“It must be stressed, however, that self-righteousness is often met with even among those people who believe themselves to be the protagonists in the fight against pharisaism. The very same people indulge in an indignation resembling that of self-righteous zealots when it comes to their hatred of mediocrity. They are prone to view every thrifty person as a potential miser and are always eager to detect a lack of heroism in their neighbors.
“It is very important to stress this type of self-righteousness because it is very widespread today. In their fight against bourgeois mediocrity and conventionalism, they feel themselves superior. They believe they are the sincere representatives of the true Christian spirit. They do not pretend to be correct, without sins. No, they pride themselves on being true Christians notwithstanding their sins, because, as they say, pharisees alone care much about not sinning. They not only feel superior, but like the self-righteous zealot, they gloat over their indignation about mediocre bourgeois and self-righteous Christians. When they rage about the self-righteousness of others, it makes them feel free, great, deprived of all pettiness and mediocrity. The kind of vices they generally suspect is characteristic. Whereas the self-righteous zealot prefers to be on the scent of sins against the sixth commandment, of dishonesty, of unreliability, this revolutionary type of self-righteous man everywhere suspects avariciousness, lack of charity, mediocrity, conventionalism, hypocrisy, and insincerity."
Passages on Self-Command in Sense and Sensibility
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