By Christina Grattan
Socialists champion for equality of outcomes, which means that it is only "fair" for everyone to have the same result. While this outcome is their ultimate telos, the means used to achieve it would inevitably trample any pretext of freedom, sending society into a homogenous abyss of paralysis. It was F.A. Hayek, an Austro-British economist who professed, "There is all the difference in the world between treating people equally and attempting to make them equal. While the first is the condition of a free society, the second means, as De Tocqueville described it, "a new form of servitude." 2 If humans are free and created with equal rights, we must respect the inherent God-given dignity in each individual to reach their optimum potential. To treat people equally means everyone should have the right to flourish, not the compulsion to.
Socialists advocate for the welfare of the masses, but on the contrary, absolute equality economically and inability would threaten the individual's autonomy by inflicting immense suffering upon the populace. If they genuinely yearned for the welfare of all, they would understand what drives human nature. Each individual possessing the same resources, being the elixir to everyone’s woes, is a delusional utopia that has never been imagined outside the minds of Marxist intellectual elites who think their vision is the only plan for humanity. 4 One fundamental reason why Marxists believe this is because they fail to grasp the uniqueness of each individual mind.
Ludwig Von Mises, the Austrian school's leading economist, explains how Marx believed, "thinking produces… not truth but 'ideologies'... a disguise of selfish interest of the social class to which the thinking individual is attached… it is therefore useless to discuss anything with people of another social class." 3 To think that class conflict, which will be used to bring equality, is naturally imbued in one's mind due to their social class is absurd. Marx erroneously assumed that their social class determines one's tendency of thought, so the proletariat would conform in thought and would have different faculties than the bourgeoisie. It is clear why Marxism was the death knell of freedom since it was built on faulty, nonsensical reasoning that painted capitalism as two opposing collectives. It failed to consider that many would obviously diverge in thought from their class, excusing any workers who did as traitors for not acting like the proletariat. 4
Collective thinking deprives the individual of having an independent mind, which is free to theorize, create, and innovate. Frank Chodorov, an outspoken journalist who specialized in free market economics, recognizes how freedom cannot coexist with this Marxist mentality. "Freedom...recognizes as a fact of nature the structural differences inherent in man-in temperament, character, and capacity- and respects those differences. We are not alike, and no law can make us so." 1 Therefore, attempting to make one alike would be the utter negation of freedom, binding one's ambitions to socialist agendas rather than their own free will.
Equality of outcomes obliterates equality of opportunity since people would have to be treated differently than others to achieve equal outcomes. It would ironically promote discrimination between different individuals, depending on their potential faculties. As it is hard for many to admit, Mises is right when he says "Some people are endowed with an innate ability for definite kinds of activities while others lack this gift entirely or possess it only to a lesser degree." 4 Attempting to neutralize these abilities would go against democracy and free and open societies. Coercion would be a necessary tool to make humans go against their expressive, diverse nature, filled with varying capacities.
Instead of trying to mitigate the effects of different expertise, humans should take advantage of their varying gifts to the fullest in different occupations. This is what increases the prosperity of the masses. Hayek explains that if "all men were completely equal in their gifts and inclinations, we should have to treat them differently in order to achieve any sort of social organization. Fortunately, they are not...it is only owing to this that the differentiation of functions need not to be determined by an arbitrary decision of some organizing will." 2 While Marxists believe that the individual's destiny is dependent on the overthrow of the bourgeoisie and that it is Karl Marx's "will," which determines the blueprints for the future of humankind, individuals should use their own volition to forge their destinies.
Today many socialist politicians want the government to determine people's economic outcomes, which inadvertently censures progress and innovation. By attempting to level out the playing field, they give special preference to certain groups while penalizing others. This is especially evident with the proposition to increase income tax progressivity to as much as 70% for the richest in order to redistribute the wealth. 2 Although the proposition is intended to help the poor, it does the opposite, endorsing their victimization and chastising the wealthy for their success. J.S. Mill, a Classical Liberal economist, shares this disdain. "To tax the larger incomes at a higher percentage than the smaller, is to lay a tax on industry and economy; to impose a penalty on people for having worked harder and saved more than their neighbors." 1 This decreases the incentive to work hard and accumulate wealth since the government will take more from individuals as they move up the social ladder. This alteration of the income tax attacks the individual's ambition to achieve the American dream since the government will always intervene when the wealth gap becomes perceived as too "unfair."
Rather than the government enforcing equality, they should recognize the individual's freedom to succeed or fail without the government patrolling them. Just like Marx told the proletariat that their condition is helpless without the revolution and that the bourgeoisie is their enemy, today's socialists want people to believe that economic mobility is impossible. They yearn for the masses to view big business as their enemy, leaving them no choice but to acquiescence to the government's benevolent hand. Americans need to embrace equality of opportunity, resolutely knowing that their life will neither be redeemed by a revolution nor a government program, but by personal responsibility. An authority that deems to fix all the woes of its citizens miraculously is not the solution. The only viable means to seek freedom is the free market.
1. Buchholz, T. (2007). New Ideas From Dead Economists. Penguin Group. p. 107
2. Hayek, F.A. (1948). Individualism and Economic Order. The University of Chicago Press. pp. 16, 17
3. Mises, L. (1974). Omnipotent Government. Liberty Fund. p. 163
4. Mises, L. (2007). Theory and History. Ludwig von Mises Institute. pp. 131, 131, 328
Christina is currently a junior political science major at Biola University, who has a genuine heart to help the world. Her strong faith in God drives her to pursue justice to create a freer and better world, which starts with fighting the lies of socialism. In her free time, you can find her reading books to inform herself, discussing politics, and making frozen yogurt runs.