…I’m still absorbing the impact of her passionate manifesto. No wonder colleagues have called that 50-page article “path breaking” and The New Yorker described her as “The Philosopher Redefining Equality.”
Anderson wants to end oppression by creating communities “in which people stand in relations of equality” to one another. Her thinking is rooted in numerous grassroots egalitarian movements,…
The September 2019 Democratic debate reveals that egalitarian values have not yet seeped into the higher ranks of the Democratic Party…. During the course of that nearly three-hour debate, none of the candidates once used the word “equality.”…
We believe leadership is an activity, not a position, and anyone can learn to exercise leadership at any time. KLC has trained thousands of people worldwide around these four competencies which help people better diagnose problems and situations, manage themselves, energize others around a common purpose and intervene in ways that are more skillful and successful.
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…America’s unions and workers haven’t been faring quite as well lately. Where labor is concerned, recent decades strongly resemble the run-up to the Great Depression. Both periods were marked by extreme concentrations of personal wealth and corporate power….
By Wade Lee Hudson
Books and articles often show me new angles, offer new information, or deepen my perspective. Rarely do they change my thinking in a major way. Elizabeth S. Anderson’s 1999 tour de force “What is the Point of Equality?” is an exception. I’m still absorbing the impact of her passionate manifesto. No wonder colleagues have called that 50-page article “path breaking” and The New Yorker described her as “The Philosopher Redefining Equality.”
Anderson wants to end oppression by creating communities “in which people stand in relations of equality” to one another. Her thinking is rooted in numerous grassroots egalitarian movements, such as the civil rights, womens’, and disability rights movements.
Unfortunately, however, most grassroots political movements today don’t clearly reflect those social values. Rather, they focus on material reality. And, as indicated by what they said at the September 2019 debate, neither have the Democratic candidates for President absorbed her insights.
In the following review, which includes extensive excerpts, I place in bold her language that prompted new insights for me, and place in italics points that strengthened my convictions.
As Anderson sees it:
Recent egalitarian writing has come to be dominated by the view that the fundamental aim of equality is to compensate people for undeserved bad luck—being born with poor native endowments, bad parents, and disagreeable personalities, suffering from accidents and illness, and so forth…. This “equality of fortune” perspective [or “luck egalitarianism”] is essentially a “starting-gate theory”: as long as people enjoy fair shares at the start of life, it does not much concern itself with the suffering and subjection generated by people’s voluntary agreements in free markets….
[Their] writing…seems strangely detached from existing egalitarian political movements…[that have fought for] the freedom to appear in public as who they are, without shame, [and] campaigned against demeaning stereotypes.
A citizens’ assembly is a body formed from the citizens of a state to deliberate on an issue or issues of national importance. The membership of a citizens’ assembly is randomly selected, as in other forms of sortition.
The purpose is to employ a cross-section of the public to study the options available to the state on certain questions and to propose answers to these questions through rational and reasoned discussion and the use of various methods of inquiry such as directly questioning experts. In many cases, the state will require these proposals to be accepted by the general public through a referendum before becoming law.
The citizens’ assembly aims to reinstall trust in the political process by taking direct ownership of decision-making. To that end, citizens’ assemblies intend to remedy the “divergence of interests” that arises between elected representatives and the electorate, as well as “a lack in deliberation in legislatures.”
The use of citizens’ assemblies to reach decisions in this way is related to the traditions of deliberative democracy and popular sovereignty in political theory. While these traditions stretch back to origins in ancient Athenian democracy, they have become newly relevant both to theorists and politicians as part of a deliberative turn in democratic theory. From the 1980s to the early 1990s, this deliberative turn began, shifting from the predominant theoretical framework of participatory democracy toward deliberative democracy, initially in the work of Jane Mansbridge and Joseph M. Bessette. Since, citizens’ assemblies have been used in countries such as Canada and the Netherlands to deliberate on reform of the system used to elect politicians in those countries.
Ordinarily, citizens’ assemblies are state initiatives. However, there are also examples of independent citizens’ assemblies, such as the ongoing Le G1000 in Belgium or the 2011 We the Citizens initiative in Ireland.
“Democratic Party voters are split…. Its more moderate wing, which is pressing bread-and-butter concerns like jobs, taxes and a less totalizing vision of health care reform, is majority nonwhite, with almost half of its support coming from African-American and Hispanic voters.”
From “The Democratic Party Is Actually Three Parties,” By Thomas B. Edsall The New York Times
Crooked Media is partnering with Change Research to conduct a series of Democratic primary polls using new, improved polling methods. The first entry in this PollerCoaster series is now available. You can see all our crosstabs here, browse mobile-friendly toplines here, read open-ended responses here, and download the raw data here.