Egalitarian Nightmares

Probably every era has its scary ideology and ours, I’m afraid, is egalitarianism. The most prominent thinkers — those hailed and being featured in major journals, by prestigious publishers, in respected forums of opinion and so forth — such as Amartya Sen, Martha Nussbaum, Peter Singer, tend to champion and promote the idea that what would be best for the world is if equality prevailed everywhere as far as how human beings live and are situated.  Certainly there is little doubt that the leader of the most powerful country, the United States of America, is an avowed egalitarian; he makes no secret of it, indeed proudly declares it in his political talks and claims to fashion the policies he favors and tries to pass off as essential to America.


Yet as George Orwell and some others — Kurt Vonnegut, for example — have illustrated in some of their brilliant fiction, egalitarianism is a lousy ideal to follow, especially as public policy.  Trying to force us all into the cookie cutter mold some believe will suit us all, the one size fits all way of life that is probably best exhibited by North Korea in our time, is not only hopelessly misguided and impossible but vicious to the core.  

I have now reached an age that has faced me with the plain in-egalitarian fact that some people live very short lives, while others manage to hang in there for a long spell, one that is often certainly to their great benefit.  All this is pretty evident in all our lives but as again Orwell is supposed to have pointed out: “Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious.” It is no evidence of immense wisdom to realize that the inequality of longevity is hardly unjust or vicious and thus in need of political interference.  But any attempt to “remedy” it would certainly amount to futile Utopian meddling, the sort that totalitarian regimes are famous for.

My mother lived to a ripe age of 92, my father 67, a very good friend 64, one of my daughter’s close friends died in her late teens.  On and on could the list of examples go. The obituaries of all newspapers testify to the point: there is enormous “unfairness” in how short and long our lives are.  Among the many benefits of living a long life are enjoying grandchildren, reading many books and seeing lots of films one would otherwise have to miss, traveling to places one could not reach once dead, etc., etc.

Now by all accounts egalitarianism is committed to leveling the field on all such fronts but, of course, that’s just plain impossible and one can easily see how much power some people, the egalitarians among us, would need to give it a try.  Indeed, this shows clearly that egalitarianism is a nightmare and fosters the worst of all inequalities, namely, of power some would need over other people’s lives.

It is liberty that is needed everywhere, not equality. In liberty one can elect to share one’s benefits with others – or not.  But liberty doesn’t tolerate imposing equality on human beings, only sharing some of the benefits of inequalities, if that is what free men or women want to do.   





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3 Responses to “Egalitarian Nightmares”

  • Kreditanstalt:

    Unfortunately, this search for “equality” is what drives liberals. It torments the boomers, many of whom look with fondness on the 1960s. Like an itch that can’t be scratched, it drives believers in the efficacy of central planning. It’s their Holy Grail…so much so that they will never hesitate to use their governments’ monopolies on violence to impose it on all of us.

    But the tax-exacting world-improvers and do-gooders are fighting human nature. They can never win, and insolvency is a mathematical certainty as more and more withdraw their participation and deny their regimes legitimacy.

    All we can do is a John Galt, each of us in our own small ways. Refuse to consume, opt out of much of the income-earning, taxpaying rat race. Downsize. Build savings. Repair & re-use. Buy gold, sell paper. become as independent as possible, as flexible as possible and as much of a generalist as possible.

  • I think if they made the world equal, we would all live in something between a lean to and a grass hut. Within a couple of years, the world would be stripped bare of vegetation, as it would no longer make sense to get out in the fields and work, while others laid under the trees and slept. China and the USSR have proven state collectivist efforts in agriculture are the recipe for famine. Plus, it only leads to cronyism. I recall the heads of state in the USSR lived in luxury, while their subjects stood in line for bread.

    In all cases, the heads of state are accorded a status of over importance. Look at the Bozo’s we have had as President of the US, yet they are treated as if the world would end if they met an untimely death. Unfortunately the executive branch has stolen too much power from the Republic, as the true government is to lie in the House of Representatives. Replacing a President should be like screwing in another light bulb, as he was given little power to govern in the Constitution. Even in war, as the commander in Chief, it would be foolish to think of the President as a military strategist. Even so, I suspect the US executive costs taxpayers a minimum of $1 billion a year.

    The point is that if there was an enforcement of equality, those doing the enforcing would then deem themselves too important in the scheme and thus more than equal. Obama lives like King Louis XIV. Most American’s could retire on the cost of a round of golf to the tax payers. If everyone was equal, he would still live this way, the only difference is he would have to make the men around him more than equal and force his subjects to work at the point of a gun. Maybe, through the IRS and the BATF, this is already being done and we haven’t been informed?

  • The only possible equality is liberty. Just that. With liberty you get the most perfect equality the imperfect human being can reach. So give people liberty and equality would be common.

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