There are different types of equality found in society. The following are the different types of equality as found in different political systems.
1. Civil Equality:
There is civil equality in the State when persons are subject to the same law in enjoyment of their various rights and liberties.
There can be no civil equality when law kames distinction between one individual and the other. Civil equality as a concept has been accepted in a democratic form of government.
It implies that all citizens should be treated alike in the matters of possession of their rights without any discrimination on the grounds of religion, belief, caste or creed.
2. Political Equality:
Political equality implies that all citizens should have political rights and should have equal access to all offices of authority.
It means universal adult suffrage. It also implies rights to form political parties and contest in election. These rights are necessary in a democratic society.
3. Social Equality:
It means that all citizens are equally eligible to enjoy various opportunities in society it also implies absence of other privileges. Social equality is a difficult idea to attain. It cannot be enforced entirely by law. The Constitution of
India has accepted equality as a goal in its preamble. It has abolished untouchability by law. Though untouchability still exists in some part of the country in spite of legal prohibition, efforts are being made to ensure social equality.
4. Natural Equality:
Natural equality is another type of equality. It implies that all men are born free and equal and are endowed with equal gifts and talents. It also means that the State should try to reduce inequality, rather than perpetuate it.
The State should provide those social and economic opportunities that offer equal chances. Natural equality is rather an ideal and not an immediate reality. This ideal should be attained in a society as far as possible.
5. Economic Equality:
Economic equality, according to Lord Bryce, is “the attempt to expunge all differences in wealth, allotting to every man and woman an equal share in worldly goods.” It means that wealth should be enjoyed equally by all. It also implies abolition of poverty. The basic minimum of an individual should be fulfilled. If primary needs of an individual are not fulfilled, there cannot be real democracy. Political equality is said to be meaningless unless it is accompanied by economic equality.
In the communist countries, emphasis has been given on economic equality. In modern democracy, emphasis is also given on reasonable economic equality among the citizens. Accumulation of wealth has been considered to be a vice in recent times. Poverty amelioration programmes have been launched in India to bring the poor above poverty line.
Equality is an abstract concept. It has evoked tremendous response from the political philosophers and revolutionaries. Liberty and equality are related to each other. It is undoubtedly a very difficult concept to achieve.
The champions of democracy support the idea that equality is necessary but at the same time they consider it as an ideal only. Equality of status and opportunity which the Preamble of the Indian Constitution proclaims, is an ideal to which mankind is moving nearer. The obstacles on the path of equality are gradually removed. It is more realised today than it was realised in earlier times.
The Marxist View of Equality:
The Marxists have not developed a systematic theory of equality as such. Nowhere Karl Marx and Frederic Engels have adequately explained the theory or equality.
Thus, theory views on ‘equality’ as the outcome of the overall philosophy of Marxism- a philosophy which aims at absence of exploitation and the establishment of a ‘classless and “stateless’ society.
The Marxists maintain that “‘inequalities” in society emerged with the emergence of the concept of private property, which in turn creates the concept of class-the ‘haves’ and ‘have not’ or the ‘exploiters’ and the ‘exploited or the bourgeois and the proletariat classes only and perpetuate inequalities in society.
In other words, the existence of classes is sine pro quid for the existence of inequalities and hence Marxism advocates the abolition of classes. Engels observes that “the real content of the proletarian demand for equality is the demand for the abolition of classes.”
Lenin also says that “there can be no real, actual equality until all possibility of the exploitation of one class by another has been totally destroyed”.
Only in a classless society the egalitarian principle “from each according to his ability to each according to his needs” can be put into practice.
Marxism maintains the view that economic equality is the most fundamental of all the other equalities. It does not agree that the State can create equality in a class divided society.
But with the abolition of classes and the establishment of a fully communist society, the concept of equality will be redundant.