Equity: When the Left Goes Too Far

May 16, 2019 by

by Jordan Peterson:


It seems to me that the identifying factors of the radical left types that dominate the humanities and social sciences (and, increasingly, the HR departments of corporations) most particularly constitute the mantra of Diversity, Inclusivity and Equity (DIE). Of these three, equity is the most egregious, self-righteous, historically-ignorant and dangerous. Equity means “equality,” in some manner, and is a term designed to appeal to the natural human tendency toward fairness, but it does not mean the classic equality of the West, which is (1) equality before the law and (2) equality of opportunity.

Equality Before the Law

Some definitions: equality before the law means that each citizen will be treated fairly by the criminal justice and judicial systems regardless of their status—and, as well, that the state recognizes that each individual has an intrinsic value which the polity must respect, and treat as a limiting factor to state power. In my estimation, that doctrine is grounded in the very deep and ancient Judeo-Christian proposition that man and women alike are made in the image of God, the very Creator of Being, and that each of participate in that creation in an ongoing process through the decisions we make (directing that participation with our ethical choices). There is likely no more fundamental presumption grounding our culture. So that kind of equality is to be celebrated.

Equality of Opportunity

Then there is equality of opportunity. That idea is predicated on the idea—to speak somewhat cynically, and to therefore not tell the whole story—that talent is widely distributed although comparative rare. This should come as no surprise to anyone, given that some people are much better at doing a given task, no matter what it is, than others and, because of that, it is in everyone’s selfish interest, in the narrowest sense, to allow such talent to come to the forefront so that we can all benefit. Now, that also happens to be good for each individual, as he or she struggles forward, but an equally powerful case can be made that it is a true public good. This means that no person should ever be denied an opportunity for progress in a productive direction for reasons that are unrelated to their competence or, to put it another way, that movement forward towards production of individual and social utility should never be interfered with by arbitrary prejudice (which is discrimination that has nothing to do with the task at hand). This is also a fundamental principle of Western culture, to the degree that it manages to be meritocratic—which it tends strongly towards, driven by the desire for profitably productivity, if for no other reason (and there are plenty of other reasons, as most people, even evil capitalists, are also motivated by the desire to mentor promising young people and help develop their careers, and to participate in something truly useful so that their lives are meaningful, and to participate in processes that have clearly positive social outcomes—this all despite the cynicism of the anti-capitalists on the radical left).

Equity: “Equality” of Outcome

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