In philosophical and political discussions, particularly over the question of how to organize and structure society, we are generally presented with a dychotomy with absolute equality on one hand and absolute heirarchy on the other. Some people genuinely believe in the goal of absolute equality and oppose all forms of heirarchy. On the other hand, some people genuinely believe in the goal of absolute heirarchy, a pyramid scheme, and oppose all forms of equality. It is my goal here to show how both views are wrong.
To begin with, the ideal of absolute equality, which is part of the essence of communism, is obviously an ideal that is impossible to be reached. This notion has been throughly discredited by all facts of human nature and behavior. But beyond the impossibility of absolute equality, when one considers its implications, it is also highly undesirable, as it contradicts people's individuality and therefore variance/diversity. The reason for this is because human beings are naturally unequal in their mental abilities, physical caracteristics, personal preferances, actions and so on.
This means that the attempt to create absolute equality will always fail because of human nature, because of the diversity of and conflict between people's thoughts and actions. But not only is pure equality impossible in humans, it is also impossible in terms of resources; that is, the resources of the earth are distributed in a diverse and unequal way across the face of the planet. This is why, no matter what the communists do to try to bring about a utopia of equality, it is never actually reached. Despite their intention to bring about a state of absolute equality, the communists ended up with something quite different in practise. What they ended up with was a governmental dictatorship that acts in the name of the goal of equality.
"The iron law of oligarchy" puts forth that heirarchy is an inevitable and naturally arising structure. While this notion is compelling for various reasons, there are some problems with it. The problem is that no oligarchy is actually permanent. Neither has there ever been a pure pyramid scheme; there has always been imperfect pyramids, not perfect ones. So, just like absolute equality, a pure heirarchy is an impossibility. Why? Because there is always some degree of both upward and downward mobility, no matter how much one tries to freeze things in place.
All things considered, heirarchy does have a little bit more leeway then absolute equality in that it does seem that there is at least a tendency toward it in institutional arrangements. However, it is never actually reached. It is not only impossible to create a mathematically perfect pyramidical progression, but even if such a progression were achieved it would be impossible to sustain. Even seemingly heirarchal institutions such as a monarchy never reaches a true pyramid scheme and eventually break down.
I would like to replace the iron law of oligarchy with the iron law of entropy. The contention here is this: both egalitarian equality and pyramidal heirarchies are not natural structures, and the attempt to impose them will inevitably break down. To be clear, this does not mean that I oppose all structure (the original meaning of "anarchy"). It does mean, however, that no structure is permanent and that there is no such thing as an institutional arrangement that is either purely heirarchal or purely equal.
Entropy tells us that (1) there is no such thing as a static atmosphere, there is always change over time (2) because of this, there is no such thing as a permanent institution and (3) since there is no permanence, all institutions will eventually break down. Entropy is that natural force that causes central systems to inevitably break down. The more centralized a system becomes, the more that it sows the seeds for its own downfall and the more drastic this entropic downfall will be. The more complex an economy, the more complex information becomes, the less discernable and managable it becomes by central planning.
The existance of the individual, of variance, means that some people's choices will cause them to rise above or drop below others in a particular area. This entropic force of the individual works against both attempted equality and attempted heirarchy. In regaurds to equality, such an individual creates inequality and therefore breaks down the system of attempted equality. In regaurds to heirarchy, such an individual creates mobility and therefore breaks down the system of attempted heirarchy by moving upwards or downwards in their position.
The more of such individuals that are out there making decisions, the harder it becomes to impose equality or heirarchy. It defies central planning in every way. The iron law of entropy can be thought of as being one and the same with the iron law of decentralization. The decentralized decision-making of a diverse array of individuals (1) makes prediction pretty much impossible (2) makes economies, societies harder to control/manage through central planning and central control (3) causes a natural diversity in outcomes, and therefore inequality and (4) causes outcomes and social positions to change over time.
The desire for centralization and static atmospheres (which inevitably imply permanence) stems from various misunderstandings about human nature. Let us establish some facts about human nature then. To begin with, human beings are rational creatures, and by rational we mean the ability to freely make choices (free will in a handbasket). The term rational here does not refer to standard measures of intelligence or wether or not the person's choice is the correct one or actually leads to the ends that they desire. It does not refer to wether their desired ends are "smart or dumb" or "good or bad".
Human beings choose to act in their self-interest in the name of achieving desired ends. This simple fact about human behavior makes the ideal of absolute equality impossible. The decisions of individual people to achieve the ends that they desire and improve their own economic and social conditions works entropically against any attempt to impose equality in economic and social results. It also works against any attempt to impose a pyramid in economic and social results. Both require the impossibility of freezing people into place once either total equality or a total pyramid is reached; and of course it never makes it to the point where total equality or a total pyramid reached.
Under communism, which is supposed to mirror the ideal of absolute equality according to its starry-eyed proponents, the desire of human beings to improve their conditions as individuals does not dissapear. The natural diversity, and therefore inequality, between people's physical and mental abilities, ideas, personal preferances and actions does not dissapear. The unequal distribution of resources on the planet and between people does not dissapear. So what does communism actually do? It temporarily erodes at the positive fruits of the freedom and diversity in human capability and social interaction. However, this does not stop all such activity. Inevitably people's diversity manifests itself in their choices and the central system attempting to equalize them crumbles.
Under pyramidical heirarchy, which is supposed to mirror the ideal of an absolute pyramid according to its starry-eyed proponents, these same traits of human nature do not dissapear. People still desire to improve their conditions. People are still diverse and have the potential for mobility. So what do highly heirarchal systems such as monarchy actually do? They temporarily erode at the positive fruits of the freedom and diversity in human capability and social interaction. Just like communism, it is impossible for it to truly stop all of such activity under a system such as monarchy. People's autonamous decisions cause a degree of mobility which gives leeway to the lower social classes (peasants, serfs, etc.) to rise upwards while forcing the upper social classes (kings, nobles, dukes, etc.) back downwards, and the central system attempting to pyramidize them crumbles.
The communists fail to understand that there is nothing inherently wrong with inequality between the abilities and conditions of human beings. For example, take a mail-man and a physicist. They are inherently unequal in what they prefer to do and in what they are good at doing. There is nothing wrong with this at all. It is a manifestation of diversity in human ability and desires. To ask for absolute equality would lead us to the absurdity of expecting one to become identical to the other.
Under communism, anyone considered to be in a position that is more beneficial or above another is expected to become identical to a lowest common denominator. As such, the communist system temporarily erodes human potential. However, because human nature cannot be abolished, human potential and choice causes this attempt to fail and the system attempting to enforce it to crumble.
The monarchists and fascists fail to understand that there is nothing inherently wrong with mobility (I.E. change over time) in the conditions of human beings. While the desire of the communist is a static atmosphere of equality, the desire of the monarchist is a static atmosphere of rigid, mathematically regressive pyramids. To demand that all peasents permanently stay in the same place economically is to expect the impossible. Inevitably, some individuals within the peasantry will find ways to improve their economic conditions. Likewise, to demand that all nobles stay in place economically is to expect the impossible. Inevitably, some individuals within the nobility will make poor decisions and face worsening economic conditions.
Under monarchy, anyone demonstrating mobility, particularly anyone in the lower classes showing the potential of rising upwards, is expected to stay in their place. As such, the monarchal system temporarily erodes human potential. However, just as in communism, because of the fact that human nature cannot be abolished, this causes the attempts to fail and this system to crumble as well.
To claim that we have a one-dimenstional choice between absolute equality and the iron law of oligarchy is to set up a false dychotomy because neither of the two ideals are ever actually achieved in the absolute, as they go against the nature of their subjects. The negative effect such systems have on their subjects become quite obvious for all to see. People have a natural tendency to work against it and this only intensifies over time. The iron law of entropy shows us why.