Saturday, October 4, 2008

Egalitarian Resources

Because I mean a variety of things by equality, there are a variety of resources here. Also see my posts on Radical Political Theory (7/6/08) and Participatory Economics and Economic Theory (7/8/08) for ways that various oppressions interact, and how a more equal economics might be possible.

Two writers that I have found useful in thinking about the various forms of oppression as forms of inequality are Audre Lorde (see in particular "Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference" and "Scratching the Surface: Some Notes on Barriers to Women and Loving" in Sister Outsider) and bell hooks (see Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center, particularly the chapter on "Changing Perspectives on Power").

Starhawk's Truth or Dare (see my post of 8/17/08) talks about the development of hierarchy (including some controversial theories about the ancient transition from egalitarian hunter/gatherer societies to "a hierarchal, patriarchal, militaristic society"). She also talks about ways to share leadership in egalitarian groups. (The two works that I cited in my last post, "Leadership for Change" and "The Tyranny of Structurelessness" have useful ideas on shared leadership as well.)

A good book on economic inequality, and particularly how this has grown in the US since the 1970s, is Economic Apartheid in America by Chuck Collins and Felice Yeskel. The organization United for a Fair Economy works to reduce this inequality.

For those with a philosophical bent, the works of John Rawls (A Theory of Justice and Justice as Fairness:A Restatement) and Michael Walzer (Spheres of Justice) look at the issues of equality in relation to fairness and justice--particularly the issue of distributive justice. Michael Walzer also attempts to differentiate what he calls 'Simple Equality' from 'Complex Equality' and their relationship within a pluralistic society. Richard Gilbert's book, How Much Do We Deserve attempts to draw from Rawls and Walzer as well as other philosophical and theological principles to form his own principles of fairness, equality, and distributive justice.

As Eugene Debs says, equality is about our 'kinship' with everyone. It's a not a static concept, and working toward equality will occur in lots of different ways. If you have other ideas for resources related to equality, I love to hear about it.

Quote of the day: "Years ago I recognized my kinship with all living things, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on the earth. I said then and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free." - Eugene V. Debs
Word (or phrase) of the day: Permablitz
Hero(es) of the day: Pete Seeger

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