ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Equality or Freedom?

Updated on July 25, 2014

The issue of the “right” and “left” always interested me. I am an economist though, and not a political scientist, and therefore I am not the most appropriate person to talk about the political left and right. However I cannot resist the temptation of making some observations that are obvious in my opinion. And these observations are of course open to criticism and corrections. Especially from people who are more knowledgeable on the subject.

I believe that we normally speak of “political” left and right, while we should only speak of “economic” left and right. I believe that for most people, the expression “extreme right and left”, represents an axis with Communism on the left side and Nazism on the right side. For others, that have spent more time on the subject, the “left” and “right” should be examined under a two or even a three dimensional representation, where you have both the political and economic axes put together. The following diagrams are such representations (source Wikipedia).

In my opinion things should be much simpler. There should only be an economic axis, with Socialism on the left side and Capitalism on the right side. Actually it does not have to be Socialism on the left and Capitalism on the right. It can be the other way round, but since we are used to refer to Socialism as the “left” and Capitalism as the “right”, it is a good idea to do so.

And I mean the pure form of Socialism, with 100% social ownership of the means of production, and the pure form of Capitalism, where the government only ensures freedom for its citizens. And with “freedom” I mean that the government only ensures that the political and economic rights of its citizens are not violated by any domestic or foreign party. For instance that nobody forbids them to express their opinion (political freedom), and that nobody steals their property (economic freedom).

Anarchism should not be included in this axis, because it represents a very basic form of social organization. It represents a jungle, and you do not need any form of organization to run a jungle. I am not saying that this is the way that anarchists perceive their political philosophy. I am saying what I think their philosophy really is, to explain why I believe that Anarchism is irrelevant to this discussion.

I have noticed that many people that talk about Socialism and Capitalism, do not even realize what these two politico-economic philosophies stand for. They do not realize that Socialism stands for equality, and Capitalism stands for freedom. And I am convinced that most people do not realize that societies have to choose whether to prioritize freedom or equality. And they do not realize that, because they are missing a very important fact, which is that equality can only be enforced. A free society will always generate inequality. Imagine that you split the world in equal and identical pieces of land, and there is no capital. There is only land and nothing else, and all people have to cultivate their land in order to survive. And you let people free to decide how much to work, and allow them to keep the whole product of their labor.

Also assume that there is a robot called “government” that does not allow anybody to steal the products of other citizens, or force other citizens to do something which is against their own will. Very soon this society of equality will be transformed into a very unequal society, since some people will prefer to work more, some people will prefer to save more, some people will be more clever than others etc.

And if you want this society to be a society of equals, you will have to reduce the amount of freedom that these individuals enjoy. For every bit of equality that you want to introduce, there is an exactly equal amount of liberty that must be sacrificed. At the extreme, that is when one wants all citizens to be perfectly equal, one must totally sacrifice freedom i.e. pure socialism with 100% social ownership of the means of production together with abolition of private property. At the other extreme, you let people free to progress according to the amount of their effort and skills, and you sacrifice equality.

Of course it does not have to be either 100% freedom or 100% equality. There are many combinations in between. But this trade off is very important, and people have to keep it in mind when talking about “left” and “right”. Therefore there is no difference between political and economic freedom. They go hand in hand. I do not mean of course that they cannot temporarily deviate. Of course they can. But that is only temporary, and it can happen only during the transition periods.

For instance when Pinochet was introducing free market reforms in Chile, he was very authoritative towards the communists who were opposing such reforms. Or when socialists take power in a relatively free country, they do not socialize the means of production immediately, but they do it gradually. And until they manage to transform the free market economy to a socialist one, the country operates with a relatively free market economy but with an authoritative (socialist) government.

But as I said such deviations can only occur during the transition periods. In the end the general who believes in the free society will become the victim of his own free market reforms, and the socialists will eventually turn the free society to a society of equals. And let me also give an example to demonstrate how closely related economic and political freedom are.

Imagine a free market economy where the majority of the population is represented by white Christians. And you have a minority of black Muslims. In a free market it will be very difficult for the political system to spread hatred for the black people. Because if I, as a white man, have black people as customers or suppliers, or employees, or associates, and I am happy with them, in the sense that they somehow contribute to my profit, I will perceive them as friends.

Remember that it is individualism that is the building block of a free market. But let’s suppose that somehow the political system introduces some laws against black people i.e. preventing white people from doing business with them. But then a fundamental principle of a free market would be violated. Because by definition in a free market I have the right to choose who my clients, my suppliers and my employees are. If there are any restrictions preventing me from doing so, there is no free market and free choice. Therefore economic and political freedom are inseparable, in exactly the same way that equality and authoritarianism are inseparable.

I therefore believe that one needs only to talk about economic freedom or equality. There is actually no need to place Socialism and Capitalism at the two sides of the axis. You can simply write the words “freedom” and “equality”. This will suffice for any analysis to take place. But as I said I am not a political scientist and I would be very eager to hear what specialists have to say on the subject.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)