J.R.Donohue/Commentary/Jefferson's Glory Part 3
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Author's Preface
Part 1: Intellectual Assassination
Part 2: The Real Meaning of Created Equal
Part 3: Freedom Equals Opportunity
Author's Afterward

Jefferson's Glory
A Vindication of "Created Equal"

Written April 3, 1998
Revised June 2001

Part 3: Freedom Equals Opportunity

    It is sadly obvious that Joseph Ellis has either enmity for or ignorance of equality as strictly 'all citizens equally sovereign with equal standing before the law.' But if he were to claim that he did not mean equality to be full-blown equality of results, did not mean socialistic equal distribution of income and wealth, it would be instructive to examine a middle-ground argument, one that he may either actually be proffering or perhaps holding as a fall-back position if challenged on the more radical conceptualization. This middle position is sometimes called "equality of opportunity."

    Ellis might express this, colloquially, as: 'No, in my criticism of Jefferson I did not hold "equality" to mean perfect distribution of wealth as in Communism, I am just saying that freedom and equality are mutually exclusive in the sense that given perfect freedom there would be no redress for prejudices, aggressive business practices, inherited wealth advantages, natural talents, hate, uneven educational access, luck, etc., so equality is doomed and unfairness in opportunity is guaranteed. Humanity requires that a good nation regulate or adjust these imbalances in equality, even with the necessity that freedom not be worshiped as an absolute.' For the sake of the current argument, this position will be called "Progressive" or "Progressivism."

    Indeed, Progressivism does conflict with Revolutionary Individualism, which limits the scope of government to insuring that every individual has equal standing before the law and declares that all government actions other than protecting citizens from crime or invasion, all such laws, edicts, departments, programs, etc., are illegitimate.

    From the perspective of many, especially the younger generations who came under the influence of Pragmatism in the twentieth century, Individualism cannot hold a candle to Progressivism. They are moved by Progressivism's battle with unfairness and power with which it pulls on their emotions. 'What else is government for,' they would say, 'but to make things even for all and help the least of us get up to the level of those who seem to always succeed on their own, and to handicap those who succeed over the weak?'

    Such minds would likely share the attitude that radically restricting government to the role of fanatically protecting individuals is cruel, virtually amounting to the government "letting each and every one of us alone to starve."

    Some examples are in order to illustrate this divergence of position.

    A general contractor with a large building project awards subcontracts based on friendship with certain firms, even if it is true that other companies might have done a better job or offered a better price. Clearly "unfair," but not a violation of the rights of the rejected subcontractors under Individualism. Or, a private university admits freshmen based on their social standing as opposed to academic achievement. Unfair, but it is their school, their property and therefore not actionable under Individualism. Or, a person is unfairly promoted to a high position in a company because of her looks as opposed to her competence and productivity. Individualism says: not illegal.

    At the extreme of these examples of unfairness is outright prejudice, such as rejecting a perfectly qualified family from getting a lease on an apartment because of their race or sexual lifestyle. The individualist holds the line: 'yes, it's really unfair and quite despicable, but still it is the landlord's property and we are talking about a contract (the lease) and no matter what the mental attitude of the landlord he does not violate the individual rights of that family by NOT entering into a contract.'

    The Progressive believes that all or much of the unfairness above ought to be illegal under "equality of opportunity." The Progressive position on unfairness in employment, for example holds that denial of promotion for (what they perceive to be) non-performance related reasons ought to be prosecuted. It might be characterized as follows: "Well, I recognize that some employees are going to get promotions and make more money than others and I can live with that capitalistic idea, but the process of granting the promotions cannot be unregulated; we need government to intervene and guarantee fairness. The right to give raises is yours, Mr. Bossman, and you have the freedom to pay various workers different pay for various jobs, but it is not an absolute right; your freedom is subject to examination by government for fairness."

    Jefferson would recognize this as the "road to hell," and reject it. Besides the violation of individual sovereignty involved, even on a practical level it would require a judiciary omniscient and all-wise to replace the judgment of the property holder with itself. A brain transubstantiation. It reverses the burden of proof, requiring Mr. Bossman to prove his actions are "fair" to avoid criminality, as opposed to the Revolutionary requirement of the prosecution to prove that the alleged offender proactively violated the person or property of the plaintiff. It destroys objective law and replaces it with a persecuting government agency that seeks out and charges sovereigns with the "crime" of bad thoughts! All haters of tyranny must shudder at that prospect.

Revolutionary government is strictly forbidden to make any law that recognizes any aspects of a person other than the fact that he is a human being, an individual self. Otherwise, by government "pointing out" non-essential aspects of individuals (which therefore leads to them being dealt with as a group, not as an individual), it marks them as not equal to others, either favoring them or persecuting them. This prohibits all governmentally entrenched prejudice against -- or favoritism for -- any group whatsoever. Thus, with the government neither favoring nor persecuting groups of any kind, and with absolute objectivity in the courts, every citizen in the nation has equal opportunity to make his way in the world, succeed or fail, free of government interference and prohibited from securing an advantage through government.
    It would not take much effort to create a very long list indeed of government actions that the Progressive considers valiant weapons in the war against unfairness and that the Revolutionary considers a gross violation of individual rights, including property rights. This part of the current essay has not yet even broached the subject of intrusion of government into finance, capital markets, land ownership, industrial contracts or business models, nor of its intrusion into reproductive rights, the lives of conscription-age men, private sexual matters or ownership of drugs, guns, etc. All of these intrusions have been made in the name of fairness, personal morality or the "general well-being."

    There are some very critical points to be made that apply to all of these intrusions:
    1) government always applies coercion against sovereigns when it behaves in this way, placing itself in a state of constant contradiction.
    2) the funds to carry out the war on unfairness are extracted from sovereigns by force.
    3) there is a stupendous amount of damage done to the understanding of, respect for and benefits accruing to the compliance with, the Foundation Principle. This builds up over time and may lead to the destruction of a nation.

    Ought Martin Luther King and the movement surrounding him have fought so passionately, with loss of life, to break the grip of racial discrimination through social awareness? Yes. But it was severely wrong for our nation to enact laws such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which granted government coercive power to prosecute sovereigns for their thoughts and attitudes. We should have stopped at voiding laws that shamefully labeled some sovereigns as different in essence than others, the Jim Crow and segregation ordinances. We should not have replaced them with others that just as shamefully mark some sovereigns as different. The passage of the Civil Rights Acts and all other pro-active government projects in the name of fairness slammed shut the voluntary and aggressive confrontation of bigots and close-minded people. Instead of a healthy rage and outcry against unfairness we substituted the abstruse EEOC application, the class-action lawyer mills and the use of the race card as weapon against objectivity.

    Ought there be a strong contingent of citizens to fight a war in defense of the nation? Yes. But the idea that the government ought to massively crush the sovereignty of citizens by conscripting them through coercion is an obscenity that causes bile to rise in the belly of all Revolutionaries.

    Ought there be a prosperous financial system? Yes. But the concept that aiming the government's gun barrels at the wealth produced by hard work and genius to pay for programs that would have been so much more easily achieved voluntarily had wealth been left alone to seek even more productive uses is utterly self-defeating. And if you think that a Revolutionary-minded productive genius is likely to be uninhibited in his enthusiasm for new ventures only to face new guns, sorry, this will not happen. Dare to count the golden enterprises that remain unborn because of Progressive schemes of "equal opportunity" looming on all levels.

    Progressivism does not lead to progress. It merely puts the events of destruction into slow motion. There is extremely strong evidence of failure of federal reserve systems, regulatory agencies, public education, socialized medicine, affirmative action, distribution of wealth, financial "safety-net," etc.. Pragmatism is not practical.

    But this is the least of the damage; there is the violence done to the respect for sovereignty to deal with. Actions of government in the name of "equality of opportunity" are no less harmful, no less illegitimate, no less Counter-Revolutionary than outright communist or fascist totalitarian dictatorship, except in terms of degree and time. They have the same fatal flaw: abandonment of respect for the sovereignty of the individual.

    The outrage in this essay is not over the poor performance of Progressive and Counter-Revolutionary "equal opportunity" and "social justice" programs. The passion comes from watching the might of an idea such as "all men are born equal sovereigns, alive and free" being reduced to "if you have more than I, I am a victim."

    Progressives holding themselves as having their compassion properly focused, their intentions well placed, ought to face up to this: the adult way, the mature way, the way of the powerful warrior sovereign citizen is to do quiet acts of benefit, or to gather like voices and raise holy hell of outrage at injustice. If you want social justice, make it work through voluntary social awareness. If you want "economic justice," make sure government stays out of the way of capitalists. But do not surrender to the destructive fear that your righteousness is not enough and invoke the misbegotten idea that the guns of the government will be. This power, when drawn off its proper function, turns to poison, corrupting like the multiplication of lies in hell.
What is the first decision a new, fully responsible 18-year-old sovereign must make in this nation? To register for conscription or not. For his crime of becoming of age and for doing nothing else, a young man is guilty of a felony punishible by ten years in prison and a fine of $200,000. The mind reels in bewilderment that this is somehow not considered unconsitutional, nor a contradiction of right to life.

Essay : Introduction
Part 1: Intellectual Assasination
Part 2: The real meanning of Created Equal
Part 3: Freedom equals opportunity
Afterw: The Unbounded

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