CLASS INEQUALITY: WHAT IS IT?

It can take many forms, but whatever form it takes, class inequality entails the following:

  • An upper class minority of people are unjustly better off than the lower class majority of people.

  • An upper class minority of people unjustly enjoys privileges and power and wealth that are denied to lower class people.

Class inequality rests on a morally wrong notion of what is a just reason for one person to have more wealth or power or privilege than another. These wrong notions have varied over the centuries and from place to place; they have included the notions that some people are more deserving than others because: 

 

  • they are of noble or royal blood;

  • they are closer to God or the gods (e.g., of a priestly class);

  • they are the "rightful" inheritors of great wealth;

  • they are better/more successful military fighters;

  • they are better/richer businesspersons;

  • they are more educated;

  • they are smarter;

  • they are trained Marxist-Leninists.

In an egalitarian society not based on class inequality, economic wealth distribution is based on the egalitarian economic equality principle: "From each according to reasonable ability, to each according to need or reasonable desire with scarce things equitably rationed according to need." Read more about this here and here and here and here.

In an egalitarian society not based on class inequality, the children of a janitor and the children of a physician (or anybody else) enjoy the same standards of education, healthy food, quality health care, comfortable living space, quality clothing, leisure time, fun vacations, and healthy and attractive environment. 

In an egalitarian society not based on class inequality all people who support the egalitarian economic equality principle and the values of mutual aid and fairness (and only they!) have an equal say in the formulation of the laws and policies of their society. Read more about this here.

In an egalitarian society not based on class inequality there are morally just reasons for one person to have more wealth or power or privilege than another; here are some of those kinds of reasons:

  • A person who has a reasonable need for more wealth has a right to it. For example, a sick person who needs more medical care (which is a form of wealth) deserves to have more medical care than a healthy person. Likewise, a person with many children deserves to have a larger home than a person with fewer children. A 400 lb person deserves to have more food than a 100 lb person.

  • A person who is an expert in a given area deserves to have their opinion be respected more than a person who is not an expert. For example, the pilot of a passenger jet deserves to have a greater say in how the jet should be operated than a passenger who is not a trained pilot.

  • A person who is widely admired for their integrity and commitment to the goals of an enterprise (military or economic or cultural) deserves to have their opinion regarding that enterprise be respected more than a person who is less widely admired for their integrity and commitment to the goals of the enterprise.

  • A person who has passed a driver's test deserves to enjoy the privilege of being allowed to drive a motor vehicle, while a person who has not passed a driver's test does not deserve that privilege.