Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Leveling Spirit of Equality


By Glenn Fairman at americanthinker.com

In a waning society where the burden of jagged truth can no longer be endured and whose preponderance of fools and functional illiterates tips steadily towards critical mass, questioning the sacred cattle of a people's thoughts is tantamount to impiety; and the writer that does so stands a better than even chance of committing professional suicide by his own lack of discretion. To dare hold the sacred concept of Equality to the scrutiny of the Philosopher's Stone carries the risk of not only being misunderstood, but of being branded as a traitor to an age in which the egalitarian spirit has eclipsed the Reign of Liberty in the luxurious West.

Every public and private virtue has contained within itself the possible seeds of its own destruction. Immoderate bravery yields recklessness and excessive charity can bring indiscriminate moral rot and financial ruin. The same can be held for political systems if they remain in abstraction -- unqualified by moderation or wisdom. Democracy, the salvation of modern man, is illustrative of that double-edged rapier that has the capacity to both uplift and to cast down the character of the human condition and leave us infinitely richer or qualitatively impoverished.

While on the surface, the political equality of men in a society has an indisputably positive effect on the condition of human life, the flip side of what the ancients understood as "the rule of the poor" can produce corrosive effects on the culture and psychology of a people. As Aristotle postulated: "Democracy arose from men's thinking that if they are equal in any respect, they are equal in all things." If this is so, the more a society retreats from its aristocratic founding, the less tolerable it is of any de facto distinctions or privileges due to merit, nature, or inheritance.

Having been imbued with such a psychology, it is a small step for a demagogue to use the political power of a democracy to enthrone new modes and orders, and to utilize this proclivity to bring political leveling to fruition, in spite of those natural or conventional distinctions. In the end, liberty -- which was the motivating cause of the democratic impulse, falls victim as equality becomes ascendant in men's minds. The precarious imbalance then of freedom in favor of equality brings degeneration to a society as the spirit that has learned to despise ordered self-rule begins its descent into despotism via the people's thirst for an equality of result in a material sense.

Such a road, unmarked by milestones or the appearance of dangers, is nevertheless gently sloping and calls little attention to itself until a people has proceeded too far. Thus, Aristotle's famous paradox that "the worst form of inequality is to make unequal things equal" brings an injustice into society by the immoderate application of a positive human goal. In this way, the preoccupation with equality becomes the handmaid of both a softened servitude and an unqualified mediocrity; and both of these pave the way for unparalleled distortions in the character of a republic....

Read it all here...