Social Equality and the Stateless Society




Social egalitarians should rethink their support for democratic political institutions. The ideal social egalitarian institutional arrangement would be a stateless society. If it were feasible to live without a state, then citizens' subservience to a state could not be justified on the grounds that people were able to influence what the state did. Unfortunately, a stateless society is infeasible. As a matter of non-ideal theory, social egalitarians generally support democratic institutions. But there are four reasons that social egalitarians should not support democracy. First, many of the arguments that social egalitarians cite in favor of democracy appeal to an ideal of democracy, but if ideal institutional arrangements were feasible, then a stateless society would be better. Second, social egalitarians would not support the use of democratic procedures to make collective decisions within the context of private relationships if people could instead decide separately. Third, democratic societies entrench status inequalities between citizens and non-citizens and, at times, between majority groups and minority groups. Though democracy people one kind of equal status, it institutionalizes and intensifies other forms of oppression. Fourth, relative to the status quo, relational egalitarians ought to support less governmental control over people's lives, and that means less democracy.

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