Is equality the highest social value?

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As globalization takes over the world, where a free-market economy prevails and money seems to be the goal of the masses, we ask ourselves if equality could ever be the exception, or is the gap between the rich and poor going to increasingly widen. Equality seems to be a distant dream in the modern world. It needs to be stated that although politicians and governments may talk about how people have rights and justice, it is still extremely hard for the less fortunate to change aspects of their lives that drastically transform their social environment. Philosophers in time refer to the struggle of people and their rights, showing that this is not a recent phenomenon. Above all, equality through an egalitarian philosophy upholds equality for all men, especially the right and privileges in their society that shows it is time for a new perspective to help all.

Setting out the concept of equality and egalitarianism with two initial examples, a start would be with equality, highlighting money and salaries. If ever there were people these days that had the highest salaries you have only got to look at sports stars. The general public may talk in thousands, but these sports stars are talking in the millions. For example, if we take Wayne Rooney, an English professional footballer, earning in the region of £300,000 pounds (Wayne Rooney’s salary calculator) in one week and compare it with an average teacher’s salary in England which hovers between £25,000 to £35,000. This is where equality is highlighted. It certainly draws attention to a value system that sees aspects like wealth, power and fame as number one and real values left to catch up. Even a yearly figure like £35,000, you can see it is nearer to the average wage in England (weekly gross of £474) than anywhere near Wayne Ronney’s massive weekly salary. You could argue, which has the highest value in society a sport/pop/movie star or a teacher? Who would/do the kids look up to? And, what role does education play in society?

The second example from an egalitarian perspective, which highlights equal rights, would be talking about the beautiful country of Australia.  If we had a picture of Australia it would usually show a sun-drenched paradise of idyllic beaches and surfing. This affluent country is definitely developed which is as modern as any other in the world, so you would definitely be surprised to read Kathy Mark’s story in the Independent newspaper with the headline ‘Children found starving in rural Australia’. This is the case of aboriginal families in the outback who are finding it hard to survive. There are extreme problems such as substance abuse, alcoholism, abuse, and general social breakdown. Where did it start and how did it come into being? It is actually the case nowadays that the Australian government spends more money on the aborigines than non-aborigines. People could say it has been a long time coming. The British arrived and started colonizing Australia from 1788 onwards, but it was not until relatively recently, in the 1960s, that Aboriginal rights were re-asserted. So, what has gone wrong that affluent Australia sees its indigenous people left behind?

Furthermore, mention of Australia’s national identity, it is shown to have the belief that it is an egalitarian society. It is a society that believes in a ‘fair go’. These are ideas that are widely held and celebrated. Egalitarianism is a value that became well-established in the national psyche in the nineteenth century and has had a profound impact on the make-up of Australia’s political institutions, government policies and the nature of social relations. This being said Australia may see itself as an egalitarian society, but the question is, does it (or for that matter England) adhere to all egalitarian ideals? In an egalitarian society, there are rules and ideas that everyone has to live by in order to serve the greater good.

it is clear to see that perhaps the most powerful way to express the idea of equality is to highlight those instances of inequality which appear to plague our world’s societies. In the aforementioned examples, it has been shown how the inequality in pay grade vs. benefit to society creates an incredible disparity between possible attainable lifestyles, whilst in Australia we see all too apparent how the damage done from not having equal standing during the formative years of a nation has entrenched generations of an indigenous people in poverty and hardship. If the idea of equality is positively enthused from the beginning the difficulty of repairing relations, lives and damages would not be irreparable. It is interesting to note that this belief in equality has long been thought of as important. A final thought is to look at the words of the Greek philosopher Aristotle taken from Politics V circa 322 BC that says “The only stable state is the one in which all men are equal before the law.” 

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