Re: BASICS: Re: Socialism <> Extropianism
Fri, 11 Dec 1998 11:08:00 -0700

Dan Fabulich <> raises a couple of interesting questions, one of which I'd like to address.

>1) Does equality matter? If so, how much?

Depends on what sort of equality you have in mind. Do you mean equality of rights, equality before the law, equality of opportunity, equality of wealth, etc.? Each of these is a separate topic. Unqualified "equality" is meaningless; you need to be specific. Also, whether and to what extent equality of a given good matters depends on who's making the evaluation. Equality of opportunity, say, may be immensely important to me but not at all to you. Which brings up a fundamental problem with all attempts to _impose_ equality of any sort: who gets to decide for everyone else what "matters", and why?

>From your next paragraph I deduce you're asking specifically about equal
wealth here, but I'm not sure whether you mean to confine the discussion to that.

>Ex: Suppose I had a magic button in my pocket. If I press the button,
>group of people magically gains x (where x is something "good," created
>of thin air) and another group gains Y, where Y is much greater than x.
>Morally speaking, should I press that button?

Ethically speaking (I reject the religious idea of "morality"), I would certainly press the button, since 1) it would leave at least two groups of people better off than before, and (presumably) make nobody any worse off, and 2) being benevolent, I have no reason not to make people better off if I can and it costs me almost nothing.

My only concern might be the possible envy of those who were in the "less improved" group. Not that I sympathize with such an ugly emotion, but I'd be unhappy if their greed motivated them to affect the other group adversely.

I see no reason to decry the fact that one group gets more than the other in the above scenario, since nothing has been taken from anyone. This in fact is the condition that obtains on the market: wealth is dynamically created and freely exchanged, and is not a static quantity that is just taken from one person and given to another - as in all "redistributive" schemes.

It's my belief that envy, not justice, is the real motivation behind any call for an imposed equality of wealth. Justice demands that wealth not be confiscated from those who acquire it without force or fraud.

Justice is the basis for capitalism. Envy (expressed through force) is the basis for socialism.

If anyone (Samael?) can demonstrate any rationale for socialism or interventionism better than envy, I'm all ears.