This article suggests ways of demarcating a liberal-egalitarian family of conceptions within political philosophy. It seeks to accommodate diverse conceptions while nevertheless demarcating liberal egalitarianism in a way that is coherent, distinctive and attractive. Liberal egalitarianism (the article argues) is about the simultaneous strong defence of individual liberty and substantive equality. But because there are real tensions and sometimes contradictions between certain liberties and substantive equalities, liberal egalitarianism is also necessarily a set of theories about how to address these. Liberal egalitarians differ in their accounts of equality and in their proposals for addressing liberty-equality tensions. Even so, I argue, any attractive and distinctively liberal-egalitarian resolution of these tensions must require a strong but morally individualist account of substantive equality, protection of political and civil liberties from trade-offs with equality or welfare, weak protection of property rights and respect for a proceduralist-democratic minimum.
Egalitarianism and Hierarchy in a Model Democracy
The Swiss system of direct democracy is in many ways paradoxical. The federal structure counteracts the formation of centralizing state hierarchies and protects the egalitarian representation of local political interests. Simultaneously, local political structures can have hierarchical and exclusionary effects, especially when democratic processes are turned into values. This article considers the tensions between egalitarian and hierarchical values in Swiss democratic structures in the wake of the rise of anti-foreigner and anti-EU passions harnessed by extreme right-wing parties. These tensions are heightened in the context of global processes that are transforming the structures of the state, as corporate power undermines state apparatuses with the potential to subvert democratic practices.
Mockery, Egalitarianism, and Uncertainty in Northeastern Namibia
The trickster has held a prominent place in the study of folklore, as much as it has been central to anthropological understandings of egalitarianism. In both, the trickster embodies an insoluble tension between the repressed, amoral desires of the individual and the moral demands of social life. This tension, so it goes, is visible in the ambiguity of the figure—a protean indeterminate being, neither good nor bad. Among the Jú|’hoànsi of northeastern Namibia, the trickster is similarly ambiguous. The figure conveys not a clash of values, but rather the doubt and uncertainty people feel toward those with whom they share resources, or about different ways of sharing and how they might relate to one another. This article approaches such uncertainty through a focus on the mocking phrase “you’re a trickster” and the moral discourses that accompany it.
Egalitarian Ideologies and New Directions in Exclusionary Practice
Bruce Kapferer and Barry Morris
This article considers the broad historical and ideological processes that participate in forming the continuities and discontinuities of Australian egalitarian nationalism. We draw attention to its forma- tion and re-formation in the debates surrounding the so-called Han- son phenomenon. Hansonism refracts the crisis of what we regard as the Australian society of the state in the circumstances of the devel- opment of neoliberal policies and the more recent neoconservative turn of the current Howard government. Our argument is directed to exploring the contradictions and tensions in Australian egalitarian thought and practice and its thoroughgoing creative reengagement in contemporary postcolonial and postmodern Australia.
An Egalitarian Critique
The language of rights is increasingly used to regulate access to health care and allocation of resources in the health care field. The right to health has been grounded on different theories of justice. Scholars within the liberal tradition have grounded the right to health care on Rawls's two principles of justice. Thus, the right to health care has been justified as being one of the basic liberties, as enabling equality of opportunity, or as being justified by the maximin principle. In this article, Filc analyzes—from a radical egalitarian standpoint—the limitations of the different attempts to ground an equal right to health on Rawls's theory of justice and offers a first approximation to a radical egalitarian formulation of the right to health.
Danish Middle-Class Consumption, Egalitarianism, and the Sanctity of Inner Space
Jeppe Trolle Linnet
In this article, the style of social interaction known as hygge is analyzed as being related to cultural values that idealize the notion of 'inner space' and to other egalitarian norms of everyday life in Scandinavian societies. While commonly experienced as a pleasurable involvement in a social and spatial interior, hygge is also examined as a mode of withdrawal from alienating conditions of modernity. In spite of its egalitarian features, hygge acts as a vehicle for social control, establishes its own hierarchy of attitudes, and implies a negative stereotyping of social groups who are perceived as unable to create hygge. The idea of hygge as a trait of Scandinavian culture is developed in the course of the interpretation, and its limitations are also discussed against ethnographic evidence that comparable spatial and social dynamics unfold in other cultural contexts.
Towards an Egalitarian Realisation
Part of the popular attraction of transparent governance and freedom of information is that it has the potential to reconfigure venerable information asymmetries between state and citizen. Is this an expression of the liberal genealogy of the idea? Based on four foundational considerations, this article argues that the 'new' practice of the right of access to information (ATI) suggests that the idea can escape its liberal heritage to serve egalitarian socio-economic outcomes. The first explores the genealogy of ATI as a right, examining its 'liberal' roots. The second considers the idea that liberal rights are, per se, non-progressive or anti-egalitarian. Accordingly, the third examines the nature of the right. The fourth considers the praxis and the emerging empirical picture to see if it supports ATI's embryonic 'theory of change', which casts ATI as a 'power right', which in practice, and subject to certain conditions, enables ATI to adopt an egalitarian disposition.
Proper Forms of Sharing and Being Together
Maja Hojer Bruun
The Danish concept of faellesskab (community) is explored in this article. Faellesskab covers different kinds of belonging and notions of proper togetherness in Danish society, ranging from neighborhood relations at the local level to membership in society at the national level. In investigating the ideals and practices of faellesskab in housing cooperatives, the article shows how people establish connections between these different scales of sociality. It argues that the way people live together in housing cooperatives, in a close atmosphere of egalitarian togetherness, is a cultural ideal in modern Denmark. The more recent commercialization of cooperative property has, however, caused concern. While some believe that faellesskab can still be practiced in the small enclaves of autonomous cooperatives, others fear that this ideal is threatened by economic inequalities.
This essay explores two largely distinct discussions about equality: the 'luck egalitarian' debate concerning the appropriate metric of equality and the 'equality and difference' debate which has focused on the need for egalitarianism to consider the underlying norms in light of which the abstract principle to 'treat equals equally' operates. In the end, both of these discussions point to the importance of political equality for egalitarianism more generally and, in the concluding section, an attempt is made to show how the ideal of 'equal concern and respect' might best be pursued given the results of these important discussions.
Statists claim that robust egalitarian distributive norms only apply between the citizens of a common state. Attempts to defend this claim on nationalist grounds often appeal to the 'associative duties' that citizens owe one another in virtue of their shared national identity. In this paper I argue that the appeal to co-national associative duties in order to defend the statist thesis is unsuccessful. I first develop a credible theory of associative duties. I then argue that although the associative theory can explain why the members of a national community should abide by egalitarian norms, it cannot show that people have a duty to become or to continue as a member of a national community in the first place. The possibility that citizens might exercise their right to reject their national membership undermines the state's ability justifiably to coerce compliance with egalitarian distributive norms and, ultimately, the statist claim itself.