"There is no maxim in my opinion which is more liable to be misapplied, and which therefore needs elucidation than the current one that the interest of the majority is the political standard of right and wrong...." ~ James Madison
Egalitarianism: The Holy Grail of Socialism
Egalitarianism is 'a belief in human equality especially with respect to social, political, and economic rights and privileges' and 'a social philosophy advocating the removal of inequalities among people.' 'Egalitarianism is the moral doctrine that equality ought to prevail among some group along some dimension.' The main concern with those who advocate egalitarianism is equality of results, which is the prime objective of socialism.
One issue that needs to be addressed is whether people want equality of results. It's only human nature: because people are individuals, each person has different wants and needs. People choose different professions and hobbies based on their individual preferences, not on hoping to achieve equality of results. People purchase goods, be they clothes, computers, fishing gear, food, etc., based on individual lifestyles and how they will enhance one's interests. It is very doubtful that most people, especially those favoring liberty and freedom of choice, would actually see any value in equality of results.
Another issue is who decides what equality of results means and how it will be administered? Who is the arbiter of equality? Most socialists use phrases like 'the people, the masses, the proletariat' to indicate who should be the deciding force in a socialistic society. What they really advocate is democracy, or what I like to call dahMOBcracy, which is just mob rule. Marx stated: "Democracy is the road to socialism.' Democracy is collectivist thinking that the majority can determine what is best for all people, which is inimical to the very ideas of personal freedom and choice. Also, how do you administer this equality of results? Either you allow a free-for-all grab by each individual of what their equal share is (lawless anarchy), or you need a central resource (a state) to administer the common property.
The most important issue is whether equality of results is practical. History shows that it is completely impractical. The only thing that equality of results has accomplished where it has been implemented is to spread poverty and famine. It has never raised the living standards of those it claimed to benefit, but has only lowered them. As has been noted by many ' 'capitalism is the uneven distribution of wealth, and socialism the even distribution of poverty.'
Karl Marx's most famous quotation is probably: 'From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his need.' This egalitarian concept of Marx sounds good, but leads to mediocrity at best, and actually discourages production. It is completely out of touch with how individuals act in real life. As Thomas Shelly explained to his high school classes: 'Socialism--even in a democracy--would eventually result in a living death for all except the 'authorities' and a few of their favorite lackeys.'
Another socialist who advanced egalitarian thinking is Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, a French anarchist of the 19th Century. Proudhon is famous for stating "Property is theft" in his writing 'What is Property?' While Proudhon was against private property, he advocated individual possession. It appears that he may have created the popular socialist egalitarian position that property is theft, but at some point he realized it was completely unworkable in real life, and then used the term individual possession to get around the problem he developed. Marx was heavily influenced by Proudhon's ideas about property.
The idea that private property is theft promotes an economic equality of results that is disastrous. While in theory it should mean that we are all equally rich, sharing in all the property of each other, in reality it means individuals own nothing and are equally poor. An individual's possessions, his house, car, TV, clothes, and all other belongings, are not his any longer, and can be claimed by the first looter or group of looters who come along to claim them. Even a person's most valuable possession, his life, is not safe from the depredations of those who view him as a faceless cog to be molded for the greater glory of society.
Private property, or in Proudhon's case individual possession, is vital for any civilized society. While it is alright for individuals to voluntarily share private property, as in individual families or other arrangements such as communes, the basic concept of individual property rights must be maintained. Private property is vital for an effective rule of law that will be beneficial to society as a whole, something egalitarianism claims to promote, but utterly fails to do. Without private property, societies tend toward lawlessness, and become a looter's paradise.
Egalitarians have confused the meaning of Jefferson 's 'all men are created equal.' While this is one of the most important concepts in the Declaration of Independence , it has nothing to do with equality of results. Obviously, it can not mean people are identical. Nature creates us as individuals, all with different talents, characteristics, and desires. All it can mean is that all people have equal liberty, and an individual should have the complete freedom to choose how he or she wants to live. Egalitarianism is actually at odds with this concept, and would try to force individuals to accept the dictates of the masses.
Egalitarianism is an attempt to create a utopia, an earthly paradise. Egalitarians, in their mad dash for equality of results, are all too willing to use the power of the state to pass laws that oppose the natural laws of economics and individual expression. As with all such mad schemes, it is completely unsound, and always leads to the opposite, hell on earth. While socialists might regard equality of results as their holy grail, it is really their Achilles' heel.
As in any scam that promises more than it can deliver, there are always schemers looking to exploit it for a quick profit. There are con men who use equality of results to dupe unsuspecting marks to support their grab for power and looting. As comes as no surprise to freedom lovers, the state and its adherents are the prime supporters of egalitarianism. It makes the perfect fa'ade, a self-righteous wall of hypocrisy, that they are correcting injustices, while perpetrating schemes that rob individuals of liberty, property, and self-determination and adds power to the state.
The state always promises that it will benefit everyone with its programs and that society will be greatly enhanced as a whole. The opposite is always true. From its wars on poverty, crime, drugs, terrorism, and all its other wars and programs, the state never accomplishes what it says are its primary objectives.
The state always uses clever schemes and names, and democratic means, to sell these completely worthless programs to an unsuspecting and gullible public. There is its 'No Child Left Behind' education program, which if truth in advertising were required, would be called 'Every Child Left Behind.' The state promotes the idea that it is heartless to oppose something for the benefit of all children, when facts show the state is an utter failure at education.
The height of hubris is the US state's war of terror, which promises to bring peace and freedom, not just to America but the world. Of course you can never bring peace and freedom by murdering people in foreign countries, destroying private property, and stealing their resources. As in all such state programs, it is just a way to grab more power for the state and its sycophants. It allows the politically well-connected to loot the US treasury, at the expense of everyone else.
For those still unconvinced about the negative impact of equality of results, consider this scenario ' a society where equality of results is the primary concern and democracy is used to implement it. In this society, everything is determined by democratic vote. What clothes everyone will wear, what food everyone will eat and what times they will eat, what time each person will get up and go to bed, what TV channel everyone will watch and what times everyone will watch it, what toothbrush and toothpaste everyone will use, what job everyone will have, what recreation everyone will be allowed. Even if people could physically survive, such a society would result in such a drab, monotonous existence that it would be a living hell. While this society would ensure equality of results, no rational person would actually want to live under such conditions.
Those who think the previous scenario is unrealistic and not representative of what equality of results would accomplish should read Ayn Rand's We the Living. The book is a fictional novel, but set in the historical era of the Bolshevik Revolution, which Rand lived through as a child and young adult. The historical facts portrayed in her novel speak for themselves, and are terrifying.
Egalitarianism is actually the enemy of the individual and freedom. To get equality of results, individual desires and preferences have to be ignored. Also, a person's freedom of self-determination must be sacrificed to achieve equal results.
Egalitarianism, and its equality of results, is not something to be desired or worked for. Its main benefactor is the state, which uses it to rob people of their freedom, property, and self-determination. The only equality that we need is the freedom for each individual to live his life as he chooses.