Egalitarianism In Kurt Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron

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Harrison Bergeron: The 20th century has been characterized by the struggle between capitalism and communism. Events such as World War II and the Cold War had magnified the American fight against communism, leading to propaganda and stories against it. “Harrison Bergeron” was written in 1961, a time when the Cold War against communist Russia was in full force. It can be read as a story about what total equality can do to a society, but looking at the story more in depth you discover the hidden message it projects. In Kurt Vonnegut 's “Harrison Bergeron,” he paints the picture of society that has had total equality forced onto its people to show the extent to which too much power can be abused. He puts the United States government and Harrison…show more content…
Peter Reed says it "satirizes an obsession with equalizing,” basically taking the whole story as a representative of egalitarianism (29). The exaggeration by the American public to help and aid those at a disadvantage, usually a Leftist belief, is brought to the extreme by doing the opposite by bringing down those who succeed to meet the level of those at the disadvantages. Hattenhaurer stated that Vonnegut 's non-fiction has normally satirized the Right and endorsed the Left (387). However, he doesn’t not claim that Vonnegut is on the Leftist side of total equality and classless society. Hattenhaurer actually claims that his story satirizes the American definition of freedom as the greatest good to the smallest number (389). Forced equality to benefit those who weren’t born with natural talents by punishing and regulating the advantages people are born with results in what isn’t a truly equal society. The story said in the beginning that the people weren’t just equal under the law, but also God (Vonnegut). This results in the punishment of the privileged. Economic writer Stephen Moore claimed that the original and traditional American concept of equality as "equality under the law” means that the same rules apply to all, not the same results (29). He states that it isn’t possible to have a classless society because it hinders the economic prosperity of the nation. “Equality of rules ensures that all enjoy the same freedom of contract, which empowers them to maximize value and production, and plan investment knowing they can rely on their agreed contractual rights.” (Moore 29). He basically states that competition encourages the advancement of a nation and the equality under law allows for all to have the opportunity to contribute. He clearly understood Vonnegut’s work to be an attack against communism as he uses it in his argument against equalizing legislature
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