"My Beef with Equality"
Updated: Nov 28, 2019
I am not inherently against equality, but I'm not for it either. THIS IS NOT A PRO-DISCRIMINATION ARGUMENT BASED ON ARBITRARY CIRCUMSTANCES OF ONE'S BIRTH.
I'll state my bias right off the bat: I'm a proponent of individual freedom, autonomy, and consent.
Three years ago I would have considered myself a feminist or at the very least an egalitarian. My thought process behind this was simple: "people should not be arbitrarily discriminated against because of things they can't help. People should not be treated unfairly." And hurrah, here we are today and I still agree with that sentiment.
What changed? I saw a video by Taleed Brown, (excellent content creator, highly recommend), and it made me question holding equality as a core principle. Keep in mind, I entered this with the bias that I WAS for equality and equality was inherently good. However, after much thought on the matter, I decided to forego my principle of equality and replace it just with freedom, within the confines of autonomy and consent.
In the video, there are five core arguments I found against equality, and I'd like to outline those here and state why I agree with them.
Equality Means Nothing More Than Synonymy
Differences are different. Crazy how I came up with that, I know. People are not synonymous with one another. Individuals have different inherent and learned merits. This is not to say that one group is always objectively better. I find that illogical. As a society, we have integrated equality into being one of our core values, so when we notice people's different skill sets, we still say they are equal. This doesn't make sense. Different is okay.
Doctors and artists have different merits. They are not equal careers, they are not comparable. Equating them for me would mean measuring them by the same systems, which then gets caught on semantics. They are not equal, they are both valuable.
Equality as a concept can't be left on its own without further context. The equal punishment of both sexes for being gay should satisfy cries for equality, it is equal treatment. Things of this nature should not be argued against on the basis of equality.
I would still find issues with this treatment of individuals because it violates their freedom, consent, and autonomy.
Because of the ambiguous nature of the concept of equality, it is open to moral manipulation. It can mean anything, and therefore it cannot stand alone.
Opportunity is Not Impartiality
"Equality of opportunity not equality of outcome" 16-year-old me cried. People should not be rejected from things like employment because of their gender, race, or orientation. From there it's all fair game.
This is equality of opportunity, right? Wrong, 16-year-old me. This is impartiality of opportunity, freedom of opportunity. Impartiality simply means individuals should not be discriminated against due to irrelevant circumstances of their birth. Impartiality uses objective criteria.
"Equality of opportunity is just as meaningless." No one is born equal, there is no physical equality, why force it? Embrace differences.
Taking a turn from embracing irrelevant differences, the example in the video used was "pedophiles do not have the equal opportunity to work in elementary schools". The pedophile is treated the same as all other applicants; equally. Though this may be due to the circumstances of their birth, this is NOT irrelevant to the objective criteria of whether or not to hire them. It is just for them NOT to be hired.
Historically, Equality Hasn't Meant Equality
Historically, equality has meant freedom from oppression and subjugation, not equality to it.
The example used: Women's right to vote and the Civil Rights Movement.
Women didn't want the right to vote to be equal to men. They wanted the right because they didn't want to be subjugated under the law. If equality in and of itself was the goal, they would have been just as happy with men also being subjugated under the law. Both end in equality.
The Civil Rights Movement wanted to end systematic racism and oppression, not equalize it. The problem with the treatment of black Americans was that the treatment was unjust, not unequal. "Equality does not ensure freedom from oppression, the only thing that would ensure that is freedom from oppression"
Social Freedom > Social Equality
Socialists may push for social equality, fascist may push for identitarian equality. This is under the assumption that equality has previously and always will produce optimal results. Staying true to its definition, that is hardly the case.
Like the old Russian Joke: peasant Ivan is jealous of his neighbor Boris, as Boris has a goat. A fairy comes and says it will grant Ivan one wish. Ivan wishes Boris' goat would die.
All for equality, equality for all.
Example used: People who hold equality as a core principle above all else should be happy if the people here in this picture are either voluntarily holding hands, or are all slaves being forced together. Both ways, equality has been achieved.
Equality is not philosophically good or bad. It lacks context, and therefore, I do not hold it as a core principle. A noble cause, an empty ideology.