Equality of Opportunity

Equality of Opportunity March 14, 2012

Innocuous as it may seem, Ryn (in the aforementioned book) argues that the policies guided by “equality of opportunity” and “a level playing field,” if taken literally and seriously, would mean the destruction of traditional society: “equality of economic opportunity requires a radical transformation of society. It requires the removal of all those considerations that, in traditional civilization, limit and structure economic activity so as to make it compatible with or supportive of humane values that lie beyond supply and demand. Equality of opportunity, taken literally, means treating all persons – moral and immoral, noble and ignoble, crude and refined – equally as long as they perform adequately by some narrowly economic, utilitarian standard.”

He acknowledges that “a soundly traditional society needs counterweights to social inbreeding, stagnation, and snobbery. All societies need the revivification of institutions and behavior that comes from challenges to old ways.” But civilization cannot dispense with inequalities, including inequities of opportunity, without ceasing to be civilized: “Civilization attempts to enact its preferences precisely by giving advantages and encouragement to some, namely to those who come closest to embodying the values central to civilization, and placing obstacles in the way of others, namely those who deliberately and egregiously threaten those values.”

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