Freedom And Equality
Freedom and equality in society has been at the forefront of political discussions in the past few centuries. Many political theories and systems have been developed in the name of freedom and equality, but many have failed to achieve this goal.
Freedom in past societies
From early civilization, the notion of freedom and equality has not been a concern for many. There was a clear hierarchy in place where the nobles and privileged sat at the top, and the common man was always at the bottom, subservient to those above them. A reason for why there was not much discourse through history about freedom and equality within society has been put forward as due to a lack of education amongst the populace, and the constant threat of war.
The constant threat of war meant that the population was concerned about survival against neighbouring forces and, since they were commanded and led by the nobles at the top, did not think much about social justice and the inequalities they faced around them. A lack of education also led to ignorance about their circumstances.
The Age of Enlightenment
The age of enlightenment brought along a renewed ambition of the pursuit of knowledge, which led to individualism and appeal to reason, as opposed to and appeal to authority. The era produced many intellectuals and resentment towards authority by the general population. This led to many rebellions against such authority figures. Many people spoke out against the church, which had great control over the population.
The era produced a number of events, which led to newfound freedom for many. One of them was the French revolution where the monarchy was overthrown, and a republic was established instead. The American revolutionary war was also an example of authority to be replaced with a republic. This brought along a plethora of liberal ideals such as the freedom of speech and expression, granting many people more freedom than ever before.
There has been a prolonged period of relative peace since the end of World War II, which has led to more equality within society. Women have become equal to men in legislature; they have been granted the same rights as men in all Western countries. Ethnic minorities living in Western countries have also been granted equality, one such example being the civil rights movement in the USA during the 1960’s. The period has also led to less inequality between the poorest in society and the wealthiest in society.
Freedom and equality, rights many enjoyed by many today and taken for granted, was never a birthright since the beginning of civilization until recently. Many sacrifices and increase in education has led to the freedom everyone enjoys in the modern western world.