- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Equality and 'equality'

Posted by: Farinata ( L'inferno ) on January 17, 19100 at 17:27:41:

In Reply to: I'm not now either posted by Gee on January 17, 19100 at 15:29:03:

: : : Freedom yes, equality no.

: : How do you justify this on the broad scale, Gee?

: Justify? By freedom I mean very simply freedom of action unhindered by the coercive actions of others (not by the rough weather, your illness, bad luck, visual impairment etc). So being stuck on a desert island leaves you as free as being a millionaire in New York, just with a lot less choices.

(Time to roll out the wrinkled out quote...)

"How noble the law, in its majestic equality, that both the rich and poor are equally prohibited from peeing in the streets, sleeping under bridges, and stealing bread!" - A.F.

(The converse also applies; millionaires are as free as anyone to starve, beg and sleep rough...)

: And Equality I explained below - that people are not equal in terms of ability in real life, thats all.

Which was plainly not the context in which Nikhil was speaking; he was speaking about the ultimate equality of each member of the human race; human societies are basically the way to make this as true as possible.

You are a human. I am a human. Are you more human than I? No. We are equally human; and to recognize that is to recognize our ultimate equality.

: : If you believe in freedom without equality, do you believe that those with more ability in certain spheres should have the freedom to dominate and control others of lesser stature?

: See above for the answer 'no' to be made clear.

If you don't believe in this, then why do you support market capitalism; in which the vast mass of the populace are effectively playthings in the hands of the elites?

Joe Schmo's capital is less than that of J. Rockefeller; as a result of which, it is highly unlikely that J. Rockefeller will ever be ordered about by Joe Schmo.

: : Do you really think that might makes right?

: No, I am no majoritarian.

It's not limited to majorities; a disproportionately loud minority can do the same sort of thing. The Nazis in Germany were never more than a comparatively small fraction of the populace; yet they used the essentially heirarchical nature of their society to take over the instruments of cultural programming; the government, the mass media and the beaureaucracy.

The combined wealth of the world's 225 richest people is equal to the combined wealth of the world's poorest 2.5 billion (47% of the world population) - UN HDR, 1998.

Bill Gates' capital equals the sum total of the USA's poorest 45%; essentially, Bill Gates is held to be more important to the USA than the entire U.S. working class and a good chunk of the middle class.

All humans are equal; but in our present culture, some are definitely more equal than others.

: : Quite simply, freedom isn't universally applicable unless there is a complete equality of freedom for all.

: That could work many ways depending on how you define freedom and equality now couldnt it?

Not in the way I stated it; I quite deliberately made a statement verging on the tautological to avoid any fudging over definitions.

Do you believe in one 'freedom' for all; yes/no? - if you do, then by definition, everyone is equal in their state of 'freedom' - and if you don't, then it isn't 'universally applicable'.

: : You're oversimplifying, Gee.

: No, I'm calling the obvious into a field where it is often deliberately ignored.

That's odd; I had no problems knowing exactly what Nikhil was saying; whereas you appear to have read an entirely different meaning from it.

: : Person A is more intelligent than Person B; does this mean that A has less right to existence or freedom?

: Same freedom as defined by "Liberty consists in the freedom to do everything which injures no one else; hence the exercise of the natural rights of each man has no limits except those which assure to the other members of the society the enjoyment of the same rights" (The Declaration of the Rights of Man - 1789)

- of which the first article reads;

Men are born and remain free and equal in rights. Social distinctions may be founded only upon the general good.

It's predicated on the idea that all humans are fundamentally equal, Gee.

And it's clearly not the case when people are denied access to the law, or food, or medicine; the 'social distinction' between rich and poor is quite clearly not to 'the general good'; if it were, the world's billionaires would collectively give up 4.5% of their incomes and end world poverty.

: We can argue over what constitutes 'injury', but not the principle.

: : 'Superiority' in terms of brains, brawn or bullshit is an entirely subjective perception.

: In the first its objective - Einsteins mathematics vs mine, his are more accurate and more useful. In the second its objective - Arm Wrestle Mike Tyson for evidence - he can exert more force.

Not at all; you're missing the point again. Einstein was better at maths than you; it doesn't mean that his maths was more 'valuable' (on an absolute scale) than yours.

Take Fermat, for example; the man was not a great mathematician like, say, Galois. But Fermat's Last Theorem caused generations of mathematicians to spend sleepless nights. If you were trying to assign 'value' to maths, you would find Fermat's Last Theorem more 'valuable' than Galois' work. A statistician would disagree.

Mike Tyson is effectively worthless in the long term; like all athletes, he will wear out and retire; as such, any 'value' he has is purely in the mind of the observer, who would pay money to see him fight.

You're talking about areas of talent; not overall 'value'; in 'overall value', Tyson is no more valuable than Joe Schmo. The fact that people would pay more money to see Tyson fight is due to subjective valuation of Tyson - not because of any objective quality that renders Tyson more valuable.

It's human-imposed value. In a totally pacifist culture, Tyson's pugilist skills would be no more valuable than George Bernard Shaw's.

: You can question the value statement implicit in the term 'superior' but not the facts.

The facts in themselves are not sufficient to convey value; it's public perception and valuation of the facts that renders 'value'.

: : Possession of these qualities doesn't necessarily make a person more worthy of life than someone else.

: Dare I ask what does? I ask 6 billion people and would I get 6 billion distinct answers? It does (would in the 'state of nature') make a person with that intelligence more likely to survive.

We are (nominally) civilised, as I said; we have gone beyond a 'state of nature'. It's why we don't leave our old people to be eaten by wolves any more.

As to the six billion answers; well, that's what things like universal human rights are for; an attempt to create a universally-acceptable benchmark of what a 'human right' is. They are abstractions and have no physical existence; but are generally held to be hallmarks of 'civilization'.

: Is that 'nature' saying he is more worthy of life? Or is that just reality for you.

Nothing so clear-cut and deterministic, Gee; 'nature' is as much a matter of chance as anything.

: : in the eyes of society, an 85-year-old has as much right to life as a 25-year-old.

: Thats the idea supported by the notion that we have the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness". This isnt a question about who has more right to be alive.

Oh yes it is, Gee. Either you believe everyone has a fundamentally equal right to life and the fruits thereof, or you don't.

If you make things like health facilities dependent upon the amount of money you have, then you are implicitly declaring that the poor have less right to life than the rich.

: : That's what 'equality' means in this context, as you should already know.

: Then it means the equality under the quotation of the declaration above - and cannot be a list of goods for others to be obliged to provide for.

Do these quotes mean anything to you, Gee?

"The aim of all political association is the preservation of the natural and imprescriptible rights of man. These rights are liberty, property, security, and resistance to oppression."

"Law is the expression of the general will. Every citizen has a right to participate personally, or through his representative, in its foundation. It must be the same for all, whether it protects or punishes. All citizens, being equal in the eyes of the law, are equally eligible to all dignities and to all public positions and occupations, according to their abilities, and without distinction except that of their virtues and talents."

"A common contribution is essential for the maintenance of the public forces and for the cost of administration. This should be equitably distributed among all the citizens in proportion to their means."

- In other words, it is the common duty of *all* to contribute to the public forces - according to their ability to pay.

- oh, and you haven't responded to my previous message yet...


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