All sensible people acknowledge that equality of result is an indigestible pie in the sky. However, most such people insist that equality of opportunity is achievable. In fact, it’s the other way around.
Equality of result can indeed be achieved by enforced levelling downwards (the only direction in which it’s ever possible to level). All we have to do is follow most of Marx’s prescriptions, and some of Plato’s.
It’s possible to confiscate all property and pay citizens barely enough to keep them alive – this was more or less achieved in the country where I grew up.
It’s possible to put in place the kind of dumbed-down schools that will make everybody equally ignorant – this has been more or less achieved in the country where I grew old.
It’s possible to provide the kind of equal healthcare for all that has little to do with either caring for most citizens or keeping them healthy – both countries have achieved this.
What’s absolutely impossible is to guarantee equality of opportunity.
A child with two parents will have better opportunities than a child raised by one parent. A boy who grew up surrounded by books will have a greater opportunity to get ahead intellectually than his coeval who grew up surrounded by discarded syringes and crushed beer cans.
A girl who goes to a good public school will have greater opportunities in life than one who attends a local comprehensive (closing public schools down, an idea so dear to many lefties, wouldn’t eliminate this imbalance: middle-class parents will find a way of supplementing their daughter’s education either abroad or at home).
A young businessman who inherits a fortune will have a better opportunity of earning a greater fortune than someone who has to start from scratch (again, confiscatory inheritance laws will fail: as with all unjust regulations, people will either find a way around them or flee).
Yet equality has become such a shibboleth for the post-Christian masses that they are prepared to deny obvious facts in its name.
Take IQ for example. Whoever dares to observe that different social or racial groups have different median IQ scores will be immediately accused of racism, fascism, elitism or any other ism that happens to be the faddish bogeyman at the time.
Yet facts show that a) IQ scores do differ from one group to the next and b) they are the most reliable predictor of practical success in any occupation (except perhaps, on current evidence, public service).
For example, in spite of being discriminated against, the Malayan Chinese are heavily over-represented in professional and managerial positions. All sorts of spurious explanations are offered for this, but never the real one: the median IQ of the Chinese is a huge 16 points higher than that of the ethnic Malays.
No matter. Actual reality is no longer allowed to interfere with the virtual kind. If facts don’t support the egalitarian bias, then so much the worse for the facts. The bogus equality of the modern world has to presuppose parity where none exists: practical ability and better opportunities it confers.
Lies and deception are the only way out of this conundrum: as empirical evidence destroys this presupposition everywhere we look, the evidence must either be falsified or, better still, hushed up. In this the modern world displays more ruthless consistency than Christendom ever did in opposing, say, the heliocentric theory.
An important thing to remember about egalitarianism is that levelling downwards isn’t just the only possible direction but, for the champions of this inane idea, the only desirable one.
To Burke “compulsory equalisations,” could only mean, “equal want, equal wretchedness, equal beggary.” To modern egalitarians they are the shining beacon. But any true equality is anathema to them, and it’s amusing to watch them tie themselves in knots trying to pretend it isn’t, against both empirical evidence and sound common sense.
Progressive income taxation highlights this in economics by setting up a conflict between two pieties. On the one hand, redistributive taxes represent an egalitarian attempt to push high earners down to the level of the low ones. On the other hand, they flagrantly violate of the principle of equality under the law.
True enough, someone who makes twice as much as someone else must pay twice as much tax in absolute terms. But making him pay many times the proportion of his income makes all believers in justice cry havoc and let slip… well, they have no one to let slip. Their cause isn’t supported by anyone, save for a few eccentrics who aren’t received in polite society.
But for egalitarians the choice is clear: they are prepared to sacrifice justice, fairness and even utility (flat tax rates would make the economy healthier) at the altar of modern cults.
As a result of such urges, 50 per cent of all Americans pay no income tax at all; over 50 per cent of all taxes are paid by the wealthiest three per cent; 90 per cent are paid by the wealthiest 10 per cent. In Britain the situation is similar. Thus in any reasonable sense the word ‘equality’ is a clear misnomer when applied to this levelling run riot.
Yet it would be wrong to say that equality, in whatever sense of the word, is a pipe dream. In fact, every country in the world has achieved it in small enclaves where people’s clothes, food, lodgings and indeed rights are not merely equal but identical. The people may or may not work, but their way of life isn’t affected either way. Their medical care and education are free, and things like TV sets and sports facilities are equally available to all.
These perfectly egalitarian places are called gaols, and indeed prison is the epitome of egalitarian aspirations, the ideal towards which they strive.
This may sound facetious, but in fact it’s just an illustration of an immutable truth: the relationship between earthly freedom and equality (of either result or opportunity) can only ever be inverse. The more of one, the less of the other.
Total tyranny is a precondition for total equality – that is, below the level of the tyrant, who stands above the equal masses the same way the unequal prison warder stands above the equal inmates.