What Is Egalitarianism?

Egalitarianism is a philosophical perspective that emphasizes equality and equal treatment across gender, religion, economic status, and political beliefs. Egalitarianism may focus on income inequality and distribution, which are ideas that influenced the development of various economic and political systems.

Egalitarianism also looks at how individuals are treated under the law. Karl Marx used egalitarianism as the starting point in the creation of his Marxist philosophy, and John Locke considered egalitarianism when he proposed that individuals had natural rights.

Key Takeaways

  • Egalitarianism is a philosophy based on equality, namely, that all people are equal and deserve equal treatment in all things.
  • As an idea, it can be looked at in terms of its implications for individuals in both an economic and legal capacity.
  • Economic egalitarianism, which argues that all should have access to wealth, is the basis for both Marxism and socialism.
  • Legal egalitarianism says that everyone must follow the same laws, with no special legal protections for one over another.
  • Many countries in the world have aspects of egalitarianism woven into the fabric of their societies.

Understanding Egalitarianism

One of the significant tenets of egalitarianism is that all people are fundamentally equal. Egalitarianism can be examined from a social perspective that considers ways to reduce economic inequalities or a political perspective that considers ways to ensure the equal treatment and rights of diverse groups of people.

A current prominent issue regarding egalitarianism is international migration. A debate in many countries analyzes the effects of immigration on their domestic citizens only, and some seek to restrict immigration to protect domestic economic interests. The reality is that immigration is a significant gain for those who move to a new country.

Types of Egalitarianism

Philosophers break down egalitarianism into several types. Proponents of economic egalitarianism, or material egalitarianism, believe every member of society should have equal access to wealth. Economic egalitarianism forms the basis for Marxism and socialism.

Economic Egalitarianism

In terms of wealth and finance in free-market economies, supporters of economic egalitarianism believe everyone has the right to accumulate wealth. Therefore, each individual should have the opportunity to make money in this system. People may amass wealth through investments, entrepreneurial efforts, and income from employment.

Starting a business can be attempted by anyone and represents an opportunity to make money. The entrepreneur will typically seek financing and invest the capital in a business enterprise. Customers have an equal opportunity to buy the company's products or services.

Finally, these consumers have an equal choice to respond to the company's prices and quality of goods or services to make an informed decision about a purchase.

A few things limit economic egalitarianism in a free market society. Money supply, inflation, lack of jobs, and consumer prices may limit economic activity for people who lack wealth. Legal constraints affect economic egalitarianism.

 Legal Egalitarianism

Legal egalitarianism involves the principle that everyone is subject to the same laws, and this means no group has unique legal protections over another. People who idolize political egalitarianism espouse democracy, where every person has equal standing concerning governmental power.

Economic egalitarianism in a free market is the belief that everyone has an equal opportunity to become wealthy by investing in and supporting entrepreneurship and employment.

Moral Egalitarianism

Moral egalitarianism is the idea that globally all human beings must have equal respect and concern for everyone else. It is the idea that humanity is connected and that everyone deserves human rights. Of course, the definition of equal respect or fair may vary and depend on individuals, making it hard to enforce true egalitarianism.

Political Egalitarianism

Political egalitarianism believes that each individual has the same social power or influence over politics in work, government, and daily life. For example, principals have the authority over their teachers and staff to make choices for the school and grade. However, under political egalitarianism, every educator at the school would have the same level of authority and power.

 Racial Egalitarianism

Racial egalitarianism is very similar to moral egalitarianism, and it is the idea that everyone has equal respect for one another no matter their race or ethnicity. For example, Martin Luther King, Jr., believed in racial egalitarianism and other leaders of the Civil Rights movement in America.

 Gender Egalitarianism

 Gender egalitarianism believes that men and women, no matter their gender, are equal and must be treated as such. Gender egalitarianism supports equal rights, roles, and responsibilities for men and women. Gender egalitarianism does not support the idea that there are roles for "women's work" and "men's work" or gender-specific roles in business and the home. In a society where there is gender egalitarianism in families, but parents play equal parts within the family structure.

The Importance of Egalitarism

Because egalitarianism is the idea that all people are created equal and should be treated equally and that access to wealth, in the case of economic egalitarianism, is the idea that everyone in a society should have similar levels of income and money.

It is the idea that all people should have equal opportunities and access in society, no matter their gender, race, or religion. Some countries are more egalitarian than others, but the pursuit of global egalitarianism is an effort to level the playing field worldwide.

Is Egalitarianism the Same as Socialism?

Egalitarianism is a branch of socialism.

What Is an Egalitarian Society?

In an egalitarian society, all are considered equal, regardless of gender, race, religion, or age. There is not a class system in an egalitarian society but relatively equal access to income and wealth. Some societies are more egalitarian than others, and some areas of egalitarianism are part of economies, politics, and laws.

What Is the Most Egalitarian Society?

There isn't data for "the most egalitarian society" in the world, but in terms of economic and gender equality, Nordic countries like Sweden and Norway rank high for economic and gender equality.

What Is the Opposite of Egalitarianism?

The opposite of egalitarianism is elitism, meaning others are considered beneath one's social class or standing.

How Is Feminism Different From Egalitarianism?

Feminism and egalitarianism have similar aspects, but they are not the same thing. Feminism is the belief that gender discrimination has to be eliminated for men and women to be considered equal. Egalitarianism is the idea that everyone is created equal and deserves equal rights, but it is not a political movement like feminism.