Egalitarianism is not Radical
by Valkyrie Ice
I have been asked me to write about my views on “Radical Egalitarianism." While it’s a convenient term, it’s one often used with derision and scorn, with those who see the world this way being dismissed as hopelessly “utopian.”
However, it’s a world view more and more people are starting to share.
So what is “Radical Egalitarianism.?” Well, to be blunt, it’s just a catchphrase used to demonize “Egalitarianism” which Merriam-Webster defines as ” a belief in human equality especially with respect to social, political, and economic affairs”, and as ” a social philosophy advocating the removal of inequalities among people.” Sounds pretty much like another philosophy that gets argued about a lot these days:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
So, yeah, “radical” is nothing more than a slur against “Egalitarianism” intended to make it sound terrifying and dangerous, something to avoid, or to make it seem like egalitarianists like myself are dangerous to society.
Pity I’m already a demoness, no? That makes it hard to demonize me further. However, the point of this article is to examine my particular view on equality, so let me first make it clear that I hold no belief that everyone is identical. I don’t think that everyone can be a “Success” nor do I think everyone should be “billionaires” or any of that crap. I am all for hard work being rewarded, and for merit being recognized. But, that doesn’t mean I view any human as a “failure”, “inferior”, or “undeserving” of Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.
In short, there ARE NO WORTHLESS PEOPLE. Not one single human on this planet is “useless” “a waste of space” or “less than human”. All I see are billions of humans, most of who have been failed by the societies in which they exist, merely so that a few can exploit the many for personal status.
So why am I so vehement about this particular viewpoint? It’s simple. No-one ever believes how much of a cynic I am, but my “Radical Egalitarianism” is, and always has been based in cynical self interest. You see, I refuse to believe in the notion of “Superior humans” and “Inferior Humans” because the majority of my life, I have had people trying to dismiss me as “Inferior.”
I am transgender, one of the small percentage who identify as female, yet is still attracted to females. I not only have to deal with the prejudices and hatreds of many ignorant people who don’t understand what I deal with having to wake up every morning and see someone who is NOT ME in the mirror, I also have to deal with other transwomen who accuse me of not being transgender ENOUGH because I don’t sleep with men.
I am also fairly poor, though not destitute, so I have to live paycheck to paycheck working in a minimum wage job in fast food, so I have to cope with being insultingly dismissed by people who don’t take into account that I live in a small town, and having a job at all, and keeping it, puts me above about 80% of the people who live in my area who are fully dependant on welfare.
Additionally, having tried unsuccessfully to “live as a man” due to pressure from my family and society, I have two failed relationships with children, so I also have numerous legal problems due to the child support system labeling me a criminal, taking away my ability to own or drive a car, throwing me in jail repeatedly for not being able to magically produce half a year’s wages at once for various “purges”, and being labeled a “Deadbeat” even though I have regularly paid my child support, simply because I haven’t had the extra funds to pay off the massive “back support” assigned by the judge for a four year period I was paying my second ex’s entire expenses while she lived with me that she claimed I had paid no support for.
And yet, here I am, still managing to keep my bills paid, and still trudging forward into the future. I could not care less when someone tries to label me “inferior”, or tries to troll me because I am transgender. I don’t feel a need to view anyone else as my “Inferior” to boost my self esteem, nor do I accept people who desire to claim “superiority” over me as “my betters.”
There is nothing about my life that is unique. I am an artist, and there are people both far more gifted, and far less than I in artistic ability. I am a writer, and there are both better and worse writers than I. For America, I am poor, but I am also fully aware that compared to a child in Somalia, I am unbelievable wealthy. I am intelligent, yet I wonder how much of that is simply experience and a peculiar viewpoint from which I look at the world.
In other words, I don’t see anything that puts me either above or below you, or any other human on this planet. But that doesn’t mean that everyone is the same, because no two of us are exactly alike. It merely means that “Difference” doesn’t mean “Better,” or “Worse.”
And that is something most people have trouble understanding, because our instincts demand hierarchy. We are herd animals. We tend to naturally create “Status Tiers” in order to have a pecking order and know “who’s in charge.” It’s taught to us from the cradle, this person is a “role model”, that person is “scum”, and it’s all based on the notion that there are “superior” and “inferior” people.
Well, I will admit that there are “Leaders” and there are “Followers” in every crowd. But leadership ability is not a mark of superiority. Nor is wealth a mark of superiority. Beauty merely means you got lucky in the genetic lottery. Same with athletic ability, or genius intellect. Skin tone most certainly is not a mark of superiority, regardless of what some people have been taught to believe. Nor is gender, yet at every turn, we have been taught that such idiotic markers make one better than others.
You can’t really understand what is going on in the world today if you cannot see that underlying much of the turmoil; it’s the gradual eradication of these markers as status indicators driving people to desperation. The Koch Brothers are seeing the end of their wealth based on oil in a sea change towards renewable energy, and are desperately trying to prevent the loss of their “Status marker” through corruption and manipulation of government. Many who grew up being taught that having white skin automatically “made you better” than someone with dark skin are seeing their “status” threatened by both a Black president, and their shrinking influence in the political sphere as demographics shift. Caitlyn makes many people afraid, because for many men, it’s emasculating that such a “Male Role Model” as a multi Olympic medal winner could “defect” to the “other side”, while for many women, it’s yet another attempt by men to demean them, as Caitlyn “shows them how it’s done.”
The question is why? The Koch’s could make just as much money if they would gradually divest their oil interests and invested in renewables. Skin tone is not going to matter in a very near future when both VR and advanced cosmetic surgery is going to be able to alter it at a whim. And as more and more “High Profile” transgender come out, the more of a mockery the “battle of the sexes” becomes, and the more ridiculous the entire “gender inequality” issue becomes.
But the answer is always the same: Status. Your “proof” that “you” are “Superior” to someone else. And that is the problem at the heart of “Elitism.” Elitism is a pernicious element snaking its way through almost every human interaction because of our instincts to fight for status. It’s the notion that *I* deserve something because I am better than *you*, and because *you* are undeserving, *I* must penalize you for *daring* to desire the thing *I* deserve.
I can already hear the screams of outrage from the “libertarians”, but the simple fact is that this notion that only “some are worthy” while others “are unworthy” lies under almost every single argument I have been given by them. The same argument also underlies most conservative beliefs, and even many “cherished” beliefs of the progressive crowd too. Everyone wants to ensure only “the deserving” receive the “rewards” of their ideology.
This means many ideologies practice “Exceptionalism”. Or: “I want to make sure all the guys who believe as I do play by one set of rules, but I want to make sure the other guys play by different and much harder rules!” Exceptionalism is the Elitist’s favorite tactic. Want an example you can’t hem and haw about? Just look up Affluenza.
But wealth isn’t the only kind of elitism that exists. You can find it almost universally, and it’s not ALWAYS harmful. Taking pride in your skill at a sport isn’t a bad thing. Having set expectations of excellence for particular jobs certainly is absolutely necessary. But when elitism begins to become more about “prestige” and “snobbery” than about qualifications, and is used as a justification to deny a particular group of people an equal shot at a given opportunity, then it’s passed into just another “Status game.”
Now don’t get me wrong. Equality is NOT about hammering down anyone who “stands above the crowd” or cutting all the square pegs to make them fit round holes, and anyone who claims it is usually is worried someone might try to “take away something they deserve and give it to the “undeserving”. To be blunt, the only real groups trying to force conformity on everyone are the Elitists, because to an elitist, there are only two types of people: Those in “Their Crowd” and “Threats to the Status Quo.” *You* are either *one of them* or you are *less than human* and only exist to be used however they want to use you. If you don’t equal or exceed their perceived “Status” you are ONLY A THING—but certainly not human—and undeserving even of the right to exist. Undesirable, useless, a stupid sheep, mindless cattle, worthless wastes of space, etc, etc, etc….
Any wonder why people find such words objectionable? Elitism hides behind all of them. It lies behind a kid walking into a church and shooting nine people, behind police murdering unarmed person after person, behind ISIS killing Christians, even behind Christians blowing up abortion clinics. Elitism underlies Eugenics, and in many ways it even underlies a lot of transhumanist rhetoric.
There’s another word for elitism that many elitists really hate to be reminded of: Bigotry. Underlying all forms of bigotry is this insane obsession that “My group” is “better” than any other group. And all the fear and hatred and name calling that goes on is merely meant to reinforce this idea of superiority. And that “superiority” once again comes down to Status.
As transhumanists, I know it’s frustrating to deal with people who don’t “get it.” But we’re not going to convince people by a constant stream of insults and degradation. Nor are we going to truly engage people so long as we continue to promote memes like a “Technological Elite Ruling Class”, an idea that prevents me from supporting the Venus Project, Anissimov, and even Zoltan. The day of aristocracies—no matter whom they are composed of, or how well they camouflage the concept under euphemisms—is OVER. I have spent years writing articles showing exactly how and why the entire concept of a ruling elite is going to be doomed by transparency, universal education, and the ability to enable every single person on the planet to participate in a true Athenian Democracy.
But yes, I understand why so many people cannot even begin to understand the concept of a world without elitism, and why egalitarianism seems to be such a “radical” idea. We’ve spent so much of our lives being either “Us” or “Them”—all because of our instinctive need to build hierarchies—that a world in which such hierarchies are no longer as overwhelming as they are today seems impossible. But we all know that the world is changing, and we all know that each and every one of us wants to see a better tomorrow.
However, I know that the moment I start crossing people off as “undeserving”, I start reducing the potential of how much better that tomorrow could be. You see, I don’t know who might be the next Leonardo, or Einstein. I can’t predict the next Hawking, or the next Elvis. I won’t know who, out of all the billions of humans on this planet, might produce some new thing that I will find I can’t live without. But I know this: whoever they are, they are probably on someone else’s “undeserving” list, just like I know I am, just for daring to be me.
So yes. I am an egalitarian. I will always be one. I really have no other choice. Selfish as I am, I don’t want to lose all those potential people who might one day provide me with a benefit I can’t even imagine now. Nor do I wish to be targeted by someone else as “useless” and “undesirable”, and I doubt that you do either. I don’t consider anyone my inferior, because I know, the moment I allow myself to begin thinking in those ways, I paint a great big target on my back. The people I might think “undeserving” are going to be just like me, and they are not going to like being considered “expendable.” I’d rather avoid making someone think they need to kill me before I kill them.
Because, in the end, that’s what you are saying when you call someone “useless.” You are saying “you should just die.” Maybe you should think about that long and hard before you start pitting their survival instinct and desire to continue living against your own. I’d rather not have my head mounted on a pike. How about you?