Submitted by Highway in Anarchism (edited )

I'd say most of us lean egalitarian, and against established hierarchies of power.

But there's kinds of inequality that don't involve coercive control. Laurels for the winner of an athletic contest should be uncontroversial, right?

No known society is without prestige inequalities according to this:

Graeber here says, "Rather than idling in some primordial innocence, until the genie of inequality was somehow uncorked, our prehistoric ancestors seem to have successfully opened and shut the bottle on a regular basis, confining inequality to ritual costume dramas, constructing gods and kingdoms as they did their monuments, then cheerfully disassembling them once again."

In terms of material goods, it's important that everyone has food and clothes and shelter. But it's maybe not so important that everyone has their own hot-air balloon. There are necessities, and then there are prizes/extras.



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throwaway wrote (edited )

People are not equal. They can never be made equal. We can seek to make people as equal as possible, but it will require great amounts of force and coercion.

Some people are sharper than others. Some are more empathetic than others. Some are really good at driving fast cars, while others are great at writing music. There's those who's either not good at much, or don't want to be good at anything.

You cannot make anyone something they're not. If one person is a great speaker, able to inspire lots of folks with their knowledge and the ways they express it, they will gain respect, and thus will rise above others in the social hierarchy. This is all cool and healthy, as long as the speaker is doing what they're doing out of free will, while the listeners listen freely, because they feel they're gaining something of value.

You cannot do anything to fight that, and you should not do anything either. Problems arise when social hierarchies become rigid hierarchies, when ranks are pronounced and social influence (or power, call it what you will) becomes detached from the reality of the involved peoples.

If your vision of a bright future involves suppressing natural talent, will and personality, then I want no part of it.

Strive for equal opportunity. Strive for cooperation, and support of those who are, for one reason or another, unable to make use of that opportunity. Strive for egalitarianism; not unity or equality.


[deleted] wrote (edited )


Ennui wrote

Aye, but attributes, qualities, deficiencies, etc. affect one's access to opportunities.


[deleted] wrote


throwaway wrote

Yeah, it is off, but I've seen social relations of that sort described as hierarchy again and again.


aaaaarg wrote

Who's allowing what?

But there's kinds of inequality that don't involve coercive control. Laurels for the winner of an athletic contest should be uncontroversial, right?

Why? Think about a marathon, the vast majority of people who run it are not going to win so why do they take part? The role of most competition in games is not to reward winners but to generate challenge at an appropriate level. Doing well, you move up, doing badly you move down, you end up with meeting your match. Mess this up and it's not fun to win or lose.

Sorry to invoke Marx but;

From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs

Doesn't sound like equality in the sense you're talking about but I think it's a reasonable landmark when navigating this terrain.


Anarchyinthesheets wrote

I think it's safe to say most, if not all of us are for equality of access. Of course, not everyone can have their own hot air balloon (should anyone have their own personal air balloon anyway?) but everyone should be able to go on a hot air balloon ride if they want to. If everyone has access to everything they could ever want, this is the equality that's desirable. Of course there will always be inequalities of ability (based on genetics, environment or other factors) and we should work to provide accessibility to all people in this regard. The person that has devoted their life to crafting or piloting hot air balloons will have a greater access to them, this level of inequality is mitigated by having everyone else have access as well.


masque wrote

I think what matters is equality of power (including equal access to resources etc.), not that literally everything be the same for everyone. Does rewarding a winning athlete with something prestigious-but-only-symbolic (i.e. not money) substantially increase their power over others?


existential1 wrote

Start with none and then the involved parties decide on a case by case basis otherwise someone is making a decision for them. Simple. A good mantra for this is, "It ain't my business." Repeat until you longer care what others are doing if it aint ya business. Works for me anyway.


moonlune wrote (edited )

There's probably nuances to have between "differences" and "inequalities".

My hot take is that as long as differences aren't used as a basis of discrimination it's all cool.

I don't like putting our prehistoric ancestors on pedestals. They sucked as much as current people do (except maybe they weren't the source of a global major extinction).

My second hot take is that it's better if I get the better part of the inequality lol.