A Bit on Equality

Pieced from a few comments on John C. Wright’s post. All quotes I’m responding to are John’s.

So can a man with an IQ higher than yours simply take the fruits of your labor?

But that’s the point. Switching IQ with “general intelligence” (I have never done any research into IQ at all and am perfectly willing to concede that it’s junk science), whether we like it or not more intelligent people can, in various ways.

They shouldn’t. But they could. In the realm of intelligence – which has a great many important applications to everyday life, like it or not – they are inherently superior. This will manifest itself in a number of ways, some of which are at least morally neutral but will certainly provide benefits to the more intelligent person regardless.

The Leftist attacks the idea by conflating equality (all men being equal insofar that they are the image of God)…

This is true, but not very useful in the realm of politics. We need to deal with how real people are actually acting, not their spiritual standing before God. That is the realm of the Church.

Also possibly of note:

A priest may be higher than me in the Church hierarchy, but he is not more or less a sinning son of Adam as I am.

This is true, but there is in fact a whole group of people – roughly fifty percent of the population – that can never, in any circumstance whatsoever, become a Priest – that is, go higher in the Church hierarchy, or become any sort of leader.

That would be women. Women are not able to enter into the highest leadership positions in the Church.

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29 Responses to A Bit on Equality

  1. Zippy says:

    A quibble: it isn’t that women are not allowed to become priests, as if it could happen but would be in violation of Church law if it did. Women are ontologically incapable of becoming priests, just as men are ontologically incapable of becoming mothers.

  2. Craig N. says:

    “Women are not allowed to become leaders in the Church” is ambiguous not just because of “allowed” but because of “leader”. The abbess of a convent has a leadership role in the church, and historically some of them have been quite prominent. A particular holy woman may also have a charism of leadership (or anyway something very similar to leadership, if you want to narrow the definition), e.g. St. Catherine of Siena.

    What you meant to say, obviously, is that women are not able to become priests or bishops in the Church. Some of them do feel like second-class citizens due to this fact; I’m sure all of us would agree that this feeling is a sign of something wrong, but the wrongness isn’t in the Church.

    • The abbess of a convent has a leadership role in the church…

      Above other women, and below Priests or Bishops.

      What you meant to say, obviously, is that women are not able to become priests or bishops in the Church.

      Yes, meaning the highest parts of the hierarchy are not open to them; we might call this a “glass ceiling”. My point stands.

      I have no problem with this. It’s just the way it is.

  3. vishmehr24 says:

    In my opinion, the declaration of equality expressed in the American and the French revolutions, is merely a denial of artistocratic privilege and should carry no further universalizing implications.
    In particular, it has nothing to say about aliens

  4. vishmehr24 says:

    Belloc on equality (from the first chapter of French Revolution):
    The doctrine of the equality of the man is a transcendent doctrine: a
    “dogma,” as we call such doctrines in the field of transcendental
    religion. It corresponds to no physical reality which we can grasp, it
    is hardly to be adumbrated even by metaphors drawn from physical
    objects. We may attempt to rationalise it by saying that what is common
    to all men is not /more/ important but infinitely more important than
    the accidents by which men differ. We may compare human attributes to
    tri-dimensional, and personal attributes to bi-dimensional measurements;
    we may say that whatever man has of his nature is the standard of man,
    and we may show that in all such things men are potentially equal. None
    of these metaphors explains the matter; still less do any of them
    satisfy the demand of those to whom the dogma may be incomprehensible.

    Its truth is to be arrived at (for these) in a negative manner. If men
    are not equal then no scheme of jurisprudence, no act of justice, no
    movement of human indignation, no exaltation of fellowship, has any
    meaning. The doctrine of the equality of man is one which, like many of
    the great transcendental doctrines, may be proved by the results
    consequent upon its absence. It is in man to believe it and all lively
    societies believe it.

    It is certainly not in man to prove the equality of men save, as I have
    said, by negation; but it demands no considerable intellectual faculty
    to perceive that, void of the doctrine of equality, the conception of
    political freedom and of a community’s moral right to
    self-government disappear.

    • Belloc is an undoubtedly brilliant man, but he is wrong about equality. That’s okay; nobody is right about everything. He is using a term that carries the implication that people are commensurable, interchangeable – which is what equality means – to mean the same thing as the concept that every human being has value before God qua human being; it in fact is specifically based around the fact that humans aren’t. That is the point of this post, in fact.

      And equality then comes to mean – as the monarchy discussion with Mr. Wright, a dyed-in-the-wool classical liberal amply demonstrated – that anybody who rejects liberalism is an undermensch, a lesser man, a slave in spirit.

      This is the only solution: If you reject equality, reject liberalism, then you aren’t equal. But all men are equal: Therefore, you don’t count as a man.

      There’s something ironic about Catholics making an idol of John Locke, who was all for tolerance for everybody except those pesky Catholics.

      • vishmehr24 says:

        Leaving Mr Wright out of this discussion, and focusing on what Belloc –a far greater thinker- says.
        Do you appreciate what Belloc means here:
        “If men are not equal then no scheme of jurisprudence, no act of justice, no
        movement of human indignation, no exaltation of fellowship, has any
        meaning”
        There is no implications whatsoever that people are interchangable.
        Ths discusision of political equality needs to be disentangled from present fixation on immigration. Political equality is about relations of a people living together in a particular country and has no immediate relevance to aliens and immigration. Belloc when he wrote and the framers of the French revolution were not thinking of potential immigrants but of their countrymen.

      • There is no implications whatsoever that people are interchangable.

        Of course there is; that is what equal means.

        If equality isn’t an innovation, what innovation DID the French Revolution introduce? Or was *every single government* from before the French Revolution intrinsically immoral?

      • vishmehr24 says:

        There is no claim whatsoever that any particular regime is immoral, intrinsically or otherwise. There is a claim as to which society approachs the end of politics–contemplation fo the good and this good requires a spirit of political freedom. As Belloc writes:
        “We need not waste any time upon those who talk about
        such and such a form of government being good because “it works.” The
        use of such language connotes that the user of it is fatigued by the
        effort of thought. For what is “working,” /i.e./ successful action, in
        any sphere? The attainment of certain ends in that sphere. What are
        those ends in a State? If material well-being, then there is an end to
        talk of patriotism, the nation, public opinion and the rest of it which,
        as we all very well know, men always have regarded and always will
        regard as the supreme matters of public interest. If the end is not
        material well-being, but a sense of political freedom and of the power
        of the citizen to react upon the State, then to say that an institution
        “works” though apparently not democratic, is simply to say that under
        such and such conditions that institution achieves the ends of democracy
        most nearly. In other words, to contrast the good “working” of an
        institution superficially undemocratic with democratic theory is
        meaningless. The institution “works” in proportion as it satisfies that
        political sense which perfect democracy would, were it attainable,
        completely satisfy.”

      • There is a claim as to which society approachs the end of politics–contemplation fo the good and this good requires a spirit of political freedom.

        This is utterly false, and was, again, never understood to be the case in over 1,000 years of Christian societies.

        The rest of Belloc’s argument is just question-begging nonsense. I don’t believe that the end of the political sphere is political liberty. I believe that the end in the political sphere is promotion of the common good – a society where the virtues are cultivated, the deadly sins shunned, truth is valued, falsehood is denied, and everyone gets their just due as best as they can.

        Whether political liberty is valued in such a society means not a lick to me.

      • vishmehr24 says:

        Utterly false?
        Why do men live in societies and what is the end of state, per Aristotle?
        Isn’t it contemplation of the good and isn’t this a shared enterprise?
        And doesn’t this require a certain degree of political freedom? You couldn’t do shared contemplation of the good in Stalin’s Russia.

      • vishmehr24 says:

        “the end in the political sphere is promotion of the common good – a society where the virtues are cultivated, the deadly sins shunned, truth is valued, falsehood is denied, and everyone gets their just due as best as they can. ”

        All of these requires political freedom.

      • Quickly – I deny political freedom as the end of a state – that is, the purpose of the state isn’t to get as much freedom for as much of the society as possible.

        Certainly a certain level of freedom in some sense is needed to create as just a society as possible, but a certain level of intolerance and censorship is needed as well; and “securing the blessings of liberty”, per the U.S.A.’s Constitution, should never be a goal of the government. That is what I reject.

      • vishmehr24 says:

        Freedom has always been distinguished from license.

    • vishmehr24 says:

      “the end in the political sphere is promotion of the common good”
      Promotion of common good is the end of the state. You, as a private individual, are not called upon. In any case, this is what any state does, liberal or otherwise. Though it is possible for a state to have a very mistaken concept of common good. That happening would be more likely in a state lacking political freedom.

  5. vishmehr24 says:

    Is political inequality always wrong? Catholic suffered disability in Britain till 1829. Jews suffered in Europe till mid-19c and in Russia till 1917. Dhimmis face inequality in Muslim states even now.
    Are all these conditions wrong per se?
    Was it wrong per se for the Jews to be deprived of vote in Nazi Germany?
    Was it wrong per se for Jews to be expelled from Civil Service?
    Was it wrong per se for Jews to be barred from certain professions, e.g. law.
    Was it wrong per se for Jews to be barred from marrying Germans?
    Was it wrong per se for Jews to be barred from all and any profession?

    • You’re here confusing matters of equality with matters of justice. None of those things were related to equality; all were unjust, at least arguably (some more than others).

      • vishmehr24 says:

        What I want to understand is what do partisans of political inequality such as yourself favor.
        Pre-1789 societies were politically unequal. There were classes of nobility, commoners, selfs, slaves. There were whole peoples suffering legal disability–Catholics, Jews, dhimmis, blacks, lower-castes, Christians, kaffirs and so on.
        Is that a type of situation you favor?
        French revolution removed all aristocratic privilege and all legal disabilities on Protestants, Jews etc and placed all citizens on equal footing. Are you decrying this when you decry political equality?

      • vishmehr24 says:

        The precise injustice, if any, in denying Jews vote, flows immediately from expectation of political equality. Women had no vote in most countries in 1933, indeed most men had no vote, taken over the whole world.
        But I am curious that you say that “all were unjust”.

      • What I want to understand is what do partisans of political inequality such as yourself favor.

        Have you stopped beating your wife yet?

        What I favor is that we make laws based not on the principle of equality, but based on what is just and based on what best promotes the common good. There are plenty of ways to do that without appealing to equality at every step.

      • vishmehr24 says:

        Notion of common good depends upon the prior definition of common. Are the slaves, or disenfranchised Catholics part of the common whose good is sought ?
        So, the question of political equality or lack of it–the set that forms the politically equal population and the set that is inferior politically-this has to be settled prior to any consideration of common good.

      • vishmehr24 says:

        “Have you stopped beating your wife yet?”
        The sneer is uncalled for. I simply do not understand what do you mean by a state that is not given to equality and liberalism. Do you mean France prior to 1789 or Tsarist Russia?
        Both of them had aristocratic privilege and various disabilities on minorities. So, I ask if such a state of affairs would be acceptable.

      • It wasn’t meant to be a sneer, it was to make a point. Your questions repeatedly assume – as you do now – some sort of clear dividing line where not having equality inevitably means we’re always going to be saddled with grave injustices. Post-equality societies don’t exactly have this sterling track record of human rights, and the problem was never a lack of equality, but a lack of justice.

        Repeatedly asking “So are you in favor of X society that does horrible things to people and also doesn’t have equality as one of its political principles?” is rigged. Just like the “Are you beating your wife?” question.

      • vishmehr24 says:

        I am afraid you are assuming that not having political equality is unjust. ALso, you are assuming that I too assume the same.
        I never claim that denying a people vote or imposing certain disabilities on certain groups, Catholics, Jews, dhimmis is unjust per se.
        This is what inequality IS. And I do not think imposition of certain restrictions such as limiting Jews to the Pale of Settlement is necessarily a “horrible thing”.
        However, there are certain things such as denying people right to own property that is unjust per se. So, I was trying to discover your take on the inequality spectrum. So, I am a little suprised that you would rate ALL manifestations of political inequality horrible.

      • Okay, I misunderstood you completely. I apologize; I really thought you were going somewhere totally different. I suppose I should have known better, since you’re generally a pretty sharp guy, but you may understand that on this topic I’ve learned to anticipate certain reactions, even if that’s unfair (and in this case, inaccurate).

        Anyway, it’s absurd that I’m (where I live) up this late, so I’ll respond to a lot of this later.

  6. vishmehr24 says:

    Well, I am glad this misunderstanding has been sorted out and we can move to the substantial question. There are multiple lines of argument going on for political freedom and republic as the form of govt suited for a mature people. For instance, Tony at W4 has done it well and he is hard to refute. He can not be dismissed as easy as Wright.
    Belloc does not argue for republic but for political freedom and power of citizenary to react upon the state. This is something that the reactionaries do not appreciate.

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