Sunday, December 06, 2009


Thoughts on the Illogic of the French Revolution's Motto

Liberté, égalité, fraternité. Which of these is not like the others? If there is true liberty, where each person can rise or fall on his or her talent, effort and luck, how on Earth can there be equality? It's not possible. I'm not saying this is why the French Revolution turned within a decade into the Terror and then the Empire, but to embrace a logical fallacy between your guiding principals can't be a good thing.

Our motto, our self evident truth regarding some of our God given inalienable rights was: Life, liberty and property the pursuit of happiness (by owning property). There is no contradiction in this Jefferson/Locke truth and so our Revolution became our extraordinary nation and a shining example of good, at least much more good than bad, for the past 200 plus years.

I'm aware of the equality in the Declaration of Independence, in which all men are created, but that's equality of law, of opportunity. The French ideal is of the equality of outcome, which brings me back to the opening paragraph.

One of the bigger fault lines between the left and right wing is that the left is all about equality of outcome where the right is all about equality of opportunity. Since the government rarely creates anything, the statist left is reduced to producing an equality of misery, under which no human population can live for too long. Equality of opportunity produces a lot most of it good, but including an ever growing divide between the producers and the slackers, between rich and poor; but that is an inescapable product of true freedom. Only the statist worries about the width of this divide, and apparently only the right of center cares about maintenance of the equality of opportunity, allowing the have nots to become the haves, through effort.

Which of these two concerns is more like the ideals contained in the Declaration and which is more like the French self contradiction?


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