by Jim Davies, 3/21/2011
All men are equal, of course.
It's a bit less obvious, however, when one lifts the lid on that widely accepted principle (wide, but not universal; government people for example do not believe that mere "civilians" are at all equal to them, especially if they wear a uniform and carry a gun) and at various times and places women have been considered unequal to men, and children, unequal to either. As George Orwell nicely put it, "Some are more equal than others;" sometimes fractured grammar makes a powerful point.
Generally today, conservatives use the phrase to mean that all are equal "before the law", while socialists (who falsely call themselves "liberal") see it as referring to equality of outcome. No matter how poor a start in life different people have, everyone should enjoy a "decent standard of living" and if that's not what the jungle of a competitive free market produces, government must step in with its tax hammer and re-shape the distribution.
Anarchists, in contrast to both, believe that each person is equal in his or her entitlement to be left alone to make his own life decisions with zero interference. No interference from a set of rules called "laws" by the gang of thugs who wrote them, nor from a set of wealth transfers by the other gang of thugs who may (though are usually not) be wholly well intentioned in their desire for equality of result.
Parents of young children will have noticed that frequently, immature humans favor the Left's view of equality. Some 3-year-old, for example, can't master a game of catch. He tries a few times, balls are tossed to him as easily as can be, but somehow the co-ordination doesn't work. Does he continue patiently, asking Dad for help and watching how older kids do it, and practice, practice, practice until dexterity comes? - maybe. If so, there's a winner! But sometimes he will pout, and sulk, and walk off the field - or, worse, run to interfere with others who may be playing the game so as to spoil it. He is determined to be equal, and since he cannot catch, he'll make darn sure nobody else can catch, either. He's a little socialist.
Notice that the social engineers who manage this quest for equality of outcome make themselves very much unequal to those they manipulate. The great socialist slogan that kept the Bolsheviks in power for 70 years was "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need" and Soviet society came close. It was hard for a physician, for example, to earn more than a hospital janitor; and by 1989 the primitive standard of medical care in the USSR reflected that absurdity. Meanwhile those well connected within the Party did very nicely, just as today residents of metro D.C. enjoy the highest living standards in the country.
In the coming zero government society neither gang of thugs will have its way, for there will no longer be any mechanism with which to impose their ideas on everyone else; instead, each person will wholly and exclusively control his own life and make of it exactly what he will - which will differ as often as people do; for some folk who have little money are a great deal "richer" than others who wallow in wealth because value is subjective.
That is, when we think about it, precisely what "equality" must mean, in reality rather than fairy tale.