Equality and progress

Had a random thought yesterday. Most discussions I’ve had about Marxist ideas and communism tend to escalate when I refer to the Soviet Union. The argument I hear is that correlation does not equal causation – just because things went wrong in the Soviet Union doesn’t mean Communism itself is bad.

I’ll grant that’s theoretically true. Personally it feels to me like they’re searching for reasons Communism could work again, and “correlation does not equal causation” demonstrates a lack of understanding about how and why the Russian Revolution happened.

Disregarding the ways in which Communism fails to address fundamental human behavior (e.g. power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely), I’ve started to simply think about it in terms of progress.

Simply put, capitalism and progress are positively correlated. Communism and progress are inversely correlated.

“Progress” being vaguely defined, roughly as economic growth, standard of living increase, lifted standards of health, and so on.

The other thought I had was that a cost of progress is probably income inequality. When a capitalist society possesses equality of opportunity, outcomes will not be identical. Nor should they be. Individuals have different strengths, weaknesses, goals and desires.

So, the real point is that income inequality is positively correlated with progress, and equality of outcome is inversely correlated with progress.

If we want to live in a progressive society, we have to be OK with income inequality. From the start. If we want to strive for no income inequality (equality of outcomes) then we have to be OK with stagnation.