Equality of power is a lost cause

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Most of us find the idea of a pluralist society, made of diverse groups and interests that treat each other as equals an alluring ideal. At the same time, our postmodern world has created the ideal of cultural equality, rejecting elite authority figures and traditional hierarchies as the arbiters of cultural value. But these ideals of equality are not what they seem. In our technological civilization, cultural equality, rather than liberation from authority ends up producing bureaucratic uniformity, and pluralism, rather than promoting equality between diverse groups, creates an endless competition for power that results in huge inequalities, argues Richard Stivers. When faced with a bleak reality we invariably prefer illusion. Cultural equality and plural equality have been advocated in the West since the eighteenth century. Their idealization is our illusion. A deeper examination reveals that cultural equality is a necessary companion to a technological unif…

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