Both classical and neo-classical social scientists and political analysts such as Karl Marx, Max Weber, Aristotle, and Nietzsche have debated the topic of inequality in the society. This paper explores the views of both Nietzsche and Weber on the concept of inequality in society.
Friedrich Nietzsche on Inequality
Many people ignored Nietzsche’s ideas during his lifetime. However, his ideas and views gained importance and relevance after his death. Nietzsche did not believe in inequality. He pegged his belief on the idea that the achievement of fairness would be impossible without equality of power between individuals (Nietzsche, 2002). Nietzsche argued “when a person recognizes that they have equal power, and, therefore, cannot resort to war as a way of sorting their problem out, they mutually settle for a negotiation” (Nietzsche, 2002).
Nietzsche actually described the achievement of fairness as a product of trade. This means that those who are less powerful have no control over their freedom or access to justice. In any situation, the party that has power has the ability to dictate what the outcome of the situation will be. This means that society will always be imbalanced, since it was and still is impossible for people to be equal in power and influence. In his arguments, equality is the only currency of buying one’s freedom (Nietzsche, 2002). Since equality is unachievable in the real world, it is impossible to have a society that is balanced.
Nietzsche’s theory tried to explain why the world is full of injustices. This is because he believed that there is no morality in people to exercise equality (Nietzsche, 2002). Therefore, equality is a dream that is an impossible mission, as long as the world maintains the status quo. In one of his works, Nietzsche justified the existence of inequality by asking egalitarians to prove their existence. In his argument, he made a strong point that people, like a superman, are fictional characters. He said, “Superman did not exist and his existence would only be possible in the future world” (Nietzsche, 2002). He, however, pointed out that it is important for everyone to work towards achieving that mark.
Perspective of Weber on Inequality
Weber shifted the topic of inequality from the economic perspective to other perspectives. Previous arguments held that social inequality has its roots fin economic disparity among people. However, he shed more light on the topic, declaring that difference in political power and the disparity of people’s status can also be the cause for inequality. He broke the idea into three notions: social class, status, and power (Weber, 1998).
The contributions of Max in his book The Protestant Ethic and Spirit of Capitalism were embedded on the belief that capitalism has created a stratified society. This society has both the owners of capital, few elite with financial capital, and laborers, who work to earn a living from the industries. The capitalists, according to Max, strive to make maximize profit by exploiting the laborers. Weber argues that, “having a lot of wealth was a sign of predestination, an indication that one was already chosen for eternity” (Weber, 1998).
Weber explained that “class is a group of people who have a similar market situation” (Weber, 1998). This means that they will definitely share the same chances in life as far as the labor market is concerned. It, therefore, means that they also have parallel income levels. His argument implies that better skills will earn one better wages” (Weber, 1998). This in turn would place people in different social classes. Max Weber argued that the more the disparity between people in the society is, the wider the gap of equality becomes.
Max Weber asserted that economic power without status will still make one less “equal” (Weber, 1998). This is because the divisions of status in the society come from the impression of having a social honor coupled by a common lifestyle. Following the idea of caste, he asserted that “every person had a binding relationship with his/her social order right from birth” (Weber, 1998). This perspective can only march the social status of women in the society as a minority group with regard to making of critical decisions. It is also safe to juxtapose the idea with ethnic minorities. Weber also theorized that political power has a contribution to inequality. He faulted ideas that held that those who own the means have their way. He, instead, argued that having control of the means (economic power) does not necessarily mean that one has political power (Weber, 1998). This is because political power has an influence on economic power with the same degree that economic power influences politics. This means that political factors also have strong effect on the way a person is perceived. A person who gains political power on most occasions becomes elevated to the class of nobles. This will also guarantee the person’s economic stability within a short time. This is a clear indication that political power is also a means of achieving an edge of the economic side too.
Nietzsche, though an esoteric person, did not believe in inequality. Weber, on the other hand, stated that there was inequality in the society and presented its different perspectives. They both advance their beliefs in their philosophies, using different perspectives that were meant to critique writings of their contemporaries and predecessors.
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