Egalitarian possibilities

Can humans live in societies where every citizen is equal, can we – do we want to – eliminate inequality? The archeologists and activists cited below say they proved this was once the case in ancient societies. It seems to me the fact such societies, if they ever actually existed, did not survive, proves them wrong.

Why? Because no society contains human beings of equal ability, intelligence, drive, leadership skills and desire or ambition. In other words, there are always leaders and followers some in a positive sense, some not. We humans are not and never have and never will be equal.

Over the course of human history, these writers argue, as societies become larger and more sophisticated, they also become more hierarchical. Once early humans invented agriculture and congregated in cities, they also divided themselves into kings and peasants, lords and serfs, masters and slaves.

New York Times 11-5-21

Graeber and Wengrow spent the last decade disproving that idea by researching archaeological sites all over the world — from Mesoamerica to China. A guest essay published this week in Times Opinion, which was adapted from their book, “The Dawn of Everything,” argues that “a surprising number of the world’s earliest cities were organized on robustly egalitarian lines.” NYT 11-5-21

Ancient History Shows How We Can Create a More Equal World
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/04/opinion/graeber-wengrow-dawn-of-everything-history.html?referringSource=articleShare

Our goal is not the impossible equality, but fair and equal opportunity for all while assuring that those truly unable to help themselves receive societies assistance- defining those individuals is the hard part.

3 comments

  1. Anybody who has been forced to serve on a committee knows this is not true. There will always be an alpha male (or female) in a group. Whether it is trying to decide policy or where to go to dinner. Someone will always step up and make a suggestion and others just will not care and follow the leader. Ancient cities probably had at least the village elders to help guide the people from history and wisdom of the past by knowing what worked and didn’t work. Thus these elders were the government leaders of their time creating a hierarchy. So no, not everyone was equal even then.

    I think the NYT is trying to rewrite the past again like the 1619 project that lead to Critical Race Theory without actual proof.

    But in a way, groups of people were more equal in ancient times. In the nomadic tribes, you carried your weight or you were casted out, including the sick. They just didn’t have the ability or the resources to care for the weak when everyday was about survival. In other ways the equality may have been also was true. There may have been a dozen jobs to do such as a hunter, warrior, gatherer, cook, mother. If you were a poor warrior, you got killed so in the Darwinism way it was of the survival of the fittest. Because of that, all the warriors were more equal because the bad ones were killed. But even the warrior had a leader or they would all be standing around in a circle voting on what to do while the attack was happening.

    Even today, in some countries you will become an outcast if you do not follow social norms so how is that equal? Or is equal because everyone thinks the same?

    Today, society has the means to care for the sick and the old. We allow people to contribute nothing to society and they expect to be taken care of by the rest of society. If you want to live in your mom’s basement smoking drugs, society will let you. Society has given you the equal right to life without throwing you out into the wild.

    America is one of the few countries that allows you to start your life off with equal opportunities. Those that have the abilities and take risks will go far. Those who don’t take advantage of the opportunities offered will just follow. In some countries, you are still born into a caste system and you will never be given equal opportunities. These caste societies were not created from a group of equals in ancient times deciding that one person was going to be a poor farmer and be subhuman for eternity. Some alpha male or a group of warriors probably enslaved them to do the work that they didn’t want to do or have the time to do.

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    1. “America is one of the few countries that allows you to start your life off with equal opportunities.”
      The end opportunity may be the same but the path to reach an opportunity are far from equal. Someone who is born to family with generations of living in poverty faces more challenges to reach the same opportunity successfully than someone born of a family of great wealth.

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      1. True and that will always be true anywhere in the world. Same is true for those with an IQ of 85 and those with 135.

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