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Can modern society be Egalitarian?

Can modern society be Egalitarian?

The term is derived from the French word e´gal which means equal. Egalitarianism as a political ideology can be defined as the doctrine that sees each and every person as equal in their moral status, thereby granting them equal rights and opportunities. It advocates the removal of economic inequalities among people and decentralizing power. So, an egalitarian society is one where every person is entitled to equal rights, receives equal treatment and opportunities. This philosophy believes that people should get the same, or be treated the same, or be treated as equals in some respect

These societies comprise of groups of people who agree to live together in these societies as egalitarianism is one of their core values. The main goal of an egalitarian society is solely the reduction of discrepancies of any sort so that each and every social class gets an equal share of the resources; be it wealth or power.

The various areas of concern for establishing an egalitarian society are communism, legal egalitarianism, gender equality, political equality, racial equality, etc. every person residing within the society must be treated equally, should be provided with equal opportunities, rights, freedom, justice, and so on. Every individual, whether a man or a woman must be equal in their rights and duties. People belonging to all religions should also be treated equally even if that religion engulfs only a minority section of people.

Our prehistoric forebears are often portrayed as spear-wielding savages, but the earliest human societies are likely to have been founded on enlightened egalitarian principles, according to scientists. A study has shown that in contemporary hunter-gatherer tribes, men and women had an equal influence on where their group lives and who they live with.

The concept of equality in every niche of society has been applied by humans ever since they started to band together. The early tribes engaged in hunting and gathering food. The sole purpose of coming together and expanding their community was to suffice the basic necessities of existence, namely- food, shelter, protection, warmth, and mate.

Are egalitarian societies possible?

Sadly our society is overly focused on the binary: male and female, gay and straight, black and white, win and lose. In such a world, there is little room for nuance. Our society has preconceived roles for both genders. Gender inequality begins at home only. The societal parameters of discriminating between a boy and a girl have to be done away with. It becomes our duty to sensitize our children regarding gender inequality. 

In modern society where education sure guarantees that people will be less susceptible to frauds and treachery but yet we hear and see a lot of that happening daily. The Economy has a risk factor involved in it. You cannot guarantee that everybody will be economically secure when they play a risky game. There is also a historical perspective. A rich dad’s son will inherit a fortune, a poor dad’s son will inherit a little. You can’t stop this from happening. Every individual is unique. Some people among them are good at doing business. Now a good businessman will surely make more money than a not-so-good businessman, there is no question of economic inequality in this case. This may pop out ideas like socialism, Marxism, etc., which might bring economic equality at the cost of socio-political equality (this is subject to a century-long debate). Finally, Education does not guarantee an Economically Egalitarian society.

The social scene of the Indian peninsula has been quite dynamic. Throughout the history of our sub-continent, it has been through wars, invasions, and visits by foreign traders. Be it Turks, Afghans, Greeks, or British, with every wave, came a drastic change of concepts that controlled the society. But war has always led to one man’s gain and a million men’s loss. Every time the thriving kingdoms were plundered by another ruler, it would leave behind a string of maladies.

By the time India had become a democratic nation, it already had millions of people who had been victims of social discrimination that had put them in a state of negligence. This was further enhanced by the government’s blissful ignorance of their plight. After 71 years of independence, our country still has numerous citizens who are devoid of many privileges and rights that the elitist society is enjoying making India nowhere near egalitarian. We are seeing it happening live during the pandemic outbreak.

One of the most common objections to socialism is the idea that humans are inherently selfish. It is often assumed that greed and individualism are biological facts, inherent in so-called “human nature”. The competition and violence in modern societies are assumed to be simply natural.

It follows then that a truly egalitarian society is idealistic and impossible.

This applies to the inequalities between men and women too. Some people, including many feminists, claim that the oppression of women has been common to all human societies, suggesting that men are naturally domineering or aggressive. The upshot of this argument is that it is not possible to create a society in which women and men are truly equal unless men were to be constrained in some way. However, exploitation, inequality, and the subordination of women to men in the nuclear family do not arise from an inherent and immutable “human nature”. They are products of history. In fact, for the majority of human history since our emergence as a species 200,000 years ago, people did actually live in egalitarian societies, where sharing and co-operation were the norms. Hierarchy, inequality, and oppression were virtually unheard of. This changed only within the last 10,000 years.

Why should it matter that people have or get the same? No doubt in some circumstances movement toward equality of some sort can be expected to increase the extent to which other values worth caring about are achieved. The question here is whether the achievement of equality of condition of any sort matters for its own sake, independently of whether it hinders or promotes the attainment of other values.

While some researchers believe otherwise: everyone’s being equal is not valuable for its own sake. Suppose the universe contains two persons, one of whom is far better off than the other. If we can effect a change, perhaps by transferring resources, that will make the worse off person better off and make the better-off person worse off, provided the change does not bring it about that the formerly better-off person is now worse off, the change will bring the people closer to being equally well off. So equality recommends the change, at least if other things are equal.

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About The Author

Charu Gupta

A professional with over 6 years of intermittent employment experience in IT. With a strong inclination towards learning the interaction of products and spaces with human beings, shifted my career path in design research to learn the skills that would help me tothink inside the closed dimensions to be able to innovate outside them. Currently pursuing my passion for skill development and education through government funded projects. A passionate writer, content designer and traveller who loves to explore new places and meet new people.

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