My favorite superstitions (surprisingly, not about the pope)

Equality as a political philosophy for the so-called “liberal left.” On one level it seems of absurd because equality is obviously impossible in practice, but that’s true of most political ideas, and we can admit it provisionally as a regulative if not a normative ideal. But, on the other hand, I think I can condense my thought as to why equality is fundamentally bad and wrong-headed as a political ideal by making one simple point. The reason I make fun of utilitarians is because they treat an assumption or pre-condition of any social or political theory, that the greatest aggregate benefit for the members of the society should be sought, as itself a socio-political theory distinct from all the others. However, equality cannot be countenanced as the base for a socio-political philosophy precisely because it does not presuppose this need. In other words, a society where everyone has nothing is just as equal as one in which they have everything. The actual good of the members of society does not intrinsically enter the equation. The idea of equality is equally noxious on a moral and even on a selfish level because of the privileged place it gives to envy, but that is not the question here so I can leave the explanation of that aside for now.

p.s. One could even argue epistemologically a la Berkeley about whether the notion of “equality” can even credibly be held to exist between any two things, but I’ll save that discussion for the real die-hard partisans of equality.

p.p.s. It must be admitted that the notion of equality enshrined in American political philosophy from the Declaration of Independence (all men are born equal) is likewise faulty, posited as it is on John Locke’s largely discredited tabula rasa view of the nascent human mind (soul).

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