Ayn Rand’s Egalitarianism - Utkarsha Thombal
Ayn Rand’s Egalitarianism - Utkarsha Thombal

Cherished by many, Ayn Rand was an intellectual novelist and philosopher of the 20th century. She impacted millions of lives with her views on liberty, freedom, and individualism. Her books ‘Atlas Shrugged’ and ‘The fountainhead’ continue to be the bestsellers even today.

It is not possible to explore multifaceted aspects of the convictions Ayn Rand held, within the confines of a single article. This article attempts to bring forward her views on egalitarianism in particular. Egalitarianism means equality! Equality has always been the most favorite word of the government! Government has always sold us the most absurd ideas ever under the name of equality. This is why Ayn Rand’s philosophy is most relevant today as it clearly differentiates between the real meaning of equality and the one rammed down our throats by socialist governments. ‘An immoral system of wealth redistribution’ is being sold to us under the name of ‘a moral idea of equality’ since decades.

Ayn Rand Lexicon sites an interesting example to explain equality and how it is perceived wrongly in our society. Imagine, that a doctor is called to see a man with a broken leg and instead of treating it, the doctor goes on breaking the legs of ten other men. His justification is that this would not only make the former patient feel better but also bring equality and neutralize the prejudice by nature. Will you not call such an act despicable?

Now, think of the wealth redistribution that our progressive tax system is trying to achieve. Progressive taxation is when the tax you pay increases in proportion to your earnings. The very motive of progressive taxation is wealth redistribution. Individuals like ‘Thomas Edison’ or a ‘Henry Ford’ created something of immense value to the society with the pure talent, creativity, and passion they had. These qualities which led to their success were either gifted to them by nature or were acquired by them with perseverance. They were rewarded with wealth by the consumers who bought their services. Don’t they have full right over the wealth they acquired? They didn’t threaten anyone neither did they force their services around the world. They were made rich by the consumers who bought these services by their own free will. Now, is it justifiable if I claim a right over their wealth? Surely, not! How then, is it moral when a government claims the right over the same and tries to redistribute their wealth under the name of bringing equality in society? Is taking away the wealth of the wealthy in favor of the poor, thus making everyone EQUALLY poor, a justified way to an egalitarian society?

Before readers reach a hasty judgment that this article is anti-poor or anti-equality, I would like to emphasize that the opposition is not to the equality itself but to the wrong perception of equality. Granting an equality means granting ‘the fundamental and inviolable rights’ to citizens which they possess by virtue of their births as human beings. Equal fundamental rights also consist of the right to equal opportunities. These equal opportunities will enable citizens to use their talents to the fullest. In such a free society with equality of opportunities, everyone will get a fair chance to compete, to express their passion and talent. The wealth achieved by an individual in such a free society will only belong to him/her and nobody else. When ‘equality of opportunities’ is established, egalitarianism is established! Government’s role should end then and there only! No force, no system, no government has right over the wealth of others! It is certainly unfair to Claim what others earned and redistribute it among the people who didn’t earn it. Moreover calling such a redistribution moral is a height of hypocrisy! I can’t agree more with Ayn Rand when she implies that True essence of egalitarianism is equality of opportunities. It is not the equality of the rewards an individual achieves by making use of these opportunities to the best of his/her ability!

As far as progressive taxation is concerned, I would like to end an article with a question for our readers to ponder upon. When few are born with the wings and few are not, is it fair to cut the wings of those who have it, punish them for having wings and flying high, in some socialist obstinacy for ill perceived equality?

10 COMMENTS

    • Hello Megha,
      Glad to here that you have found a new and very rational way of looking at the taxation.

  1. Its all easy to portray these thoughts, but is there any alternative to the taxation system? Is there any way which can help to modify the tax system. The policies, subsidies etc given by government is implemented from out tax system only. How else do you expect the government to raise money to uplift the underprivileged. Even the most developed countries follow a similar tax structure. But they are not suffering like the developing countries are. Is there any explanation to that ?

    • Hello Sajal,
      Thank you for the response!

      Progressive income tax is not the only way of government’s earnings. There are indirect taxes and more such things if we have a look at yearly budget. This should answer your ‘How’. Now, on your statement : “How else do you expect the government to raise money to uplift the underprivileged! ” Endowed with the equal opportunities and free competitive arena underprivileged will be capable of their own progress. Government only needs to make sure that these equal opportunities , equal rights are guaranteed to them.

  2. Nice euphemism on Taxation system in India. But in developing countries like India, where people find ways to evade tax rather than a finding it as a way of giving back to the society – no amount of progressive taxation is going to help redistribution of people’s wealth.

    • Hello Dinesh,
      Thank you for your response!
      Tax evasion is an altogether different topic. We are debating about whether progressive income tax should be there in the First place.
      Speaking of giving back to the society, such a thing should not be enforced on anybody. Anyone can contribute to society but only with her/his own free will. Nobody should be forced to give away awards of one’s own creativity and talent for forced obligation towards society.

    • Why? Can you explain how the society or government or anybody could help in creating “equality of opportunities”? What is meant by the term “equality of opportunities” itself?

      • Hello Dhruv,
        Equality of opportunities refer to the equality of fundamental rights. I have as much an opportunity as Dhirubhai Ambani had when he started his business. This equality of opportunity is created by constitution when I am given equal fundamental rights as anybody else. My gender, religion , community do not disable me or stop me from going out there and competing in society. I have freedom for constructive expression of my talent, so does everyone else. But, what I achieve through expression of my talent and passion only belongs to me. I might very well give all of it to society BUT only with my own free will. It is unfair for any government to claim right over fruits of my creativity. Now, having explained meaning of equality of opportunities, it is obvious what role government should play. Government should safeguard these fundamental rights which enable an individual to express his/her talent in the free market and not go on assuming so called moral responsibility of redistributing fruits of anyone’s talent in favor of those who did nothing to achieve those fruits!

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