No, says Peter Hitchens. It’s a ‘sentimental belief’ that’s come back to haunt us…


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The American Declaration of Independence asserts that all men are created equal.

This is obviously not true in any practical sense. But that hasn’t prevented us from choosing not to notice this difficulty for the past two-and-a quarter centuries.


I suspect this - like so many other of our deep moral and political problems - has its origins in the slow death of Christianity as a genuine and heartfelt faith.

A sentimental belief in universal equality, not very explicit, has slipped into the space left vacant by the departure of Christianity.

But now it has come back to plague us. For it just does not work.


This is an interesting time for egalitarians. First at the Olympics and then at the Paralympics, we have cheered the astonishing successes of the medal winners.


By doing so, we have set to one side the grief and disappointment of the losers. No medals or anthems or adulation for them. So when frustrated athletes have exploded in tearful rage we have seen it as embarrassing bad behaviour.


But this same society now demands that its schools and its exams should be based on the opposite principle.  The old eleven-plus examination was got rid of largely because we thought it cruel to ‘brand’ as failures those who could not pass it.  It is now actually against the law to open any new selective state schools.


And this week the English Education Secretary, Michael Gove, has retreated from a leaked plan to reinstate rigorous ‘O’ level exams, lest they are too difficult for some children.


Just imagine an Olympics or Paralympics run on the same principles as British state schools. No heats, nobody eliminated, in case it hurt their feelings.  And gold medals for everyone at the end, hundreds and hundreds of them.

This is one of the messes that equality gets you into.


But here’s another.  Most people haven’t quite noticed this, either -  but the official ideology of this country is now something called Equality and Diversity, based on the Equality Act of 2010.

So far one of its main effects has been on pesky Christians, who get into trouble for displaying crosses or following their consciences at work. Several have now gone to the European Human Rights Court to complain.


They imagined this was still a Christian society. But they are told by courts and tribunals that in fact their beliefs are ‘equal’ to those of any other religious grouping.


In their case, equality means that they must jostle for space with all the other religions, and with militant atheism as well.  They must be taken down a peg or two, and learn that in practice some beliefs are more equal than others.


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  • Traditional Christianity is not dead. It is a fundamental truth that people are hiding from. Even many areas of the modern Church are guilty of this. Egalitarianism is a form of quasi-religious paganism. Like every form of ideological extremism – right or left – inflicted upon mankind throughout the twentieth century, fundamental objective truth is reviled by the modern left, which attempts to replace it with a rigid, tyrannical form of subjective morality accompanied by a totally dishonest reinterpretation of the human state – past and present..

    But, by defintion, as Christianity stands beside objective truth and objective morality – it will always have the long term future as its eternal ally. Just as the modern left are doomed to have time, and the long term future, as its eternal enemy.

  • One does not have to travel around the World to know without a doubt there are no two living entities on this planet that are equal in their abilities..
    Of all the disasters brought about by the Labour party and leftyism I consider the greatest is in education.
    The very notion that they can take a vastly variable input and create an output that will all have the same abilities is quite mind boggling.
    Lucky for me I am old enough to have gone to school before the idiocy of “all shall have prizes” began.

  • this thing about gender equality puzzles me as working class male, i feel downtrodden and dominated by females on a daily basis,my local mp is a female and a feminist,my local councillor is a female and a even more militant doctor is a female.everybody in authority i seem to meet is a female,i feel oppressed by the female gender,i feel like a worker ant doing all the hard work with no rewards,i feel like a male spider discarded by the female spider or eaten when of no use any more,its not easy being a male in this age of equality,not easy at all.

  • Thomas Jefferson questioned racial groups and relative intelligence. as does Professor Richard Lyn google him up- his key evidence. 25% of the nobel prizes in the fields of science have been won by Jewish people who as a group have the highest average IQ . Are we still free to debate this subject?

  • I agree with Peter hitchens on many things but I think he is mistaken when he talks about ‘militant’ atheism.
    I am an practising atheist, theoretically agnostic and culturally attached to the Church of England. I used to be happy to,have an established church and to have bishops in the house of lords because I grew up in the thatcher era when everything was being made subjugate to the idea that if it didn’t ‘t turn a quick buck it was not justified. I was therefore happy to have spokespersons for an alternative non-materialistic view of society.
    I was also content to accept the rituals of birth, procreation and death offered by the established church in the absence of anything as beautiful.

    As our society has experienced successive waves of immigration, however, religion has become something more threatening. Muslim culture is most obviously threatening but also evangelical Christianity has changed the benign influence represented by late twentieth century English Protestantism.

    I believe it is in fact, these influences on our culture that have stirred secularists to speak out against the privileged voice of those claiming the rightness of their opinions as opinions sanctioned by One or other God. Of course, because human rights has become the bible of the the liberal left, it is impossible to attack the religions which are part of the identity of ethnic minority groups in Britain (Islam, Judaism and roman Catholicism) so they are seeking to establish some ground rules by taming the religion which has long held a position of power and privilege in Britain : ‘Christianity’.

    And, of course, in the current era at least, English Christians will not be cutting your throat or burning you at the stake if you don’t hold the same world view.

    Attacking so-called militant atheism is therefore misplaced. And for a man who I admire for his passionate attachment to the the value of language properly used, I think this sloppy, meaningless use of ‘militant’ demeans his argument.

  • But Hitchens doesn’t even argue why people aren’t all equal. Of course it depends on what it is that we’re talking about being equal. We’re not all the same, some people are better looking, stronger, cleverer etc. but these are all specific qualities, none of them determine what a human being is as a whole. So it’s fair to say person A is clever than person B, they may be ‘better’ in one aspect or even many but this doesn’t equate to person A being better as a whole than person B.

    The whole personality isn’t something that can be scientifically measured and so it does have to rely on a metaphysical idea of human beings and this is what is being pointed to in the Declaration of Independence, that the essence of every human being comes from God and as such is the same and so equal. I thought as a Christian Mr. Hitchens would naturally grant this.

    That doesn’t mean I agree with the leftist egalitarians who mix logical levels and confuse this metaphysical equality with worldly equality and deny that some people are better in certain aspects. But we should always keep in mind the metaphysical side and treat everyone with equal respect, no matter what their particular qualities, otherwise we’ll end up living in a fascist hell.

  • To Alistair Jack,

    Peter hitchens defines his context as ‘practically’. And in this context holds it as self- evident that we are all unequal. Self-evident truths do not have to be argued.

    I understand the Declaration of Independence as a foundational document for the republican constitution. A statement of authority for the new state. . Its practical significance is legal; its wider significance is cultural and philosophical. . Both these dimensions operate in contemporary Britain too. Practically equality is defined in pieces of legislation which give individuals legally enforceable rights if they are able to bring themsgives within certain limited categories, namely, gender, sexuality, racial, ideological( religious). I think you imagine these categories are more essential than say height, intelligence or social background. If they are, it is the creation of law not God.

  • “Of all the disasters brought about by the Labour party and leftyism I consider the greatest is in education.
    The very notion that they can take a vastly variable input and create an output that will all have the same abilities is quite mind boggling.”

    The desire is to give everyone the same opportunity in life not to make everyone the same. To make it fair for all and not opportunities based purely on who has the most money. The very notion that they can take a vastly richer person’s son or daughter and create an output that will lord it over the rest of us is truly mind boggling! There are plenty of people with brains who don’t have the opportunity to live in suburbia and instead have to fight their way through a morass of inequality for meagre crumbs given to them in the way of education.
    For evidence that money can’t buy intelligence and commonsense you only have to look at the present crop of politicians to realise that truism, yet despite that they are still in control of us all. Really intelligent people become scientists, teachers, thinkers et al. They do not have power complexes that have to be constantly massaged by being,…….well for want of a better phrase, in power.
    I have no time for Labour, nor the LibDems and think as little of the Tories as I do of the others. I have no idea whom I will vote for as they all stink of the fetid corruption of ‘professional politicians’ but maybe one day there will be somebody I can trust.

  • Vulpes writes:-
    “To make it fair for all and not opportunities based purely on who has the most money.”

    That is why Grammar schools were created – to provide opportunities to intelligent children who did not have wealthy parents. . Those obsessed with ‘equality’ set out to eliminate them in the 1960′s. They have all but succeeded.

    The consequences have been even greater inequality – an inequality that is dishonest and blatantly hypocritical with people scrambling to get their children into the best of what is on offer from a rapidly deteriorating education system – by openly lying and often reneging on previously declared (but hollow) left wing principles – when it suits them and their own offspring.

  • Well Communists tried it in Eastern Europe and from what my Polish M-I-L says to me every week, they totally failed to implement equality, as we will also in PC Britain !!!!

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