Saturday, June 13, 2009

Equality is a Farce

Hey there! Its been a while since I could post a topic of discussion on our own little forum. During that period, I've roamed the streets of a major metropolitan city in search of answers to much more mundane questions than the one I'm posing today. But even though I hated that journey, and even though it's probably made me question the path I need to take in my life, the huge level of difference in the lives of people of various classes within this city has nonetheless confirmed the doubt that has been for long nagging me, that we can't achieve a equal society. Let us discuss why. 

Human beings(Why do I keep addressing us from a third person's view?) are, as far as I can see, governed by two very basic emotions. The first is our desperate need to be part of a group, to be identified with somebody/something that we think we ought to be identified with. This frame of reference with which we identify ourselves(mind you, there will always be multiple frames of references) stems from our childhood, passed on through generations, or the zeitgeist, or even maybe because of what I would term our second basic emotion, which is our need for individuality.

My last sentence might sound as a bit of an oxymoron, but consider this saying by someone:
" Teenagers are a group of people who all want to be different by wearing the same clothes and doing the same things!"
I believe that is the age when both these emotions take strong root, and thus the deep conflicts that rage inside us during that period. I also believe that these two emotions are at loggerheads for most of the rest of our lives, and is the single most important reason why we can NEVER EVER achieve equality in our society. 

Think of how we would feel if we were to all wear the same dress, look alike, have the same amount of intelligence, and have the same salary. We would ALL go mad and kill ourselves. But then again, if all of us disagreed on everything, and had absolutely no connection with anybody else, the result would be a similar scenario. In trying to balance these two emotions, we seem to have created a world that is hugely imbalanced itself. 

What we have got is a world where people try to combine these two emotions into one, where they want to feel different within their group. This phenomenon manifests itself in every aspect of our lives, from the dress we choose, to the food we eat, the path we take and even the partners we choose.

This phenomenon is even more pronounced in the case of leadership. A person who dreams of becoming a leader does so to stamp his individuality as well as establish his association with a group. Some leaders take this quest to the next level, by mutating the purpose of the group itself to suit their sense of purpose. This is exactly why leaders of organizations/institutions all over the world expend their energy in achieving what has not been achieved already(calling it "passion/drive" etc.). But unfortunately, this insecurity is also why a leader of a religious group would "reinterpret" the purpose of the organization and turn it into a terrorist organisation, and why a communist leader would instruct his followers to take up arms against the "bourgeoisie", etc.. 

All this brings us back to the topic, clearly proving that we can never achieve equality, given this mix that gives rise to a huge sense of insecurity we never seem to get over. Thus, anybody who thinks that they can achieve an "equal" society is living in utopia. I am not suggesting that I support capitalism and its "free-market" mechanisms and that I denounce communists' call for protection of the aam aadmi. In fact, I have long despised the greediness that is inherent in capitalism, and sympathize with the communists' call for a more equitable society. I am just suggesting that we can't take any such equity past a certain level, because the society by itself would revolt such a move and try to get it out of its system.

What do you think? Am I sounding more like a capitalist or a communist? Is there any merit in my arguments? Do I even make sense to you? Keep the replies, pent-up for two months, coming thick and fast. As always, brick-bats are even more welcome than bouquets!


Nagamanikandan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nagamanikandan said...

A down to earth yet holistic view.The fact stating implausible equal society is accepted to the hilt. It is because of disparities that world is moving dogged.Envisaging such a world creates no room for the individual competencies and hence no innovations, productivity,growth etc.The movement of people between classes of society has a net positive impact on society as such, provided they must be have equal windows to win or lose. Sorry - no brickbats!

KA Iyer said...

Hmm... But sometimes I'm not able to convince myself that these two emotions can virtually explain everything that we see going around us. I think, both of these emotions combine in different permutations and combinations to give raise to the variety of emotions that we see around us. Most importantly, they seem to be the root cause of all our insecurities, which I'd like to talk about sometime. Thanks for the thumbs up, Hope a lot more people can go through it and comment, just to get a more balanced view!

Anonymous said...

No brickbats! A wonderful insight as to why communism doesn't work. I feel the more we try to bring about equality the more the divide broadens. It simply stems from the fact that a potent individual strives to follow his dream and achieve big but this achievement should not be seen as a widening of the divide. Its only a new benchmark set for the incompetent to follow. People who cant achieve will stay on and others will climb up becoming stronger and posing a challenge for the people who set the benchmark. If we try to bring equitable growth by taxing at the higher level more, this will break. I think we cant afford that to happen. Capitalism is sensible, though harsh in reality. Communism is not for us (India) atleast.