Equality of Outcome: Is It Right?

By | September 2, 2022

[September 2, 2022]  Jordan Peterson took time with Joe Rogan to discuss ideas behind the concept of equality of outcome (see link here for the video).  In today’s article, I summarized some of his main points and, I hope, left in his theme that equality of outcome is technically unachievable and immorally wrong.

“How much tyranny do you have to impose to achieve equality of outcome?” – Jordan Peterson

Thomas Sowell has talked about this.  He said that the people agitating for equality of outcome don’t understand that you have to cede so much power to the authorities, the government, to ensure equality of outcome that tyranny is inevitable.  Dr. Peterson believes this is correct.

First, there is the technical problem of attempting to achieve equality of outcome.  What measure of outcome?  There are many forms of outcome.  What about happiness, how much pain you are in, how healthy you are, how much money you have, and the opportunity to move forward?  You can expand the number of dimensions of evaluation between people indefinitely because there are many ways to classify people.

Are you going to get equality of outcome on all of those measures?  Is everyone going to have to be equally happy in their relationships?  If not, why not?  Why stop with the current two or three?  There is no place to stop, and that’s a huge technical problem because there is no place to stop.  Nobody can have anything else, nobody.  Nothing but a tyrannical system could impose that.

Why does this idea of equality of outcome attract so many people?  Dr. Peterson believes the answer goes back to the inequality issue, and it also has to be seriously addressed.

Dr. Peterson proposes a question.  He asks why the left wing is necessary, and the subset of that is why the left wing is attractive.  The left-wing is necessary because inequality can spiral out of control, and there has to be a political voice for the disposed.  You don’t want people to stack up at zero, where they can’t play the game at all.  That’s bad.  They’re stuck at zero and can’t get out of it.

At least in principle, people stuck at zero have something to contribute to the world or their children.  For that reason, you want to open opportunities to them so that they can succeed and everyone else can benefit from their success.

And then, the problem exists that inequality can get out of hand, and the whole society starts destabilizing.  Too many people who have nothing to lose may just “flip the playboard over,” and maybe they believe they will land in a better position.  This is what foments revolutions.  Each person must believe they have opportunities to advance.

This idea of equality of outcome is also attractive because young people, in particular, are at the bottom of the heap.  The obvious reaction is that we want to make things “fair.”  Such thinking is driven by genuine compassion because nobody likes the consequences of radical inequality.  Unfortunately, compassion is contaminated by resentment, hate, and ideological certainty.

Dr. Peterson believes that the typical socialist ideologue who believes this actually does hate the successful members of society.  He compares this idea to the Soviet Union, which was tried and tens of millions of people was starved to death, killed outright, enslaved, and then died.  And the Chinese Maoists were worse.  Classic identity politics.

Peterson says it is best not to play the identity game at all.  Better to play the individual.  Best to get your act together.  Stand up and make something of yourself.  Stay away from the oversimplifications of ideology.  Set your house in order.  Stay away from resentment, bitterness, and hatred even though life is hard and there is real evil in the world.  Everyone can tell the tale where everyone is a victim because we all die, get sick, and terrible things happen to us (like betrayal, deceit, lies, and people hurting us on purpose).

The problem with telling the tale of victimhood is that you make all of that worse, and that’s the problem.

There’s the idea in Christianity that you should pick up your cross and walk it up the hill.  That’s the correct way of thinking and acting.  The right answer is that you’ve got a heavy load of suffering to bear, and a fair of it will be unjust.  What are you going to do about it?  Accept it voluntarily and try to transform yourself as a consequence.  That’s the right answer.


Please read my new book, “Our Longest Year in Iraq,” on Amazon (link here).

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I provide one article every day. My writings are influenced by great thinkers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Jung, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Jean Piaget, Erich Neumann, and Jordan Peterson, whose insight and brilliance have gotten millions worldwide to think about improving ourselves. Thank you for reading my blog.

25 thoughts on “Equality of Outcome: Is It Right?

  1. JT Patterson

    This idea of equality of outcome – sometimes called “equity” – is insidious because it is based on a number of faulty assumptions. First, to attain it, is impossible. Second, it means giving power to an autocrat or body of autocrats and a very very bad idea. Third, it requires us all to submit to a flawed system that was tried in the 20th century and left tens of millions dead. I reject any attempt of equity as totalitarian and runs against the American dream.

    1. Boy Sue

      well said, JT. And those who think otherwise need to be doing a bit more reading about history in the twentieth century. ✔

  2. Veronica Stillman

    ” Unfortunately, compassion is contaminated by resentment, hate, and ideological certainty.” Sad.

  3. Desert Cactus

    Lots of great articles lately on this leadership blog. I put it in for leadership blog of the year. Let’s see how they grade the system and show that Gen. Satterfield’s site is superb.

    1. Dale Paul Fox

      Children figure it out pretty damn quick. Adults tho have regressed and think the world must be fair or else.

  4. Erleldech

    ” Better to play the individual. Best to get your act together. Stand up and make something of yourself. Stay away from the oversimplifications of ideology. Set your house in order. Stay away from resentment, bitterness, and hatred even though life is hard and there is real evil in the world. Everyone can tell the tale where everyone is a victim because we all die, get sick, and terrible things happen to us (like betrayal, deceit, lies, and people hurting us on purpose).” Excellent thinking!!!!!!

    1. Maureen S. Sullivan

      Yes, the best part of great advice. And yet so many of our young folks are encouraged and rewarded by playing the victim. That is not the way to a satisfactory life. No matter how much victimhood you absorb and tell those tales, you will NEVER be satisfied with your life.

      1. Army Captain

        Yes, this is the main point and yet very few of us understand it. 👍👍👍👍👍

          1. Harry Donner

            If you want to put yourself together properly, you will find what you need where you least want to look.

    2. Rev. Michael Cain

      Erledech, correct. Why? Because we are human, so make yourselves work hard, carry a load, and adopt responsibility. That is the only path to greatness.

      1. Dead Pool Guy

        People will not believe it. Victimhood is easy. Playing the game of it is just too easy and you are rewarded for it. But not enough reward to make you happy.

      2. The Kid 1945

        Good comments here and this is why I read the leadership forum provided by gen. Satterfield. Keep up the great thinking folks, and put your ideas down here for people like me to read.

  5. Silly Man

    I’m a huge fan of both Dr. Peterson and Gen. Satterfield. They have similar ways of thinking despite their careers moving in diametrically opposed directions.

  6. Darryl Satterly

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, Gen. Satterfield for this summary of Dr. Jordan Peterson’s thinking on “equality of outcome.” Very well put.

    1. Mr. T.J. Asper

      Yep, just another reason to come to this leadership website. Oh, please purchase Gen. Satterfield’s book “Our Longest Year in Iraq.” No, I don’t get a share. I just loved the book.

      1. catorenasci

        That’s because the book by Gen. Satterfield is something that we should all be reading and not biased by the news media that is anti-American.

      2. Dog Man

        I agree Mr. Asper. It is a great book to have on your desk and open anywhere to read a story.

      3. DocJeff

        I’m a regular here and I must say I am greatly appreciative of Gen. S. and all those in this forum for helping me think better.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.