As you may know, my conception of equality is not so much equality of opportunity or the (IMHO straw-man) equality of results, but equality of footing. I fear there may be reality-based reasons to believe that equality in this sense and personal freedom may be conflicting goals. Let’s assume for the sake of argument that there are inequalities in individuals’ level of ability that cannot readily be overcome. Let’s also assume that each individual carries a portfolio of skills, characterized by the familiar expressions “strong suits” and “weak suits.”
It is hoped that every individual, at least some of the time, will be in a situation which plays to their strengths. To mitigate the setbacks due to time one is not fortunate enough to spend in such environments, I propose centers of domain-specific equality in which earnest attempt is made to neutralize one or a few gradients of inequality; leaving others in play.
To conjure up an example, consider my stance that civil-service bureaucracy as an organizational form is not entirely without merit. This partial admiration of a type of institution that should be anathema to my anarchist sympathies is an expression of the fact (or at least self-perception) that negotiating skill is one of my very weakest skills. All other things being equal, I tend to accomplish more in an environment in which the rules, and more importantly the criteria (of merit, for advancement, of acceptability, etc.), are stated explicitly. I flounder when there are unwritten rules about which everyone is assumed to be aware. Maybe it makes me a bad person, but I’d like to think that in a condition of anarchy (or at least of polyarchy), there can be affinity groups that emulate some features of a civil service bureaucracy, without implementing the key feature, of course, that being government. If one or two cooperative undertakings have a policy that stated prices are firm (i.e. not haggled over), or that the criteria for the privilege of producer-side participation (assuming here, of course, that the Hypostasis of the Agora cannot be overcome) are “as advertised.”
Enough about my weaknesses. This isn’t intended to be about me. While not a problem for me, some people’s weak suit is mathematics. Some refer to this as innumeracy. Whatever you call it, it get ruthlessly exploited in the existing economy. It isn’t hard to demonstrate that exploitation of naïveté about, say, exponential functions and their implications (e.g. compound interest), is central design feature of many down-market financial products. It should be possible to create spaces within polycentric or polyarchic society for, if not a math-free zone, at least a math-trickery-free zone, in which the more quantitative aspects of the terms of the deal are stated in terms of simple arithmetic or plain English.
Everyone deserves a chance to fly, or at least, to spend part of their life in an environment that downplays their weaknesses.