An egalitarian society is a society where all individuals are born equal. Basically, this society is based on a political philosophy, known as egalitarianism. This philosophy or doctrine holds that all people are equal and they deserve equal rights and opportunities.
Basically, there are three major underpinnings of an egalitarian society.
- Social Egalitarianism
- Economic Egalitarianism
- Legal Egalitarianism
Social Egalitarianism means social equality in society. In other words, everyone is equal with respect to social status. There are no social classes in society. To put it in another way, an egalitarian society is a classless society. Everyone is equal in all respects in this society regardless of what religion they believe in, what gender they belong to, or what race they are from.
Economic egalitarianism means all the members of the society have equal access to economic resources. Moreover, wealth is equally distributed among the members of society.
Legal egalitarianism means there are the same laws for everyone in society. In other words, everyone is subjected to the same laws in such a society. No legal protection is given to anyone and all are equal under the law.
Philosophies Advocating Egalitarianism in Society
The concept of an egalitarian society is rooted in the philosophies of Marxism or Socialism. Marxism is a political and economic theory that sees a classless society. In a classless society, every member works for the common good of society. Whereas, socialism is a political and economic theory that advocates that means of production and distribution should be owned and regulated by the community as a whole.
In short, an egalitarian society is a society where all individuals are equal regardless of their gender, religion, caste, color, creed, race, etc. They enjoy equal rights and have an access to equal economic resources and opportunities.
Given all the positivity associated with egalitarian societies, the real question is:
Do Egalitarian Societies even exist today?
A fact that human beings by nature are selfish and greedy, the existence of a truly egalitarian society is next to impossible. Today, all the existing societies are ridden with inequalities on the basis of religions, gender, races, color, caste, socioeconomic status, etc.
Furthermore, through the historical records, we find that there have always been gender inequalities in societies to some degree as women have always been oppressed throughout history. So finding a perfectly egalitarian society historically is also impossible.
However, if ever an egalitarian society to some degree has existed; it was Hunting and Gathering Societies. These were the primitive societies where regardless of gender and age; members were occupied in the same work and roles. They had equal access to resources, wealth, and power. No member was dependent on the other for food or goods.