Abstract: Let’s dissect Equality, which is an ideal and not an ontological principle, to see what we must keep from it: the right to importance, access to knowledge and travel. I explain how the egalitarian ideal tends to vitiate these fundamental principles, particularly in the constitution of expertise in science, confused with scientific research.
- 1 The Divine Program has failures
- 2 Equal access to knowledge
- 3 Conflict without catastrophe?
The Divine Program has failures
I insisted in a previous article on Equality as a false friend of Liberty and Solidarity. These last two principles are ontological, that is to say they are at the root of our social behavior, Freedom or effort at independence in conflict with Solidarity or effort to belong. Whereas Equality is a teleological ideal, a result that we strive to impose on society without taking into account its natural organization. As if a Divine Programmer had designed human society as an artificial intelligence whose conclusion will necessarily be: “All my components are equal”. But they are not. The idealists, by taking on the role of the Divine Programmer, have created bugs in social organization.
It is true that society, as a self-organization exploring all modes of relationships, is naturally unstable. Metastable in fact. It passes from one political regime to another, because the true ontological principle is Inequality, a source of conflict but above all of diversity, desired by natural selection due to the inconstancy of the environments where our genetic arrangements are born. Now that we have better control of the environment, we also want to control political instability resulting from human inequalities.
Ontological trickery does not pay
Unfortunately, the thinkers of past times did not yet possess the double look and thought it wise to replace Inequality with its opposite, as if society was a matter of taste, that in cooking we could replace one ingredient with another. It does not work ! We cannot fake an ontological principle, inscribed in the most intimate foundations of the mind, with an order coming from evolved consciousness.
The error of the idealist is similar to that of Freud: it would be enough to explain that an unconscious principle is bad so that its owner can eradicate it, replace it with its opposite, and finally see the mind turn rightly. No, the brain is not built like a car but like a pyramid. Remove the basis of the neural edifice and the higher concepts collapse. They only exist through the patient construction of a conceptual level on top of the previous one, losing their meaning without the underlying levels. Psychoanalysis analyzes but does not treat defects, which are not where they are located, in a coherence invisible to consciousness. Defects fade with the conscious remodeling of the habits they have created rather than by correcting the defect itself, which has become an identity.
Child-soldiers and child-kings
Inequality is not a fault by nature, since it guarantees our precious diversity. It is a fault when it caricaturedly amplifies the differences in destiny between humans, breaking the precarious balance between the desires for independence and belonging among those who are poorly off. The ideal is to limit these differences and not eliminate them. The ideal social model consists of organizing inequality and educating for equality. Progressive and continuous education. Too quickly it creates a society of clones. Neglected, it produces solipsists, who confuse world and ego. Of these errors, we have examples with religious sects for the clones, and the ultra-rich for the ego. Child-soldiers and child-kings.
But how can we make an injunction as radical as the principle of equality progressive? How can we tell our children that they all have the same value when they feel unequal among each other? Should we let them get by with this parenting fable with no understandable moral? No educator has an answer to this trick question: How can we make just what Nature intended to be unjust, with excellent reasons?
Let’s dissect to see the complexity
A good way out is to dismember the principle of equality. When the ideal is too heavy, let’s break it and see which pieces we should continue to bear. Let us start from our ontological principles to understand what this egalitarian ideal is made of. What does the principle of individuation, the T of soliTary, say? I am free, therefore responsible. But there is a limit to this responsibility: my nature, my genetic foundation. I didn’t choose my genes. I can include my parents in my individuation, of course, but they too did not choose the genes they passed on to me. We pass on the family jewels but worthless stones are encrusted on the same setting, inseparable.
What does the principle of belonging, the D of soliDarity, say? We belong to the same species. Minor are the genetic differences compared to what makes our bodies and minds similar. The two principles then combine to create a consensual basis: inequality and cooperation are not contradictory. The two principles can reinforce each other. There is no simple organization since they are in conflict. The solution is necessarily complex. The building of a society is the growth of complexity.
The heart: the right to importance
Which organs of the egalitarian ideal are adapted to this ontological approach? Its heart is the right to importance. By agreeing to remove the genes of individual responsibility, we make it start from our first contacts with the environment, at birth. The responsibility of the newborn seems weak, however. A grain of sand. But where did grain become a pile, through the addition of other grains over the years? Responsibility must be initiated somewhere, otherwise it would never be fully granted to us. The power of identity comes from assuming what we have been.
The right to importance is accompanied by the right to have one’s fundamental needs met. Many children still face precarious living conditions. On the other hand, our sensitivity increases as these conditions improve, to the point of replacing the sensitivity of the child with that of the adult. Here again the ideal does harm. The infant’s instincts only give her the notion of what is necessary and not what is ideal. More important is the parents’ opinion on their own living conditions, because it is they who will pass this appreciation on to their children.
Access more important than rights
Also more important is children’s access to experiences and mimicry allowing to benefit from them. In practice, we must offer them a wide diversity of environments and a versatile education. One does not go without the other. A rich education is of no interest to a mind stuck in a restricted environment. A world that is too big takes the mind stuck by a poor education by surprise. In both situations we produce “social cases”, interior worlds too far removed from the exterior.
The right to importance thus leads to two other, parallel ones: access to travel and access to knowledge. The internet claims to make both easier… just as fast food has made eating easier. Ease is not quality. Infobesity also discourages travel. Let us be wary when it is the egalitarian ideal that claims to improve our lives and not true ontological principles. The right to importance has, for example, created summer camps, a fantastic place for diversity, while the egalitarian ideal has abolished military service, a relative obligation and above all the only great initiatory journey that many disadvantaged young people undertake. Who thought of replacing it with an accompanied world tour, perhaps the only way to restore equality of opportunity?
Equal access to knowledge
The right of access to knowledge is also very disrupted by the egalitarian ideal. Equality of possession is confused with equality of production. Each personal world having the same value as the others, the knowledge they contain therefore has equivalent importance. And their interpretations too. By replacing the inequality of individuals with equality, the ideal introduces a fundamental vice into personal research.
Manipulations of science by certain researchers, or “patasciences”, are becoming common. Are they linked to the rise of the child king, who easily frees herself from consensus? The child king is herself an offshoot of the ideal of equality, which erases individual variations, age and state of personal achievement. Am I building a flimsy sequence? Yet behind it we find this constant principle which organizes all our social relations, the desire for independence versus that of belonging. The egalitarian ideal explicitly ignores this conflicting principle. It leads to a perversion of knowledge, of which patasciences are the example that I am going to present.
Science and science research
We must emphasize the difference between science and scientific research. Research is a fisherman’s activity and science is a patient work of consensus. The two professions do not go hand in hand. The fisherman, imaginative inventor, is not the same profile as the consensual, exhaustive academician. The first is a loner, wants to bend the world to the image she has of it; the second is a solidarity, attempts to bring the minds back into a common world. The students are curious fishermen by nature, and it is a solid training that makes them scientific, concerned with consensus.
Will the new generation of child kings manage to integrate science or will they create a mosaic of “alternative scientific realities”, joining in this some old glories affected by the ‘Nobelite’, those who fall back with age into the puerility of solitary thought? To influence destiny, let’s start with a short journey into the current world of science.
Human Science is a well-organized planet, populated by scientists busy sorting and coordinating bits of knowledge. All information must be linked. Those that are not yet there go into large bins at the reception of the House of Knowledge. Everyone who enters passes these curiosities in bulk, can pick them up, and decide to make a research project out of them. They charter a spaceship and plunge into the Galaxy of Knowledge, still very partially mapped. They will come back with models, which do not yet have the status of official theory. To do this, you must land and submit your results to the Consensus. It was only by acquiring wide popularity that the model passed the caudine forks of the Reference.
Everyone today does scientific research. Even the most secular among us? Of course ! It is so easy to open a browser and explore the Galaxy of Knowledge. A smartphone is enough. No need to submit a project. We have gained beneficial equality of access to knowledge. The journey provides us with a vast amount of information. Deep down, we have built a model of the subject being studied. We have improved our expertise. An expert ? Should we go so far as to award ourselves this title?
The label has lost its luster. As knowledge is no longer compartmentalized, there are all levels of expertise. We could talk about an Expert 1.0, Expert 2.0, etc., but the word alone no longer indicates much. Especially since by focusing on the individual it forgets to say that the expert is above all one of the very prominent figures in the Consensus. It is one of the striking symbols of the whole, of the D of scientific soliDarity.
Alongside this collectivist procedure, there are many who self-award the title of expert, in complete soliTude, at least solitarily among their peers, because seeking followers among laypeople is in no way a guarantee of expertise, but scientific solitude. For those we should write “ex-peer”.
Explore for yourself or to fit in?
When I open the browser and explore the Galaxy of Knowledge, I do not take off from the Science planet but from my own, whose organization is different. My world is personalized, decorated to my tastes. I may want, for example, a little religion, magic, mysticism. So I set up sacred temples, which it is forbidden to desecrate with mocking words. I can admire artists, politicians, influencers. So I raised statues, immense portraits, highways of thought, which dominate the landscape. I may hate mystery and want my world to be completely understood. So I removed all illusion, built square buildings, transcribed my consciousness into their material. I can finally have unspeakable fantasies and my world has a dark side, on which I venture alone, that no telescope can explore.
I explore by having taken with me the theories of my own world, a rather heterogeneous whole and not always coherent, unless I am one of those materialists who have carefully chased away all illusion —but they still lack some explanations. I browse, collect a multitude of data on the sites visited. Am I going to stop on Planet Science? For this visit to be profitable, I would have to be interested in the Consensus. Do I just want to bring back original finds to complete the decor of my personal world, to impress my friends? Or would I really want to gain expertise, i.e. enter the scientific consensus?
Learning to be part, a non-egalitarian process
Here again we find the TD principle, the conflict between desires for individuation and collectivization. Individuation is the easiest direction, consisting of withdrawing into one’s inner world. While collectivization risks upsetting it, forcing it to sort out beliefs, to lose a little freedom, perhaps to regain more through better integration within the planet Science? After all, didn’t it create the most representative model of our common reality?
In a more detailed article on patasciences and the rise of esotericism, I concluded that small social crises disorganize and large ones reorganize. The Covid pandemic, from this point of view, is a medium-sized crisis that has been staged on a large scale. It did not have the hoped-for reorganization effect. On the contrary, it revealed the existing social breakdown. Democracies eaten away by the ideal of equality and on the verge of collapse. The clans that emerge will be of a despotism unprecedented in a century. Each new generation seems to have to experience a large-scale conflict itself in order to come together. Major crises reorganize. But Covid did not have the power of a Spanish flu or Ebola to achieve this. And climate change is too diluted.
Conflict without catastrophe?
Should we wait for a major natural disaster to rebuild human solidarity, or can we do it ourselves? Can we, the atoms of society, escape illusory attractors such as the egalitarian ideal, and reorganize ourselves towards a conflicting but common world, which will never have any other reality than to satisfy the greatest number?