Friday, March 21, 2014

The Tyranny of Equality

It's probably an American thing, but I have a gut reaction against servility. It gives me the creeps. I hate it when cashiers in stores simper at me, and do the "sir" thing. I hate it when waitresses act like servants, and I can't stand waiters unless they're surly, like French waiters. It's creepy to have some guy with an ear stud tell me about the patty melt. I like to go to redneck places to eat, where the waitresses act like they're your sisters or daughters, and write down your orders and bring you food because that's their job, not because there's some kind of social division and you rate bowing and scraping. I like to shop at places like Walmart, where the cashiers act like you're their social equal, and not some kind of special person that rates pampering.

That said, I have no problem at all with people serving one another. In a free market, people have to serve one another somehow, in order to make a living, and people who do the serving rate respect for their work. But somehow, the last couple of generations, kids have got the idea that some kinds of work are beneath them. I grew up before we were taught to feel that way, and I had some jobs that a lot of people now think of as demeaning. It simply didn't occur to me to look at it that way, and if I wanted money, I was glad to run a cash register or sweep floors or whatever to get it. Naturally, I wanted jobs that paid more than that, and I eventually got such jobs, but it wasn't because I was too good for the first jobs. I wasn't too good for them, and nobody is. I was young and without skills, so it made sense. That's how I got the skills.

But I don't want this to be a lesson in free-market economics, but an acknowledgement that some people are good for some jobs and not for others. And many, maybe most, people simply will never qualify for those really good jobs that pay really well, and that's fine. The work they do is every bit as noble and praiseworthy as the work of teachers, doctors, lawyers, mathematicians and scientists. Work is a noble thing in itself, and Americans, probably thanks to that old Protestant work ethic, have been aware of that for most of history.

But now people want a guaranteed income and prestigious "positions," as opposed to work. Partly this is human cussedness, but it's also because of the curse of ideological egalitarianism.  People aren't equal at all, you know. We only pretend they are.  This, from Henry Dampier.  The original is HERE.
Thanks to Keir Martland for sending the link.

How Hierarchy is Kinder to the Poor

Than Equality

The poor have no place in an egalitarian society. To the intellectual, each poor person is a problem. The poverty of a neighborhood is something to be solved through the grand plan of men like him. Intellectuals see poverty as a mere lack of material goods, combined with ignorance due to lack of education and unfair bigotry directed towards them.

In America, LBJ even declared a ‘war on poverty,’ which we fight each time we receive a paycheck or pay one to an employee. The notion is that with the right combination of transfer payments and bureaucracies, what makes the poor poor can be eliminated, and everyone can exist on more equal social and economic terms with one another.

Egalitarianism turns poverty into something like a chronic medical condition that requires a treatment or a cure. This denies the poor the self-respect that might otherwise be accorded to them were society allowed to recognize their true position in life relative to others. Further, by treating poverty like a disease, superior people lose their sense of obligation to provide personal leadership and guidance to the impoverished members of society.

Because inequality is an inescapable factor of nature, one method that the West has used to maintain its egalitarian principles while still hiring gardeners, shoeblacks, and nannies is to import people from foreign lands to serve. These workers, not formally Americans (or British, German, Swedish), can be treated as lower status without risking much social opprobrium. After all, since they just arrived in the country, most are uneducated, which means uninitiated into the egalitarian collective, so there’s a ready-made, socially approved reason to hire them for servile positions.

Meanwhile, many people within these egalitarian societies who are mostly fit for work as maids, cooks, drivers, privates, butlers, shoeblacks, seamstresses, nannies, nursemaids, maids, and handymen instead go to university, where they spend four years learning to be leftists, and then graduate indebted, but with too many airs to work in the servile positions to which they’re fit.

As has happened over time, when the egalitarians spend more time around their imported servants, they come to empathize with them, demand equality and citizenship for them, and thereby reduce the coherence of the civilization, as incompatible cultural strains multiply, and the need for a synthetic national culture becomes more acute to treat the issue.

Many of the jobs that the unintelligent are fit for are so marginal as to be illegal due to wage restrictions. This doubly pushes the ‘enlightened native’ population into idleness and discontent. A generation of former students, who expected to become bureaucrats, instead turns rotten.

Sedition multiplies, the state becomes unsustainable, and civil disorder becomes inevitable. This is the current situation in Europe, South America, the United States, and even parts of the Middle East and Africa. Modernity has written more checks than it can cash.

In contrast, hierarchical societies hold that there’s no shame in service: that it can be a source of pride, of character, and social acceptance. A custodian may not own much more than a cottage, or a room in his lord’s house, but at least he belongs to someone in a place that respects him for who he is and doesn’t attempt to push him to become something he’s not capable of being. Civilization needs strong hands and obedient minds to continue itself, to be whole, beautiful, and true to its people.

Further, a common religion shared between the high and the low (while still recognizing their essential differences even in spirit — spiritual equality is a heresy) keeps all portions of the hierarchy within appropriate limits.

The converse of the low person uncomfortable with his status is the high person who feels a duty to equalize society, per the intellectual fashion of the era. The American caste that Moldbug calls the Brahmins does this for a living: agitating for equality, and earning a cut of the enormous transfer payments that shuffle from person and institution to person.

The notion that the better classes have obligations to the poor, and that the poor have obligations to their superiors, combined by legal rights appropriate to each, is a self-stabilizing system. Since many of the factors that separate rich from poor are determined by nature and fortune, it’s a sanity check for everyone involved to relate to one another appropriately as befits our real capabilities and duties to one another. Even aristocrats revert to the mean, and all great houses crumble to nothing over time, which humbles all of us.

Extending these rights and duties beyond what a sovereign can provide — the tendency of universalism — is another topic, but I won’t get into it here. Suffice to say for now that law isn’t free, each legal right has a cost, and since we want to preserve civilization, we ought to use all the mechanisms that worked in the past to reduce the costs of law enforcement as much as possible.

Demotism, in contrast, divorces rights from obligations as much as possible. Both rights and obligations multiply without relation to one another, haphazardly, buffeted by the whims of conspiracies and mobs alike.

The poor will always be with us, so it’s our duty to provide them with dignified, stable, respectable roles of service within civilization. None of this particularly changes with high technology at the current time, and my views wouldn’t change even with a sudden increase in technological development. I share Aristotle’s view that advanced machines obviate the need for slaves in many contexts in which they were needed previously, but there are still countless unskilled and semiskilled jobs that go unmade due to vile egalitarianism and the laws motivated by that ideology. From my experience, the people who use the ‘technological unemployment’ excuse tend to be both cowards and egalitarians.

For more on this topic, please take the time to read Liberty or Equality by Erik von Kuehnelt-eddihn.
Quuibcag: The girls dressed up like maids are from the bizarre anime,  Hayate the Combat Butler (ハヤテのごとく! Hayate no Gotoku!)

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