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Class & Equality

Standing opposed to the idea of social class is social equality. Both ideas look simple but are in fact more complex. If you are not clear about the deeper meaning of equality then read the page on the right first.


A society is a group of co-operating individuals. In the sense that "co-operation" only means operating together, how this is achieved is not a consideration here.

The boundaries between societies are simply determined by the extent and type of co-operation or non-co-operation between them.

Individuals may be members of more than one society i.e. more than one group of co-operating individuals. Each society may have formed for the performance of different operations and the individual may be playing a part in all of them.

  • Societies themselves may coalesce or divide as social operations change.
  • Societies may have conflicting operations  and mechanisms for resolving such conflicts are necessary.
  • Societies may co-operate to destroy another society, this is war.

Social Fitness

In a given environment those societies that fit best are more likely to survive.

(This is survival of the fittest as Darwin meant it. A common misinterpretation is that the organism that most effectively destroys others is more likely to survive. This is not the case. Promoting others and winning their support can be far more powerful. See The Selfish Gene)

In a changing environment adaptability is essential to survival that means the ability of a society to optimally transform its self and thus its social operation as a whole.

Social Power

The social power of an individual within the society is the extent to which they control the operation of others and thus influence the social operation. Forms of social power might be;

  • Force
  • Money
  • Inspiration

A prime issues within any social group is how the allocation of social power is determined, given that those with greater social power will have more influence on the social operation.



Some would argue that we are inherently equal and that therefore it is inherently wrong that social power should not be equally allocated within a social group. This disregards the facts that;
  • many tasks are better performed with an allocated power structure even if those in the group are equal, and
  • that it is largely evident that people are not inherently equal.


Members of the society may be divided into types.


Types may be ranked into classes by the social power they hold over other types. A class is simply and ordered set of types.

Forms of Society

A society is more likely to survive that promotes those who promote its survival and demotes those who destroy it but just as many different species of animal can survive and prosper so many different species or forms of society can survive and prosper, and the anatomies of these surviving societies can be quite different from one another.

Some people would will wish to promote one form of society while other will wish to promote other forms. Just as some animals are predatory so also some social forms are predatory victimising other societies or forms of society. This natural state of affairs is not necessarily a good one.

Rather than benefiting at the cost of others there are many processes that lead to benefiting while benefiting others. Organising people to make use of a resource can benefit everybody even if the organiser takes a larger share.

Often those that desire to victimise other societies disguise the process to make it look as if they are in fact benefiting them.

Libertarian Societies

The notion of liberty is that of freedom that does not victimise others. The notion that libertarian societies are not only able to live effectively side by side but coalesce to form larger societies gives them an innate advantage over non-libertarian societies.

Conflict of Forms

Those with social power can use it to transform society. Not all members will necessarily want the same form of society so conflicts can arise.

Frequently those with more power will seek to maintain the social form that gave them that power while those without power will seek to transform the society to gain power but this is not necessarily so. Such societies are inherently unstable and so often more force is needed to maintain them.

If a societies operation is such that the members of the society can operate


Objectives and Directives Social Purpose

Social Process


Don't necessarily get on with non-libertarian societies. The privalidge of class is not a problem until the upper classes victimise the lower classes. However the lower clases may seek to replace the upper classes that ofer them less benefit for one that promises more

Class and Social Form

Being absorbed into a libertarian society

Thus it is inevitable that certain people will prove better at exercising power then others and that some people will prove better at acquiring power than others. Unfortunately these two types of people are not necessarily the same i.e. those who are good at acquiring power are not necessarily those who are best at exercising it.

What is a class?

Do people of any one sub-group have a greater natural ability or nurtured ability to acquire or exercise social power, than another sub-group?

Do people of any one sub-group have a greater appreciation of the social objectives that should be worked towards?

A class of people is a sub-group of people with a given rank in the social power structure. As has been said many tasks are better performed by social groups where there is a power structure.

The real argument is not whether all societies should be classless but how a person should be assigned a class for the performance of any social task that needs a power structure.

Who should have power?

Clearly those who are best to exercise social power are those whose objectives are the objectives of the society as a whole, rather than a more limited set of objectives, or even their own personal objectives. Some argue that social objectives will somehow magically be met if personal objectives are met. This is incorrect.

The Healthy society?

In a healthy society there is not a power struggle. This is not because power is shared equally but because individuals are adaptable both giving and taking power at the times that are best to help society reach its social objectives.

Indeed society its self is adaptable with individuals joining societies where they wish to contribute to given social objectives.

The healthy person will seek a social position which is most effectively promotes the social objectives and will co-operate with others who do the same. In a healthy society the social objective will be directed to fulfilling the objectives of the people and so thus by supporting the society a person will best support the achievement of their own objectives also.

Specialisation leads to some people specializing in more powerful roles.

Abuse of Power

An individual who has been given social power for the purpose of achieving social objectives my not make use of that social power in order to achieve personal objectives.

Todays difficulties are the struggle for the

In our society individuals are encouraged to seek the position of highest social power, which leads to societies controlled by those who are better at obtaining power than exercising it and so leads to social decay.

In summary then many social tasks are better executed with a power structure however power structures can fail if the power is not allocated in such away as to determine correctly and achieve the social objectives which must in themselves be aimed at helping individuals achieve their objectives.


Group changes by capability or inherent group membership. contradiction between groupp memberships.

In-adaptability and the class struggle

Class implies inequality. These inequalities can be inequalities in law such as discrimination against foreign nationals, inequalities in opportunity or obligation and inequalities of outcome. But class can run deeper than that with discrimination on the basis of accents, customs of dress and protocol. All stand as ways in which class can be discriminated.

It is only right and proper that we can select who we do and don't interact with and having a compatible protocol allows more effective co-operation as a group.

Class is not simply separation into types by discriminating factors, Class implies a ranking of types on a scale of superiority.

Those of higher classes may having privileges not available to those of lower classes or indeed may have privileges over lower classes.

The question is how are the privileges maintained and at what benefits and costs to society as a whole? How is societies capability augmented or diminished by having classes?

To begin at the beginning is to recognise that it is not true that "all men are created equal", anybody who has more than one child knows that. Notably these words were written 89 years before the abolition of slavery. Also it is a human aspiration that every person should have the right to "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness". Liberty gives us the freedom to create or destroy our own life and happiness so if we destroy our lives and happiness then what right to it do we still have.

So given the clear start of inequality what kind of society can one build with the types of people we have? What classes should there be, if any and should people be able to move between them, and if so how?

The biggest issue is control of resources and and control of others.

In a healthy society, control is voluntarily allocated to types most capable of exercising it, by other types who stand to gain from relinquishing it to them; i.e. if I can see the benefit in working for someone else, I give them control over me. In an unhealthy society control is not given but taken. However the subtleties of the manipulation of control are far deeper than these two polarities of given or taken.

So if class is a ranking of types by their power of control over resources and others then the objective should be to have a class system that benefits all those under it. i.e. they are better off than they would be without it. Those in control, in the upper classes must have the capability to see to it that these benefits are forthcoming. (Even the recent communist governments have all had their upper classes, those in control. To what extent they squandered or did not squander resources on themselves and their families, or to what extent they benefited the lower classes, is another matter.)

Once the upper classes are no longer able to benefit the society as a whole then they should slide down the class hierarchy and allow others to slide up it. Class mobility is paramount to allow the more capable and caring types to gain more control while the less capable less caring will loose control. By caring I mean people for whom their society's will being is of greater concern than their own. (I do not mean people who make sentimental gestures to the poor but never tackle the problems that cause poverty.)

So there are two issues; capability and a duty of care.


One of the gravest problems plaguing the upper classes today is the default on the duty of care for the lower classes. i.e. the fulfilment of the duty to ensure that lower class lives are better as a result of upper class rule, not worse. The promotion of arrogance, selfishness and deception in the mistaken belief that what is good for one is also good for society.

Social power is ultimately being used to benefit individuals at the expense of society. Social power should benefit individuals but also benefit society. This is the difference between evil and good the difference between social decay and social profit.

This can only be dealt with by the administration of appropriate punishment for the perpetrators and I mean all perpetrators not just those we don't like.


One of the eternal problems is how to assess capability for social control;
  • Human nature is so diverse that any formal system we put in place may be inadequate in assessing what a person may be capable of.
  • Electoral systems that rely on majority opinion can be unduly influenced by propaganda.
  • Genetic systems i.e. inherited class is flawed in that families are diverse and people who exercise control well do not necessarily have children with the same talents.
Favouritisms including; Nepotism, where we favour our families and cronyism where we favour our friends. Such favouritisms are a natural part of life when giving gifts, for example, but when what we are doing is placing family or friends above, or others below their capabilities in the social class structure we are essentially contributing to the societies decay.

Nothing illustrates this better than George W Bush who was unable to speak, let alone run an organisation. His father should have given him a small ranch and left him to live in peace. (See Favoritism, Cronyism, and Nepotism by By Judy Nadler and Miriam Schulman.)

It is about bringing out the educating the natural talents in our children and friends, not about attempting to force feed them other talents they don't have a natural foundation for. Of course as parents, just like people in love, we are so often not objective on these matters. This is one of the major flaws in the traditional upper classes, struggling to "thrust greatness" upon their children and hold their families position in the control structure through extremes of discipline and closed societies rather than natural talent. This results in decay of both the upper classes and of the society as a whole.


To be fair though now all classes are in the game of attempting to encourage people to focus on a very few talents       

Although capability is hard to detect, incapability is a lot more obvious and yet in today's society incapability is the least used in assessing suitability. It is even considered rude to point out the incapabilities of others and


In a diverse society there is often not a clear demarcation between given and taken control. Rival types have conflicting views on how control should be exercised.

to the advantage of the those

It is likely that there

Aristocracy - control by inherited
Technocracy - control
Plutocracy - control of the wealthy

  • technocracy - Government by technicians, especially scientists and technical experts.
  • plutocracy - Government by the wealthy
  • ochlocracy - The rule or ascendancy of the multitude or common people; mobocracy; mob-rule.
  • theocracy - Government by religious authority
  • kakistocracy - Government by the least qualified or most unprincipled citizens.
  • stratocracy - Government by the armed forces, by force of arms.
  • democracy - Government by the people, exercised either directly or through elected representatives.
  • autocracy - Government by a single person having unlimited power; despotism.
  • aristocracy - A hereditary ruling class; nobility.
  • pantisocracy - A utopian community in which all the members are equal in rank and social position.
  • timocracy - A state described by Plato as being governed on principles of honor and military glory.
  • bureaucracy - Administration of a government chiefly through bureaus or departments staffed with nonelected officials.
  • meritocracy - A system in which advancement is based on individual ability or achievement.
  • acracy - The extremest form of physiocracy, which reduces all government to the action of so-called natural laws and amounts to anarchism.
  • adhocracy - An organizational system designed to be flexible and responsive to the needs of the moment rather than excessively bureaucratic.
  • gerontocracy - Government based on rule by elders.
  • kleptocracy - A government characterized by rampant greed and corruption.
  • oligarchy - Government by a few, especially by a small faction of persons or families.
  • corporatocracy - government by corporations
  • cryptocracy - A form of government where the real leaders are hidden, or merely unknown.
  • ethnocracy - A form of government in which a particular ethnic group holds a disproportionate amount of government power compared to their percentage in the population.
  • malarchy - dysfunctional hierarchy (my definition)
  • monarchy - Government by a monarch.
  • nomocracy - A system of government established and carried out in accordance with a code rational laws and civic rights.



A class system in a society is a system whereby individuals of the society perform in roles determined by other factors then their potential capability.


© Tom de Havas 2011. The information under this section is my own work it may be reproduced without modification but must include this notice.


The popular view is just to say we are all equal. Clearly we are not physically or mentally equal, so the idea of equality is more complex then that and always has been. Here are some basic ideas about equality from Wikipedia.

Social equality is a social state of affairs in which all people within a specific society or isolated group have the same status in a certain respect. At the very least, social equality includes equal rights under the law, such as security, voting rights, freedom of speech and assembly, and the extent of property rights. In accordance with the socialist doctrine, it might also include access to education, health care and other social securities. It also includes equal opportunities and obligations, and so involves the whole society.

Equality In Law

Equality before the law or equality under the law or legal egalitarianism is the principle under which each individual is subject to the same laws, with no individual or group having special legal privileges.
Security, voting rights, freedom of speech and assembly, and the extent of property rights.

Equal Opportunity and Obligation

Some use it as a descriptive term for an approach intended to provide a certain social environment in which people are not excluded from the activities of society, such as education, employment, or health care, on the basis of immutable traits.

Equality of Outcome

Equality of outcome, equality of condition, or Equality of results is a form of social justice rhetoric which seeks to reduce or eliminate incidental inequalities in material condition between individuals or households in a society. This usually means equalizing income and/or total wealth to a certain degree by, for example, granting a greater amount of income and/or total wealth to poorer individuals or households at the expense of relatively wealthy individuals or households.

Equality of outcome can be distinguished from the concept of equality of opportunity. Government policies that seek to produce an equality of outcome for all citizens in various areas of life are controversial. As individuals have differing skills and talents, a society cannot easily be made 'equal'. Policies that seek an equality of outcome often require a deviation from the strict application of concepts such as meritocracy, and legal notions of equality before the law for all citizens. 'Equality seeking' policies may also have a redistributive focus.

What is the social objective?

At this point one has to ask how one can establish the objectives of a society as a whole? Are they simply the most popular objectives or the objectives that will lead to the long term survival of the society? Clearly establishing the social objectives is one of the duties of those whom exercise power.

Social Power