Equality: the Lefty Fantasy
For years now, I have been "primed" to think about equality. That's because a lefty homeowner on my morning walk exhibits a hand-painted BLM yard sign for all the world to see that reads "Equality Never Hurt Anyone." The sign is decorated with a BLM clenched-fist logo, just to remind you that you are never going to get hurt.
Indeed, ever since Rousseau and his "Discourse on Inequality" and the invention of coffee shops, conformist young men that imagine themselves to be rebels have believed passionately in equality.
Recently, a very progressive acquaintance proposed that I read The Dawn of Everything by David Graeber and David Wengrow. The book is a kind of Moby-Dick, a fevered hunt for the great white whale of the egalitarian society. Okay Boomer.
But then, in another proof of God's existence, I was prompted to start reading Francis Fukuyama's history of the human world, starting with The Origins of Political Order. Fukuyama is merciless. An egalitarian society is only possible in a "stateless" society, he writes, that is, a society in which the Big Man or the Leopard Skin chief has to lead by persuasion, not by compulsion.
Once a human society has created a state, with a king and an army and a bureaucracy and taxes, that's the end of equality. Sorry about that, Jean-Jacques, David, and all the lefty ships at sea.
Then Fukuyama tells the story of China and the history of its state formation. China starts with 3,000 "polities" in 2000 BC and ends up with one state in 221 BC with the Qin Dynasty and the terra-cotta soldiers marching just outside Xi'an. What united all those 3,000 "polities?" War: bloody, cruel, 1,800 years of unremitting war of which only the last 250 years is dignified as the "Warring States period."
Bye-bye, equality. Thing is, when you are waging 1,800 years of war you need an army, and money, and that means you need a state with the power to conscript soldiers and extract taxes from the people. And then you need to do it all over again so you can win the next war.
Now, let's do a little thought experiment, what Ernst Mach called ein Gedankenexperiment. Suppose you believe passionately in equality, and you lead a political revolution so you can implement "fundamental transformation" and bend the arc of history towards justice? What would happen? Let's ask the 20th Century's top Gedankenexperimentatoren, Profs. Stalin, Hitler, and Mao, for their considered opinion on that. On the other hand, let's not ask them.
I am only raising this question because I believe that in the near future we few, we happy few, we bitter clingers, we deplorables, we band of brothers, are going to be called -- by God or by history -- to begin to address perhaps the greatest challenge in human history.
We, or our descendants, are going to be called to clean up the godawful mess left by our liberal and progressive and Democratic friends after their mad two-century pursuit of the fantasy of equality, and slowly, carefully, step-by-step, "with malice towards none and charity for all," imagine and discuss and create a society that recognizes the inevitability of hierarchy and has learned that the fantasy of equality leads directly to the killing fields.
The key is to get away from collapsing everything into the political, because, per Nazi jurist Carl Schmitt, the political is the distinction between friend and enemy. Humans interact in other, gentler ways: through religion, through art, and through economic and social cooperation. Maybe advanced, evolved, educated people should prefer the other ways to politics.
Now, according to Fukuyama, the reason that India never collapsed into a single monster state like China until the Brits came along is the caste system, which created a social thicket that made it hard for rulers and bureaucrats to tax and conscript. So maybe we need a caste system in post-educated-class America.
- Brahmins (priests): moralists -- good fighting evil.
- Kshatriyas (warriors): activists, allies, athletes -- friends fighting the enemy.
- Vaishyas (merchants): business people -- making profits, avoiding losses.
- Sudras (peasants): workers, servants -- being useful, avoiding waste.
- Dalits (polluters): energy workers, Dutch farmers, victims, deplorables -- cleaning up pollution.
And since we now have quite a lot of South Asians in the U.S., with some of them recently let go from Twitter, I am sure they are eager to show us How to Do It.
Let's get back to The Science. It tells us, dear liberal friends, that you cannot have an egalitarian society if you have a state -- with a leader, an army, and an educated bureaucracy.
So, in an egalitarian society, there are no Jobs for Educated Gentry to order everyone around and tell them what to do. But it's worth it, dear liberal friends, because your sacrifice will be for the sake of Equality.
Christopher Chantrill @chrischantrill runs the go-to site on US government finances, usgovernmentspending.com. Also get his American Manifesto and his Road to the Middle Class.
Defend Eqality poster by Aaron T. Harvey CC BY-SA 3.0 license