The Utopian Mirage of Equality

Stacy McCain, reviewing an earlier essay by Roger Devlin, explains why equality is a flawed goal in political and social policy:

The problem with “equality” is that it requires us forever to feed the crocodile, hoping to be eaten last. Any one of us can look around and see some condition of inequality and say, “That’s unfair.” Once we adopt equality as a moral principle, we will find social injustice everywhere we look. . . .

Equality is a totalitarian doctrine with no rational limit nor any logical stopping point short of the gates of Hell. Human beings are vastly different in their abilities and interests and, therefore, inequality is the natural condition of mankind. Whatever measures we enact this year to advance the cause of equality, you can be sure that next year inequality will continue, so that the advocates of equality will always have an excuse for new interventions in the natural (unequal) order of society. The Armies of Progress are always on the march, inviting us to join them on the Road to the Utopia of Equality.

The problem is that “Utopia” is a word coined by Thomas More from Greek roots meaning “nowhere.” The egalitarian ideal has never existed in history nor can it be brought about by even the most determined government policy, because equality is incompatible with human nature. As Freidrich Hayek observed, “social justice” is a mirage. Progressive advocates of equality are therefore the enemies of mankind, destroying the natural order to pursue an unrealistic ideal that we would not enjoy if it were actually possible, which it is not.

Making equality into a moral principle and a political objective always has the result of  of inflaming irrational resentment.

Which explains why so much of our political and cultural discourse these days is marked by irrational outrage.  If the human race is comprised of a wide range of abilities, talents, skills, and interests, then the inevitable result will always—always—be a wide range of outcomes. Progressives applaud the former (“Celebrate Diversity!”), but refuse to accept the latter (“Inequality Sucks!”). That’s neither logical nor reasonable. When converted into official government policy, this twisted reasoning leads to totalitarianism (“We’ll Decide For You!—Because Fairness!”).

Inequality is not inherently evil. What we choose to do with our status in life is the far greater concern. If I choose not to work hard, save wisely, and treat others with respect, no government program can save me.

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