Egalitarianism – What it is, definition and concept

Egalitarianism is an ideological current that defends that all human beings are equal despite their differences. Therefore, government actions and civil in egalitarian systems they must pursue this equality.

Egalitarianism is based on the biological premise that all human beings belong to the same species. This being the case, the social and economic differences derived from the vital development of each person over the centuries is totally rejectionable, and we must work so that everyone is situated at the same level.

The egalitarian current, within political ideologies, identifies with leftist doctrines. In fact, communist theses defend a type of extreme egalitarianism, although we also observe this egalitarianism in fascist ideologies.

On the contrary it happens in the case of ideologies of democratic right. We see this rejection of egalitarianism most emphatically in liberalism.

Basically it is a philosophical debate, it is about questions such as: Are we really the same? Can intelligence be a differentiating element? If we start from the same base, how have current inequalities been generated? Is inheritance a desirable factor of inequality? Equality or freedom? Is the appearance of property legitimate? Do birth inequalities justify redistribution?

Types of egalitarianism

  • Partial egalitarianism: This type of egalitarianism is strictly limited to the realm of opportunity. In other words, in order to achieve a just society it is necessary that all those who compose it have access to develop the life to which they aspire. In addition, no individual is discriminated against in any of the vital facets. Karl Popper identified with this current.
  • Liberal egalitarianism: This is the egalitarianism developed by the American philosopher John Rawls. Not only is equal opportunities necessary, but the State must also intervene to alleviate income inequalities as much as possible.
  • Absolute egalitarianism: It is the own of ideologies and totalitarian regimes like the communists. Absolute egalitarianism proposes the elimination of all individualistic manifestations. That is, people have to be equal on all levels, without merit, work and effort being a differentiating element. Even less if the differences are marked by factors such as intelligence.
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Characteristics of egalitarianism

Egalitarianism, in a generic way, has the following characteristics:

  • All human beings are conceived as equal.
  • All people deserve the same treatment, without the existence of privileges or discrimination.
  • The State must intervene in the economy, providing all kinds of goods and services that equal the population.
  • Equal opportunities is a necessary idea.
  • Structural situations of poverty and inequality must be fought.
  • The market must be very limited and regulated.
  • Regulated and limited private property.
  • Individualistic ideological positions, such as liberalism and its subtypes, are rejected.
  • Social democratic, socialist and communist ideologies are embraced. It depends on the degree of egalitarianism.

Egalitarianism and political ideologies

As we mentioned at the beginning, egalitarianism identifies with some ideologies and is directly opposed to others. Why do you identify with leftist ideologies? Because they are the ones that prioritize equality over freedom. In other words, decisions regarding freedom are never above equality. Less in the social democracy, which ensures a minimum provision of freedoms.

The superior value of the Marxist postulates is equality, everything is justified to achieve it. To do this, it is committed to measures such as the elimination of inheritance, nationalization of the means of production, rationalization of assets, free public education, expropriation of medium and large owners, heavy progressive taxes, centralization of economic decisions, etc.

However, it clashes head-on with liberalism, since it defends that equality is not only not a negative thing, but its existence is even desirable and necessary to a certain degree, since it is inequality itself that generates incentives. Although some less radical branches of liberalism do promote equal opportunities, as well as equality before the law and non-discrimination.

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Egalitarianism, according to this ideological current, is undesirable and unworkable due to factors such as intelligence and feelings. Human beings are different from each other: intelligence, envy, responsibility, preferences, tastes, etc. they are factors that impede the development of egalitarianism.

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