Join Josh Lewis and Bob Burch as they explore the surprisingly nuanced idea of equality and show why conservatives have valued variety over equality.
Visions of the future are often replete with uniformity not (currently) seen on earth. Star Trek foretells a future in which barriers of culture, religion, class, nationalities, and politics have given way to global unity at times extending beyond even the human race. The conservative recognizes that such a world wouldn’t be one of living long and prospering, but an authoritarian dystopia obliterating the varieties that make civilization a possibility.
The conservative is a wet blanket on starry-eyed fantasies of a world where distinctions in currency, class, and cultures melt away. The conservative is that dreary realist in the room crushing dreams of a society in which human equality has been extended to both outcomes and incomes. The conservative is a killjoy who scoffs at notions of a government capable of administering perfect social justice. But, in the end, it is the conservative who defends with his dying breath Beauty and Virtue in danger of succumbing to some radical’s ideological vision of a cold, narrowing world of equality.
It may sound laudable to insist on a broad definition of equality for all, but the conservative rightly recognizes the institution of government is ill-equipped to carry out this lofty goal. Much like wantonly declaring there will be peace leaves a nation all the more vulnerable to war, declaring there will be no inequalities leaves a people vulnerable to the machinations of social experimentation. Noble Laureate Milton Friedman, in his 1978 lecture at Stanford University, observed that “a society that aims for equality before liberty will end up with neither equality nor liberty. And a society that aims first for liberty will not end up with equality, but it will end up with a closer approach to equality than any other system that has ever been developed.”
Because conservatives hold that mankind is as much a spiritual creation as a biological organism, they reject efforts to bring about a social utopia through mechanical or scientific means. Such attempts to reduce men to machines is seen in the progressive visions depicting our future. Individuality is swallowed up in uniformity to such a degree that everyone wears a similar uniform in a society where all racial, religious, and cultural differences on entire planets are obliterated. The last “prejudices” that exist are between alien races. Uniformity, a classless society, the obliteration of cultural diversity—such is the endgame of a worldview devoid of the constraints of conservatism. Yet history has shown us time and again, these lofty aims inevitably lead to new and even more savage forms of inequalities.