The Power of Equality

June 27, 2012

Small things can tell us as much as big things. I recently bought a book of first-class postage stamps with an American flag design. Glancing at them something leapt out at me: the word “Equality.” The series actually has four different words: “Freedom,” “Liberty,” Equality,” and “Justice.” Cleverly, the words are juxtaposed with the word “forever” which indicates that the stamps will be valid for first-class postage “forever,” no matter what the rate becomes.

This insurance agent and blogger writes about being unexpectedly moved by the simple, patriotic message of the stamps. I couldn’t quite feel that way, though: the word “Equality” stuck in my craw.

“Equality,” in this day and age, generally expresses the liberal-left notions of “social justice” and equality of results. (The word “Justice” on the stamps is similarly problematic.) It conjures up a Civil Rights Era image of blacks struggling for “equal rights,” but in actuality is used to justify coercive governmental measures for empowering nonwhite groups and collectively liberalizing society. For instance, a commentator I heard on NPR defending the Obamacare birth control mandate justified it in terms of the “equality” it provided, which to her trumped objections based on religious freedom.

Though the Declaration of Independence’s assertion that “all men are created equal” does give the word resonance for Americans, Jefferson’s “equality” was minimalist, indicating a certain basic common nature possessed by all humans that justified certain forms of equality under the law. Balint Vazsonyi, in America’s Thirty Years War (Regnery, 1998), correctly saw the more radical interpretation of “equality” – as in the “Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity” of the French Revolution –  as an un-American notion:

Note that I translate the French slogan ‘Égalité’ as ‘Egality,’ and not as ‘Equality.’ Webster’s Dictionary tells us that egality is ‘an extreme social and political leveling.’ Our word ‘egalitarian’ confirms that definition. The process of leveling is worlds apart from equality in the affairs of man, which was the aspiration of the Round Table….

Egality is the elimination of differences. Since people are different, only force can cover up the differences, and then only temporarily. Once force is no longer applied, the differences reappear…. (p. 37)

I note that Vazsonyi specifically referred to the black-white achievement gap in his discussion:

America’s balance sheet is exceptionally rich and positive, partly as a result of its demographic composition. Different countries harbor variable proportions of people with aspirations – from near-zero to very high. But all who undertook the journey to America from the four corners of the world had aspirations of some kind, making America’s “aspiration density” the highest in the world. It would be higher still, had all newcomers undertaken the journey of their own free will. But that was not the case. And that, more than any other single factor, created a rift that time alone will heal. (p. 38-9).

I am sorry to say that “equality” is the official driving ideal in the United States today; we traditionalist Westerners who do not accept it are the dissidents. The notion of equality drives the Obama administration’s open contempt for regular Americans, and the law, in its efforts to suppress Arizona’s efforts to deal with her illegal alien problem; and it drives the homosexualization of our society, now proceeding at an astonishing pace with almost no thoughtful opposition. But the more equality is achieved, the worse any remaining inequality is said to be, a sentiment expressed in a song I enjoyed in my college days (I won’t link it since I don’t endorse the repulsive messages of the band):

The power of equality
Is not yet what it ought to be
It fills me up like a hollow tree
The power of equality

(The performers of the song seemed to think that the U.S. was in danger of being taken over by the Ku Klux Klan, and that their hedonistic – and admittedly at times pretty good – music was the antidote….)

But why, why is the idea so powerful? It is obviously nonsense to believe that all people have equal abilities and equal aspirations. Even if “equality of results” were desirable, it’s clear that the growing “diversity” of our society is leading to growing inequality and stratification at every level. Yet the movement demanding equality barrels ahead, and few dare challenge it.

Update: I notice that the blogger I linked to, who sells health and life insurance, is in favor of the contraceptive mandate. Since it’s possible he’ll read my post, I’ll just mention that my objection to the mandate has to do with the morality of collectively-provided birth control presented as a “health” issue. I realize that supporters of the mandate argue in a technical way that a purchaser of insurance, individual or corporate, isn’t directly “paying” for contraception and of course is not required to use contraception himself or herself. I think this is a morally obtuse view, but don’t have time to compose a detailed objection. Maybe another time.

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Sleepers, Awake!

June 19, 2012

Sometimes I daydream about becoming a proper “conservative pundit.” I could fill in the gaps in my knowledge about politics, economics, and law so that I could properly debate liberals on all manner of subjects, producing unanswerable rebuttals to their false claims. With the help of an editor, I could produce a polished-up column each week on a timely topic and get it published at some conservative venue. Eventually I might be able to produce something worthy of the National Review or some other prestigious journal. It could be the beginning of a new career.

Then I remember how far gone the conservative establishment is. One doesn’t need to search hard for demonstrations of this. As far as conservative punditry goes, National Review’s “firing” of John Derbyshire for writing some realistic advice on how to stay safe from black violence tells you all you need to know. And the Grand Old Party of the Republic, though continuing to provide affiliation for a fair number of honorable, patriotic officeholders, is no more capable than any other institution today of standing against the suicidal liberal movements now sweeping over our society. They are embracing Hispanicization, same-sex “marriage,” the works – just a little more slowly than the liberals. Consider this Wall Street Journal article describing how they are preparing to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory if the Supreme Court finds Obamacare unconstitutional. (And what if it is found constitutional?)

But to blame the “establishment conservatives” is to miss the larger point that our entire society has become incapable of free discourse on the very subjects of which an understanding is needed for our survival. We are no longer “a free country.” The greatest taboo is against the discussion of group racial differences in intelligence and other abilities; gender, sexuality, and religion are similarly off-limits. I see this clearly on a daily basis in my private life (family and work) as well as in the public discourse. Stifled by the restrictions on speech and thought, people become ready to accept all sorts of outrageous ideas.

It is the sheer sticky entrenched-ness of “political correctness” that makes me doubt that our nation will wake up, collectively, in time to save itself. Most Americans are rather politically unserious, but challenges to the established order are suppressed viciously. (This may help explain the preference for unseriousness.) Individuals and one-issue organizations (Numbers USA, the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy) fight bravely on – and of course we should support them! – but the forces of destruction barrel ahead. Consider Obama’s “administrative amnesty,” or the military’s creation of a “Gay Rights Month.” Where is the outrage? Where is the backlash? There is a bit of public grumbling, that’s all.

For me, the bottom line is that an effective “conservative” or traditionalist movement will have to embrace traditional morality and race realism (and a variety of other realisms). This is the issue I continue to revisit and explore on this blog. Despite the dark tenor of some of the discussions here, I have no doubt that ultimately the various Western peoples will survive and thrive again. There will be an American Renaissance, though we can’t yet know what form it will take. I’ve probably said this before, but the one point I think we can be safely optimistic about is that number of people being won over to a traditionalist, realist position is actually increasing rapidly. Right now the absolute numbers are too small to make a visible impact on larger events, but this will change.

***

Just for fun….

The theme of dreaming reminded me of an old song. I was actually fond of a few hip-hop groups back in high school, including this group. It was before the whole genre went “gangster.” (Please skip if it’s not your cup of tea.) They weren’t Mozart, but they were clever and positive. The liberal Utopia they imagined hasn’t come to be, but we have reached the point where the President of the United States is likely to be found “chillin’ ” at a hip-hop show. That’s not actually such a great thing.


Irish-American Railroad Songs

June 12, 2012

When I was a kid we had an album called Songs of the Railroad. It’s available as an MP3 download on Amazon. It is amazing that record companies used to churn out product after product like this, and presumably make a profit with them. Who the heck were the Merrill Jay Singers? But they did a fine job. Pick a popular song or a folk song from before 1965, and go on YouTube – you will almost always find multiple versions.

Songs like this mean a lot to me, and I want to pass down as many of them as I can to my child.

Here are a couple of the songs from that album, done by other artists.

The Tarrier Song

And when next payday came around
Jim Goff a dollar short was found
When he asked, “What for?” came this reply
“You were docked for the time you were up in the sky.”

Paddy on the Railway

The version I was familiar with had the lyrics:

In eighteen hundred and forty three, ’twas then I met sweet Biddy McGee
An elegant wife she’s been to me, while workin’ on the railway.
……
In eighteen hundred and forty seven, sweet Biddy McGee she went to heaven
She left one child, she left eleven to work upon the railway.

I notice sometimes on YouTube that a commenter on a song I was looking for will say something like “I’m only 15 and I love this music!” The commenter then says that kids his own age all listen to Justin Bieber, whom he despises. I see this exact comment often enough that I wonder if it’s fake, but I hope there are actually 15-year-olds discovering the older music. Surely they are starved for something better than what they’re being served?

Laying rails across America. What was it all for?