Sunday, February 15, 2009

Egalitarianism or dominance hierarchy

We in the United States of America look proudly to our Declaration of Independence, which states that all men (persons) are created equal. And that is the definition of egalitarianism. However, as a nation we have moved steadily in the direction of being a dominance hierarchy. In this new social order social relations are ordered according to power and wealth that comes with power. Whereas, an egalitarian society is based on fairness and individual needs, particularly regarding human dignity.

Since restorative justice is based on the idea of building and maintaining positive and caring relationships, let's look at these two dimensions from that perspective. In the dominance hierarchy social order relationships are based on power and fear. Conversely in an egalitarian society relationships are based on social obligations, equality, and cooperation.

If restorative justice is to become part of the mainstream of American life, then society needs to move along the continuum from being a dominance hierarchy to a more egalitarian society. Hopefully, that is the fundamental change that President Barack Obama and others in the Democratic party support. At the present moment we are suffering from the negative economic and social impacts of a social order based on dominance hierarchy. We need to admit this is a failed ideology when it comes to creating a new social order of relationships based on equality rather than suffering the negative impacts of inequality.

I encourage you to read The Impact of Inequality by Richard Wilkinson to learn more about these ideas.

1 comment:

  1. I've been reading Ken Robinson's thought-enriching 'The Element' and it's confirmed my belief that schools and society need to find ways to acknowledge more qualities in young people than we currently do. Easy said, but hard to do with current systems and classes arranged in rows of desks etc. I think in the UK we're still realising the effect of the Thatcher years ('there's no such thing as society' and that kind of thinking has created a 'winners and losers' mentality which often plays out in the subconscious.)
    I'm a big advocate for promoting play in early years and wonder why play becomes marginalised as adults help children to 'grow up' Some of the most creative, and happy people I know are very playful in their nature. Exciting times ahead and I hope today's generation of young people develop values of inclusivity and respect otherwise this polarised society we've created will implode.