Inequality through Egalitarianism

Nikolai Getman was a Soviet artist imprisoned in the Gulag for eight years for being in the close vicinity of someone who drew a caricature of Stalin. During his time in prison in Siberia, he witnessed the inhumane conditions first hand. Although he made an 'honest' living by day after his release from prison, he risked his life to recreate the horrors through his art in secrecy. The entire collection of paintings can be seen at The Jamestown Foundation website, and I highly recommend viewing every single one of them.

getman orthodox priest.jpg

For me, the above painting is quite possibly the most moving of all. The older prisioner on the left, a man of faith, attempts to console the newer, younger prisoners about their circumstances. It must have taken an iron will to believe that "good will triumph over evil" after the depth of the depravity he had witnessed. Yet, under that strength of will must have been a pure heart, motivated to give solace to others, even at the risk of more punishment.

getman NKVD.jpg

When agitations about equality are made, one only needs to look at this painting and look at the contrast between NKVD agents and the camp workers. The NKVD agent in the foreground stands tall and strong, likely well-fed, impenetrable to the cold, towering over the rest. His cohorts in the background stand similarly proud. The workers sit crowded together, hungry, emaciated from chronic malnourishment, crouched like fearful animals, knowing that they are soon to be slaughtered.

The contrast could not be starker. Rather than being an example of egalitarian serenity, it illustrates just how the statures of those ruling and those being ruled differ. Empowering people to use force to attempt to create an egalitarian society inevitably results in the most corrupt among us rising to the top, and when they wield the blade, profound inequalities result. Productive workers are made slaves while the rulers live in relative opulence.

Attempting to create egalitarian societies through violent means inevitably results in unegalitarian societies.

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