Against Equality

The political obsession of modern times is that of equality – whether it is gender equality, racial equality, economic equality, LGBT equality – every equality you can imagine is the desired end goal of many politicians and activists. This is evident in the lengths organisations and political parties go to appeal to the designated victims groups of women, gay people and ethnic minorities regardless of if other groups object to what could be viewed as preferential (and therefore unequal) treatment. While this fanaticism for equal outcomes in an infinite number of ways is much more prevalent on the political Left, many people on the political Right also claim to believe in equality or, as it is often defined, ‘equality of opportunity’. This could be described as ‘meritocracy’ – i. e. people being provided with the opportunity to reach prominent positions of society on the basis of merit alone and ignoring their race, sex or sexuality. This is a commendable idea in many ways but it is debatable if societies could organise themselves on merit alone and abandon its fixaton on identity groups. The conflict between the desires of equality of outcome vs. equality of opportunity is the main talking point of modern politics but it is likely that a more fundamental distinction between the two opposing views is required in order to combat the increasing dominance of SJW thinking.

I’ve come to believe that the only appropriate response to combat the religion of equality of outcome is to reject the idea of equality in the first place. The fact of the matter is that people do not just differentiate as groups but as individuals as well. Therefore it should come as no surprise that there are disparities between certain groups of people. There will always be some people who are smarter, wealthier, healthier and more successful than other people and no amount of intervention can prevent that. The attempts by people to construct an equal society have always resulted in failure. Countries that embraced Communism to create a supposedly equal society ended in corruption, oppression and mass deaths and, crucially, created a ruling elite that was unequally privileged over the rest of society. It is far better for people to accept that equality is not possible at least in the ways that it is often pursued. Instead of having an idealistic view of what can be achieved it is better to be realistic about what is possible. The political divide could be viewed then as not between two ideas of equality but between realism and idealism.

The objective to achieve total equality is inevitably flawed because inequality can occur even when equality is stipulated. An example to illustrate this to imagine somebody setting up a course that would teach people IT or engineering skills which would help them find a job in a STEM field. The course would make clear that both men and women are equally welcome to take the course possibly with the hope that there would be a substantial number of women participating or at least a 50:50 split with men. A predictable outcome would be that many more men sign up to the course than women resulting in the women present being a noticeable minority. Therefore the gender balance of the course would be unequal despite the equal opportunity granted to both sexes. The inequality in this scenario is not an unfair one though as nobody had prevented women from participating in the course.

Moreover, inequality may not be a bad thing if one kind of inequality replaces another kind that was worse. Imagine a brand new technology is invented that is only affordable to the very rich. The technology could be something that brings many benefits and revolutionises how people live their lives. The outcome of course would be an inequality created between those that have the technology and those without it. Eventually new versions of the same technology develop that perhaps improve on whatever faults the initial version had. Sometime later the technology improves even further so that the original (albeit inferior) version becomes affordable to even the least wealthy and prosperous. The inequality would not have disappeared but changed from those that have or don’t have the technology to those with the latest superior version and those with the inferior one. A large inequality is replaced by a smaller one which is at least better for the disadvantaged group. No doubt this inequality would still make some people angry despite the circumstances of the less fortunate group improving gradually over time. A progression like this is reflected in history with inventions such as the telephone or television. These were originally only accessible to a minority of people but over time the majority would possess both of these devices. The advent of colour television and the mobile phone created others kinds of inequality between rich and poor but these too were followed by other inequalities which were less extreme – satellite television, HD television, smart phones etc. Nevertheless, an equality of sorts has been achieved as in the present day almost everybody has access to a television or mobile phone.

Of course, some aspects of equality do underpin the rule of law and how we treat others as the notion that all people are created equal, every person has the right to a fair trial and the rule of innocence until proven guilty indicate. This could be argued to be a matter of fairness and justice rather than equality though. In fact, an article in The Guardian of all places pointed out that most people value fairness over equality. Affirmative action is one area where fairness and equality diverge because people who belong to a certain demographic – e.g. black, woman, gay may be promoted on that basis alone regardless of if they are competent or not. These groups additionally are given special attention and any problem they may have is attributed to being society’s attitude towards them. People in the so-called ‘privileged’ category – heterosexual white men – do not get any special treatment or consideration and may in fact be punished for being of this group. Therefore, the drive for equality here leads to a lot of unfairness.

One argument against those who oppose society’s fixation on equality is that it is suitable for those who are more privileged to state that inequality is a fact of life as they benefit from it while the disadvantaged suffer. Similarly, too much inequality can create division and resentment which contributes to an unstable society. That people can be complacent about stark inequalities might be true but the problem still remains that there are an infinite number of ways for individuals to be unequal to each other and an infinite number of ways for resentment to emerge because of it. As I stated before, inequalities might not be static but can change so they become less of a problem. For larger inequalities such as great disparities in wealth which can create a societal division and distrust it is sensible to try to alleviate it in some way to avoid conflict. However, a better solution than using the state to intervene would be to encourage a culture whereby people will help those in need.

The question then should not be how to make societies more ‘equal’ but to accept that inequality is a fact of life and instead look at what actions can be taken to make inequalities between groups less extreme to maintain stability. However, this is again a question of fairness rather than one of equality.

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