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Comment on the opinion that a belief in egalitarianism is common to all forms of socialism.

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Comment on the opinion that a belief in egalitarianism is common to all forms of socialism. Egalitarianism is a belief in absolute equality. In a society run by such an idea, members of that society enjoy formal equality, equality of opportunity and equality of outcome. In an egalitarian society, the gap between the rich and the poor, the 'have' and 'have nots' will either be minimised or eradicated because all people will earn the same amount regardless of personal talent. While all forms of socialism will espouse the idea that society should strive to be more equal, not all will go to the extreme of egalitarianism where that equality is uncompromisingly imposed. There are two main forms of socialism, revolutionary and utopian. Revolutionary socialist believe that a socialist form of government can only be achieved by rebellion, utopian socialist believe it is possible for a 'worker's paradise' to be created through legitimate means. Within these two categories it is still possible to identify further sub-categories; within revolutionary socialism it is possible to identify Marxism, Maoism and Leninist-Marxism. ...read more.


Instead they argue that it is the treatment of individuals which must be changed so that people are treated equally regardless of gender, sex, class, ability or race. In this respect it is clear to see that socialists are arguing for greater formal equality rather than for greater equality of outcome. Their justification of their view is not based on a factual argument but on a moral one. The Fabians believed that greater equality would lead to greater efficiency as greater equality would allow a greater number of people to fulfil their potential. Other justifications of this view include questioning why we accept inequality. Other socialists, particularly Christian socialists such as Tawney have focused on the concept of equality before God. To be specific, the belief that all souls have equal value and deserve equal treatment. This would support the concept of natural rights, in this sense, God-given rights, that all humans are entitled to. This argument is based on the concept of human rationality, that is, all humans when making a decision, will lean towards an option that is rational and causes either good to the individual or good to society. ...read more.


In short it would seem that while a belief in equality is common to all forms of socialist thought, this support does not often extend as far as a belief in absolute egalitarianism. Between the various 'fragments' of socialism there is no one belief in what the term 'equality' means. All will support formal equality, where all members of a society share the same rights e.g. the right to a fair trial or the right to vote. All forms of socialist thought support the concept of equality as a condition, that is to say, equality of opportunity. It is over the concept of equality of outcome that controversy develops between the various forms of socialist thought. As mentioned earlier, it is rare to find socialist thinkers who support complete equality of outcome and they are normally found on the extreme fringes of communism. On the other hand, socialist governments tend to pursue policies which lead to greater equality of outcome such as progressive taxation, welfare benefits and the minimum wage. A belief in egalitarianism in its purest sense can therefore not be said to be common to all forms of socialism, on the other hand, a belief that society needs to be come more equal is at the core of all socialist thought. ...read more.

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