Egalitarianism as a Revolt Against Nature

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This
article, which first appeared in Modern
Age for Fall 1973, is collected in
Egalitarianism
as a Revolt Against Nature and Other Essays
.

For well
over a century, the Left has generally been conceded to have
morality, justice, and “idealism” on its side; the Conservative
opposition to the Left has largely been confined to the “impracticality”
of its ideals. A common view, for example, is that socialism
is splendid “in theory,” but that it cannot “work” in practical
life. What the Conservatives failed to see is that while short-run
gains can indeed be made by appealing to the impracticality
of radical departures from the status quo, that by conceding
the ethical and the “ideal” to the Left they were doomed to
long-run defeat. For if one side is granted ethics and the “ideal”
from the start, then that side will be able to effect gradual
but sure changes in its own direction; and as these changes
accumulate, the stigma of “impracticality” becomes less and
less directly relevant. The Conservative opposition, having
staked its all on the seemingly firm ground of the “practical”
(that is, the status quo) is doomed to lose as the status
quo moves further in the left direction. The fact that the
unreconstructed Stalinists are universally considered to be
the “Conservatives” in the Soviet Union is a happy logical joke
upon conservatism; for in Russia the unrepentant statists are
indeed the repositories of at least a superficial “practicality”
and of a clinging to the existing status quo.

Never has
the virus of “practicality” been more widespread than in the
United States, for Americans consider themselves a “practical”
people, and hence, the opposition to the Left, while originally
stronger than elsewhere, has been perhaps the least firm at
its foundation. It is now the advocates of the free market and
the free society who have to meet the common charge of “impracticality.”

In no area
has the Left been granted justice and morality as extensively
and almost universally as in its espousal of massive equality.
It is rare indeed in the United States to find anyone, especially
any intellectual, challenging the beauty and goodness of the
egalitarian ideal. So committed is everyone to this ideal that
“impracticality” – that is, the weakening of economic incentives
– has been virtually the only criticism against even the
most bizarre egalitarian programs. The inexorable march of egalitarianism
is indication enough of the impossibility of avoiding ethical
commitments; the fiercely “practical” Americans, in attempting
to avoid ethical doctrines, cannot help setting forth such doctrines,
but they can now only do so in unconscious, ad hoc, and
unsystematic fashion. Keynes’s famous insight that “practical
men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual
influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist”
– is true all the more of ethical judgments and ethical
theory.

1

The unquestioned
ethical status of “equality” may be seen in the common practice
of economists. Economists are often caught in a value-judgment bind
– eager to make political pronouncements. How can they do so
while remaining “scientific” and value-free? In the area of egalitarianism,
they have been able to make a flat value judgment on behalf of equality
with remarkable impunity. Sometimes this judgment has been frankly
personal; at other times, the economist has pretended to be the
surrogate of “society” in the course of making its value judgment.
The result, however, is the same. Consider, for example, the late
Henry C. Simons. After properly criticizing various “scientific”
arguments for progressive taxation, he came out flatly for progression
as follows:

The
case for drastic progression in taxation must be rested on the
case against inequality – on the ethical or aesthetic judgment
that the prevailing distribution of wealth and income reveals
a degree (and/or kind) of inequality which is distinctly evil
or unlovely.

2

Another
typical tactic may be culled from a standard text on public
finance. According to Professor John F. Due, "[t]he strongest
argument for progression is the fact that the consensus of opinion
in society today regards progression as necessary for equity.
This is, in turn, based on the principle that the pattern of
income distribution, before taxes, involves excessive inequality."
The latter “can be condemned on the basis of inherent unfairness
in terms of the standards accepted by society.”

3

Whether
the economist boldly advances his own value judgments or whether
he presumes to reflect the values of “society,” his immunity
from criticism has been remarkable nonetheless. While candor
in proclaiming one’s values may be admirable, it is surely not
enough; in the quest for truth it is scarcely sufficient to
proclaim one’s value judgments as if they must be accepted as
tablets from above that are not themselves subject to intellectual
criticism and evaluation. Is there no requirement that these
value judgments be in some sense valid, meaningful, cogent,
true? To raise such considerations, of course, is to
flout the modern canons of pure wertfreiheit in social
science from Max Weber onward, as well as the still older philosophic
tradition of the stern separation of “fact and value,” but perhaps
it is high time to raise such fundamental questions. Suppose,
for example, that Professor Simons’s ethical or aesthetic judgment
was not on behalf of equality but of a very different social
ideal. Suppose, for example, he had been in favor of the murder
of all short people, of all adults under five feet, six inches
in height. And suppose he had then written: “The case for the
liquidation of all short people must be rested on the case against
the existence of short people – on the ethical or aesthetic
judgment that the prevailing number of short adults is distinctly
evil or unlovely.” One wonders if the reception accorded to
Professor Simons’s remarks by his fellow economists or social
scientists would have been quite the same. Or, we can ponder
Professor Due writing similarly on behalf of the “opinion of
society today” in the Germany of the 1930s with regard to the
social treatment of Jews. The point is that in all these cases
the logical status of Simons’s or Due’s remarks would have been
precisely the same, even though their reception by the American
intellectual community would have been strikingly different.

My point
so far has been twofold: (1) that it is not enough for an intellectual
or social scientist to proclaim his value judgments – that
these judgments must be rationally defensible and must be demonstrable
to be valid, cogent, and correct: in short, that they must no
longer be treated as above intellectual criticism; and (2) that
the goal of equality has for too long been treated uncritically
and axiomatically as the ethical ideal. Thus, economists in favor
of egalitarian programs have typically counterbalanced their uncriticized
“ideal” against possible disincentive effects on economic productivity;
but rarely has the ideal itself been questioned.

4

Let us
proceed, then, to a critique of the egalitarian ideal itself
– should equality be granted its current status as an unquestioned
ethical ideal? In the first place, we must challenge the very
idea of a radical separation between something that is “true
in theory” but “not valid in practice.” If a theory is correct,
then it does work in practice; if it does not work in
practice, then it is a bad theory. The common separation between
theory and practice is an artificial and fallacious one. But
this is true in ethics as well as anything else. If an ethical
ideal is inherently “impractical,” that is, if it cannot
work in practice, then it is a poor ideal and should be discarded
forthwith. To put it more precisely, if an ethical goal violates
the nature of man and/or the universe and, therefore, cannot
work in practice, then it is a bad ideal and should be dismissed
as a goal. If the goal itself violates the nature of man, then
it is also a poor idea to work in the direction of that goal.

Suppose,
for example, that it has come to be adopted as a universal ethical
goal that all men be able to fly by flapping their arms. Let
us assume that “pro-flappers” have been generally conceded the
beauty and goodness of their goal, but have been criticized
as “impractical.” But the result is unending social misery as
society tries continually to move in the direction of arm-flying,
and the preachers of arm-flapping make everyone’s lives miserable
for being either lax or sinful enough not to live up to the
common ideal. The proper critique here is to challenge the “ideal”
goal itself; to point out that the goal itself is impossible
in view of the physical nature of man and the universe; and,
therefore, to free mankind from its enslavement to an inherently
impossible and, hence, evil goal. But this liberation could
never occur so long as the anti-armfliers continued to be solely
in the realm of the “practical” and to concede ethics and “idealism”
to the high priests of arm-flying. The challenge must take place
at the core – at the presumed ethical superiority of a
nonsensical goal. The same, I hold, is true of the egalitarian
ideal, except that its social consequences are far more pernicious
than an endless quest for man’s flying unaided. For the condition
of equality would wreak far more damage upon mankind.

What, in
fact, is “equality”? The term has been much invoked but little
analyzed. A and B are “equal” if they are identical to each
other with respect to a given attribute. Thus, if Smith and
Jones are both exactly six feet in height, then they may be
said to be “equal” in height. If two sticks are identical in
length, then their lengths are “equal,” etc. There is one and
only one way, then, in which any two people can really be “equal”
in the fullest sense: they must be identical in all of their
attributes. This means, of course, that equality of all
men – the egalitarian ideal – can only be achieved
if all men are precisely uniform, precisely identical with respect
to all of their attributes. The egalitarian world would necessarily
be a world of horror fiction – a world of faceless and
identical creatures, devoid of all individuality, variety, or
special creativity.

Indeed, it
is precisely in horror fiction where the logical implications
of an egalitarian world have been fully drawn. Professor Schoeck
has resurrected for us the depiction of such a world in the British
anti-Utopian novel Facial
Justice
, by L.P. Hartley, in which envy is institutionalized
by the State’s making sure that all girls’ faces are equally pretty,
with medical operations being performed on both beautiful and
ugly girls to bring all of their faces up or down to the general
common denominator.

5

A short story by Kurt Vonnegut provides an even more comprehensive
description of a fully egalitarian society. Thus, Vonnegut begins
his story, “Harrison Bergeron”:

The
year was 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren’t
only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which
way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better
looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than
anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th,
and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing
vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.

The “handicapping”
worked partly as follows: Hazel had a perfectly average intelligence,
which meant she couldn’t think about anything except in short
bursts. And George, while his intelligence was way above normal,
had a little mental handicap radio in his ear. He was required
by law to wear it at all times. It was tuned to a government
transmitter. Every twenty seconds or so, the transmitter would
send out some sharp noise to keep people like George from taking
unfair advantage of their brains.

6

The horror
we all instinctively feel at these stories is the intuitive
recognition that men are not uniform, that the species,
mankind, is uniquely characterized by a high degree of variety,
diversity, differentiation; in short, inequality. An egalitarian
society can only hope to achieve its goals by totalitarian methods
of coercion; and, even here, we all believe and hope the human
spirit of individual man will rise up and thwart any such attempts
to achieve an ant-heap world. In short, the portrayal of an
egalitarian society is horror fiction because, when the implications
of such a world are fully spelled out, we recognize that such
a world and such attempts are profoundly antihuman; being antihuman
in the deepest sense, the egalitarian goal is, therefore, evil
and any attempts in the direction of such a goal must be considered
evil as well.

The great
fact of individual difference and variability (that is, inequality)
is evident from the long record of human experience; hence,
the general recognition of the antihuman nature of a world of
coerced uniformity. Socially and economically, this variability
manifests itself in the universal division of labor, and in
the “Iron Law of Oligarchy” – the insight that, in every
organization or activity, a few (generally the most able and/or
the most interested) will end up as leaders, with the mass of
the membership filling the ranks of the followers. In both cases,
the same phenomenon is at work – outstanding success or
leadership in any given activity is attained by what Jefferson
called a “natural aristocracy” – those who are best attuned
to that activity.

The
age-old record of inequality seems to indicate that this variability
and diversity is rooted in the biological nature of man. But
it is precisely such a conclusion about biology and human nature
that is the most galling of all possible irritants to our egalitarians.
Even egalitarians would be hard put to deny the historical record,
but their answer is that “culture” has been to blame; and since
they obviously hold that culture is a pure act of the will,
then the goal of changing the culture and inculcating society
with equality seems to be attainable. In this area, the egalitarians
slough off any pretense to scientific caution; they are scarcely
content with acknowledging biology and culture as mutually interacting
influences. Biology must be read out of court quickly and totally.

Let us
ponder an example that is deliberately semi-frivolous. Suppose
that we observe our culture and find a common dictum to be:
“Redheads are excitable.” Here is a judgment of inequality,
a conclusion that redheads as a group tend to differ from the
nonredhead population. Suppose, then, that egalitarian sociologists
investigate the problem, and they find that redheads do, indeed,
tend to be more excitable than nonredheads by a statistically
significant amount. Instead of admitting the possibility of
some sort of biological difference, the egalitarian will quickly
add that the “culture” is responsible for the phenomenon: the
generally accepted “stereotype” that redheads are excitable
had been instilled into every redheaded child from an early
age, and he or she has simply been internalizing these judgments
and acting in the way society was expecting him to act. Redheads,
in brief, had been “brainwashed” by the predominant nonredhead
culture.

While not
denying the possibility of such a process occurring, this common
complaint seems decidedly unlikely on rational analysis. For the
egalitarian culture-bugaboo implicitly assumes that the “culture”
arrives and accumulates haphazardly, with no reference to social
facts. The idea that “redheads are excitable” did not originate
out of the thin air or as a divine commandment; how, then, did
the idea come into being and gain general currency? One favorite
egalitarian device is to attribute all such group-identifying
statements to obscure psychological drives. The public had a psychological
need to accuse some social group of excitability, and redheads
were fastened on as scapegoats. But why were redheads singled
out? Why not blondes or brunettes? The horrible suspicion begins
to loom that perhaps redheads were singled out because they were
and are indeed more excitable and that, therefore, society’s “stereotype”
is simply a general insight into the facts of reality. Certainly
this explanation accounts for more of the data and the processes
at work and is a much simpler explanation besides. Regarded objectively,
it seems to be a far more sensible explanation than the idea of
the culture as an arbitrary and ad hoc bogeyman. If so,
then we might conclude that redheads are biologically more excitable
and that propaganda beamed at redheads by egalitarians urging
them to be less excitable is an attempt to induce redheads to
violate their nature; therefore, it is this latter propaganda
that may more accurately be called “brainwashing.”

This is
not to say, of course, that society can never make a mistake
and that its judgments of group-identity are always rooted in
fact. But it seems to me that the burden of proof is far more
on the egalitarians than on their supposedly “unenlightened”
opponents.

Since egalitarians
begin with the a priori axiom that all people, and hence
all groups of peoples, are uniform and equal, it then follows
for them that any and all group differences in status, prestige,
or authority in society must be the result of unjust
“oppression” and irrational “discrimination.” Statistical proof
of the “oppression” of redheads would proceed in a manner all
too familiar in American political life; it might be shown,
for example, that the median redhead income is lower than nonredheaded
income, and further that the proportion of redheaded business
executives, university professors, or congressmen is below their
quotal representation in the population. The most recent and
conspicuous manifestation of this sort of quotal thinking was
in the McGovern movement at the 1972 Democratic Convention.
A few groups are singled out as having been “oppressed” by virtue
of delegates to previous conventions falling below their quotal
proportion of the population as a whole. In particular, women,
youth, blacks, Chicanos (or the so-called Third World) were
designated as having been oppressed; as a result, the Democratic
Party, under the guidance of egalitarian-quota thinking, overrode
the choices of the voters in order to compel their due quotal
representation of these particular groups.

In some cases,
the badge of “oppression” was an almost ludicrous construction.
That youths of 18 to 25 years of age had been “underrepresented”
could easily have been placed in proper perspective by a reductio
ad absurdum, surely some impassioned McGovernite reformer
could have risen to point out the grievous “underrepresentation”
of five-year olds at the convention and to urge that the five-year-old
bloc receive its immediate due. It is only commonsense biological
and social insight to realize that youths win their way into society
through a process of apprenticeship; youths know less and have
less experience than mature adults, and so it should be clear
why they tend to have less status and authority than their elders.
But to accept this would be to cast the egalitarian creed into
some substantial doubt; further, it would fly into the face of
the youth-worship that has long been a grave problem of American
culture. And so young people have been duly designated as an “oppressed
class,” and the coercing of their population quota is conceived
as only just reparation for their previously exploited condition.

7

Women are
another recently discovered “oppressed class,” and the fact
that political delegates have habitually been far more than
50 percent male is now held to be an evident sign of their oppression.
Delegates to political conventions come from the ranks of party
activists, and since women have not been nearly as politically
active as men, their numbers have understandably been low. But,
faced with this argument, the widening forces of “women’s liberation”
in America again revert to the talismanic argument about “brainwashing”
by our “culture.” For the women’s liberationists can hardly
deny the fact that every culture and civilization in history,
from the simplest to the most complex, has been dominated by
males. (In desperation, the liberationists have lately been
countering with fantasies about the mighty Amazonian empire.)
Their reply, once again, is that from time immemorial a male-dominated
culture has brainwashed oppressed females to confine themselves
to nurture, home, and the domestic hearth. The task of the liberationists
is to effect a revolution in the female condition by sheer will,
by the “raising of consciousness.” If most women continue to
cleave to domestic concerns, this only reveals the “false consciousness”
that must be extirpated.

Of course,
one neglected reply is that if, indeed, men have succeeded in
dominating every culture, then this in itself is a demonstration
of male “superiority”; for if all genders are equal, how is it
that male domination emerged in every case? But apart from this
question, biology itself is being angrily denied and cast aside.
The cry is that there are no, can be no, must be no biological
differences between the sexes; all historical or current differences
must be due to cultural brainwashing. In his brilliant refutation
of the women’s liberationist Kate Millett, Irving Howe outlines
several important biological differences between the sexes, differences
important enough to have lasting social effects. They are: (1)
“the distinctive female experience of maternity” including what
the anthropologist Malinowski calls an “intimate and integral
connection with the child . . . associated with physiological
effects and strong emotions”; (2) “the hormonic components of
our bodies as these vary not only between the sexes but at different
ages within the sexes”; (3) “the varying possibilities for work
created by varying amounts of musculature and physical controls”;
and (4) “the psychological consequences of different sexual postures
and possibilities,” in particular the “fundamental distinction
between the active and passive sexual roles” as biologically determined
in men and women respectively.

8

Howe goes
on to cite the admission by Dr. Eleanor Maccoby in her study of
female intelligence "that it is quite possible that there
are genetic factors that differentiate the two sexes and bear
upon their intellectual performance…. For example, there is
good reason to believe that boys are innately more aggressive
than girls – and I mean aggressive in the broader sense,
not just as it implies fighting, but as it implies dominance and
initiative as well – and if this quality is one which underlies
the later growth of analytic thinking, then boys have an advantage
which girls…will find difficult to overcome." Dr. Maccoby
adds that “if you try to divide child training among males and
females, we might find out that females need to do it and males
don’t.”

9

The sociologist
Arnold W. Green points to the repeated emergence of what the
egalitarians denounce as “stereotyped sex roles” even in communities
originally dedicated to absolute equality. Thus, he cites the
record of the Israeli kibbutzim:

The
phenomenon is worldwide: women are concentrated in fields
which require, singly or in combination, housewifely skills,
patience and routine, manual dexterity, sex appeal, contact
with children. The generalization holds for the Israeli kibbutz,
with its established ideal of sexual equality. A “regression”
to a separation of “women’s work” from “men’s work” occurred
in the division of labor, to a state of affairs which parallels
that elsewhere. The kibbutz is dominated by males and traditional
male attitudes, on balance to the content of both sexes.10

Irving
Howe unerringly perceives that at the root of the women’s liberation
movement is resentment against the very existence of women as
a distinctive entity:

For
what seems to trouble Miss Millett isn’t merely the injustices
women have suffered or the discriminations to which they continue
to be subject. What troubles her most of all…is the sheer
existence of women. Miss Millett dislikes the psychobiological
distinctiveness of women, and she will go no further than
to recognize – what choice is there, alas? – the
inescapable differences of anatomy. She hates the perverse
refusal of most women to recognize the magnitude of their
humiliation, the shameful dependence they show in regard to
(not very independent) men, the maddening pleasures they even
take in cooking dinners for the “master group” and wiping
the noses of their snotty brats. Raging against the notion
that such roles and attitudes are biologically determined,
since the very thought of the biological seems to her a way
of forever reducing women to subordinate status, she nevertheless
attributes to “culture” so staggering a range of customs,
outrages, and evils that this culture comes to seem a force
more immovable and ominous than biology itself.11

In a perceptive
critique of the women’s liberation movement, Joan Didion perceives
its root to be a rebellion not only against biology but also
against the “very organization of nature” itself:

If the
necessity for conventional reproduction of the species seemed
unfair to women, then let us transcend, via technology, “the
very organization of nature,” the oppression, as Shulamith
Firestone saw it, “that goes back through recorded history
to the animal kingdom itself.” I accept the Universe, Margaret
Fuller had finally allowed: Shulamith Firestone did not.12

To which
one is tempted to paraphrase Carlyle’s admonition: “Egad, madam,
you’d better.”

Another
widening rebellion against biological sex norms, as well as
against natural diversity, has been the recently growing call
for bisexuality by Left intellectuals. The avoidance of “rigid,
stereotyped” heterosexuality and the adoption of indiscriminate
bisexuality is supposed to expand consciousness, to eliminate
“artificial” distinctions between the sexes and to make all
persons simply and unisexually “human.” Once again, brainwashing
by a dominant culture (in this case, heterosexual) has supposedly
oppressed a homosexual minority and blocked off the uniformity
and equality inherent in bisexuality. For then every individual
could reach his or her fullest “humanity” in the “polymorphous
perversity” so dear to the hearts of such leading New Left social
philosophers as Norman O. Brown and Herbert Marcuse.

That biology
stands like a rock in the face of egalitarian fantasies has
been made increasingly clear in recent years. The researches
of biochemist Roger J. Williams have repeatedly emphasized the
great range of individual diversity throughout the entire human
organism. Thus:

Individuals
differ from each other even in the minutest details of anatomy
and body chemistry and physics; finger and toe prints; microscopic
texture of hair; hair pattern on the body, ridges and “moons”
on the finger and toenails; thickness of skin, its color,
its tendency to blister; distribution of nerve endings on
the surface of the body; size and shape of ears, of ear canals,
or semi-circular canals; length of fingers; character of brain
waves (tiny electrical impulses given off by the brain); exact
number of muscles in the body; heart action; strength of blood
vessels; blood groups; rate of clotting of blood – and
so on almost ad infinitum.

We now
know a great deal about how inheritance works and how it is
not only possible but certain that every human being possesses
by inheritance an exceedingly complex mosaic, composed of thousands
of items, which is distinctive for him alone.13

The genetic
basis for inequality of intelligence has also become increasingly
evident, despite the emotional abuse heaped upon such studies
by fellow scientists as well as the lay public. Studies of identical
twins raised in contrasting environments have been among the
ways that this conclusion has been reached; and Professor Richard
Herrnstein has recently estimated that 80 percent of the variability
in human intelligence is genetic in origin. Herrnstein concludes
that any political attempts to provide environmental equality
for all citizens will only intensify the degree of socioeconomic
differences caused by genetic variability.14

The egalitarian
revolt against biological reality, as significant as it is,
is only a subset of a deeper revolt: against the ontological
structure of reality itself, against the “very organization
of nature”; against the universe as such. At the heart of the
egalitarian left is the pathological belief that there is no
structure of reality; that all the world is a tabula rasa
that can be changed at any moment in any desired direction by
the mere exercise of human will – in short, that reality
can be instantly transformed by the mere wish or whim of human
beings. Surely this sort of infantile thinking is at the heart
of Herbert Marcuse’s passionate call for the comprehensive negation
of the existing structure of reality and for its transformation
into what he divines to be its true potential.

Nowhere is
the Left Wing attack on ontological reality more apparent than
in the Utopian dreams of what the future socialist society will
look like. In the socialist future of Charles Fourier, according
to Ludwig von Mises:

all harmful
beasts will have disappeared, and in their places will be
animals which will assist man in his labors – or even
do his work for him. An antibeaver will see to the fishing;
an antiwhale will move sailing ships in a calm; an antihippopotamus
will tow the river boats. Instead of the lion there will be
an antilion, a steed of wonderful swiftness, upon whose back
the rider will sit as comfortably as in a well-sprung carriage.
“It will be a pleasure to live in a world with such servants.”15

Furthermore,
according to Fourier, the very oceans would contain lemonade
rather than salt water.16

Similarly
absurd fantasies are at the root of the Marxian utopia of communism.
Freed from the supposed confines of specialization and the division
of labor (the heart of any production above the most primitive
level and hence of any civilized society), each person in the
communist utopia would fully develop all of his powers in every
direction.17 As Engels wrote in his Anti-Dhring, communism would give
“each individual the opportunity to develop and exercise all
his faculties, physical and mental, in all directions.”18 And Lenin looked forward in 1920 to the “abolition
of the division of labor among people…the education, schooling,
and training of people with an all-around development
and an all-around training, people able to do everything.
Communism is marching and must march toward this goal, and will
reach it.”19

In his
trenchant critique of the communist vision, Alexander Gray charges:

That
each individual should have the opportunity of developing
all his faculties, physical and mental, in all directions,
is a dream which will cheer the vision only of the simple-minded,
oblivious of the restrictions imposed by the narrow limits
of human life. For life is a series of acts of choice, and
each choice is at the same time a renunciation.

Even the
inhabitant of Engels’s future fairyland will have to decide
sooner or later whether he wishes to be Archbishop of Canterbury
or First Sea Lord, whether he should seek to excel as a violinist
or as a pugilist, whether he should elect to know all about
Chinese literature or about the hidden pages in the life of
a mackerel.20

Of course
one way to try to resolve this dilemma is to fantasize that
the New Communist Man of the future will be a superman, superhuman
in his abilities to transcend nature. William Godwin thought
that, once private property was abolished, man would become
immortal. The Marxist theoretician Karl Kautsky asserted that
in the future communist society, “a new type of man will arise…a
superman…an exalted man.” And Leon Trotsky prophesied that
under communism:

man will
become incomparably stronger, wiser, finer. His body more
harmonious, his movements more rhythmical, his voice more
musical…. The human average will rise to the level of an
Aristotle, a Goethe, a Marx. Above these other heights new
peaks will arise.21

We began
by considering the common view that the egalitarians, despite
a modicum of impracticality, have ethics and moral idealism on
their side. We end with the conclusion that egalitarians, however
intelligent as individuals, deny the very basis of human intelligence
and of human reason: the identification of the ontological structure
of reality, of the laws of human nature, and the universe. In
so doing, the egalitarians are acting as terribly spoiled children,
denying the structure of reality on behalf of the rapid materialization
of their own absurd fantasies. Not only spoiled but also highly
dangerous; for the power of ideas is such that the egalitarians
have a fair chance of destroying the very universe that they wish
to deny and transcend, and to bring that universe crashing around
all of our ears. Since their methodology and their goals deny
the very structure of humanity and of the universe, the egalitarians
are profoundly antihuman; and, therefore, their ideology and their
activities may be set down as profoundly evil as well. Egalitarians
do not have ethics on their side unless one can maintain
that the destruction of civilization, and even of the human race
itself, may be crowned with the laurel wreath of a high and laudable
morality.

References

1

John Maynard Keynes, The
General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money

(New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1936), p. 383.

2

Henry C. Simons, Personal
Income Taxation
(1938), pp. 18-19, quoted in Walter
J. Blum and Harry Kalven, Jr., The
Uneasy Case for Progressive Taxation
(Chicago: University
of Chicago Press, 1953), p. 72.

3

John F. Due, Government
Finance
(Homewood, Ill.: Richard D. Irwin, 1954),
pp. 128-29.

4

Thus: A third line of objection to progression, and
undoubtedly the one which has received the most attention,
is that it lessens the economic productivity of the society.
Virtually everyone who has advocated progression in an income
tax has recognized this as a counterbalancing consideration.
(Blum and Kalven, The Uneasy Case for Progressive Taxation,
p. 21) The “ideal” vs. the “practical” once again!

5

Helmut Schoeck, Envy
(New York: Harcourt, Brace, and World, 1970), pp. 149-55.

6

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., “Harrison Bergeron,” in Welcome
to the Monkey House
(New York: Dell, 1970), p. 7.

7

Egalitarians have, among their other activities, been
busily at work “correcting” the English language. The use
of the word “girl,” for example, is now held to grievously
demean and degrade female youth and to imply their natural
subservience to adults. As a result, Left egalitarians now
refer to girls of virtually any age as “women,” and we may
confidently look forward to reading about the activities
of “a five-year-old woman.”

8

Irving Howe, “The Middle-Class Mind of Kate Millett,”
Harper’s (December, 1970): 125–26.

9

Ibid., p. 126.

10 Arnold W. Green, Sociology (6th ed., New York: McGraw-Hill,
1972), p. 305. Green cites the study by A.I. Rabin, “The
Sexes: Ideology and Reality in the Israeli Kibbutz,” in
G.H. Seward and R.G. Williamson, eds., Sex
Roles in Changing Society
(New York: Random House,
1970), pp. 285–307.

11 Howe, “The Middle-Class Mind of Kate Millett,” p.
124.

12 Joan Didion, “The Women’s Movement,” New York Times
Review of Books (July 30, 1972), p. 1

13 Roger J. Williams, Free
and Unequal
(Austin: University of Texas Press, 1953),
pp. 17, 23. See also by Williams Biochemical
Individuality
(New York: John Wiley, 1963) and You
are Extraordinary
(New York: Random House, 1967).

14 Richard Herrnstein, “IQ,” Atlantic Monthly
(September, 1971).

15 Ludwig von Mises, Socialism:
An Economic and Sociological Analysis
(New Haven,
Conn.: Yale University Press, 1951), pp. 163–64.

16 Ludwig von Mises, Human
Action
(New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press,
1949), p. 71. Mises cites the first and fourth volumes of
Fourier’s Oeuvres Compltes.

17 For more on the communist utopia and the division
of labor, see Murray N. Rothbard, Freedom,
Inequality, Primitivism, and the Division of Labor

(chap. 16, present volume).

18 Quoted in Alexander Gray, The
Socialist Tradition
(London: Longmans, Green, 1947),
p. 328.

19 Italics are Lenin’s. V.I. Lenin, Left-Wing
Communism: An Infantile Disorder
(New York: International
Publishers, 1940), p. 34.

20 Gray, The Socialist Tradition, p. 328.

21 Quoted in Mises, Socialism: An Economic and Sociological
Analysis, p. 164.

Murray
N. Rothbard
(1926–1995) was dean of the Austrian School,
founder of modern libertarianism, and chief academic officer of
the Mises Institute. He was
also editor — with Lew Rockwell — of The
Rothbard-Rockwell Report
, and appointed Lew as his literary
executor. See
his books.

The
Best of Murray Rothbard

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