Now, all of these in fact have been the economic effects of pursuing far too much equality, and I think we have very much now come to the end of the road. And, in fact, we find that the persistent expansion of the role of the state, beyond the capacity of the economy to support it, and the relentless pursuit of equality has caused, and is causing, damage to our economy in a variety of ways. It’s not the sole cause of what some have termed the ‘British sickness’ but it is a major one.
Now, what are the lessons then that we’ve learned from the last thirty years? First, that the pursuit of equality itself is a mirage. What’s more desireable and more practicable than the pursuit of equality is the pursuit of equality of opportunity. And opportunity means nothing unless it includes the right to be unequal and the freedom to be different.
One of the reasons that we value individuals is not because they’re all the same, but because they’re all different. I believe you have a saying in the Middle West: ‘Don’t cut down the tall poppies. Let them rather grow tall.’ I would say, let our children grow tall and some taller than others if they have the ability in them to do so. Because we must build a society in which each citizen can develop his full potential, both for his own benefit and for the community as a whole, a society in which originality, skill, energy and thrift are rewarded, in which we encourage rather than restrict the variety and richness of human nature.
Read Genius Famine.
n.b. The problem of obedience in schools also applies to the military.
Now, holding these views as strongly as I do, you can imagine that I was particularly interested to read a description of some of the problems in Czechoslovakia. And the description went like this—and I’ll tell you the year to which it referred in a moment. ‘The pursuit of equality’—I’m quoting—‘has developed in and unprecedented manner [end p147] and this fact has become one of the most important obstacles to intensive economic development and higher living standards. The negative aspects of equality are that lazy people, passive individuals, and irresponsible employees profit at the expense of dedicated and diligent employees, that unskilled workers profit at the expense of skilled ones, that those who are backward from the viewpoint of technology profit at the expense of those with initiative and talent.’
The problem isn’t women, even the ditzy ones. It’s a systemic issue.
You see the same moral weakness in all-boys schools, for instance.