Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Debunking statist concepts - Equality

At this point in this series about the Liberalism Resurgent FAQ, I should be reviewing Kangas' views on Constitutionalism : however, his article on this topic is nothing but one giant argument from popularity. There is very little to say about it, except that the popularity of an idea has nothing to do with its validity, and that therefore his argument that "constitutionalism is wrong because people disagree about it" is utter nonsense. I don't side for constitutionalism either, obviously, but fallacies do not a good argument make. Since that would make a very short entry, I am going to skip ahead to the next article, "Equality vs. Merit".

Equality is one pet topic of liberals, even though their system is inherently and dramatically unequal, with a ruling class making economic and social decisions for the entire population, usually shielding themselves from the impact of those decisions with their wealth and the cloak of democracy. Thus, when examined objectively, liberalism presents a hypocrite and anti-individualist view of equality.

Usually this hypocrisy is hidden by rationalizations about how "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer" (even though this is not what actually happens, except in extreme liberal systems). Kargas uses the same rationalization. Let's start with the first sentence :

In an unrestricted meritocracy, the strongest keep accumulating power until the weak are eliminated.

We have a straw man of "unrestricted" here : no sane government, even if all governments are corrupt, would let people die just because they are "weak" (note the Social Darwinist language). In fact, the government has a lot to gain in keeping the "weak" alive and dependent on its dole.

But the main point is also incorrect. How can a meritocracy - a system that values merit above all - let people be "eliminated" ? If we could set up a total dictatorship based on merit, then it would be to our advantage to keep people alive. Merit can change with time, people can be educated and become vital elements of a society, for example. So this straw man is very irrational and not based on any kind of rational value at all.

To "prove" his point, he gives the example of feudal systems, which are unrestricted by rights and where feudal lords accumulate riches at the expense of the masses. But this is not a meritocracy by any stretch of the imagination : in fact, it is a great analogy for liberalism ! In both cases, we have a ruling class that governs based on utilitarian benefit to itself, and not any objective fact. In both cases, we have an oppressed population which cannot improve its lot. That is the result of liberal "equality".

In an equal society, the equal distribution of rewards causes excellence to fall, because there is no reward for trying harder.

Here is the second straw man, far, far worse than the second, because it illustrates the total perversion of "equality" done by liberals, perhaps one of their worst innovations. For Kargas, "equal society" means "equal distribution of rewards". But how is this distribution effected ? By force, by violence, by a ruling class which has economic and social control ! This is the opposite of equality - in fact, about as far from equality as you can get.

He is, however, correct in saying that such a system provides no incentives. That is not by far the only problem with socialism, but that is one problem.

What is his solution ?

The compromise between these two extremes is a moderated meritocracy, where the most talented continue to be the most rewarded, but a percentage of their resources is redistributed back to the middle class, to keep them competitive and in the game. This keeps the talent pool as healthy as possible, from which even greater talent is drawn. It also unlocks the fullest potential of society.

So his solution is to use force to take away some of the property of the most successful, to give to those who are less successful. In essence, that certain people have less rights than others. But since everyone is human and has the same human needs, this is a basic contradiction. Political principles cannot apply in a certain way to some and differently to others. If it is good to steal for some, then it should be good for everyone.

In practice, however, liberalism does not offer such a system. Resources are stolen by the government bureaucracy (with the force of the gun if needed) and then redistributed according to the politicians' interest, not in accordance with any supposed social need. And usually, the interest of politicians, liberal or conservative, does not lie in these supposed social needs, but rather to serve the popular, the rich and the powerful. So they tend to have the opposite effect - the so-called "middle class" is put in jeopardy most often than other "classes" (if you believe in social classes at all).

Is such a system desirable in theory ? No. The only desirable system is one where everyone is equal, has equal opportunity to prove himself, and is free from the inherent inequality of coercion. This is far from liberalism and any pretension of "equality" proposed by Kangas and liberals like him.