Monday, May 17, 2010

Egalitarianism and Multiculturalism/Diversity

As those who read here regularly have likely surmised, I'm a rather dyed in the wool libertarian of the Freidrich Hayek and Milton Freidman schools of thought.  The only semblance of egalitarianism that I agree with is equality of opportunity.  That is to say, contrary to popular belief-- we aren't equal.  We're far from it.  We all have our individual motivations, ambitions, and drives, it's these differences that make us who we are, that make us strong.  And contrary to popular belief this country wasn't founded on the belief that we're all equal, but that we're granted by our creator the equal right and equal access to the opportunity to better ourselves as individuals.  As you can see there's quite a difference between that and egalitarianism.

The odd thing is there's a bit of a paradox with liberal thought-- two of its cornerstone principles are contradictory-- egalitarianism and diversity.  On one hand, by this philosophy, we are all equal, but we're all different and need to respect one another's differences.  One would think, and I'm hoping this isn't too far outside the box-- that those who truly believe in egalitarianism embrace it not in part but in whole... and in embracing egalitarianism in whole wouldn't that mean one should focus on his/her similarities with other cultures... Rather than embracing our differences with those who are different, wouldn't it serve us better to embrace our similarities?  It's great to understand and respect one's culture, but diversity and multicultralism by their nature focus on differences and respecting differenes with other cultures.  It's rather divisive in nature as it doesn't carry with it the corollary responsibility to embrace the similarities we share with other cultures.  As such, by embracing multiculturalism and diversity in this country-- we've become much less a "melting pot" and much more a "salad bowl."  The various different cultures that make up this country don't melt into one another, they remain distinct and separate from one another-- basically our differences keep us divided as a culture and a nation.  It also tends to perpetuate a bit of a xenophobia.  Wouldn't it be easier to understand and respect our differences if we saw each other as people-- as mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, and sisters?  Instead the focus is so firmly entrenched in diversity that we focus on that which makes us different-- creating arguing factions rather than a cohesive and peaceful whole.  It's much easier to perpetuate hate when you're so entrenched in how others are different.  It makes it tremendously easier to villify those who hold opposing thought. 

Now back to libertarianism... we all have ambitions and drives, we're similar in that regard.  In that lies our equality.  Granted for each of us those ambitions are distinct and different.  Life is not a zero sum game.  Those who advance in life do so by their own ambition.  Just because someone advances in life it's not always at the expense of someone else.  A common misconception.  If we respect that innate drive and ambition in ourselves and recognize that as our common bond, might we not be more apt to respect one another?  Instead of being a constant cultural battle of rich vs. poor, black vs. white, have vs. have not shouldn't we be co-existing as rich and poor, black and white, have and have not?


Jessica D'Amico (JeDa) said...

Great post. Many things in life are paradoxical, such as diversity and egalitarianism. I think the extreme of egalitarianism is socialism, but both are often demonized rather than studied and discussed.

I usually take the lazy way out: we're all diverse, and yet we have so much in common (hope, dreams, need to belong, etc.). I would much rather have neapolitan than vanilla ;)

家豪 said...

噴泉的高度,不會超過它的源頭。一個人的事業也是如此,它的成就絕不會超過自己的信念。 ....................................................

tornwordo said...

Those who advance in life do so by their own ambition.

I tend to agree, though the playing field is heavily skewed in favor of native white males. Sometimes I feel guilty benefitting from that.