Equity

So I’ve been watching the @whatever podcast recently, I quite enjoy trying to break down just where it’s all going wrong in terms of the ‘human wisdom’.

One of the questions this time was the difference between equality and equity. I’ve thought about this before and although I understand experientially the difference, I could not come up with a proper definition of what equity is.

And the same for the guests on the show, they provided some examples and kind of ‘groped around’ what equity is, but no one was able to unequivocally state just what it actually is!

It’s pretty clear that equality as a belief system is ultimately a failure and that equity delivers the goods, so it would be helpful to be able to define it.

As an ‘actualist’ definition I can say that equity is living the fact that we are all fellow human beings but this would make no sense to someone on such a podcast haha.

So then I thought a more general one could be that equity is to live in accordance with the fact that no human being is intrinsically superior/inferior to another whilst at the same time living the fact that no human being is the same as another.

But that’s still kind of mushy, what do you guys think? @claudiu I think you might be able to put a nail in this one? :wink:

Also a fun realisation I had there was that in order to enforce equality as a system it necessitates that each human being is made into a copy of the social blueprint, only in creating such a caricature can we compare everyone equally according to the same yardstick. And of course that whole process is a dead end with regards to happiness and harmlessness.

It’s fortuitous that you posted this as equity has been foremost on my mind since reviewing Richard’s latest writing re: Srinath and then going back and re-reading ‘The Formation and Persistence of Social Identity’

viz:

March 20 2000.

RESPONDENT: You say ‘equity and parity is the key to success’.

RICHARD: Yes, the ‘theory of mind’ signifies both equity and parity to be involuntarily automatic in any social situation. The question is: what is preventing this spontaneous recognition of being fellow human beings from flowing-on into all areas in common?

(…elided…).

RESPONDENT: I don’t know why you say that equity and parity are involuntarily automatic in any social situation.

RICHARD: Concurrent with the recognition of the other creature being a fellow human being comes a tacit ‘of course’ that one treats the other with the same consideration as one treats oneself; it is the implicit acknowledgment of ‘similarity’ (like species knows like species). However, this spontaneous attribution of equity and parity (which is consideration for the needs of both oneself and the other simultaneously) is, as I go on to say further below, hijacked, subverted, sabotaged.

(…elided…).

RESPONDENT: Equity. Parity. Are these just high-minded ideals, political theories divorced from the reality of everyday life in human societies?

RICHARD: Yes and no (and I am not being tricky here) in that yes, they are “just high-minded ideals” when applied as a discipline, a practice, a duty, and no, they are not “divorced from the reality of everyday life” when they come spontaneously, involuntarily, of their own accord. In a word: artlessly.

(…elided…).

RESPONDENT: Naturally, there is a dark side of democratic institutions that is well known…

RICHARD: And here you have put your finger on the nub of the issue: the spontaneity of equity and parity which comes with the recognition of being fellow human beings is hijacked, subverted, sabotaged. And by what?

RESPONDENT: (…). Greed is a factor: I think I am lacking and you have something I want; therefore, I am going to take it from you to acquire it for myself.

RICHARD: Is this greed triggered by a primal (human condition) cause or a proximate (human conditioning) cause?

RESPONDENT: Conditioned fear is another factor. Our lives have sometimes been derailed by violence, you know, children are abused, mistreated, and it perpetuates this wheel of sorrow.

RICHARD: Yes (although sorrow itself has a much deeper cause; but that is another topic). These are contributing factors; what I am looking for is what ‘I’ am doing to hijack, subvert, sabotage this spontaneous equity and parity . What other human beings do is their own business; only unilateral action will do the trick.

(…elided…).

RESPONDENT: Yes, you are quite right. I had not seen that before but it makes sense. To say ‘this is the way it is … human beings are basically greedy …’, to start with an assumption like this rather than leaving the question open and starting with inquiry, as we (sometimes) do here, however imperfectly, is bound to produce a whole system based on false premises. It is an approach designed to produce a particular end. Now, I hear you saying that equity and parity are involuntarily automatic when we recognise others as our fellow human beings.

RICHARD: Yes, if one says that human beings are only ‘basically greedy’ or only ‘basically selfish’ – and there is nothing else – then an investigation is stymied before it gets off the ground (for then it is all over: ‘this is a sorry world’; ‘the universe is a sick joke’; ‘life is a bitch and then you die’, and so on and so on). Then one has no alternative but to construct evermore elaborate coping mechanisms (…).

(…elided…).

RESPONDENT: So, where do equity and parity come into the picture?

RICHARD: Only unilateral action will do the trick.

RESPONDENT: Action as in not of thought? Care to expound?

RICHARD: By ‘unilateral’ I mean that living with equity and parity is something one does entirely on one’s own; it does not depend upon the cooperation of others. What they do is their business (as long as they comply with the legal laws and observe the social protocols, they are left alone to live their lives as wisely or as foolishly as they choose). One does not have to concern oneself about any other person’s modus operandi at all; they can carry on being grotty if that is what turns them on. Therefore, one’s basic starting point is this: how can one live with equity and parity in the world as-it-is with people as-they-are?

(…elided…).

It is the pure intent to live in peace and harmony (equity and parity) irregardless of other’s intentions that fuels the process.

So the critical thing here is that equity and parity are a natural consequence of theory of mind, aka awareness of the other as a conscious individual. However, identity jumps in and creates hierarchies which get in the way of that essential recognition. Additionally, this is something which the social identity by itself (during basic actual freedom) is capable of generating and maintaining, though without the affective backing.

Social conditionings are interesting because they’re maintaining that hierarchy and distance, but they’re trying to conceal them at the same time, which is of course only a tactic to continue. An example would be politeness, where one might be seeing another through a lens of complete scorn, but due to rules of politeness required to ‘be nice’ with their words and action. However, this politeness is only a cover and does not make up for the lack of actually experiencing directly the parity and equity that naturally comes from direct experiencing of the other.

Since reading the above, I’ve been seeing the difference in myself, how ‘my’ normal is to be making little criticisms of others, seeing them as a threat, dismissing them, etc. All different ways of defending ‘my’ place in the world relative to them, in a competitive way. Whereas when I can remove those layers and see them, I can’t help but recognize the ultimate equity that is simply a fact of the matter that I’m alive and they’re alive and we’re all participating in this being alive at the same time. They are no longer a threat and there is no necessity of denigrating them (or, alternatively, building them up as superior).

This is the parity and equity that all the social movements have been aping, but it happens automatically when ‘I’ am out of the way.

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OK so equity is a natural result of theory of mind, but what precisely is equity? (as opposed to what it naturally arises out of).

Richard describes it as:

equity and parity (which is consideration for the needs of both oneself and the other simultaneously)”

Seems like a pretty good definition to me!

I think the important distinction is that rather than being a moral ideal or principle to strive for, it’s a quality of awareness that naturally arises from certain states of being.

I guess I came into this topic with a bit of an agenda, that is to be able to explain in a ‘human’ way the difference between equality and equity and why one is a failure and the other delivers the goods.

I think this is part of the problem, experientially I can tell what equity is all about, but trying to place it in a neat word box seems tricky.

I guess it goes something like this :

real world denizen - So you’re saying you don’t believe in equality!?!?

Kuba - Equality as a belief system is clearly a failure, I would instead focus on equity.

real world denizen - Ok… so what’s equity then?

I found that theory of mind framework useful… just by being aware of others and that they are alive and conscious just like me, I care about them and want them to have success in life. If I can make their lives better, I will.

I think the thing that makes it difficult is that because the awareness depends on a state of mind, someone else might not remember what that is like, so description might fall flat.

“Awareness and care for others such that one cares for them in a similar way as one cares for oneself”

That’s my best whack at it

Yeah I guess the problem is also trying to turn it back into some real world language or even establish equity as some moral system, then the experiential aspect of it is lost. Might just have to concede that you cannot combat the wisdom of the real world!

But then if equity is a fact then it should be possible to describe it plainly! It seems to me that equity is the recognition of the fact that the other is a fellow human being and as such they are intrinsically on par with oneself.
Where this differs to equality is that it allows the other to be different to oneself without affecting the fundamental parity.
It’s the best of both worlds because it allows individuality whilst maintaining parity.

Yes well said

I also like that it allows for others to make different choices than oneself (independence!) and allows for being very direct or oppositional at times when that is deemed to be the most helpful course of action (whereas moral codes and ethics seem to frequently wander into snowflake territory)

There’s also the benefit of understanding the position the other is in, I think the emotions jump in before a good grasp is there and then wishes for equality come in as a hope

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Yeah this is what I notice on the podcast, constant power battles waged over equality but it’s all very silly when you step back and look at the situation sensibly.

It seems that equality and equity have 2 different targets, equality ultimately requires that one is reduced to a copy of the social blueprint whereas equity points to the factual existence of the other.

Equality always seems to devolve into petty power battles whereas equity ensures mutual understanding.

But really at core the difference is that 1 points to facts and the other to beliefs.

Perhaps this is why equity is hard to ‘translate’ into a moral absolute, because the facts are as varied as each situation/individual, it is impossible to have a rule that would apply in each case, with equity.

Whereas equality can box everyone into a bunch of social categories and then demand that they are all measured against the same yardstick. But the reason this doesn’t work is precisely that one is no longer an individual, so resentment and power battles are inevitable.

The other thing is that equality is absolute, it does not care but rather demands with authority. Whereas equity is sensitive and sensible. Which as you say @henryyyyyyyyyy allows for frank discussion, because one is free to point out the facts without the fear of transgressing some moral boundary.

It’s really fascinating to watch that show because taking all this into consideration there are 2 very very different outcomes haha when one follows equality vs when one focuses on equity.

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I would put it like this: as we know from fully free people, consciousness itself is shapeless, centerless, genderless, and boundaryless. This body being conscious has the same quality as say a female body being conscious, it’s just that what this consciousness is conscious as and of is a male body in one case and a female in another.

I wonder if this is the case even for animals. All of it is ultimately the universe being conscious of itself. I saw this video of a baby elephant gaily prancing about: https://x.com/shouldhaveanima/status/1788621677179400673?s=46&t=74UTyfJiyZ0pm8i2lo0ytA . And it made me think that joy and naïveté may ultimately stem from the universe being surprised and delighted to find itself being conscious, in that case as a baby elephant!

In any case, as a human being, when you see another human being we, due to having theory of mind, intrinsically know that the other is also conscious in just the same way we are — so of course I will treat them as I want to be treated! It’s just obvious.

This is the same across all humans, hence this is whence actual equity and parity come from, as Richard used the terms.

This being the case, every human is indeed different. Some are taller, some shorter, some run faster, run slower, some sharper/more clever, some less. It is completely nonsensical to behave as if everybody is the same height, for example. When putting together a winning basketball team, height is obviously a factor and one would evaluate applicants differently based on their height (among other things, it’s just one factor). The same applies to IQ and other traits, both heritable and not.

These facts don’t change whatsoever the fact that the quality of the consciousness of each such person is, ultimately, the same. Hence they don’t detract from that equity and parity in and of itself per se. I could put it that you thus treat a tall person the same way you would want to be treated if you, too, were tall, and not as if they are the same height as you.


Now, in the real-world, “equity vs. equality” usually comes down to two different concepts: equality of opportunity or equality of outcome. Both can each be called either equity or equality, which confuses matters. The former maps most directly onto the equity mentioned above – everybody should be given the same opportunities, which people will then take advantage of according to their differing abilities. The result is a society where if two people have similar abilities and traits, they will end up doing similarly well, while people who are more abled or talented will do better, and those less so, worse. So there is disparity on outcome, but everyone had the same chance.

Equality of outcome is… socialist/communist/Marxist/neo-Marxist/‘woke’ nightmare fuel:

It is where any disparity along any dimension of identity (race, sex, sexual orientation, etc…) is implicitly attributed to discrimination (racism; sexism; homophobia; etc…), now called “systemic” so no particular instance need even be given as evidence, and is attempted to be redressed by increasingly illiberal and draconian measures. I don’t think any sincere person actually knowingly advocates for this, even those on the left of the spectrum. They either do so unknowingly, or if knowingly, they really on a Marxist-type mission.

Cheers,
Claudiu

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Thanks @claudiu that’s some good info, I’m still trying to condense it all into a short definition.

A short and sweet one that makes sense - Equity is a fundamental parity which applies in the face of actual differences.

So just like you said it doesn’t matter if the other is short or tall, they are a fellow human being (the universe experiencing itself as a flesh and blood body) and as such they are fundamentally on par. The cool thing is that recognising this fundamental parity means that we don’t have to go round looking for equality, it doesn’t matter anymore.

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So equity (being a fact) is something that equality (being sourced in belief) aims to get to but can never reach. And it is identity that has to disappear for the matter of fact equity to become apparent!

Just like Richard alludes to in the quote, equity (which flows naturally from / is intrinsic to the quality of being conscious) is usurped by the identity within and is perverted to become equality. Now this matter of fact recognition of the fundamental likeness (and therefore parity) of the other is turned in line with the beliefs and morals that set each identity apart. E.g ‘I’ as ‘woman’ demand to be on par with ‘man’ according to whatever social yardstick is being used. The problem of course is that no longer being rooted in fact it all gets very silly very quick.

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I realized that something we’ve been overlooking here are the psychodynamics behind equality as it plays out in reality

I see it as essentially a pity play which depends on a dominant ‘winner’ in the paradigm who generates ‘loser’ factions which make a play for sympathy. Because many people identify themselves as losing, this underdog effect creates a powerful faction of rebellious brats who inherently play for the opposites of the dominant group.

The dominant faction win with basically instinctively-attractive wealth, good looks, and charisma. The weaker faction generates counter-power by playing on sympathy, by identifying as victims of the culture. They find themselves as trapped though because their power comes from their position of victimhood wherein they must forever rail against another dominant force.

Because this is a competitive play within the opposites of the human condition, the ‘loser’ faction creates an ‘opposite-reality’ which they attempt to push as ‘good’ to contrast with the values of the dominant faction. This happens naturally as those who cannot succeed in the initial culture attempt to establish themselves as good & valuable. They band together around common identities to create a coalition which can culturally challenge the dominant group.

From this position, the ‘loser’ faction agitates for ‘equality,’ which is a veiled play for power by those masses that feel they are losing the attention war.

I recently spoke via email with Vineeto about victimhood and she pointed out to me that it consists of veiled aggression:

Vineeto: “It’s also helpful to be aware that the feeling of being a victim is aggression standing on its head (being passive aggressive) which then invites the feeling of righteous indignation and other-blaming, all which serves to diminish feeling good.”

‘Equality’ pretends to be about everyone being in the same place but really it’s about punishing those who the weaker have been jealous of - redress for all the pain that population has ever felt, which is misguidedly blamed on those who in the psychodynamic paradigm have been ‘winning.’ This explains the venomous energetic dynamics and actions behind those cultural movements.

This isn’t to say that those dominant individuals aren’t playing a role; they have reveled in their position & participate in their own way in an energetic counter-force.

As with all human reality, there is no solution to this dynamic except dissolution; as long as you have those feelings of ‘winning’ and ‘losing,’ those groups and their dynamics will inherently be generated, as can be seen with various social forces which have arisen throughout history.