By Selywn Duke
For the West to live, equality must die. By the latter I mean equality dogma, and a recent video I stumbled across again brought this issue to mind. It was part of an intersex wage-gap discussion that took place in Australia last year among renowned Canadian psychology professor Jordan Peterson, Labor Party politician Terri Butler and other individuals on a program called Q&A. While as usual Peterson made good points and deserves credit for suffering fools gladly, a more fundamental problem should be addressed: Why assume that “equality” is any kind of good at all?
Before tackling “equality” in principle, let’s first consider the wage-gap issue. While conservatives don’t generally support government action to equalize pay between the sexes, many of them still might consider it beneficial if men and women earned the same money. But to illustrate how this is far from true, let’s just analyze the leftist claim that this equalization would help women.
It’s well known that men earn more because they tend to enter more lucrative fields (e.g., the hard vs. the soft sciences) and work longer hours, and are more likely to accept promotions involving greater stress and responsibility and to prioritize pay over job satisfaction.
Thus, since the work is not equal, the pay can’t be equal without reducing men’s salaries and having them, essentially, subsidize lower-performing woman employees.
To understand an unmentioned consequence of this, realize that a major reason men generally work longer and harder is that they’re more likely to be their families’ sole or primary breadwinner. What this means is that diminishing their earning capacity would hurt the women — the wives and daughters — who depend on them.
Thus, all that could be said is that equal pay schemes mainly help single women, who generally don’t have kids, at the expense of married women, who generally do.
That is, that could be said, except for one thing. It doesn’t help society overall, or single women themselves, to discourage what’s necessary for the health of the former and happiness of the latter: family formation. The bottom line is that it’s a good thing men as a group earn more — and, if anything, this unequal outcome should be encouraged.
Yet we wouldn’t even be wrangling over these issues had the West not fallen victim to a certain folly: equality dogma. In reality, while “equality” is treated today as an end unto itself, it simply is not by definition a good.
Consider an example I often use: There are two tennis centers training children. After a certain period of time at the first, all the kids are advanced beginners. After the same period at the second, some are advanced beginners; two other large groups constitute, respectively, low intermediates and intermediates; there’s a small group of advanced players; and a handful are approaching tournament caliber. At which center is there more equality?
Okay, now, at which are the children doing far better on average?
The lesson: Equality tells you nothing about quality. It’s completely irrelevant.
This relates to everything in life, with income being a great example. Despite the many complaints about “increasing wealth inequality,” even left-wing ThinkProgress acknowledged in 2013 that the world’s overall standard of living is the highest ever in man’s history. The reason? The spread of healthy, meritocratic market systems — of economic freedom.
Much of equality dogma is enabled by a formulaic adherence to a fallacy: the notion that group performance differences must be due to unjust discrimination because all groups are equal in terms of worldly capacities. But is the latter really so?
Any honest look at the natural world informs that the order of the day is inequality, not equality. Some species can dominate others or are more adaptable, which is why the rat is a pest and the dodo is extinct (and, in fact, the rat helped drive the dodo to extinction). Even within species, some members are hardier, smarter, faster or stronger than others. There are alphas and betas, with a silverback gorilla running his troop and a dominant lion leading his pride. And different breeds of dogs have different characteristic traits, with some being more intelligent than others.
Ironically, though, while the Left insists that “man is just another animal,” it also implies that he is, somehow, the one exception to the natural-world inequality norm. Moreover, this notion gets at another contradiction.
Remember that leftists are also generally staunch believers in godless, cosmic-accident evolution. Yet it’s for all intents and purposes a statistical impossibility that groups could have evolved separately for eons — subject to different environments, which means different temperature ranges and stresses — but nonetheless somehow, magically, wound up precisely equal across the whole range of worldly abilities. As G.K. Chesterton put it, if men “were not created equal, they were certainly evolved unequal.”
Yet what of theists? How can they square their beliefs with the innate inequality apparent all around us? Simply put, equality appears our hang-up, not God’s. Note here that not only is “equality’s” usage in the Bible generally restricted to weights and measures, but many theologians have stated that even in Heaven, God does not give equal glory to all His chosen.
Many will now say that this is all well and good, but we should emphasize equality of opportunity or “equality under the law.” But do you believe in even this?
Few conservatives, for instance, would advocate drafting women along with men into the military or eliminating separate sporting categories for females. Moreover, minors are denied a whole host of rights, privileges and opportunities afforded to adults. The point is that no civilization ever has complete “equality of opportunity” — and no civilization ever will.
Some may now be getting a bit nervous. Without “equality” as a guide, how can justice within society be achieved? The answer is in the question.
Return to virtue, that set of good moral habits the Founding Fathers, and great thinkers preceding them, so often emphasized. Relevant to this discussion is that the virtue of justice dictates that certain opportunities should be open to all while the virtue of prudence tells us why other opportunities should be closed to some.
“Equality” tells us nothing except where people rank relative to one another, something only of true concern to the envious. So if equality is a person’s hang-up, he doesn’t need to change the world but himself. Note here that cultivating the virtues of kindness, humility and generosity — which counter envy, pride and greed — would be a good start.
As for prudence, it can also tell us something else, something that, lamentably, most will probably only learn the hard way if at all: We can have actualized equality dogma or a successful civilization. We cannot have both.