To What Extent Is There Tension Between Liberalism And The Principle Of Equality?

979 words - 4 pages

To what extent is there tension between liberalism and the principle of equality?

Liberalism is the orthodox challenging position that believes in power to the people giving reference to the term ‘Free men’ where liberalism was the product of the breakdown of feudalism in Europe replaced with a growth of a ‘Market’ and a capitalist society. Royalty was at the time supposedly chosen by god ‘Absolutism’ but people began to question the power of the king (Glorious and French revolutions). The central theme of the liberal ideology is a commitment to the individual and a society that entices the desire of individuals to fulfil their potential enjoying maximum possible freedom within a like ...view middle of the document...

This is not suggesting we should have the same ‘equality of outcome’- getting the same out of society but we should all have equal chance to gain what we are ‘due’.

Different people uphold mixed talents and abilities and some are more wiling to have a greater work ethic than others yet it is dependant greatly on the fact of putting this ability into practice and gaining our reward or merit that we deserve. This generates the implication that all individuals should be able to develop their unequal skills. This discovers the belief in a meritocratic society or ‘meritocracy’ this reflects a society that social position is determined by ability and effort, yet there is a unequal distribution of talent along with application, this can be caused due to affluence and natural social position. This is viewed as just as individuals are not judged by gender or race but by their skills and incentives to work.

Tension can be caused in the liberal ideology. There is a distinctive line that is drawn between the modern lib’s and classical lib’s. They both feel that the three types of equality spoken before equate to social equality. However Classicals support a pure meritocratic society in which it is down to us whether we succeed or fail; we either ‘sink or swim’. They do not show sympathy to those whose talents are flawed. They feel there should be a ‘minimal state’ where there is no government influence. We have to be self-reliant if not than ‘the drunk in the gutter is where he belongs’ only ‘heaven helps those who help themselves’. Herbert Spencer drew upon ideas of Charles Darwin he applied his ideas into society; the process of ‘natural selection’ decides which individuals are a part of ‘the survival of the fittest’. Ones who survive rise to the top while less fit fall to bottom, inequalities of wealth etc are natural, government shouldn’t interfere with this.

Yet on the...

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