Had this conversation yesterday with a younger relative. Not in economic terms, but they can be useful here.
The Gini coefficient is a mathematical expression of economic inequality, ranging from 1.0 - 0, where 0 is Marx's utopia and 1 represents total concentration of wealth in the hands of one person - say, a literal interpretation of God in Abrahamic traditions. But what is wealth but one abstract measure of power in a free market? It isn't political power or social influence per se, but you know and I know that these things are for sale. Wealth is not the only measure of power, but the boundaries between expressions of power are permeable.
Imagine a democratically organized commune, where all things are held in trust by a collective - shared among the members when possible, their use determined by the will of the group otherwise. Each individual may hold equal economic and political power - although variations in individual knowledge and social influence are inevitable. Contrast with modern Russia. Not only is political power concentrated in the hands of one man, but also legal, economic, and military power - Putin's control is not absolute but it is upheld by near-monopoly on violence. The wealth, power, and influence of others is subject to his approval and by his leave.
Our country was founded on platitudes of equality and justice, scribbled by wealthy white slave-owning men who used political power, social influence, and violence to oppress others based on sex and race. Still, they sought to build a nation more equal than the monarchy they renounced, under the flag of ideals we still follow, even if they did not. We know that perfect equality is a dream that we will never achieve, but the pursuit of that dream is how we uphold justice.
We can not achieve justice in an unequal nation. It is not enough to have one person, one vote for all people if votes are on the market in a country of profoundly unequal wealth. We are not equal in a system that suppresses the voices of some while promoting the opinions of others. Most relevant to our mission - the capacity for violence must never be concentrated in the hands of a few. Self-defense and the collective defense are both human rights. Equality isn't possible under a monopoly of force.
Which brings us to underlying attitudes. Autocracy is rooted in selfishness - not mere self-interest, but a pursuit of personal power in disregard for the welfare of others. It is upheld by cruelty, ruthlessness, suppression of dissent, dishonesty and fear. By contrast, equality is upheld by kindness, respect, generosity, defense of diversity, openness, and dedication to truth. Live your ideals.
Last edited by wings
on Sun Jan 29, 2023 11:41 am, edited 1 time in total.