Egalitarianism Leads to Unjust Inequalities
Posted by Orrin Woodward on July 7, 2015
I love providing a business where everyone has an equal opportunity. No one should be hindered from progressing towards their dreams because of race, religion, or sex so long as they also do not hinder others. Unfortunately, the proper quest for equal opportunity has now morphed into an unjust demand for equal results. This is not only impossible physically, but extremely dangerous metaphysically. For the only way to create equality of results is to coercively take private property from some to give to others. In other words, in the quest for equality of results, the quest for liberty and justice is thrown out the window.
As Chairman of the Board of LIFE Leadership, I know everyone who enters our business has equality of opportunity (they have the same compensation plan), but also know the results will vary based upon efforts, people skills, and leadership abilities. Thankfully, even if one starts out with little abilities in any of these categories, with persistency, he or she can still climb to the top. In effect, it’s not how bad a person is when they start that matters as much as how willing he/she is to change. If the dream is big enough, a person can change until the “facts” are in his/her favor. Indeed, I have seen this process occur many times in the LIFE Leadership community.
This, however, would all change if government were to mandate equality of results rather than equality of opportunity. For anytime equality of results is enforced, what ensues is a race to the bottom as each person seeks to do the minimum amount possible since no extra efforts are rewarded. This has been proven historically by the failure of every communist regime to even feed its people let alone prosper. Below, I attached a short article on the Greek myth Procrustes and a short section of Murray Rothbard’s brilliant article on inequality. Please share your thoughts below.
Procrustes is the legendary Greek robber dwelling somewhere in Attica. Procrustes had an iron bed on which he compelled his victims to lie. Here, if a victim was shorter than the bed, he stretched him by hammering or racking the body to fit. Alternatively, if the victim was longer than the bed, he cut off the legs to make the body fit the bed’s length. In either event the victim died. Ultimately Procrustes was slain by his own method by the young Attic hero Theseus as a young man slayed robbers and monsters whom he encountered while traveling from Trozen to Athens. The “bed of Procrustes,” or “Procrustean bed,” has become proverbial for arbitrarily—and perhaps ruthlessly—forcing someone or something to fit into an unnatural scheme or pattern.
The New Coercive Elite
When we confront the egalitarian movement, we begin to find the first practical, if not logical, contradiction within the program itself: that its outstanding advocates are not in any sense in the ranks of the poor and oppressed, but are Harvard, Yale, and Oxford professors, as well as other leaders of the privileged social and power elite. What kind of “egalitarianism” is this? If this phenomenon is supposed to embody a massive assumption of liberal guilt, then it is curious that we see very few of this breast-beating elite actually divesting themselves of their worldly goods, prestige, and status, and go live humbly and anonymously among the poor and destitute. Quite the contrary, they seem not to stumble a step on their climb to wealth, fame, and power. Instead, they invariably bask in the congratulations of themselves and their like-minded colleagues of the high-minded morality in which they have all cloaked themselves.
Perhaps the answer to this puzzle lies in our old friend Procrustes. Since no two people are uniform or “equal” in any sense in nature, or in the outcomes of a voluntary society, to bring about and maintain such equality necessarily requires the permanent imposition of a power elite armed with devastating coercive power. For an egalitarian program clearly requires a powerful ruling elite to wield the formidable weapons of coercion and even terror required to operate the Procrustean rack: to try to force everyone into an egalitarian mold. Hence, at least for the ruling elite, there is no “equality” here — only vast inequalities of power, decisionmaking, and undoubtedly, income and wealth as well.
Thus, the English philosopher Antony Flew points out that “the Procrustean ideal has, as it is bound to have, the most powerful attraction for those already playing or hoping in the future to play prominent or rewarding parts in the machinery of enforcement.” Flew notes that this Procrustean ideal is “the uniting and justifying ideology of a rising class of policy advisors and public welfare professionals,” adding significantly that “these are all people both professionally involved in, and owing to their past and future advancement to, the business of enforcing it.”
That the necessary consequence of an egalitarian program is the decidedly inegalitarian creation of a ruthless power elite was recognized and embraced by the English Marxist-Lenist sociologist Frank Parkin. Parkin concluded that “Egalitarianism seems to require a political system in which the state is able to hold in check those social and occupational groups which, by virtue of their skills or education or personal attributes, might otherwise attempt to stake claims to a disproportionate share of society’s rewards. The most effective way of holding such groups in check is by denying the right to organize politically, or, in other ways, to undermine social equality. This presumably is the reasoning underlying the Marxist-Leninist case for a political order based upon the dictatorship of the proletariat.”
But how is it that Parkin and his egalitarian ilk never seem to realize that this explicit assault on “social equality” leads to tremendous inequalities of power, decisionmaking authority, and, inevitably, income and wealth? Indeed, why is this seemingly obvious question never so much as raised among them? Could there be hypocrisy or even deceit at work?