Saturday, 7 December 2013


The death of Nelson Mandela on 5 December 2013 has caused many to reflect on racial inequality. Racial inequality is too mild a term to use when discussing apartheid, which was not only separate development, but outright violence both - corporal and structural - against non whites, but in a reflection on inequality I will stay with the generic term.

In current UK law there are 9 protected characteristics:
  • age 
  • disability 
  • gender reassignment 
  • marriage and civil partnership 
  • pregnancy and maternity
  •  race 
  • religion and belief 
  • sex 
  • sexual orientation
When I was looking for a list of these, I happened upon the East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service's website, which says the service has extended its commitment to include "reducing the inequalities of outcome which result from socio-economic disadvantage. The website also references the "public sector Equality Duty, which states that public bodies must have due regard to the need to:
  • Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation
  • Advance equality of opportunity
  • Foster good relations between different groups"
This conveniently leads me in to what I was going to say.

The most obvious and readily applied way of discriminating against someone is socio-economically; they don't get a job because of their race, say, or they don't receive as good a service as others because of their age. These are pretty clear cut, but disability is less so. It has a meaning within the act, but our abilities are relative. One might be more intelligent and/or physically stronger than another. Even if I am not considered to have a disability, your greater abilities can enable you to take a more advantaged position than me.

Surely the spirit of the legislation must be that there should be no discrimination against people who are less able (intelligent, physically strong) than others? Not that I am condoning it, but is there any less reason to rise up against socio-economic inequality than racial inequality?

In our current system the advantage of physical strength and/or intellect that someone has over another is expressed mainly in the monetary system, and our monetary system has - built in - the characteristic that money mainly flows from those who have less of it to those who have more. In an RBE, where there is no money, the system would naturally tend towards equality.

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