A glimpse at libertarian hell...

"The year was 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren't only equal before God and the law, they were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendment to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General."

Opening paragraph of Harrison Bergeron
A short story by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
In the book Welcome to the Monkey House

I checked this book out of the library to reread this short story, after reading a post at ontheborderline.net about the requirement of having equal cheer leading represented at boys' and girls' sporting events. Below is an interesting take on that story...

See: Dennis Prager Commentary: Left Supports More Liberty Is A Fallacy

"High school cheerleaders must now cheer for girls' teams as often as for boys' teams thanks to federal education officials' interpretations of Title IX, the civil rights law that mandates equal playing fields for both sexes. According to The New York Times, almost no one directly involved wants this - not the cheerleaders, not the fans, not the boys' teams, and not even the girls' teams. But it doesn't matter: The law coerces cheerleaders to cheer at girls' games."

Recently I read a story about Miracle Field, an organization that helps develop community baseball fields designed for handicapped children. It's an interesting idea that makes me say "Why not!"

By Sarah Lemagie, Star Tribune: Disabled children might get ball field

"Lakeville volunteers are raising money for a baseball field designed for handicapped youth."

I wonder what it would be like if all boys and girls learned to play together -- regardless or ability or disability? What if the point of games were to have fun and learn to work together -- despite our obvious differences? What if we lived in a world that tried to bring everybody together in the spirit of cooperation in work, play and community live?

Just a thought...


Cato said...

I read that short story long ago -- It would be my hell if there was such a place. The least common denominator is where we are headed.

JPN said...


We could be headed for the least common denominator, but that might be were the melting pot leads. It's like a stew. The longer it cooks, the more the components breakdown and blend with the other ingredients and the harder in gets to tell the carrotts from the taters.

My experience is that the more the stew boils down, the better it tastes. Time and societital evolution will tell.

Player Piano is my favorite Vonnegut book. I like others, but have been drawn back to Player Piano and its discription of automatation and the impact on society.

cato said...

Least common denominator = no Einstein, no Mozart, no Jefferson, no movers of the world. Terribly, miserably equal in potential is the doom of civilization. The least common denominator would be the last place any person would want humanity to strive for. At least, any person that had any love of humanity.

Andy Rand said...


Were these brilliant men you mention products of their society or rebels against it? I think there will always be genius that is not understood in the culture it dwells in.
Surprisingly though, in general I agree with you on the general direction we are headed as a society, but I'll bet we disagree on who's to blame. My villain would be Pop Culture which has commoditized
the banal. Just look at this Anna Nicholle Smith crap. Hours of news time on a no-talent nobody. Someone said she was famous for being famous. If she had a talent that would be it, to use the fame making machinery to her advantage.
Now do you see this kind of crap on Public (Government) television. Of course not. This is the epitome of free market consumerism, selling the stories of the miseries of others for commercial gain.

666 said...


Evidently, all your data points point down hill. I am sure there is hot sex in the Amish communities, under those plain black dresses. Ditto for those Muslim women...

Maybe you are talking about the commercial variety of common denominator. If I paid attention to who wins the Grammy, I am sure I have a few CDs from recent Grammy winners. However, they would be listened in the smaller print in the bluegrass or old-time or world music categories -- possibly polka.

It is interesting that Cato would view this as sinking to the lowest common denominator. The beer industry looked like it was going to consolidate into all Budweiser not too long ago. There are naysayers in every era and charlatans too. Predictors of the future are rarely on the mark. Ours is a herd mentality and history has a long line of examples of those who stray from the herd and eventually pull the herd their way through creative imitative, etc.