What it would be like to live in a society where everyone was equal in every way. Would that be possible and desirable? Explain.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Nietzche expressed his greatest fear about man as mediocrity: der letzle mensch [the last man].  Tired of life, weak-willed, takes no risks, this man seeds only comfort and security.  This is the "equality" of which Vonnegut writes.  George is unwilling to remove his handicap jacket at the house because he has become weak-willed and content to conform.

In the forward to his Brave New World, Aldous Huxley wrote,

The love of servitude cannot be established except as the result of a deep, personal revolution in human minds and bodies.

In Bergeron's society where everyone has forcibly been made equal, there has begun this revolution in the minds as evindenced by George's remarks to Hazel.  In the society of America there are more subtle measures being taken in this very direction. Consider these two concepts:

Political correctness is a beginning on the effort to control people's thoughts that can later be directed in other areas; No Child Left Behind in education assures that everyone is "on the same page."

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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What a chilling thought, because "equal in every way" would probably also mean "same in every way." Forget that it would be impossible, as my colleagues have already mentioned; what a horrific place the world would be if everyone were the same. If everyone could, let's say, paint with the same skill and eye as Michelangelo, that would be amazing; but the reality we could anticipate from this story is that we would all have the artistic ability of a kindergartner. In this story, people and their gifts are diminished to the lowest common denominator, and who wants that?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This would be impossible.  There is no way to make everyone equal in every way.  If nothing else, there is always going to be the difference between male and female (even if you could make everyone the same height, the same level of attractiveness, the same level of intelligence, etc).

As far as desirability, I think this would be terrible.  After all, there are lots of different jobs that need to be done in any society.  These jobs require different skills and interests.  If everyone were the same, some of these jobs would go unfilled (or would be filled by people who were pretty unhappy to be doing them).  If everyone were just like me, for example, no one would want to be (or be able to be) a scientist or a classical musician or an actor. So a totally homogeneous society would be pretty bad off because everyone would want to do the same things and lots of stuff wouldn't get done.

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ffffffffff | eNotes Newbie

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  1. you are an asshole and a fuck!
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hilahmarca | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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No, it wouldn't be possible. That's the point Vonnegut was trying to make when he set up all these elaborate handicaps to try to even the playing field, but still after many years and hundreds of amendments, the government still fell short.  How could equal wealth ever be maintained?  If everyone's money was taken away from them, then redistributed equally, not long after some people would make a fortune off that money and others would squander it.  What would be left to do, redistribute every couple of weeks?  Then there are other aspects of life such as looks that are purely subjective.  It's impossible to gauge equality for subjective issues.  Vonnegut point then is for society to stop striving for this ideal of equality, laws being the exception, when it's truly impossible to achieve.

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lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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This story takes equality to an extreme that is not possible in any way.  In the United States we treasure our sense of equality, but we all know that there are innumerable inequalities in this country.  Wealth, access to education and medical care, marriage etc. are available to some, but not all.  Even if all of those types of things were brought to an equal level, to have every single person be equal and like everyone else would be boring.

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ffffffffff | eNotes Newbie

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First off, the reason society (in general) pushes us to become educated so that we will have advantage when it comes to becoming successful in our lives in society. This would also mean that it is disadvantageous to be uneducated. People who are uneducated are less likely to be successful by society's standards and more likely to commit crimes. This brings the ideological solution of creating a world or society in which everyone is equally educated. If everyone is equally educated than what advantage does having an education bring someone? An education no longer gives them the advantage to become successful. Some would say that all we need then is enough jobs for equally qualified, equally educated people. Not all jobs are created equal though, so if job A is a better job than job B. Person One goes to job A and Person Two goes to job B. It would seem horribly unfair to Person Two to have the lesser job and be equally educated. Which brings back the question of, In a perfect world/society where everyone is equally educated, what good is an education?

Additional Details

I feel the need to make my point a little clearer, i am arguing against the idea of a perfect world (utopian society) where everyone is equally educated at all times. A purely hypothetical scenario. I only ask this because a scenario like this was presented before me in the light of it being a good idea, and I disagree
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torileach1234 | eNotes Newbie

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Pohnpei397 is right. If our society was a "we" society, then we wouldn't be able to have feelings for other, and we wouldn't be able to do anything without getting into trouble.

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eyedealism | eNotes Newbie

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Equality isn't a good thing. This is almost ideal communism except, there needs to be enforcers, a leader, and noboey has free will.. If everyone is equal, nobody is equal. Not if we have free will and diverse oppurtunity. Capitalism can't be equal. Not hating on cap nor com, only saying there is no system for complete equality if we're humans. But hypothetically, no, very undesirable. If everyone was equal, everyone would either want to not be the same, or to stay that way. Ambiguity, resilience, and change shapes our race. If humans were equal, we'd need to all have the same thoughts. There would be no such thing as nuance. White, black. No grey. It takes the dumb, stupid, fucking idiot to change the mind of the genius sometimes. That's how history works, someone always fucks up. If everyone either never fucks up or always does, there's no such thing as diversity. Diversity makes us human, but sentimentalism aside.. Well if you remove sentimentalism, nothing is desirable..

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atyourservice | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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I don't think a life where everyone was equal in every aspect would be desirable. Thinking about it sounds like an ideal world, where no one is judged, everyone is equal, and gets the same thing; a world where no one is bullied or teased for having less but once you think farther it is actually not such a good idea. A world where everyone was equal would mean getting equal pay, having the same amount of things, having to live in the same way, right now it sounds all good, but imagine if you happened to be a really hard worker and always give your 100% on your work, yet your neighbor only gives half an effort but you guys get paid the exact same amount because you know "equality". In a state where everyone is equal no one would be able to have freedom, to be different would be like being cursed, no one would be able to accept a person who wants to be creative and break out of the bubble. All in all i believe it would be hard to live in such a world.

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