The blessed state of sameness
Malcolm Muggeridge, the former editor of the British humor magazine Punch, former socialist, former admirer of communism (so much so that only a trip to Russia cured him of the infection), wrote in "Moscow Farewell" (Time and Tide, May 26, 1934) a few observations about the nature of tyranny:
What are these threatened civilized values? – Essentially ... that the individual is immensely precious and immensely important ... that he cannot be treated in the mass, steam-rollered out of existence, without his life losing all dignity, all that makes it worth anything to him; that the past and the present and the future are one, and that men have their roots in the past, so that to destroy that past means destroying men.
Too, that no civilized people in any circumstances delegate to one man or group of men a right to act for them, think for them, be them; that qualitative standards are more important than quantitative.
All that is great in human history has come from such an attitude to life, all that is contemptible from its opposite.
Wait! Aren't we born black? White? Latino (or "Latinx")? Doesn't that applied label tell everything about us? Have we any right to leave our designated herd and go out on our own?
Dostoyevsky, too, expressed himself on this topic, through the words of his characters in The Possessed:
Every member of the society spies on the others, and it's his duty to inform against them. Every one belongs to all and all to every one. All are slaves and equal in their slavery[.] ... A high level of education and science is only possible for great intellects, and they are not wanted. The great intellects have always seized the power and been despots. Great intellects cannot help being despots and they've always done more harm than good. They will be banished or put to death. Cicero will have his tongue cut out, Copernicus will have his eyes put out, Shakespeare will be stoned[.] ... Slaves are bound to be equal. There has never been either freedom or equality without despotism, but in the herd there is bound to be equality[.] ...
[W]e'll make use of drunkenness, slander, spying; we'll make use of incredible corruption; we'll stifle every genius in its infancy. We'll reduce all to a common denominator! Complete equality! ... Only the necessary is necessary, that's the motto of the whole world henceforward. But it needs a shock. That's for us, the directors, to look after. Slaves must have directors. Absolute submission, absolute loss of individuality[.]
So let's implement the program. Nothing is more important than equality. Humans aren't born equal, which is unfair in itself, but we can correct nature's mistake.
Our universities must renounce culture and strive to reduce everyone down to a common level. Forget teaching Shakespeare; that's an impediment to equality. There must be no more excellence, no overachievers. Down with heroes. And down with any individuals who stand out. But we will require despots over us to ensure that there are no high standards, that there are no overachievers.
Could such a program ever be put into effect?
Nah, this is America. The land of the free, of Tom Paine and unregulated thought. The land of the individual success story, of the Disneys and Henry Kaisers and Hemingways, and where every man is free to pursue his own dream.
In that kind of place, pure equality, the goal that nature never designed, cannot exist.
So in the name of equality, that old America will have to be put down – euthanized out of its misery (which is the collective misery of all of us in our inequality). Let there be no more dreams, no more individuals. Just a vast common herd, where everyone is a part of a bland mass – but where we will all coexist in the blessed state of sameness.
What could be better?