Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The End of Egalitarianism

On his blog, Matthew Yglesias discusses a new report that shows the percentage of women who earn more or have more education than their husbands has increased since 1970. While he applauds these results, he worries that their source is no so much the advancement of women as men losing ground:
The less happy part of this story, however, is the dramatic slowdown in wages for working class men paired with the fact that American public schools are getting very poor results from low-income boys. Equality is good, but leveling down is not. [E.A]
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but "leveling down" is the inescapable endpoint of all schemes designed to produce equality of results. We are unfortunate that such schemes are the centerpiece of most modern democracies.

Alexis de Tocqueville saw this consequence clearly, even in the 19th century. In his book The Conservative Mind, Russell Kirk notes what Tocqueville saw as the, "probable consummation of modern egalitarianism"
What menaces democratic society in this age is not a simple collapse of order, nor yet usurpation by a single powerful individual, but a tyranny of mediocrity, a standardization of mind and spirit and condition enforced by the central government...
So even 150 years ago it was clear where attempts to enforce egalitarianism were headed. That insight is available still to any who care to listen. Today, however, this message is anathema to our equality obsessed society. If we continue on our present course, it is only a matter of time before we are all truly equal, and equally worse off.

1 comment:

Your Lovely Wife said...

Great post! Long live the "people's cube"... NOT!!