by Rev. Rory McClure
The last time humans had an equal society where everyone had the same standard of living was in the stone age. Everyone shared what they had with others and everyone had the same level of education. This equal society was so horrible that we have spent the last few thousand years trying to escape the disease, starvation and unrelenting suffering created by this equal society. Each time communists and socialists have tried to recreate an equal society, they have also recreated the disease, starvation and unrelenting suffering of an equal society.
Thankfully, communism failed and so today there is not a single country on earth that has equality of income and equality of standard of living. Today, even the poorest family living in the filthiest shantytown in the third world will avoid most of the diseases, eat more daily calories and live longer than nearly everyone in the stone age. All thanks to inequality.
One of the most obvious things about our world is how delightfully unequal it is. Physically, the further north or south or the higher you go, the colder it gets. The closer to the equator you go, the hotter and sunnier it gets. Some parts of the world have lots of islands or peninsulas, like Europe or South-East Asia, which great for transporting things cheaply by sea. Other parts of the world are made up of huge continents, which makes transporting things much more expensive. Some parts of the world are prone to tropical diseases and dangerous animals and others aren’t. Although this inequality can be tragic, it is also the only thing that allows the huge variety of beauty we find in nature. Given that our planet is so unequal, why should anyone be surprised that countries should have developed unequally to each other?
People are also delightfully unequal to each other. They are unequal in their age and in their hight. They are unequal in their interests and in education. They unequal in their family background, culture, beliefs, trustworthiness, motivations, creativity, and ethics. They are unequal in their passion for sport or music or the arts. In fact, the only thing that distinguishes one person from another is that the are not equal to each other.
The words and the letters that make up this sentence are not equal to each other either. Equality of words and letters looks like this: xxxx, xxxx, xxxx, xxxx. Equality of colours would be green, green, green, green. Equality of musical notes would be B-flat, B-flat, B-flat, B-flat. Equality of sport would be badminton, badminton, badminton. Equality of food would be carrots, carrots, carrots. In other words, the more you increase equality, the more you increase meaninglessness, conformity and monotony. Equality is an essential mathematical concept. 1+5 = 3+3. It is an essential scientific concept. E = MC2. However equality is a terrible thing to impose onto human beings. Human societies are are not equation to be solved. You are not a substance to be forced into a mould, nor can I be reduced to a statistic. Everything that make me me also makes me unequal to you. Everything that makes you you also makes you unequal to me and to everyone else.
Inequality between people is an essential precondition for human flourishing and social harmony. The more a culture develops and the freer it becomes, the more each man is able to develop everything that is unique about himself. He is free to pursue his greatest priorities. The priority of some people is the pursuit of excellence in education. The priority of others is excellence in sport. For others it is the comforting acceptance of compromise and the enjoyment of entertainment created by others. A minority of children grow up to be astonishingly creative. Others grow up to become entrepreneurs or business leaders, sports stars or famous actors or singers. But none of them ever remain the greatest in their field. They all peak and then decline. After that, they are replaced by someone else who is richer or more talented. Everyone grows up to find an ever changing place in the ever shifting spectrum between those at the very top and those at the bottom. No one can remain equal to who they once were, nor to whom they will become.
The fact that we are all unequal allows us to specialise in what we are good at, and maybe even become better at it. Sometimes this allows us to specialise in our passion. Sometimes it allows us to specialise in what we are good at so that we can earn enough to pursue our passion. Some people specialise in starting and running a business to out of pure passion and delight. Other successful entrepreneurs manage do the same thing out of sheer determination to overcome all the stress and disappointments. Few people have these gifts and few people need them. For the rest of us, the stress of running a business and the risk of loosing everything if it fails isn’t worth it. It is easier to be an employee than it is an employer, so we work for someone else. For some of us, we get paid to do what we love. For the rest of us, we get the best job on offer so we can get paid enough to do something more worthwhile with our spare time.
Since we want to get paid more so that we can do more of what we love, we end up trying to find the employer who would be willing to pay us to do something we want to do. I may love playing tiddlywinks, but if no one wants pay me to watch me play tiddlywinks then I’ll have to to find an employer to pay me for my burger-flipping skills or carpentry skills so that I can play tiddlywinks. The fact that burger-flipping is an easy skill to pick up and carpentry is a harder skill to master might mean that I’ll get paid more for being a carpenter than for being a burger-flipper. If I can, I’ll get a job as a carpenter, but if no one wants to employ me as a carpenter, I’ll flip burgers for less money. At least I won’t have to clean toilets or cut grass. There are also plenty of other people that would prefer to do either of these things, rather than flip burgers. Thanks to them I can enjoy clean toilets at the pub, even if I don’t care that a fraction of what I paid for my pint went towards the pay of the toilet cleaner. I can also take the shortcut home across the park, unaware that the man who cut the grass eats the burgers I flip and helps to pay my wages.
Inequality binds all of us together into a network of mutual dependence on each other and mutual benefit to each other. Inequality allows the less gifted to grow in their self-respect, knowing that even with their limitations, they can still be of such benefit to an employer or to a customer that he is will be to pay her for her time and labour. In return, inequality allows the less gifted to benefit from the greater strengths of the more gifted by living in the houses they designed, watching the movies they created and being healed by the drugs they developed. Income inequality is also essential to benefit the poor. Without wealth inequality, the rich will not have the money available to invest in building new industries to provide the poor with jobs and more goods and services at a price they can afford. Inequality is essential if we are going to see the poorest people in Britain live in heated houses, have plenty to eat and gain access to the comforts and pleasures of life.
There is only one thing that is able to treat all people equally: Death. There is only one thing that unites all of life: Inequality. Therefore inequality ought be celebrated and defended with the same fervour that we ought to fear equality. If you disagree with me, you must do so by saying that my defence of inequality is inferior and therefore unequal to your quest for equality. You must steal from the riches of of my defence of inequality to in order build your bankrupt ideology of equality, whereas I can declare your ideology as inferior and unequal to mine, precisely because of inequality. I can joyfully accept your inferior views as an illustration of one of many inferior and unequal beliefs. While I must fear the consequences of your desire to force me to conform to your ideal of equality, the only thing you need to fear from me is being exposed as a tyrant and a fraud. You can keep your equality and death. I’m sticking to inequality and life.