This is not only here that those who succeed financially end up believing in their intellectual and moral superiority over others.     

But the country’s recent history has shown that the contempt of a class for the others leads to disaster. It is to a certain extent by exacerbating among the poor in the countryside hatred of the wealthy in the city who were looking down on them that the Khmer Rouge seized power and implemented their “homicidal utopia” of a society presumably without class.

This “lesson” given to the poorest is the more inappropriate here that many of those who have succeeded owe their fortunes more to happy speculative and historical coincidences than to their ability to create value through their work. This is what limits using this as an example.          

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