09 August 2009

A Desert Called Peace

We are plagued by crusaders. Crusaders for the environment, crusaders for women's rights, crusaders for animal rights, crusaders for decency, crusaders for democracy, crusaders for Darfur, crusaders for Tibet, crusaders for Diversity, crusaders for this and that. At times it seems there is hardly a noun left without a crusade movement attached to it. But there are two crusades that are clearly the largest and the most central to the crusading phenomenon. They are the crusade for tolerance and the crusade for equality.

Tolerance and equality are in themselves worthy goals and therefore the struggle for them need not be a plague onto the world. The trouble is not in the tolerance or in the equality parts, but in the crusading part. The trouble is that like the original, the modern crusaders too fight for a word instead of for its meaning.

The original crusaders purported to fight for the Holly Cross, but conducted themselves in a way that was anything but Christian. Likewise modern crusaders purport to struggle for equality or for tolerance, but without ever pausing to examine just how egalitarian or tolerant their ideal really is.

As we once had Christians introducing Christianity to heathens by killing them, likewise today we have Liberals that would have tolerance by having us all think the same and Egalitarians that would have equality by having us all own the same amount of property. In essence what they both fight for is neither equality nor tolerance but sameness.

Liberals invoke tolerance, but they use it in place where approval would be more appropriate. They do not want society at large to simply tolerate gays, lesbians, cultists, heathens, heretics, loose women, metalheads, punks, long-haired freaky people and men with earrings. It is not enough that we not throw mud at men with earrings and refrain from calling them names when they pass us by in the street. No, we must take sensitivity classes to learn to appreciate them, to find out about all the wonderful contributions they have made to science, to learn about all the hardships they have suffered through the ages and to learn to enthusiastically anticipate the International Day of Men With Earrings. They want every last single person to approve of them, to like them, to love them. But where there is approval no tolerance is needed.

Someone who approves of smoking does not at all need be tolerant to tolerate smokers. His tolerance is as remarkable as a sandwich tolerant of baloney. To brainwash everyone into holding the same set of judgments on practically every lifestyle issue and then preach tolerance is like preaching a hippie about the dangers of soap – wholly redundant.

Like-minded people do not need to be tolerant to tolerate each other. The only people that have a use for tolerance are people that have different takes on what is proper. This is also the only time tolerance can be remarkable. When people around you find your take on life distasteful to the extreme, but let you be. And when you in turn let them be and in doing so extend the same sort of tolerance to their take on life.

Similarly Egalitarians talk about the need for equality and propose to go about it by making sure we all own the exact same amount of property. The more enthusiastic among them have figured out that would take a lot of paperwork so they propose to outright outlaw property and make sure we all own zero property. To make us equal they have to first make us all equally poor. I suppose it is only a matter of time before they figure out that is not going far enough and propose to start a thermonuclear war to make us all equally dead. That would be true equality! We could call it „equality in vaporization“.

Egalitarians barge into absurdities because they confuse equality for uniformity. We do not need to be uniform to be equal. To be equal we do not need to all live in equally expensive houses any more than we need to all be equally good at basketball, singing, or cooking. Any more than we need to have equal number of cousins, be equally literate or be equally tall. The whole point of properly understood egalitarianism is not that we should be equal, but that we are equal. Already. Despite all the variations including the difference in wealth.

It means that just because I live in a shack while another person lives in a villa it does not give him the right to tax me. In fact one of these days I am going to his place to take back all the stuff he bought with my tax money. Mayhap after I am done with it he will be the one living in a shack. That is equality. I want all my money back, I am not leaving the scoundrel some of it, so that we two may be equally wealthy. But it is not required that I do. I am an egalitarian, I do not feel myself to have rights over property of another and will therefore not tax him, so he can be my equal even if he is a lowly shack dweller.

There are those who are shrewd and there are others who are dull. But because they are equal despite this difference neither gets a claim on the wealth of the other. Equality means nobody can justly pray on another. Weather by fraud or by popular vote. Classical Liberals asserted that just because a king, unlike the peasantry, wore a crown and bathed regularly that gave him no right to hold down the peasants. That is egalitarianism. Not pretending that actually the peasants smelled as nice.

In reality any programme of redistribution of wealth is inherently non-egalitarian. Egalitarianism means treating people as equals ie under the same set of rules. But if you are taking money from one set of people to give it to another set of people then you are treating then you are not treating them the same.

It is actually impossible to be an egalitarian and hold to the Egalitarian`s basic motto: „From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.“ If to consider someone your equal you need him to work as hard as you do then frankly you are not much of an egalitarian. How come a slacker, who lives at subsistence level and prefers to work as little as he needs to, can not be your equal? Why does he need to be dragged to a reeducation camp to be turned into a workaholic who will work according to his ability? And how are you two being equal when you are forcing him into something? Does that not make him your slave? I can see how everyone working as hard means uniformity, but what does it have to do with equality?

Socialist Egalitarianism would, at its final, result in a society of uniformity and sameness. But there is nothing remarkable about recognizing equality within a set of people who are exactly alike. If it were then we would call Anglo-Saxon supremacists "egalitarians" for believing all men are equal provided they are Anglo-Saxons. That would plainly be absurd, but it is no different from Socialists who believe all men should be equal provided they contribute according to their ability. An argument could be made that the Socialists are qualitatively better because being a slacker is a choice while people can not help themselves not being Anglo-Saxons. But it would be a false argument. The issue is not of choice, but of right. A man has as much right to be a slacker, as he has to not be an Anglo-Saxon. Possibly more.

We do not need to crack down on diversity of opinion, diversity of effort in labor and diversity in consumption to bring about tolerance and equality. In fact tolerance and equality are only meaningful in diversity and freedom. Freedom of opinion and freedom of exchange. There is nothing remarkable about tolerance and equality inside an ant hive.

Jet that is the world the Liberal and Egalitarian crusaders would jointly bring about. They believe they fight for a world full of tolerance or equality, but what they really fight for is a world where there is no need for toleration and equality. A world where there is no nobility left in tolerance and egalitarianism because we all already think the same, work as hard and consume as much. I suppose that is the reason for the ever greater convergence of Socialist and Liberal parties. They would both make a desert and call it peace.

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