“The year was 2081 and everybody was finally equal. They weren’t only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anyone else. Nobody was better looking that anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of the United States Handicapper General.”
So begins Kurt Vonnegut’s short story Harrison Bergeron, first published in 1961, then included in his anthology Welcome To The Monkey House, in 1968.
I revisited the story recently, and was stunned by Vonnegut’s prescience of our present age. He was wrong about only one thing – he thought common sense and rationality would prevail much longer than it has. For here we are in 2021, and the sound of clinking chains and locks snapping shut echo everywhere, as the Mindflayer of “Equality” tightens its tentacles on our world.
In Vonnegut’s story, the forces of progressive insanity have completed their conquest. The beautiful are forced to hide their good looks behind masks, and the intelligent are kept from thinking by government transmitters, a mental handicap radio, which release timed bursts of pain to keep them from “taking unfair advantage of their brains”. When Harrison Bergeron bravely defies the regime by giving a national TV audience a rare glimpse of true excellence and beauty, he is swiftly and ruthlessly snuffed out.
What harm is there in the elevation of equality, a person might ask. Are we not seeing at last the full flowering of the American aspirational value that all are equal?
The harm is as plain as day around us. And philosophers from Plato onwards have warned us how it comes – whenever we unhitch one virtue from others and make it supreme, we unleash misery and tyranny. Courage without mercy becomes cruelty. Compassion without discipline cripples the spirit. Love without discernment becomes feckless. (The apostle Paul said, “It is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment.” – Philippians 1:9. So love requires wisdom to be exercised properly.)
In our time, we have named “equality” the sine qua non of virtues. In the name of compassion, we have declared it anathema that anyone, anywhere, at any time should feel inadequate, inferior, or worse than another. Except of course those who disagree with the premise. Those voices are to be swiftly and ruthlessly snuffed out by the ‘handicapper generals’ of our time.
How It Happened
It began – as it had to begin – with a subtle but systematic assault on the pursuit of Truth as an ideal. Ideas like post-modernism and deconstructionism took shape and form over decades in the philosophical laboratories of university lecture halls, unleashing generations of students out into the world of business, politics and entertainment who now had their doubts about concepts like reason and objectivity. Once the idea of the social construction of Truth took hold, no institution or ideal was safe.
Sexual ethics were the first to fall, as classical views of marriage were overthrown, to open the door to acceptance of other forms of love. When critics pointed out that this would inevitably lead to having to accept all forms of love, they were laughed off as extremists. Yet in less than ten years, the “extremists” are now anyone who resists the love without limits philosophy with so much as a peep or mutter.
Simultaneous to this came an assault on classical civic American institutions. It was about ten years ago that articles began to appear questioning the legitimacy of free speech, religious liberty, and the value of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. It was first a trickle, then a wave, until today we hear even mainstream politicians speak of these pillars of American life as their private playthings.
Then came the inevitable attack of America’s founding, for the Institutions could not be weakened without calling into question the events that brought them into being. The importance of 1776 had to be supplanted by 1619. The names of national 17th and 18th century heroes, Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln, et al., had to be questioned and canceled because they had the audacity to not see the world according to the enlightened standards of the 21st century.
Race has become the next major front in the “Equality” cultural blitzkrieg, which was inevitable, for this age-hold conflict already contained concepts and vocabulary ready-made for co-opting. With just a little massaging, objective concepts such as “race” and “racism” could be completely re-defined, while liturgical worship of the triune progressive god of Diversity-Equality-Inclusion could be worked into the hiring, training, mission statements, core values, and curriculums of every corporation, college, church, as well as bureaucratic nook and cranny of government, federal, state, and local alike.
And Now We See The Fruit
Now all around us, we see the fruit of our Equality overlords appearing everywhere we look. There is no field or institution safe from its reach.
- English class becomes an occasion for progressive ideological indoctrination.
- In mathematics, getting the numbers right is considered a relic of ‘white supremacy’.
- In preschool, children are read picture books which tell stories such as the one where a little girl comes to her parents to tell them she is really a boy.
- Universities demand ‘loyalty oaths’ to ensure that all employees are in alignment with proper orthodoxy.
- Young journalists are required to receive training by “diversity/inclusivity experts” who are told to “stop thinking in terms of objective journalism…because that’s not really feasible anymore.”
- The same “training” is seeping into all branches of our military.
- Popular comedians and authors are maligned for saying controversial things like, “Gender is a fact.”
- Language itself has been bludgeoned beyond recognition, causing even their presumed political allies to tell them to stop.
And these examples are simply scratching the surface.
“2081” is coming more quickly than any of us realize. Unless the Harrison Bergeron’s in our world begin to wake up to the woke.