The need to bring people down in humiliation that marked the mass violence against the Armenians in Turkey nearly a century ago, and that later marked the Nazi persecutions of the Jews in Germany, is still alive and well in people who resent those who have achieved more than they have.
A milder but revealing episode in England some time back involved burglars who were not content to simply steal things but also vented their hostility by scrawling on the wall: "RICH BASTARDS."
In the United States, young black thugs attacked whites with baseball bats and took their belongings in Denver, while voicing their hatred of whites. But it is all a very similar attitude to what has been found in other countries and other times.
Today's politically correct intelligentsia will tell you that the reason for this alienation and lashing out is that there are great disparities and inequities that need to be addressed.
But such barbarism was not nearly as widespread two generations ago, in the middle of the 20th century. Were there no disparities or inequities then? Actually there were more.
What is different today is that there has been -- for decades -- a steady drumbeat of media and political hype about differences in income, education and other outcomes, blaming these differences on oppression against those with fewer achievements or lesser prosperity.
Moreover, there has been a growing tolerance of lawlessness and a growing intolerance toward the idea that people who are lagging need to take steps to raise themselves up, instead of trying to pull others down.
All this exalts those who talk such lofty talk. But others pay the price -- and ultimately that includes even those who take the road toward barbarism.