Let Them Inherit Debt

Dalrymple’s recent participation in a panel discussion on poverty has him musing on socialist arguments for equality in a new essay for The New English Review. As he notes, any serious attempt at promoting egalitarianism must include a program to eliminate inheritance of any kind — financial, technical, even parental. There is no reason that the arguments made in favor of egalitarianism within a society should not also apply across different societies, so that totalitarian governments become the norm. And the abolition of such inheritance presupposes the impossible: that humans have “the capacity to feel for the whole of humanity equally”.

Read the essay here

Personally, I think there is serious reason to doubt the Left’s concern for poverty and the extent to which it engenders a desire for redistribution. Some of us might wonder if the relationship is not actually the other way around, with the liberal desire for redistribution settling on poverty as an excuse. Why else would you define poverty as a relative rather than an absolute phenomenon, as the Left does? Calling inequality “poverty” is a tacit admission of the unpopularity of their view.

3 thoughts on “Let Them Inherit Debt

  1. Tayles

    An excellent article, but I’m not sure Dalrymple nails it when he says that intellectuals’ soft spot for equality is attributal to pure ego. For all his writings on the subject, I’m not sure he’s ever fully explained the contradiction between, on the one hand, the desire of intellectuals to be freed from any limits on their behaviour, and on the other, their desire for an all-powerful eqalitarian state.

    My only conclusion is that they see the perfect state, as run by people like them, not as a sinister controlling force but as an extension of themselves. Do they imagine New Labour, for instance, to be managed by their peers, allowing them to effectively run the country by proxy? Equally, do they see a laissez-faire society as one in which they are merely shouting into the wind – where their utopian ideas about how we should live go unnoticed?

    Even if you accept this to be the case, it doesn’t explain why equality should be their principle aim. After all, if they feel entitled to have a say in how the country is run, wouldn’t they also have a sense of intellectual and spiritual superiority, and therefore support the idea of hierarchies and disparity of outcome?

    I suspect they do feel this way, but realise that a free society has little use for intellectuals and, therefore, offers them few opportunities to exercise power. They probably also see the pursuit of equality as a means of wreaking revenge on the people who have attained the success they crave, and as way of assuaging their middle-class guilt at having enjoyed a relatively privileged upbringing.

    I’d be interested to hear other people’s thoughts on the matter.

  2. George

    In the Soviet Union, dissidence was often defined as mental illness. It’s a bit saddening to see a similar (albeit in the opposite direction) ‘pathologisation’ of views with which you don’t agree here.

  3. Tayles

    I think there’s a difference. A man who wishes to control the lives of others should be expected to explain his reasons. There has to be a rationale – logical or otherwise – behind such a drastic proposal. A man who makes no claims on the life of others need offer no such explanation. He is asking nothing, so nothing should be asked of him.

    This is the fundamental difference between the Left and the Right, and why the psychology of the Left is of interest to me. The kind of government I favour wouldn’t meddle in my life, so there would be no obvious pathology at work. The kind of government proposed by the Left, however, wishes to control my life, my children, my behaviour and my income. Having seen the undeniable damage that such policies have done, I think it’s only natural to question the mentality of those responsible.


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