Egalitarianism and Equality

Depends on What You Mean By That

Depends on What You Mean By That

November 13, 2015

I have long appreciated the work of Ravi Zacharias. He is possessed of a well-trained, brilliant mind. I only wish I could be half as adept – no rather a tenth as adept – at thinking on my feet and responding with the kindness, grace, and incisiveness he shows.

I listen regularly to his podcasts. They are encouraging, enlightening, and my heart and mind are richer because of them.

Some time ago, in one of these podcasts, Ravi talked about the meanings of egalitarianism and elitism. This gave me startling new insight into the condition of today’s cultures.

Here is a brief summary of what he said, quoting from Prof. Peter Kreeft at Boston College:

Egalitarianism means equality. Elitism means hierarchy. There is to be an egalitarianism in humanity, but an elitism in ideas.

In other words, in humanity everyone is equally important. Everyone has God given value. In the world of ideas, some ideas are better than other ideas. This should not be news, right? But in today’s world, the philosophy is “there is to be an egalitarianism in ideas, and an elitism in humanity”.

Some ideas have more merit than others

Let’s choose a random example. What helpful solutions can we find for the crossroads of two busy streets?

  • One idea: let traffic go without any regulatory devices.
  • Another idea: place a stop light or a stop sign.
  • A third idea: mandate roof-mounted machine guns on every commuter vehicle and let people fight their way through the traffic jams. (Side benefit: population control – more food for the rest of us.)


Yes, some ideas have more merit than others.

Our culture (and others), dabbling in a strange Progressive disconnected-from-life-and-reality philosophy, misses this. We have accepted and promote an egalitarianism of ideas, and elitism of persons. By doing this, we have surrendered both truth and personal value.

All ideas and beliefs systems are not equal repositories of truth. And no human beings are better than others as far as their value is concerned. There are not God-like elites that know so much that they can force their wills on others, despite the underlying assumptions of the Humanist Manifesto.

However, we have people who think and act like they are.

Photo: Coston’s Complaint Blog, Wikimedia

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