15 August 2020

Brianna Rennix and Nathan J Robinson: “Hierarchy is common to bad governments, bad workplaces, bad relationships, and bad schools. When we look at societies throughout history and feel disturbed, the reason is usually something to do with hierarchy: some people were priests doing human sacrifices, while other people had to be the sacrifices. In our own country, some people have been slaves, others masters. Some people have been prisoners, others cops. Some are ‘non-citizens,’ without basic rights, others are ‘citizens’ who are Legitimate People. (Yes, the distinction between the citizens and noncitizens should be thought of as a formal caste system, whereby some people are more entitled to rights than others. It is only because we are used to it that we don’t comprehend how appalling it is to divide society into a hierarchy of ‘non-people’ and ‘people’ based solely on where they happened to be born.) Wherever you find distinctive ranked orders of social status, and some people with vastly more power and liberty than others, you find a situation that should be revolting to anyone who cares about universal justice. (That is, revolting to the sort of person who wants everyone to be served by our social arrangements, rather than having categories of ‘winners’ and ‘losers.’) A truly just world has to be a democratic and egalitarian one, where hierarchies are minimized. … [While] it is not yet possible to envision a perfectly non-hierarchical world, a fair starting point is to treat social hierarchies as presumptively illegitimate.