[October 7, 2022] Consider for a moment that we could restructure our society and consciously eliminate inequality through various policies. Assuming this is a worthy goal, which we could argue, the one thing that would be of value is to look at various countries today and separate them based on inequality measures. We can do this without much effort. So then, what is the result?
Is there a difference between countries with policies designed to remove inequality and those without such policies? We would hope that a consequence of activities from inequality-targeted policies would drive down inequality measures. And this is a reasonable way to test the validity of official policies that could theoretically reduce inequality. But there is zero evidence to support that proposition.
Many, especially those on the political left, which advocate for these compassion-oriented policies designed to reduce inequality, are sensitive to the fact that they don’t work. Of course, the inequality problem is far more complicated than we dare to admit. They are also sensitive to the outcomes of these policies they advocate, which were adopted and tried throughout the twentieth century.
In the 20th century, the Soviet Union implemented many policies with the specific goal of eliminating inequality. Beginning in the 1930s, Stalin and other Soviet leaders announced that their utopia had arrived and that their system of governance had brought about the best for humanity. We now know that it did no such thing. Between 60 and 70 million Soviet citizens died, proving them wrong.
To admit your suffering as a Soviet citizen, if you announced that you were suffering under their system, you were instantly a political criminal. If you were still suffering, something was obviously wrong with you since it certainly could not be state Communism. You were murdered, starved, sent to the gulags, or some other torturous punishment was inflicted on you, and worse, on your family.
The problem with “inequality” is that it is technically impossible to eliminate. The Soviet Union attempted to remove only one disparity – economic disparity – but failed miserably at it. Yet inequality can be measured in many dimensions like race, gender identity, etc. The list is endless and, therefore, impossible to equalize across them. That forces those who want to end inequality to focus on those few dimensions and identify them as the crucial hallmarks of a human being.
But there are more relevant dimensions of humans like economic class, racial identity (how many races and what about ethnicity?), attractiveness, health, physical size, intelligence, temperament, and personality. This explosion of differences creates an impossible scenario to equalize. Even considering those select few, we could ask how many gender identities are there (81 at last count on Facebook) or how many races (no consensus on that either). An infinite number of equality measures can be determined.
That is why we must focus on the individual. An individual focus is the only level of analysis that allows us to consider all our differences. That is what the West discovered centuries ago. That is the basis of Christianity. The basic tenets of philosophical texts reinforce this idea and account for the great strides in science and technology, improvements in our understanding of the world, and improved living conditions worldwide.
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