Hierarchism – A Foundation of Discrimination

Hierarchism – Keen awareness and importance of social hierarchies, such as status, wealth, and power.

Hierarchist – One who gives high priority and importance to social hierarchies.  This may manifest in (1) intense motivation to get to the top, in (2) feeling threatened by and in competition with those perceived as below them, (3) an interest to distinguish themselves from other groups and degrade their standing, and (4) in the envy and reverence of those above them or at the top with whom they identify.


This article introduces the concept of hierarchism as an overarching characteristic that manifests discrimination of all types.  

Today’s society is battling racism, homophobia, misogyny, patriarchy, transphobia, anti-Semitism, police brutality, anti-Muslim, anti-science, anti-press, anti-government, anti-environmentalism, and fascism, to name a few.  These are antisocial ideologies that result in social unrest, individual oppression and harm, and environmental degradation. We find many of these discriminatory ideas perpetuated by the same people.  A racist will commonly also be homophobic and anti-government, for example.  As such, racism may be a phenomenon of a higher order than just enmity toward people of color.  This article suggests that hierarchism is a root characteristic that motivates and energizes all these types of discrimination. 

To be clear, this article is not suggesting that all types of discrimination are a product of hierarchism.  Nor is there any intent to reduce or deflect attention from these individual discriminations and the battles to eliminate them individually.  They each have their own sources, causes, and solutions, and must be addressed accordingly. This article is meant to further deconstruct the root causes of discrimination, colonization, with an antiracist purpose.

Note that this author is a 62-year old white male that has not experienced discrimination, has little expertise in this field beyond reading a few books on the matter, but hopes that this brings value to the antiracist movement.

This concept is also being introduced because it applies to the author’s focal topic of transportation injustice.  Hierarchism applies to our societal and institutional preference for cars over transit, biking, and walking, which currently have a stigma of inferiority. However, this is a topic for another article. 

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