Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Expansion and Contraction of Equality

Mark Zuckerberg (do you ever dislike someone so much you cringe at having to type their name?) gave a stump speech at the Harvard commencement. There are many rumors he is toying with the notion of a presidential run in 2020. His approach is to mimic the strategy that made Bernie Sanders so successful: communism.
If we can develop a strong grassroots movement which says that every man, woman and child in this country is entitled to a minimum standard of living — is entitled to health care, is entitled to education, is entitled to housing — then we can succeed. [...] We should explore ideas like universal basic income to make sure everyone has a cushion to try new ideas.
It's certainly socialism. Free healthcare, free education, free housing, free money. Communism is not a precise term. He's not advocating that the state seize the means of production, but advocating for a cradle-to-grave welfare state is about as far left as you can get before you hit undeniable communism. Is there an increment in between that I'm missing? Zuck (I can type it that way because it kind of sounds like yuck) has discovered the secret to political success: offer the people free shit. Or, more accurately, promise people to give them other people's shit.

But whatever, that's not the point of this post. That the left is openly advocating for communism or almost-communism is quite obvious and not a terribly interesting observation. [What is slightly more interesting is the established pattern that successful democracies end in a brief era of socialism followed by autocracy.] Zucker (rhymes with fucker) also had this to say on the subject of equality.
Every generation expands its definition of equality. Now it’s time for our generation to define a new social contract.
He corroborates the remarks I made in Equality and Other Founding Myths, where I described the same phenomenon. The expansion of equality from the Declaration of Independence has looked something like this.
  1. Equality of non-divinity. No man has been granted a divine right to rule over others.
  2. Equality under the law.
  3. Equality of opportunity. The justification for public education, non-discrimination laws, workplace safety regulations, etc.
  4. Equality of outcome. The justification for massive wealth redistribution schemes, affirmative actions laws, etc.
  5. Equality of being. No human shall be permitted to be tangibly better than another in any regard.
We're so close to #4 you can almost taste it. We're partially there, of course, but the new hip trend is full-blown equality of outcome. Equality of being is the last remaining possible expansion of equality, save perhaps for human extinction. Because #4 is always disastrous, both theoretically disastrous and empirically disastrous, #5 is also hypothetical, because society will never be able to progress beyond #4. The big question is not what is the next expansion of equality (as Zuckerborg asks), but to what level of equality will we regress after socialism destroys our society?

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