It is general supposed that a thief, a murderer, a spy, a prostitute, acknowledging his profession to be bad, must be ashamed of it. But hte very opposite happens. People, who by fate and by their own sins--by error--are put in a certain condition, however irregular it may be, form such a view of life in general that their position appears to them good and respectable. In order to support such a view, people instinctively cling to that circle in which the conception which they have formed of life and of their place in it is accepted. We are surprised to find this in the case of thieves bragging of their agility, prostitutes of their debauch, murderers of their cruelty. But we are surprised only because the circle, the atmosphere, of these people is limited, and, chiefly, because we live outside that circle; but does not the same thing take place in the case of rich men bragging of their wealth, that is, of robbery, of generals bragging of their victories, that is, of murder, and of rulers bragging of their power, that is, of violence? We do not see in these people a corrupted conception of life, of good and evil, in order to justify their position, because the circle of people with such corrupt conceptions is larger, and we ourselves belong to it.
Leo Tolstoy, Resurrection,Wiener and Reeve, trs. Heritage Press (New York: 1963) 136.