Friday, October 20, 2006

Equality's Discontents

I'm still working on a lengthier, substantial post, but in the meantime, I just re-read a great story by Kurt Vonnegut and thought you might enjoy it as well:

Harrison Bergeron.

Ignore the gratuitous initial editorialization by the person who so kindly posted the story. There has always been a tension between those two virtues of the French Revolution, liberty and equality. Hopefully our current leaning toward the latter won't eventuate in the dystopic future Vonnegut imagines.


Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden said...

10 22 06

Hey LG:
Funny that, I invoked this story in a post not too long ago! Hah! It really makes me question the nature of equality and if it is an untenable and ridiculous concept.

Ultimately, I suppose we have souls worth an equal amount but certainly some are better at certain things than others...Hmmm what the hell is equality anyway? Now you got me to thinkin'

Lawrence Gage said...


The key is that we are created equal, not born equal. Though we all have different abilities in different degrees, we all have equal dignity before God (as you seem to agree).

The modern ultra-capitalist position is a return to the pagan position: that our worth is based on our abilities, which are obviously unequal. The modern egalitarian position interprets the Christian concept of equality to a superficial extreme and insists that if we are equal, we must be equal in every way, not just in dignity. Both extreme positions agree in basing a person's worth on his abilities; the egalitarian just (in the face of the evidence) insists we have no difference in ability.


Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden said...

10 31 06

Hey LG: Thanks for clarifying that. You are awfully elegant! I wish you well at the upcoming Maritain conference as well:)

Yes, in the end Edmund Burke was correct; We are all NOT equal in talents or abilities.

But dignity of the soul is something else. Yes! Ha!

Lawrence Gage said...

Thanks for your well wishes!

There's an excellent short piece on this very topic in the November issue of Touchstone:

"Thank God We’re Not Equal" by Anthony Esolen

Unfortunately the text is unavailable online.