1. DBTate
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    DBTate Senior Member

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    Would an equal world work?

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by DBTate, Sep 7, 2011.

    Edit: No arguments please. Intelligent, relevant discussion; this is not a debate, merely a sharing of ideas.

    Pretty simple question: If the world were entirely equal, would it still be capable of functioning as it does today?

    It is reasonable to assume that there are more than enough resources to share amongst the entire population of Earth. Why then should but a few nations possess so much of them? There are two things that disgust me about poverty:

    A) The blind eye 99% of people turn to it
    B) The fact that it is completely avoidable, yet seems to be sustained purposely

    That being said, if instead of a world fuelled by money and power, we were fuelled by the shared passion of the survival of our species, would we soon falter, and collapse back to our old ways?

    It is my personal (and wishful) belief, that if we got rid of money, and focused on providing each member of our species (we are all the same) with an equal quality of life, as well as pushing for the advancement of our species, we would be much better off. Here are some things I'd like you to consider:

    *The strain on our natural resources is caused by giving too many things, to too few people. We have the ability to provide every one with what we need, without exceeding the threshold of the sustainability of said resources.

    *If money were eliminated, and people were free to gravitate towards their true desires, we would have a lot more skilled, passionate professionals, and a lot less bitter, sub-standard, and overall unnecessary workers. This would lead to the swift advancement in all vital areas; science, medicine, etc.

    Imagine how we far we as a species could go if we tore down the walls of discrimination, as well as allowing everyone the opportunity of an education, and stopped making it increasingly difficult to sustain ourselves on our only home.

    This dream is unachievable because of a small number of people who would not tolerate losing their great wealth... And a large number of people who would not tolerate losing their relative comfort.
     
  2. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I don't think it would work.

    1) Human nature - being what it is, concentrations of power and wealth inevitably develop;

    2) Most of what many consider to be the low-end, undesirable jobs that are out there still need to be done. Going back to human nature again, humans will inevitable place differing values on different jobs, and those perceptions determine the prestige &c that society assigns to those positions;

    3) Money is essentially a representation of an exchange of value. Eliminating money won't change the basics of wealth accumulation and people will simply find other items of value to exchange instead. Only it will not be standard and play havoc with economic systems.

    Tearing down the walls of discrimination can be accomplished, eventually, in my opinion. At least some degree of education can be provided for everyone. Sustainability...well, we're going in the wrong direction on that. The question is how are you going to prevent population growth? Elimination of currency makes things worse, in my view.
     
  3. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I highly doubt that. You overestimate people's motivation to work. In the scenario you suggest, many would, simply, not work at all. Those who have 'true desires', as you say, I think are relatively few.

    Especially in the fields you mention, money is the driving factor (for better or for worse), and should that be removed or even lessened, scientific and medical research would be far less. I see the reality of that every day.
     
  4. DBTate
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    DBTate Senior Member

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    I understand my idea is flawed, and that there will always be jobs that people don't want to do, and people who don't think it necessary to contribute to society. That being said, flaws like these could be fixed.

    Would you not suggest war as a flaw of our current society? Or famine? Death? Poverty? We've found ways to keep our species progressing despite our apparent lack of compassion for our fellow man.

    These flaws seem small in stature to 'unappealing jobs' and 'lazy people'.
     
  5. jo spumoni
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    jo spumoni Active Member

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    I'm an anthropology student, so I've studied egalitarianism a lot, including societies that don't really have money. On a small scale, it IS possible to live equally. There are a few societies in the world that have not a single reported incident of rape or murder. These societies are tiny foraging societies (they get their food from nature rather than producing it), and they are related through kinship.

    one of the most important things, however, is that economic equality is not necessarily the same as social equality. Even among egalitarian societies, there is separation of duties between men and women and between adults and children. If egalitarian societies were multiracial (which they aren't because they tend to be related by kin), there's no reason social discrimination wouldn't exist.

    Finally, you say that if we didn't have money, we'd all be able to fulfill our "true desires" and we'd all be happier people and people would care about their jobs. Sorry, but I think that's an absurdly idealistic view of egalitarianism. If we were all equal and could do whatever we wanted, why would anyone choose to do jobs like sewage management, which are necessary but not very attractive? That's arguably why social hierarchy began in the first place (largely without money, by the way--it usually begins with one man in an inherited position who receives tributes from several villages): so that a large number of people could live together without anarchy and support each other. Getting rid of money doesn't necessarily get rid of a hierarchy in which goods become just as prestigious as money, nor does it particularly ensure that everyone gets to do what he/she wants to do. In egalitarian societies, which are either foraging or very small-scale farming, the people don't specialize: everyone has to do what everyone else does. All the men are obligated to hunt or farm, all the women are obligated to have children, and the children are obligated to learn their places. On a larger scale, egalitarianism falls apart almost immediately in order to keep the peace between people. That's where we start seeing specialization--that's when there are master potters, builders, architects, etc--when someone starts collecting taxes and supporting all the non-farmers.
     
  6. DBTate
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    DBTate Senior Member

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    I've never met a doctor whose desire for wealth was greater than their desire to help people. Nor have I met a scientist who was concerned with money, more so than science itself.
     
  7. DBTate
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    DBTate Senior Member

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    Thank you for your detailed feedback. I really appreciate it. However, this wasn't an essay. It was simply my thoughts on a matter, and a request for the opinion of those interested. I am grateful for the time you obviously spent writing this however, and if I ever get the chance to write an essay on this topic (or decide to do so regardless of a course etc) I will be sure to inform you :)
     
  8. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Actually, I know a retired chief of staff from a hospital in Los Angeles, brilliant oncologist who saved a lot of people, who flat out said he would have done something else if he couldn't have made as much money in medicine. It's easy for doctors and others making money helping people to "say" that helping people is more important than the money, but in reality if these fields aren't lucrative you lose a lot of bright people to fields that are.

    You're not talking about just changing flaws in society; you're proposing to reinvent human nature. That's not going to happen any time soon.
     
  9. jo spumoni
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    jo spumoni Active Member

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    Yeah, sorry about that. I'm getting used to this new format, and I thought this was in the "nonfiction" section. I just edited what I wrote to reflect my opinion and response to the work.
     
  10. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Now my father is a doctor, so I won't speak ill of the profession.

    I meant, moreso, organisations such as clinical/pharma companies rather than individuals. They do excellent work imo (I work for one), but money (making and saving thereof) is behind many of the decisions they make. It is not as simple as 'helping people'.
     
  11. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I don't think the goal of making money in the profession is a negative, nor does a stance on that somehow make one doctor a better or worse person (or doctor) for having that view. The guy I am thinking of is brilliant. If you have cancer, he's one of the people you want treating you. He also does a lot to help people who don't have a lot of financial means. But he makes a lot of money at the same time, and would have gone into business if he couldn't get rich in medicine.

    The idea that money is somehow an "evil" to be eliminated is a strange one. It is simply a representation of value. Without money, humans still assign value, and you'd just have other things taking on the same characteristics.
     
  12. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm pretty much in agreement with the others. Getting rid of 'money' only gets rid of one form of compensation. And not everyone can follow their desires or we'd have no one taking care of the dirty jobs. And those who would would do so because their desire was the compensation given for doing those dirty jobs.

    Just an aside - I don't know a lot of doctors who are in it mostly for the money either. That's because I live in a rural area and most doctors don't want to come where they can't get the big bucks. Many come to such areas only because they get a reduction in their student loans. Once that obligation is taken care of, off they go!
     
  13. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes quite. I'm not judging really, just trying to explain that money is indeed a motivating factor.
     
  14. CosmicHallux
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    CosmicHallux Senior Member

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    My initial issue with the idea of worldwide "equality" was that everyone would have to agree on significant compromises, not only for each other, but for nature. We would all have to agree to regulate our birth rate and our resource consumption or we would simply overpopulate the world, pollute it, and deplete all the resources. I doubt that the earth would be able to support the entire human population if we all expected to drive cars and use our microwaves for snacks.

    As for the discussion about money as a motivating factor--money is a double edged sword. There are people who have to shy away from lower paying jobs that they would like to do, because the jobs don't pay enough to keep one above poverty. So money can motivate people to do important jobs, or it can motivate people to avoid important jobs. You can see problems in the Pre-K schooling in the U.S. from this.

    I disagree with the pure capitalist idea that the jobs which are most important will be the highest payed--it simply doesn't work like that in reality. Perhaps if it did, then this world would be a much better place.

    I think the big problem with under payed jobs isn't the lack of "equality", but the lack of the ability to afford basic resources like housing or medical care. Poverty isn't absolutely necessary as a motivating factor--most people in poverty won't get out of it anyway.

    Its biggest function is to fill the pockets of the rich (who can exploit the poor laborers), and maybe to encourage people to join the military. It's not like no one would work if they didn't have to worry about being homeless or being in debt for the rest of their lives for getting ill. People would still want to make money to better their lives in more creative ways than survival.

    So, what I am talking about here is striving for greater egalitarianism in the world, not for Utopia. Just because money motivates people doesn't mean we need poverty to motivate them too. Money isn't evil. It's just a currency--a blank symbol which can be filled by individual needs.

    I think it's really hard to envision a utopia. I doubt that anything we do as a species will ever be absolutely perfect for everyone. The important thing is to keep trying to create a better society, IMO. The process is just as important as the end result.
     
  15. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Are we (or some) not overpopulating the world already, now? I fail to quite see your point..

    With education, less poverty and/or more 'equality', if you will, the birthrate would drop of its own accord.
     
  16. Quezacotl
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    Quezacotl Contributing Member

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    Communism, in theory, is brilliant and leads to a docile and controllable society in which everyone is equal - equal as in poverty. Yadda yadda yadda, human nature sucks, yadda yadda yadda.

    There can be a time in which an equal and global society exists, which is when everything becomes a commodity. People fight to control resources - many wars were fought in the past just for the control of spices and now a war is being fought to control oil. The US is in the "War On Terror" to stabilize the middle east not because of 9/11, but rather to establish a stronghold on the resources in that area. The world functions on oil.

    To go off on a tangent, the real battlefront people should learn to face is the energy crisis. Find a way to fuel our way of life, so we can easily function without having to defend our bastions of oil. That, and change our way of life so that we can survive on what we have until said scientific breakthroughs occur.

    In response to the medical discussion-
    Doctors are paid based on what procedures they do. When a doctor looks at treatments, they want to get the most lucrative procedure, even if a different one yields less money and is more reliable. A Doctor who specializes in heart stents will implant heart stents, even if their patients can be helped with a less "groundbreaking" procedure.
     
  17. CosmicHallux
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    CosmicHallux Senior Member

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    I absolutely agree with you about education and poverty in the context of our world.

    But most species that I know of will, if given the right conditions, overpopulate and destroy their environment until they are brought under control again by nature.

    I am NOT saying that education and egalitarianism would bring on overpopulation and the destruction of the environment--that is already happening.

    But, I don't believe that egalitarianism will automatically fix these problems either.

    My point is that egalitarianism isn't enough for a utopia, IMO, but people need to also share environmental views. And well educated people cannot do that now, so I don't see how everyone is going to be able to agree on those views in a utopia.

    This, I think, is the bigger issue for me--everyone agreeing on stuff that we can't agree on now--and if force was used on those who dissented, or if they were "brainwashed" into believing these things by a strict control over the media then it wouldn't be a very nice Utopia for writers, artists, and original thinkers, IMO.

    I don't have anything against Utopias, really. This is just a sticking point for me--everyone agreeing on issues like environmentalism, birth control, and artistic freedom.

    Edit: You know, I looked at the OP again and I don't think that I am answering the question...so, um...never mind.
     
  18. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    It's like what Orwell said in 1984; the low/middle populations overthrow the high, the middle become the new high and the high the new middle and the cycle starts over again. I think that a hierarchy would naturally develop no matter how much we tried to balance the scales. That doesn't mean that our quality of life couldn't be significantly improved, though. I'll always hold out hope that we can get our sh/t together and actually work together in unity to create a better world. All we need is a new generation of thinkers, movers, shakers and drivers to get us there, and I hope that's my generation.
     
  19. Snoopingaround
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    Snoopingaround Banned

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    As to the question regarding whether people are capable of living in a fundamentally better society, that is a definite yes. But will they? Based on current trends, probably not.

    I think it is a basic matter of moral character. If most individuals would be willing to help strangers in need, without regard to their own self-interest, then it becomes possible for an advanced, egalitarian, highly civilized and enlightened society to begin. As it is however, we do not live in such a society. Most people, I would say greater than 50%, are by nature or through social conditioning pricks and selfish jerkoffs. Therefore, until there is some kind of tidal wave of change in ideology or attitude, we must have inequality, unfairness, and barbaric behavior.

    We live in a jungle filled with animals, but instead of trees and mud we have concrete and asphalt. Instead of man-eating tigers we have bipedal schemers and exploiters. The best that you or anyone can do right now is to develop and maintain your own sense of honor, decency, and justice. Have courage, and be true to yourself. That is the only way to survive in this modern jungle.
     
  20. DBTate
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    DBTate Senior Member

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    Thanks everyone for your input so far. It's been really interesting hearing everyone's thoughts on this topic.

    Now, it probably seemed as if I was placing too much of an emphasis on money being the 'evil' thing that stops us from being equal, though this was not my intention. Human nature is what has created this gap, and, is what is needed to close it as well. Money is simply a driving force behind people's selfishness and disregard for others.

    Now, you all say that without the necessity of earning a living, why would anyone indeed work? Well, let me ask you this, why do you have hobbies? Why do you write? Are you payed for these? Is there a threat that without these hobbies, you wouldn't be able to maintain the same quality of life? No.

    I read recently that despite our distaste for our jobs, we are actually happier when we are engaged in a task. You know, that feeling you get when you've done a hard days work, and you're proud of it? Satisfied? Etc... I'm sure there would be people who would sit back and do nothing, though I'm sure there would be a greater majority who would pursue some form of work. Why do you think so many people who can retire, don't? They don't having anything to do once they've retired. Many people aren't content with sitting on their couches and withering away, and I believe this would be true of my hypothetical society.

    Answer this yourself, if there were no mortgages, power and water bills, fuel costs, etc... What would you do? You'd pursue your goal, would you not?

    Again, I'm aware that my idea is flawed, though I believe there are building blocks within it that could perhaps set up a great way of life for all of humanity.

    In reality however, I'm aware that sadly, this will never happen.
     
  21. tiggertaebo
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    tiggertaebo Member

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    Fundamentally an "equal" society is not possible simply because we, as human beings are not equal. Some of us are stronger, faster, or more intelligent then others. A society needs binmen just as much as it needs doctors but the difference is that there are alot more people who can fulfill a binman role satisfactorily then can fill that of a heart surgeon so at that point you need to make sure that those who are able to do such specialised roles are incentivised to do so otherwise society will lose out.

    The thing is without the incentive of earning more money than the next guy many of the advances and the products that you use every day simply wouldn't have happened.

    You talk about people being free to persue their goals but I think it is true in many cases that people do jobs for a living that they are good at (so as to maximise their earning potential) rather than that which they would like to do. Personally I'd like to be a writer or a racing driver by trade, however I'm not very good at either of those things (certainly not good enough to be earning a living) but (and I don't want to sound immodest here) I am a rather good computer programmer, hence I do that for the day job and the other things become my hobbies. Now I'm sure that my work doesn't have a large impact on society as a whole but if you scale the example up to people who do make a day to day benefit to society then you can see why as a whole we would be worse off. Everyone "pursing their goals" wouldn't result in a very rapidly progressing society, and since if everyone was free to persue their goals they certainly wouldn't be choosing to do the unpleasant but necessary jobs that keep a large scale human society functioning how would you make sure these got done? Would you force people?

    From a personal point of view a society where everyone from the best and the brightest to the laziest wastrel had the same quality of life regardless of what they did or didn't do with their lives would be pretty depressing. There would be no incentive to work hard as it wouldn't get you anywhere and given the world's rather limited resources I would imagine there wouldn't be enough for anyone to have more than a fairly baseline existence and frankly if I had to wake up every day to the same mundane level of life and know that it could never, regardless of how hard I strived, get any better I'd probably just kill myself as otherwise what would be the point?
     
  22. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i agree, dbt!... my own writings add up to the same things you mention in your posts... and prove the same sad conclusion... browse my site and you'll see...

    love and hugs, maia
     
  23. CosmicHallux
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    CosmicHallux Senior Member

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    I wonder how it would work if everyone in a society got to do a huge poll and vote on how important they ranked certain jobs.

    It seems like most people agree that some jobs are more difficult or specialized, and perhaps they would all agree on paying those jobs more. I mean, some would obviously vote for their own job to be at the highest pay bracket, but I really think that most people would try to vote somewhat fairly. No one want's to be cut open by a disgruntled heart surgeon.

    I know now, I absolutely resent the amount that preschool workers get payed. In California, we have to go through something like 200 hours of college and spend several hundreds of dollars on tuition and books to become eligible to teach preschool. The other aspect of this is that children are THE most valuable thing in most people's lives (who have children). I can't imagine any parent telling me that they would rather lose their child than their money or home. And even people in the rest of the community (who have no children) should be concerned with how the children turn out because they are going to be having to deal with the kids as adults for decades.

    And frankly--it's not some easy job. We don't just sit there with ten children on our knees in front of the TV. We have to teach social skills, discipline, developmentally appropriate academics, and we have to make sure they aren't endangering themselves (which is sometimes harder than it seems). We might have to change diapers, make arrangements for children who have developmental disabilities or have been abused. We expose ourselves to tons of illness as we deal with poop, boogers, and spit. If a child sticks something he's not supposed to in his mouth (which they do) and it gets stuck, or a child chokes on an uncut grape, then we have to do emergency maneuvers to save their life. It is a huge responsibility.

    Not only that, but children thrive on making emotional bonds with their caregivers--but because of the pay that preschool workers receive it is pretty much a give in that it is a "stepping-stone" job for most people, and there is high turnover (in my experience)--which isn't ideal for children's development. I bet we lose a lot of really good preschool teachers simply because they can't afford their bills with that job.

    As it is now, employees at In-N-Out Burger (a fast food chain) make more than a lot of preschool teachers that I've worked with. It's messed up. Even if some professions should be payed higher than others because they are harder or more important, this doesn't happen in the market driven system that we have.

    Maybe having the people decide the value of various jobs within the communities, not based on what they can afford to pay or what they feel like buying at the moment, but based on a logical pole that required thought and understanding, would enable a more egalitarian pay scale that would not make heart surgeons disgruntled or leave preschool teachers without medical care and living pay check to pay check.

    Edit: Another example is prostitution. A call girl can make in one hour, more than some preschool workers make in a whole week (or maybe more, I'm not experienced with the pricing of prostitution). Obviously, the compensation for each service does not reflect the value of the worker's contribution to society.
     
  24. Snoopingaround
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    Snoopingaround Banned

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    Why is there the attitude that a fair and equitable society where people are free to choose their way of contribution to the society is not possible? I think it is very much possible. It is currently the case that we don't have really good examples for it, historically or in the present times, but that doesn't mean that such a society is impossible. There are some issues that need to be worked out, some details that need to be figured out, but in a couple of centuries, who knows? Maybe there could be some kind of utopia that we at present times can only imagine, to exist centuries in the future. Or we could, or rather our descendants, could be living in some kind of decaying hyper-urban techno-apocalypse type of mad-max thunder dome society. Who knows.
     
  25. jo spumoni
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    jo spumoni Active Member

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    I have commented on this already, but there ARE examples of egalitarian societies. The entire world is not one complex civilization. There are many variations of lifeways out there, that among being egalitarian foraging societies. These are small-scale societies that make their living through hunting and gathering and have no obvious differentiation between social statuses. 10,000 years ago, 100% of mankind lived in such societies. Yes, egalitarianism IS possible...but to say that it will lead to some beautiful utopia where everyone is happy all the time is a huge overstatement. Some of the societies really do seem like utopias at first glance: they have more leisure than societies that produce food intensely and all help each other out. They don't use money; they have a more general form of reciprocity in which it is simply assumed that if you do a favor for someone, he/she will do a favor for you in return.

    BUT, in an egalitarian society, everyone depends upon one another to an equal degree, which means that every single person must pull his/her weight. This works on the small scale because it's easy for individuals to keep each other in check. Anyone, however, who's done any kind of group project will tell you that the bigger the group, the harder it is to ensure that everyone pulls his weight. And with no one in charge (in an egalitarian society, this is necessarily true), there's no one to ensure that everyone will pull his weight. That's why when a society goes on to encompass several villages, hierarchy starts almost immediately.Tributes are taken in return for redistributed wealth. And with redistribution of wealth, the society can afford to keep people who really do have choices of whether or not to farm. If you want a choice in your career, you wouldn't want to live in an egalitarian society, because true egalitarianism requires that everyone does exactly the same thing: hunt, gather, raise children, cook, sew, move on. Do you think you'd rather be an artist than produce food? Well, you don't belong in an egalitarian society then. I don't know about the future, and indeed, no one does, but given the current examples (which are actually quite numerous), there's no reason to expect that egalitarianism is the magical formula for a better life.
     

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