Skip to content

Inequality is FAKE

September 22, 2011

I’M SO FAR TO THE LEFT my liberal friends think I’m a reactionary small-government conservative. Which is true in a way because you can’t get much more small-government than evaluating all exercises of state force through an anarchist framework, and refusing to acknowledge any as justified or legitimate.

The Abonilox recently sketched out Left and Right positions on equality (while noting that most people’s views “fall somewhere in the middle”):

The person on the left embraces a radical view of equality that presumes and rationalizes all inequities to some form of environmental phenomenon that can be ameliorated by willful intervention (presumably by members of an educated class trained to identify such problems).

The person on the right tends more to a fatalist perspective and is more accepting of inequality insomuch as it is obvious that there are inferior specimens everywhere he or she looks. That they are less successful is not an environmental deficiency so much as a congenital one. [Abonilox]

Like the stance on government mentioned above, I find myself holding a somewhat more radical view than the Left, while sharing some aspects of the Right position. Deterministic rather than fatalistic, I recognize a certain kind of inequality: that people will differ in their aptitudes and appetites, and differ in their capacity to produce intended effects. This is the acknowledgement of the unequal distribution of power, the evidence of which is painfully plain to see. I diverge from the Right position in denying that a value judgment should be drawn from these differences. How is it that someone bound by necessity (or fate!) can be found inferior, or somehow less human, for simply persevering in their situation?

My sense of equality is an ideal. It’s FAKE. It does not obtain. Here it is nonetheless: No matter how powerful — regardless, even, of an individual’s utility to society — every person’s time is of equal value. That entrepreneurial ability, or test taking ability, or influence peddling ability are rewarded so much more richly than a strong back and a willingness to get dirty, is demented. The system of rewards is indeed a function of a demented religion of financial power. It is a system by which circumstance dictates whose potential will be fulfilled, and whose will lie dormant for lack of training or education or simply the lack of official sanction. Under such a system, circumstance always favors established power, and gatekeepers and nepotists reign.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. September 22, 2011 12:03 PM

    Great to see you posting again… I hadn’t checked in in a while. Onto the blogroll you go!

    Yeah, I think your starting point of equal value of time is the right place to begin. When the CEO defensively states that he deserves his multi-million dollar bonuses because he EARNED them, you know he’s full of shit. What’s more amazing to me is the extent to which the bulk of humanity is willing to discount the value of their own time.

    • September 22, 2011 12:14 PM

      hey, thanks. reading your stuff has helped get the wheels turning again.

  2. September 23, 2011 9:32 AM

    To your recent list of political leanings, radical egalitarian (“egalitarian” alone won’t do, most people agree to some basic form of this) might be a good addition. This is a pretty central principle in my own thinking, mainly cause when I was a kid all the adults were shouting equality and freedom and I took them seriously, even when they didn’t understand their own words. “Treat me as an equal” was a constant in my childhood thinking. I promised myself as an 8 year-old or so to never do to children what was done to me even as, materially, I had it as good as any child ever. I was shocked by their judgement that I was inferior more than anything, understood how it hurt, and then made it a principle that no one is inferior. Thanks for highlighting the fakeness so well.

  3. September 23, 2011 1:08 PM

    “radical egalitarian,” eh? i suppose it’s accurate, just wish it sounded more bad ass.

    i haven’t read Rancier, but i like his notion that ‘all speaking beings are equal,’ and, in terms of education, that an egalitarian teacher would be one who thinks of the student as a speaking being, rather than one who needs to be taught how to speak.

  4. September 24, 2011 11:07 AM

    The system of rewards is indeed a function of a demented religion of financial power.

    Baylor Religion Survey reveals many see God steering economy

    may be worse than i even thought.

  5. November 13, 2011 6:23 AM

    Intellectually I agree. It is useless to “lift up” the “less fortunate” into a corrupt system. Rather it is more effective to eliminate corruption, misallocation, and revalue the contributions of everyone at every level. I would revise one statement: “How is it that someone bound by necessity (or fate!) can be found inferior, or somehow less human, for simply persevering in their situation?” to instead … despite simply persevering in their situation — as I feel that one word change emphasizes the systemic inequity you are challenging here.

  6. November 13, 2011 6:37 AM

    That, and the nepotists and gatekeepers will simply, eventually “steal” time too…


  1. Democracy is FAKE (Part 2) « Stump Lane
  2. Intrinsic Worth | The Aboniblog
  3. Grid Not Goal – Part 1: Parenthood « Stump Lane

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: