This is a continuation of earlier efforts to address the folly and danger of Egalitarian movements--not only to our American ways of life, but to those of all civilized peoples.
Under "Egalitarianism," we include those philosophic schools and political movements, which seek to establish artificial social norms premised either upon the idea that all men have equal potential, or upon the pursuit of equality of condition and/or achievement as moral imperatives; as active goals, to be imposed by central authority. We have no problem with a blind Justice, weighing individual cases--with equal access to Courts that will fairly weigh the merits of individual litigants;--nor with the premise of the compact theory of Government, that moral authority flows from a socio/political compact of governors with their subjects, rather than from any divine right in the ruler--i.e., what Jefferson, Adams & Franklin, actually intended when they addressed the "self-evident" truth of moral equality at Creation.
That this is in essay, rather than allegorical or short story form, may be a result of personal indolence. We had considered a tale of Satanic rites in a French cave in the era of Louis XV, with Satan himself appearing in the middle of a perverted orgy to launch the cult of "Equality"--truly his most effective way to fight God & Godliness--to be followed by Jacobins, the Reign of Terror, and eventually both Marxists & Fabian Socialists; but decided that the effort might be too demanding for an aging intellect. Besides, we claim no expertise in theology. While one may suspect that one of the principal motives for embracing an Egalitarian philosophy is as an alternative to any and all Biblically based Faiths, we do not intend that for a thesis. Whether or not the origins were in human neuroses, Satanism, or any other form of sociopathy, the capacity for great mischief is very clear.
Some years back, Eric Hoffer wrote a book on The True Believer, expounding on personality types that need a cause to believe in--to believe in passionately;--and theorized that most of those caught up in such causes would, if disillusioned in one, easily turn to another; that the incentive was not so much the actual belief, but a deeper internal need within the "believer." The history of the Twentieth Century certainly offered many examples of the phenomenon. Indeed, understanding such phenomena, and how to exploit them, was always part of the 'tools of the trade' for those who managed the more successful mass movements of the era. An excellent example would be "musical chairs," as among rival German Socialists.
While the Communists and Nazis were engaged in a war in the streets of German cities, prior to Hitler's rise to power; Ernst Rohm's Nazi thugs found some of their most fruitful opportunities to recruit among Communists: One group of "True Believers" persuading another, that true believing was more satisfying in the newer movement. On the other hand, after the fall of the Nazis in 1945, the new Communist masters of East Germany had no trouble recruiting ex-Nazis to man the new Communist Secret Police. With Hitler and his better crowd manipulating skills vanquished, true believing was now more satisfying with the Communists.
True Believing, as we are using it, of course, appeals to those who have just enough intelligence to be dangerous; to those who lack the social skills to be happy in any society, simply operating as individuals; to those who need identification with a group to feel important; who need identification with a cause, to feel ennobled; to those, who the less kind among us, might otherwise refer to as "losers." But to make True Believing work, one must really believe. And for many such persons, the more intense--indeed fanatical--the belief, the greater the satisfaction.
Traditional religion has certainly had its share of neurotics; its share of "true believers," in the compulsion driven sense we have suggested. But what sustained it was never such as these. It also drew men and women of genuine Faith; genuine understanding of things beyond self, beyond any need for immediate gratification. Traditional Faith was sustained by a recognition that there is far more to the Universe than the petty affairs of any contemporary generation of humans. Yet those who lacked such understanding--or needed an ego boost which did not include a duty to honor one's father and mother (perhaps because they knew they could not measure up to what their forebears would have expected; perhaps for some other reason, not readily apparent, in no way connected with traditional Faith)--often looked elsewhere for inspiration. And in doing so, many embraced dogma with a fervor that paralleled some aspects of deeply held religious Faith. To better understand this phenomenon, consider what we will call "Cults Of Moral 'Rectitude.'"
The significance of Egalitarianism, here, is fairly obvious. If one would find a substitute for a Godly Faith, it is useful to elevate one's own importance; indeed, the importance of one's species. While we usually call this, "Humanism," the added concept that all humans are "equal"--all somehow part of a wondrous cause--has certainly appealed to many who sought a substitute for God. As evidence that Egalitarian Humanism meets such a need among adherents, one might note the level of moral rectitude that may be perceived among "true believers." That some of these have actually been clergymen, in denominations previously established among God fearing forebears, does not alter the dynamic. Put another way, there is something inherently absurd, when a Cleric embraces a Cult of 'Moral Rectitude' to demand legislation to deprive God fearing Americans of a right to even consider religious beliefs of perspective employees, in deciding whom to hire in a business located on their own private property.
An early American example of a Cult of 'Moral Rectitude,' would be the three-pronged monster that arose in New England and Upstate New York in the 1830s, when many fall away Puritans largely abandoned pursuit of Salvation in a Hereafter, in favor of building 'politically correct' societies on earth. Had such been limited to their own communities, it would have been but a harmless exercise in voluntary innovation. But such was not the intention. The new earthly paradise was to be imposed on others; and it is in this facet that they qualified, both as "True Believers" in the sense described above, as well as being involved in a Cult of 'Moral Rectitude,' based upon an embrace of Egalitarian dogma. That dogma was implicit, both in the causes embraced, as in the rationale for the promotion that followed.
Few Americans, today, are even aware that the Abolition movement sprung from the same groups that launched both the Feminist and Prohibition movements; probably yet fewer are still willing to analyze the former from a critical perspective. Yet it is only by understanding past errors, in what may no longer seem even controversial, that we gain an adequate perspective to recognize all that may be wrong in the present. And the reality is that however unfortunate the concept of human slavery from a contemporary perspective, the Abolition movement was premised upon something very wrong, that had only incidentally to do with slavery or involuntary human servitude. The basic thrust, as with its sisters, Feminism and Prohibition, involved the arrogant presumption of a right to sit in moral judgment on others, living in other communities; and a right to force that judgment upon those others. It was that presumption--and the perfectly understandable resistance to it--which set us on a path to the greatest slaughter in American history, with incalculable consequences that will be with us until the end of our days! Egalitarianism would lead to even greater slaughters in Russia and China.
In more recent times, American cults of 'Moral Rectitude' have included an ongoing Feminist movement, the "Civil Rights" movement, the pursuit of a "New World Order," the more extreme aspects of "Environmentalism"--in the sense of protecting nature--and the deliberate pursuit of "Cultural Diversity," both ethnic and "lifestyle." Yet these are only part of the mischief that results from a frenetic, even hysterical, adherence to Egalitarian dogma.
We have dealt in other essays with important elements of the absurdity and pathology of egalitarian thinking. But it would be well to consider the absolute arrogance of those who, in the name of "equality," are so eager to force other people to change their beliefs, habits and cultures. If Egalitarianism had remained purely theoretical; a parlor pursuit, of sorts, for malcontents among the idle rich, it would hardly be worth the trouble of an essay.
While arrogance may not depend upon a particular theory or commitment, there is within the Egalitarian mind-set, that which inherently leads to a form, yet more vicious than any which formerly arose among even the most over-bearing members of the one time ruling classes in Europe and Asia. A sense of entitlement to personal over-indulgence, simply cannot compete with what flows from the Moral 'Rectitude' of the ideologically driven fanatic. We would suggest that there are two significant factors involved in the Egalitarian mixture of arrogance with fanaticism.
Since there is no equality in Nature, Egalitarianism does not represent an extension of the philosophy of the Founding Fathers, evidenced in a Declaration of Independence premised on a theory of Government by social compact, based upon acceptance of a Creator and Natural Law. Without acknowledgment of a Higher Power or an Order superior to any of human contrivance, one can easily slip into an arrogance not constrained by any fear of Higher Judgment. Throw in the neurotic, hate driven, aspects of Egalitarianism, and you produce an arrogantly fanatic mindset; one that disdains all reasoned restraint on its public policy options.
The typical Egalitarian embraces a dogma that helps compensate for any sense of personal inadequacy--from whatever source derived. The dogma is thus seen both as emotional salvation and key to a sense of personal importance; the more fervid his application, the greater that personal importance. Secondly, that dogma, by its very nature, demonizes all whose conduct, cultural values or success, appear to contradict the norms the Egalitarian would apply. Thus, the programs tend, from their very inception, to be hate driven. The consequences of this hateful motivation have been a blood-letting on an almost incomprehensible scale.
As for why the American Prohibition movement would have been launched by the same people who started the Abolition and Feminist movements? Once one embraces a Cult of 'Moral Rectitude,' premised upon the idea of a right to change other men's cultures, or alter their stations--with or without their consent--there is very little real respect that remains for personal freedom. Prohibition, whether of the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages, of habits or preferences in personal association, or on how you raise your children, or acknowledge God in your neighborhood, community or school, are all very easily embraced extensions of the right to mind other peoples' lives and businesses: And to do so with an arrogant and unmerciful vengeance!
The combination of a "True Believer," embracing a cracked-pot Cult of Moral 'Rectitude' with neurotic fervor, as compensation for his own perceived inadequacies, will always tend towards the sociopathic, if only because it is premised upon concepts not derived from reason. But directed by Egalitarian dogma, the capacity for serious mischief expands exponentially. As noted, there is no equality in Nature. Thus the Egalitarian's life is one frustration after another. This does not dissuade him from his fanaticism, it merely tends to infuriate; to stir that self-righteous moral 'rectitude,' into ever more fanatic and fantastic directions. Thus the parlor theories of the "Enlightened" drawing rooms of 18th Century Paris, rapidly devolved into a "Reign of Terror." And yet, that epoch was little more than a comic interlude compared to the social disaster for the West that has been developing over the past two generations.
It is no exaggeration to suggest that the combination of Egalitarianism with the "true believer's" need to assume a mantle of moral 'rectitude,' sets in motion a process which rapidly 'morphs' from passion to fanaticism, finally to mania, as programs conceived in fantasy inevitably come to failure. Yet it is not in this self-destructive process that we encounter the ultimate, long term mischief. That arises in the effect upon the innocent, who--for whatever reason--accept important aspects of the dogma being propounded.
In recent essays, we have addressed the destructive, self-perpetuating, circular arguments that Egalitarians offer; and the intimidation of dissent, which has accompanied the great Totalitarian Collectivist movements that grew out of various aspects of Egalitarianism in the 20th Century. But even there, the greatest mischief was in the self-defeating delusions spawned among the susceptible, who embraced the presumptions of 'Moral Rectitude', proclaimed by "True Believers." To really grasp how Egalitarianism destroys the human potential by seducing the individual into a self-defeating mind-set, let us first consider the effect of modern Feminism on Western society.
Save for humor in ancient comedy, men and women have, throughout history, sought fulfillment in mating and procreation; each in achieving completion in a permanent relationship with one of the other; in producing another generation, which would repeat the process in an endlessly unfolding dynamic. A sense of the importance of sex-roles--of one's place in the division of a species into two distinct sexes--was always essential to that dynamic; always of towering importance to each individual's sense of self-worth. Now consider the effect, when young women listen to the forked-tongues of Egalitarians in their formative years!
In place of an ideal of permanent commitment, with unconditional love, we have the mind-set of limited involvement, confined by guarded suspicion; in place of a sense of common purpose, we have the concept of competing interests. Yet since there is no way that those with different attributes can ever be truly "equal," the new dispensation may feed upon its self-derived misery; it will never actually alter reality, never improve the totality of anyone's existence.
Distorting the romantic hopes of a young maiden into a jealous, resentful and suspicious, preoccupation with abstract notions of equality, will hardly produce anything conducive to human happiness. In place of an instinctive joy, in doing for ones she loves--a penchant that for countless generations has created the images, which have helped develop the nobler impulses of boys and girls--the Egalitarian mind-set leads to a mean-spirited and begrudging hostility to the needs of others. But the mischief is only getting started. For even as the girls are taught to reject traditional roles; so the boys begin to increasingly resent and reject their own. This may start with the traditional courtesies--a failure to open doors;--but rapidly escalates into a resentment towards most of the traditional demands on the honorable male, whether as the supporter, protector or cherisher of woman. Instead of seeking a mate for life, the "egalitarian" man seeks to avoid involvement.
Thus the marriage rate has fallen; the Divorce rate, soared. Does that increase the happiness of any man or woman? Do the endless battles between people who once were "lovers," confer anything but an emotional, social and financial loss on everyone involved--with the exception of Divorce lawyers? Do the resulting images, both from personal experience, the "entertainment" media, and the new conversational norms, do anything but sap the once instinctive yearning of children for love based happiness in traditional male & female pursuits?
And yet, even this is only part of the sexual mischief! We have now degenerated into a situation, where many find it perfectly acceptable that young women serve in combat units; that even teen-aged girls have lost limbs in military conflict! While on the "home-front," we have men and women openly flaunting sexual deviancy; even demanding the right to make a complete mockery of marriage itself!
Consider the effect of Egalitarian dogma on the poor boy with good manual skills, but without comprehension of abstract concepts sufficient to compete in many of the more lucrative job categories. Absent the pretense of human equality, he would have found what he could do that other people valued, and gone to work; first, to master what talents he had in the right direction; then, to employ them as best he could, drawing satisfaction from being able to support himself and, God willing, a loving wife; to start a family. Given the pretense of human equality, many so situated will elect, instead, to demand assistance from a Collective, from Government; now effectively armed with the excuse that they have been "denied" their due, and have a right to compensation.
Since public Welfare has always depended upon the resources--the property--of a productive citizenry; the very concept of a public dole is always, to some extent, an attack on property. But the modern egalitarian Welfare State, has taken the attack on property to a whole new level. The most flagrant example would be the "Civil Rights" movement, which obtained incredible power in the 20th Century, and still bedevils us, with most particular damage to the actual development of members of identifiable minority groups; those who have been misled into looking to it, and its public initiatives, for benefit.
At first glance, the major thrust of the movement was to force rooted White Americans to give up any racial or religious preferences, they might have, in patterns of association, or in choices in the selection of schools, employees, or the general uses of property. Yet, the damage to identifiable minorities may have been even greater. For example: Before the "Civil Rights" movement gained general acceptance among American Negroes, many saw in Booker T. Washington-- the self-made educator, who though born a slave had pulled himself up by his bootstraps--an effective guide to a better future. Instead of blaming others for his people's problems, Washington (see below) urged old ties and common interests, while calling for personal responsibility and self-improvement. Instead of demanding Governmental interference with individual rights, or special legislation to tell others how to manage their business, Washington actively opposed the NAACP--set up by White Socialists to take the lead in the "Civil Rights" movement.
From its birth, Leftists demanding an egalitarian America, used the NAACP to alienate American Negroes from the wise counsel of Booker T. Washington. In place of personal responsibility for self-improvement, they encouraged people to make excuses for every disappointment, to blame others for every frustration; to demand political intervention to address virtually any problem; to demand restrictions on the most basic property rights--always in pursuit of Egalitarian dogma;--for Federal Judicial dictation of school attendance, and, in general, to reduce us all to little more than pawns of a social-planning Government. Of course, this lesson to encourage irresponsibility among American Negroes was not lost on susceptible members of other races.
The harvest has included a denial of the right to employ one's own property--the fruits of generations of American labor--in a manner not consistent with what has become 'politically correct'; an abandonment of personal responsibility, for the individual's own life, by millions of Americans of various racial and ethnic backgrounds; and, thanks in part to the Feminist branch of Egalitarian agitation--and a hue and cry against anyone seeking to preserve distinct ethnic or traditional values, including a stigmatization that once served as deterrent to anti-social behavior--a large percentage of American births, now out of wedlock. We witness a self-perpetuating cycle of multi-generational irresponsibility, with no likely end in sight. Meanwhile, increasingly desperate politicians, hopelessly cowed by Egalitarian rhetoric, propose ever more grandiose and expensive schemes on the back of those Americans who do the right things, to achieve deserved ends.
As the political and sociological projects of the "true believers" invariably fail to achieve their stated purpose, frustration and anger grow. As the dogma of the Egalitarian takes deeper and deeper hold with that growing frustration and anger, a failure to compete at certain levels rapidly transforms into a distinct disinclination to really compete at any level; a disinclination to productive effort in favor of a demand for "equality"; for others to provide one's needs; for that Egalitarian society, which some proclaim to be the only fitting human goal.
With the destruction of the perceived value of traditional sex roles, people who had physical or psychological disabilities--yet who might, once, have struggled towards normal behavior, or to at least realize they had a problem, which was their problem not that of the entire social order--suddenly joined the Egalitarian war on that social order; demanding that society treat sexual perversion as fully equivalent--equal, in almost every sense--with the normal procreational mating of the species. Yet the mad rhetoric and sometimes obscene displays, by those who would once have had the sense and sensitivity to keep their problem private, changes absolutely nothing as to the realities of sex and procreation--nor of the importance, both for the race and individual, in finding the right person of the opposite sex to be the centerpiece of one's life. All the anger, all the posturing in feigned Moral 'Rectitude,' simply make matters very much worse for everyone involved.
Egalitarianism is the antithesis of all that is noble in the human experience. Instead of striving for the heights, men concentrate on tearing down the high achievers. Instead of honor, we are offered jealousy. Instead of doing for those we love out of joy; we turn even the most basic forms of human interaction into calculated, if not paranoid, pursuits of momentary advantage. Instead of learning from our forebears' achievements, we are induced to dismantle their heritage in a make-believe world of cultural and ethnic equivalency. Again no one benefits! We careen towards chaos, while the "True Believers" strut, demanding ever more from us in the frenzy of their 'Moral Rectitude.'
Isn't it time to fight back?!