This article was published in 1973 by Murray N. Rothbard – Please read….this is just an excerpt.
Never has the virus of “practicality” been more widespread than in the United States, for Americans consider themselves a “practical” people, and hence, the opposition to the Left, while originally stronger than elsewhere, has been perhaps the least firm at its foundation. It is now the advocates of the free market and the free society who have to meet the common charge of “impracticality.”
In no area has the Left been granted justice and morality as extensively and almost universally as in its espousal of massive equality. It is rare indeed in the United States to find anyone, especially any intellectual, challenging the beauty and goodness of the egalitarian ideal. So committed is everyone to this ideal that “impracticality” – that is, the weakening of economic incentives – has been virtually the only criticism against even the most bizarre egalitarian programs. The inexorable march of egalitarianism is indication enough of the impossibility of avoiding ethical commitments; the fiercely “practical” Americans, in attempting to avoid ethical doctrines, cannot help setting forth such doctrines, but they can now only do so in unconscious, ad hoc, and unsystematic fashion. Keynes’s famous insight that “practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist” – is true all the more of ethical judgments and ethical theory. 1
The unquestioned ethical status of “equality” may be seen in the common practice of economists. Economists are often caught in a value-judgment bind – eager to make political pronouncements. How can they do so while remaining “scientific” and value-free? In the area of egalitarianism, they have been able to make a flat value judgment on behalf of equality with remarkable impunity. Sometimes this judgment has been frankly personal; at other times, the economist has pretended to be the surrogate of “society” in the course of making its value judgment. The result, however, is the same. Consider, for example, the late Henry C. Simons. After properly criticizing various “scientific” arguments for progressive taxation, he came out flatly for progression as follows:
The case for drastic progression in taxation must be rested on the case against inequality – on the ethical or aesthetic judgment that the prevailing distribution of wealth and income reveals a degree (and/or kind) of inequality which is distinctly evil or unlovely. 2
1 John Maynard Keynes, The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1936), p. 383.
The idea of egalitarianism is a broad stroke attack on individual nature. As a proponent of individualism, looking at the spectrum of values for freedom, I hold that priority as high as possible. Egalitarianism attacks the very nature of freedom by imposing controls to ensure equality falls in line. The rules are written by men who are not necessarily pure to the idea of objectivism. Pursuing the thought of equaling freedom to egalitarianism. If we pursued individual freedom as much as egalitarianism what aspects of private law versus government law would an individual follow.
For example, lets look at the vary aspects of religion. Religion can be considered and individual pursuit for a relationship with God. The religious laws implied are private. The term holy can be applied, but the purpose to identify laws which are formed from government intervention versus private acceptance. In the U.S. many laws are applicable to the Judea-Christian values. The religious laws influenced the men who wrote the government laws, initially. My point is private regulations determined in business, associations, clubs, and religion provide adequate reasons to pursue egalitarianism. Why should government be involved in egalitarianism.
If an individual wishes to pursue the equal aspect, no one is stopping them from creating private groups in society such as a kibbutz. If people wish to pursue those applications of ideology, I shall accept their pursuit. The problem is government creates laws and is able to enforce them. If a kibbutz became law, then those who wish to pursue individual freedom are without.
I want freedom to fail, because I will learn. The failures in my life have made me whom I am. If I am in a kibbutz I could fail, then someone has to suffer because of this fact. Every law created that punishes individuals for their mistakes creates a burden on society. If I fail at work, I am unemployed, I receive benefits from society. Yes, I paid into the system, but at the point of collection I am no longer paying and now someone has to provide for me.
Egalitarianism and fairness. Define fair. What you may think is fair, I don’t. Whose fair definition is correct?
Unseen / Unheard - limited government laws and regulation and applied private laws for those who seek certain protection. What if we reduced the laws back down to the individual local, State, and U.S. Constitutions? What if we allowed societies to create private laws in associations, businesses, and clubs to govern individuals? For example, the National Football League applies laws and regulations which do not reflect society but the people working within the organization follow them. Why wouldn’t people follow private laws as opposed to increasing nations laws for the aspect of egalitarianism?