It’s easy to call attention to the perverted side-effects of egalitarianism when you live in America in the  year 2016 and …

  • Women are being driven into STEM courses via affirmative action
  • Employers are coerced into fulfilling gender/race quotas instead of hiring on merit
  • Standardized tests are dumbed down so more members of victimized groups are admitted into universities
  • Anyone with a pulse can mosey across the border
  • Grown men are allowed to fix their mascara inside women’s restrooms so long as they truly feel like a woman on the inside
  • Sports announcers named Jessica babble from the sidelines

And on and on and on …

However, it is much more impressive to call attention to the perverted side-effects of egalitarianism when you live in America in 1961. When Kurt Vonnegut published Harrison Bergeron, the Civil Rights Act would not be signed into law for another three years. America was 85% white. 6% of women had completed 4 years of college.

The short story Harrison Bergeron takes place in the year 2081.

Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.

Beautiful women wear masks so as not to embarrass the double-baggers. The thoughts of smart men are interrupted by mental handicap radios. Fast people must hang scrap metal from their bodies to make them equal to mediocre athletes. Generally talented people are pejoratively called the under-handicapped. Basically, 2081 is the year of the equalist  singularity.

Go ahead and read it. It’s entertaining, soothsaying and just a hair over 2,000 words. Free PDF here.

P.S. People much smarter and well-read than myself have argued that political correctness really started in the 19th century. That means that the descent into madness of the West had begun long before Vonnegut was born. So, he had plenty of material to draw upon. After all, Harrison Bergeron was published during the dawn of the counter culture movement. Still, there is an interesting similarity between the character of Harrison Bergeron and the situation that talented members of certain unprotected groups (groups without state/culture-sanctioned victim status) find themselves in.