What does Jordan Peterson mean by equal opportunity?

What does Jordan Peterson mean by equal opportunities in a competitive market?

What does Jordan Peterson mean by equal opportunity? 

The statements of Professor Jordan Peterson (Jordan Peterson ) Recently, there has been a lot of uproar and questions about equality. Peterson believes that achieving social justice is not based on equality of outcomes, but rather on equality of opportunity. It is a response supported by right-wing thought in confronting movements the left Random liberalism in the West.

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What does Peterson mean when he talks about equality of opportunity?

What is the difference between equality of opportunity and equality of results?

  • Equality of Opportunity: Fair competition for jobs away from any kind of discrimination, and opening the way for applicants to job opportunities without regard to race, gender, color or affiliation; Evaluation and acceptance result from a comparison between the qualifications possessed by the applicants and the efficiency of the work provided by each of them.
  • Equality of Outcome: It is achieving equality among people in wealth, income, and economic conditions in general, regardless of merit, competencies, and entitlement.

In the race of economic and social competition, it can be said that equality of opportunity ensures that everyone will start from the same point at the same time, while equality of results ensures reaching the same point regardless of the starting point or timing. With this simple comparison, we can understand the fundamental difference between them. On which we will base our article.

Why was the idea of equality of results widely accepted? What are its consequences?

Supporters of equality in results are based on an emotional tendency and an emotional motive that aims to possess what those with wealth own without effort or initiative, but rather with human rights slogans that suggest humanity. This is what has really happened since the launch of black defense movements and modern feminist trends. Demands began to grant minorities advantages and rewards just because they are minorities, without regard to entitlement or compensation. The idea began to be promoted that belonging to a minority that was persecuted in previous eras, in itself, gives you the right to share in the wealth of others and obtain the same rank as them, even if you do not work with the same efficiency as them. This is because you are different, and because your minority has previously suffered persecution. If you are a black man, you can share the wealth of a white man since his white ancestors enslaved your black ancestors. In contrast, modern feminism has done the same thing. Being a woman will give you the right to receive the same salary as your colleague (the man), even if you do not work at the same quality or the same number of hours. You may receive higher incentives and rewards just because you are a woman!

The idea of equality of outcomes is often described as... “Politics of envy” Which carries in its essence the undermining of equality at its origin; To achieve it, the disparity between people in wages and wealth must be eliminated through the transfer of wealth from the rich to the poor, and the government intervenes to forcefully impose this equality and increase taxes. Which means paving the way for authoritarianism under the name of equality and playing on the feelings of the general public.

Accordingly, the consequences of this equality can be deduced after asking some logical questions such as: Who will lay the foundations for this equality and how competent will they be?? What standards or foundations will he put in place to achieve equal results, regardless of emotional motives?? What is the fate of individual initiatives if equality in results and benefits is achieved? Incentives Then?

Arbitrarily ignoring individual differences

The problem with equality in results is that it ignores individual differences that exist in the form of physiological, psychological, and mental differences or features. It ignores that each of us has strengths and weaknesses. In the book “IQ and the Wealth of Nations,” authors Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen explain the relationship between race and IQ on the one hand, and between IQ and income level on the other. Despite the criticism the book was subjected to later, it pointed out a very important point related to the issue of equality. It is that individual differences and different levels of intelligence must be taken into account. East Asians excelled in intelligence and therefore in their share of wealth or income, while blacks were less fortunate in both, according to what was stated in the book. A discussion like this will open fire on its initiator, but taking statistics into account and acting according to them with a scientific methodology and logical thinking - away from emotional manipulation - is the basis for achieving economic and social positives in the long term.

Some may object to the above based on the idea that intelligence is linked to genetic factors and environmental conditions, and is also linked to the level of living and social well-being. Therefore, people cannot be evaluated according to their intelligence levels that they did not determine or choose for themselves, and equality in results would then be an effective way to overcome this difference that is beyond their control. However, this is unacceptable in any context when equal opportunities are provided to everyone. Attention must be paid to the possibility of working on abilities and developing skills to gain good opportunities. This is something that modern technology provides on a golden platter. Individual success stories of people of different affiliations and ethnicities prove that it is related to efficiency and effort before it is related to making everyone equal in results or wealth.

(Image showing the correlation between IQ and GDP per capita)


On the other hand, there are physiological and physical differences between males and females - for example - that must be taken into consideration. Here the importance of the idea of equality of opportunity rather than equality of results appears. Equality of opportunity allows everyone to apply for a specific job, but survival is for the most worthy and able to prove his competence, regardless of his gender or color. Thus, he deserves the opportunity and reward.

The disappearance of incentives and recognition means a crumbling society

The second point that must be pointed out is the absence of individual incentives and initiatives when applying equality in results. What motivation would I have to provide better work, a creative idea, or a new plan if my salary was similar to the salary of someone who has fun during work hours, and if my status with the manager was similar to his status? ? Equality in outcome and equality in appreciation will kill the desire for any additional effort or new achievement, and this will result in entering a state of intellectual stagnation and creative stagnation, in addition to creating boring and dependent individuals who work within the limits set for them, which means arriving in the end at a dilapidated society. .

In her book “The Ethics of Care,” Virginia Heald says: “The liberal conception of the self-sufficient individual leads the better off to falsely imagine that dependent people do not exist.”

The path to totalitarianism:

Equal results cannot be achieved without strength; That is, without anyone enforcing this equality in wages and distribution of wealth. Certainly, this body will be the government and the new laws, taxes, and methods of work it approves. By imposing progressive income taxes, which means that as income increases, the tax imposed increases with it. This aims to secure funding for weak projects from the taxes of successful and major projects, in addition to preventing the recommendation of inheritance and the confiscation of money and property after the death of the person by government agencies. In addition to this, socialist practices will appear that have proven their failure and made the state that implemented them in the dark, such as: nationalizing the economy, confiscating and redistributing land, and free health care services that impose an increase in the amount of taxes in order to achieve the promises of equality, and this in turn means creating a state of general inflation and the inability to Saving and shrinking individuals' purchasing power.

Everything we mentioned previously is a prelude to general economic decline on the one hand, and a prelude to totalitarianism on the other. By totalitarianism here we mean: imposing state control (the government) on all aspects of society, and coercively interfering in the personal lives of individuals. In his book “The Consequences of Equality,” Matthews Batalioli says: “The state, under the slogan of making people equal, will begin to expand in size and scope of control with little resistance, and in the end this will lead us to an era of totalitarianism that the general public will happily welcome.”

Chaos of sense of entitlement:

A person's feeling that he is wronged will - in most cases - push him into agitation, anger, and a state of constant agitation, even if this feeling is an illusion or results from his personal failure and not from the injustice actually occurring to him. Playing the victim role imposes on him the desire for revenge and vengeance. Which will appear in the form of random demonstrations, arbitrary acts of sabotage, and arbitrary gossip, with no real motive behind it except an attempt to achieve personal gain without making an effort, but rather by using an irrational tone and narrating some rosy dreams that contradict the process of reality. After that - and under emotional pressure - organizations will be established in a humanitarian and human rights capacity whose primary slogan is: “Achieving equality and providing for the poor.” However, the reality of most of these associations and organizations indicates the opposite of the desired goal. It turns into a means of stealing money from those who are financially capable, filling the pockets of the undeserving, and satisfying personal goals without providing real benefit. We will be waiting for social chaos, theft and fraud that were justified in advance by the emotions of dreamers and idealists and their sense of entitlement.

In order to be neutral in our presentation of the concepts of equality, we will review some of the criticisms directed at the idea of equality of opportunity.

In criticism of equality of opportunity:

Those who object to this equality usually start from the idea that a person who was born into a well-off family will, of course, have the financial qualifications and good living conditions that will later give him better opportunities than a person who was born into a poor family and has no ability to improve his circumstances or develop his potential. Given that obtaining better opportunities is conditional on having better qualifications and higher qualities; Achieving the last condition - in most cases - requires providing material conditions and a better standard of living so that these qualities can be refined and qualifications crystallized.

On the other hand, the objectors base their criticism on the idea that equality of opportunity necessarily requires equality of results. Meaning, in order to achieve equality of opportunity between future generations, the principle of equality of results must be applied to the current generations. Children will get equal opportunities when we give parents equal results. That is, equal income or living conditions of equal quality, which in turn will enable parents to give their children what they need to improve their abilities and develop their potential later.

 Equality in individual autonomy; Hybrid formula between the two equalities:

The idea of equal individual autonomy (equality of self-government) was first put forward by the Indian economist Amartya Sen, and it is an idea that has been used in both the political and economic spheres; It means granting individuals equal right to choose, express their opinion, and self-determination, and equal empowerment opportunities to develop their abilities, invest in their qualifications, and thus make sound life decisions. This idea is based on moral equality between people rather than focusing on everyday material aspects or economic outcomes. This equality is achieved by providing equal support for individuals with different affiliations and orientations, and achieving psychological stability that helps them give their best. This is achieved through social care, respect for their humanity, and recognition of the right to difference without turning it into a peg for personal goals or political goals, in addition to establishing activities that transform available sources of income into real opportunities of long-term benefit to prepare individuals who are intellectually independent and capable of achieving the advancement of society. This requires the assistance of government institutions and civil society organizations according to plans that promote these goals.

In his book “Identity and Violence,” Amartya Sen opposed the idea of classifying people according to their cultural affiliation, on which the theory of the clash of civilizations was based, because such a classification is an a priori reduction that justifies the conflict and supports its continuation. He says: “The preconceived view of any person as a member of a civilization reduces people and imprisons them in this one dimension.”

We return to Jordan Peterson and his opinion on equality of opportunity:

Peterson's support for the idea of equal opportunities stems from two principles:

  • Opposition to class hierarchy in society; Evaluating people away from the hierarchy that elevates the status of some and grants them privileges over others just because they belong to gender, age, race, color...etc.
  • Let competition take its course without coercive interference; That intervention that aims to impose equal outcomes. “We want a dynamic society in which people can rise and fall according to competitive processes.” Thus, the criterion for acceptance and rejection is based on competence and ability to produce. Any attempt to interfere in this competition will, in the long run, eliminate individual talent and establish an authoritarian society in which the results are imposed in advance by the authorities (governments).

And starting from Social Darwinism Social Darwinism It can be said that the existence of diverse types of economic relationships that govern the market is what essentially contributes to maintaining the dynamism of the economy and protecting societies from recession. Fixed ideal theories cannot be applied in an era governed by change every day and every moment. A social or economic value or law that does not support the survival and development of societies must become extinct. The existence of relationships of competition, cooperation and coexistence is an indispensable necessity in social and professional life as much as it is a necessity in nature. Despite its harshness, the idea of making room for clean competition is an important factor for the sustainability of the economic movement and a catalyst for individual development and social advancement.

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