Beginnings of Modern Egalitarianism in Bobbio’s “Dictionary of Politics”

This levelingin other words, this premise which affirms the existence of equality or, at least, a great similarity in the psychological evolutionary and moral level of all human beingsis a central point not only of Liberalism but also, although on a different level and along different paths, of Marxism, as we shall show further on.  Therefore, the idea of the existence of a psychological leveling or equality is an absolutely central premise around which have developedalthough  along different plansthe two currents of thought which dominate today’s scene of world thinking.

In this regard we can read in the Dicionário de Política (“Political Dictionary” by Norberto Bobbio, et al.) what Hobbes already considered:

(…) fundamentally, all men have the same physical and intellectual power and the differences are insignificant.” (p. 598)

In it we also read what Hobbes stated in the “Leviathan” (chapter XIII):

Nature made men so equal in physical and intellectual capacities that any person can kill another, but cannot surpass another in cunning.” (p. 597)

As shown before, from its beginnings Liberalism conceived man as belonging to that natural state defended by Hobbes, which was characterized by an equality of capacities.  Within this picture, and since its view of man is similar, it becomes perfectly logical that Liberalism should defend egalitarian political institutions, at least in formal legal terms, because in socioeconomic practice we obviously see enormous differences.  Thus, we can return to the previously quoted Dicionário de Política and read this:

Classic liberalism affirmed that (…) once the privileges were abolished and the Equality of rights was established, there would be no obstacles in anybody’s way in his search for happiness.” (Dicionário de Política, p. 604; emphasis added)

If we once accept this egalitarian (and, in the case of Liberalism,  leveled in a selfish way) view of the human psyche, we can see with great clarity that from it derive the principal institutions of the liberal model of sociopolitical organization, in other words, the principal institutions of the so-called liberal democracies. [Norberto Bobbio, et al. Dicionário de Política (“Political Dictionary”)]