Saturday 20 June 2020

In praise of inequality

The world is very hierarchical and very unequal. 

This is because nature is very hierarchical and very unequal. 

If you believe in God you believe that this is divinely ordained. 

Conservatives always argued against equality being a good thing in principle, until John Major, asked in the House of Commons by Tony Blair if he believed in equality, answered yes. 

A long time before that conservatives had stopped arguing for inequality as a good thing in itself or in other words the merits of hierarchy, but hierarchy is the most important conservative principle of all, along with preserving the authority of the state.

Tradition and freedom are very important but less essential, from a conservative point of view. In theory, liberals also believe in freedom and in the nineteenth century really did so.

The conservatives are not defending hierarchy, inequality or the authority of the state very well at the moment, and certainly not tradition or freedom, but nature has a habit of reasserting itself over abstract ideas and human reason. 

Shakespeare might or might not have been a secret Catholic but he was certainly a high Tory. He put the essential Tory doctrine into the mouth of the crafty Ulysses in Troilus and Cressida.

Take but degree away, untune that string,

And, hark, what discord follows! each thing meets

In mere oppugnancy: the bounded waters

Should lift their bosoms higher than the shores

And make a sop of all this solid globe:

Strength should be lord of imbecility,

And the rude son should strike his father dead:

Force should be right; or rather, right and wrong,

Between whose endless jar justice resides,

Should lose their names, and so should justice too.

Then every thing includes itself in power,

Power into will, will into appetite;

And appetite, an universal wolf,

So doubly seconded with will and power,

Must make perforce an universal prey,

And last eat up himself.

On the other hand the French revolution attempted to design the world according to abstract, rational principles. It partly failed but in the end partly succeeded. 

Its consequences include not only Marxism but, indirectly, Nazism (equality meant all races were equal but fraternity meant nationalism) and much of the world we live in. 

Obviously that includes riots by Black Lives Matters supporters and articles in the Daily Mail calling counter-demonstrators thugs.

Let me please (it's my blog!) quote these words of Disraeli yet again.

"In a progressive country change is constant; and the great question is not whether you should resist change which is inevitable, but whether that change should be carried out in deference to the manners, the customs, the laws and the traditions of a people, or whether it should be carried out in deference to abstract principles, and arbitrary and general doctrines."
Unfortunately,  the manners, the customs, the laws and the traditions of Western peoples have been warped since 1945 and especially since the 1960s by abstract, general, egalitarian and statist doctrines of a sort that would have horrified Disraeli. 

The groundsprings of Western greatness are being blocked.

The Chinese, who are Communists but also Confucians, see Donald Trump as a symptom of America's decline and Black Lives Matter protests as another symptom. You, gentle reader, will have your opinion on this.


  1. There’s a strong case for inequality. The elephant in the room is that the most unequal societies are also the most prosperous, and the most equal societies are poor and only equal on the surface. All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.

    I was reading an article a few days ago by the Head Master of Westminster, in which he was defending independent schools, but only half-heartedly. His line was that in principle it was essential to reduce wealth inequality, but there were many other causes of inequality in education etc. etc. Dunderheads like this have got the western world into the mess it’s now in.

    1. In the United States the areas of most inequality, California and New York, are not very prosperous for ordinary people - but I believe that to be due to the Credit Bubble financial system, the inequality is artificial and most certainly not conservative.

  2. The problem is that a lot of modern inequality is artificial - the result of the Credit Bubble financial system (backed by governments) the sort of massive inequality one sees in such cities as New York and San Francisco is most certainly not conservative. It is nothing to do with traditional landed estates - and everything to do with crooks creating money from NOTHING.

    There is nothing wrong with money lending, but there is everything wrong with lending out money that does not exist - that you have just created (from nothing) and with the backing of governments. And this disease of funny money corrupts everything it touches - the stock market, real estate, everything. Edmund Burke detested it - and Richard Cantillon identified the danger some 300 years ago.

  3. Even during the Civil War merchants in California and Oregon would only accept physical gold and silver as payment - and the State and local governments of California and Oregon would only accept physical gold and silver in payment of taxes.

    As for modern "money" - most of it is not even fiat notes and coins, it is just tricks on a compute screen, nothing conservative about the magic circle of "Woke" bankers and Corporate Mangers who dominate modern life - due to how the Credit Money goes from and to their enterprises. It is an economic system based upon massive "legal" FRAUD.

  4. Trying to defend inequality is like trying to defend poverty or defend cancer. It can't be done. It's an inherently unpopular idea. It's an idea that can only be sold to the the rich.

    It's especially impossible because nobody believes that the inequalities produced by the current system are fair or natural or organic. People overwhelmingly believe that the system is rigged.

    I'm not arguing for or against inequality, but politically arguing in favour of inequality is a recipe for disaster.

    Perhaps if the inequalities were not so extreme you might have a chance. But conservatives have spent fifty years associating themselves with naked greed so they are not going to be trusted if they try to argue that inequality is good.

    Trying to defend hierarchy is a losing proposition as well, because hierarchies in modern society are based on wealth (not always honestly come by), not talent or virtue.