August 10th, 2005

samson and delilah

on equality

Equality of condition, though it is certainly a basic requirement for justice, is nevertheless among the greatest and most uncertain ventures of modern mankind. The more equal conditions are, the less explanation there is for the differences that actually exist between people; and thus all the more unequal do individuals and groups become... Whenever equality becomes a mundane fact in and of itself, without any gauge by which it may be measured or explained, then there is one chance in a hundred that it will be recognized simply as a working principle of a political organization in which otherwise inequal people have equal rights; there are ninety-nine chances that it will be mistaken for an innate quality of every individual, who is "normal" if he is like everyone else and "abnormal" if he happens to be different. This perversion of equality from a political into a social concept is all the more dangerous when society leaves but little space for special groups and individuals, for then their differences become all the more conspicuous.

-Hannah Arendt, "The Origins of Totalitarianism", Ch. 3