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Alfred de Grazia:




Now let us reorder the idea of equality whose history as a doctrine has been alluded to already:

Equality is defined as the condition of distribution of a thing (or attitude) "X" among a given population when every person in the population has the same amount of "X". The doctrine of equality is the belief that general equality or a certain equality is good.

There are a million different things that can be subjected to considerations of equality at any time. Indeed almost everything imaginable can be so treated, including those physical and intellectual qualities which, being in too short supply to go around, can be negatively subjected to the principle by being abolished as operative forces in a social process.

Some order can be injected into this chaos by classifying desirables into groups of like kind. Thus Harold D. Lasswell has been responsible for an eightfold classification of "values" into:

power well-being (health)

respect (prestige) wealth

rectitude (moral dominance) skill (verbal or physical)

Affection (love) affection (love) enlightenment (education)

Each one of these values can be profiled for equality. One can conceive of a population, that is, which possesses equality in any one of these regards. Practicing, as opposed to conceiving, is another matter.

Other forms of order can be imposed on the subjects in which equality is sought: Order of equality can be based on what people themselves view as important for achieving equality. Thus many slaves may believe equality of property or status to be wrong; many aristocrats may think equality of privileges to be right. Order of equality can be based on what certain people view as important in the matter of equality. Thus certain professors may wish for equality of property but oppose equality of formal education.

We note also, in passing, the belief in proportionate equality of a negative kind, that is, that whose who have less than "enough" of something should get more of it than those who have "enough." "From each according to his abilities; to each according to his needs." Actually this belief ends as a kind of belief in numerical equality: Every person is to be "redistributed" so that he falls in the average position of the population.

We also note the theory that defines quality not as a current even distribution of goods but as an even access or opportunity to achieve them: the equal chance to become President, the equal chance to make a fortune, the equal chance for education are examples. Our definition of conditions of equality includes access as well as present status. In the apportionment controversy some men seek reapportionment to get into position to achieve equality—as, for example, in the allocation of state funds among the people of the state. It should be forcibly noted, however, that equality of access may be sought in order to get into a position to achieve inequality; for instance, the desire of a group to install the "equipopulous districts" formula frequently is aimed at obtaining a maximum number of seats, thereby dominating over a minority of the legislature and thereupon redistributing public goods in an unequal way among the people of a state.

Equality in a apportionment is defined as the equal distribution of whatever "thing" ("X") is involved in apportionment. Now the box must burst open. The "thing" involved in apportionment has to be one or more of the following:


Any one or more of the million objects of desire of anyone, or of any "scientifically based" classification of these such as Lasswell’s, mentioned on the preceding page.


Any "major" element of the million desires, defining "major" according to some criterion. Let us give only five examples, readily recognizable from the controversy over apportionment, of major things:


Equal school funds for certain localities.


Equal power to legislative committees for a group.


Equal power for the Democratic (or Republican) party leaders.


Equal highway funds for certain localities.


Equal rights legislation in housing, employment, etc.


Merely and simply the numbers of people who compose the constituencies that elect members. Yet unless this numerical equality has effects that produce equality, the only equal effect must be sheer magic of equal numbers.

Once the "thing" is defined, a system of apportionment has to be devised that will provide for its "equal distribution" in the population. This is the test of applied science. For example, if the "major" thing involved is to make the maximum number of state legislators equally happy, one system of equal apportionment would be devised. If to get rid of a maximum number of state legislators is the aim, quite another equal system would be devised.

Many values may be affected in apportionment that have little to do with equality. Examples would be:

The power of the legislative branch of government.

The sheer ability to conduct business.

The types of legislators who run the government.

The position (social, economic, political) of various groups in the population.

The distribution of goods in which considerations of equality cannot possibly enter, such as the placement of traffic signals.

The very image of man and the corresponding philosophy of democracy.

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