This is one of the most contentious posts that I have written (originally posted at The Small “r”), and many may read it superficially and jump to incorrect or under-informed conclusions. Nevertheless, this realization does not hinder me from adding to such a vitally important debate in America….
The premise behind the phrase, “…all men are created equal,” was to distinguish the establishment of the United States from the then-common European belief in the divine rights of monarchies. Yet, the ideal of “equality” has caused no small amount of confusion within contemporary debates over the growing inequality in America. The very word “equality” is often used with varying implicit assumptions, a typology for which follows:
A Typology of Equality
Natural Equality – A positive equality addressed in the Declaration of Independence, that all of humanity is bestowed with intrinsic, inalienable and immutable natural rights.
Isonomy – A positive equality addressed by the ideal of equal justice under law.
Social equality – An equality that can be positive or negative, by respectively providing a sense of cohesiveness… or a sense of envy.
Perceived equality – A negative equality that turns natural equality into a materialistic equality.
Determined equality – A negative equality that emerges in response to perceived equality by attempting to force a material equality via distributive justice.