The Question of Equality




The Question of Equality


Equality is the fundamental demand of the rebellion of the poor: it
should be the ideological force behind the new society. How this egalitarian
demand is understood is crucial to the distinction between the Democratic
Revolution and the Marxist-Jacobin Revolution.

The Marxist answer to the egalitarian demand is the dictatorship of the
proletariat, which Maurice Duverger shrewdly describes as an accurate
continuation of the Jacobin theory of terror:

". . .Man is born but capitalism corrupts him: In order to destroy the
system of oppression, exploitation and alienation development by capitalism,
violence must be used. Violence against the state, in the first palace, so long
as it is in the hands of the exploiting classes: This means revolution. Next,
when the working class has taken power, the force of the state is directed
against the exploiters and used to destroy every trace of exploitation: this
stage is the dictatorship of the proletariat."

In a society such as ours, in which the rich are too few and the poor
too many, the Marxist-Jacobinist approach has a ringing appeal. With the term
proletariat, one simply substitutes the poor. By "expropriating the
expropriators," or eradicating the rich, equality is achieved with one bold
stroke.

The trouble with this formulation, however, is that the dictator-
proletariat is itself dictated upon by an all-powerful Party, while even among
the poor there is a hierarchy of classes, beginning with the "advanced"
proletariat, followed by the peasantry, the intellectuals and the petite
bourgeoise. Moreover, there is a contemptible class, the lumpenproletariat, a
term reserved for "the scum of the earth."

Stated, therefore, in Marxist-Jacobinist terms, the rebellion of the
poor is self-contradictory: it is unable to approximate the egalitarian idea.

The reason for this lies in the heart of Marxism itself equality is
exclusively regarded as a relation between social classes, hence, the solution
to bourgeoise domination is proletarian dictatorship. In sum, while the
domination is proletarian dictatorship. In sum, while the domination of one
class is oppressive, the domination of another is not. But the egalitarian
principle states that all men are equal, however their class, color, or creed;
it is thus a condition of each and every individual in society. A man is not
just a worker, a farmer, a teacher, or a capitalist: he deserves to be treated
justly and equally as the rest not because of these social functions but because
and simply because he is an individual human being. But the Marxist-Jacobinist
equality depends on class, on status, which is contrary to the human concept of
equality. It is for the reason that man in a totalitarian state is defined
arbitrarily and persecuted arbitrarily by assigning him to a social class.

How could this logical practical contradiction gain so much power and
appeal? Partly because of coercion and pertly because of the fascistic
tendencies of capitalism in underdeveloped societies. Communism was the only
honest alternative in Tsarist Russia and feudal-warlord-colonial China. The
democratic revolutionaries in these countries were neither sufficient nor strong
enough; there was no sense of democratic revolution.

Democratic institutions, no matter how weak or corrupted by the social
system, are a pre-condition for a democratic revolution, or what is called,
"revolution from the center." Its central problem, like that of the rebellion of
the poor, is equality. Equality, moreover, that is necessary initiated in the
political realm.

Obviously, then, the fundamental task of drastic political reform it to
democratize the entire political system. The high cost of election, for example,
works against the egalitarian principle, for the rich man or the instrument of
the oligarchic rich, have an edge against the poor. The literacy test
discriminates against the illiterate, who, in the present-day state of mass
communications, need not necessarily be less qualified than the literate. The
minimum voting age is 21 discriminates against the 18-years olds, who are
considered old enough to fight and die for their country. The oligarchic clutch
on the political authority makes democratic rights the exclusive benefits of a
controlling class.

The Marxist-Jacobinist claims that political reconstruction is
impossible without social revolution. On the contrary, political reconstruction
can change society, as we are now changing society through a reorientation of
our political authority.

Political structure forms is by no means minor: it is, in the context of
our experience, quite revolutionary. The gap between the humble citizen and the
center of national power is considerably narrowed down. But what is of
paramount importance is the advent of participatory democracy. The masses will
no longer wait until controversies and issues of the day are crystallized for
them by the debates of vested groups in the media; they crystallized the