I recently blogged about American exceptionalism and noted that egalitarianism is one of its key components. Egalitarianism, according to Wikipedia, is a doctrine “that all humans are equal in fundamental worth or social status.”
Because of my recent bingeing on Jane Austen and the landed gentry in early 18th-century England, I have been exposed to dramatic examples on non-egalitarian life. By contrast, I was born & bred on a farm in North Dakota, a state that is probably more egalitarian than most.
That statement about North Dakota obviously depends on your definition of “equal fundamental worth or social status.” As a practical example of egalitarianism in North Dakota, I had to move to Texas to learn the honorifics “sir” and “Mr.,” and this informality made it difficult for me to deal with judges who insisted on being called “Your Honor.” Or when I was in Army ROTC, saluting to upper classmen. Who do they think they are, better than me?
I suggest that an egalitarian people don’t have other people as servants; they don’t pay other people to pamper them; they don’t continually crave VIP status/recognition; they don’t enjoy unctuous waiters who fawn over them.
Of course, not everyone chooses to be egalitarian. But that would be un-American.