I've been reading some of the writing of C.B. Macpherson a Canadian political theorist. He is a very clear and logical writer and a pleasure to read. In 1962 he published a book called The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism. As so many writers do, he saw an emphasis upon individual freedom as central to Western liberal thought. However, he saw two different concepts of individualism: 1) where the individual wishes to be free to pursue satisfaction of needs, utility; 2) where individual freedom is seen as central because it allows the individual to develop and express all his human capacities to the fullest extent he desires. The first notion seems to characterize the nature of America and its emphasis upon consuming. The second is a broader and fuller notion of individual freedom allowing the individual to pursue whatever talents he possesses for any goals he chooses. However, the latter notion also requires that the individual have access to the means of development and expression and, although there is much lip service paid to "equality of opportunity" in America, an honest look shows that true equality of opportunity or anything approaching it does not exist because some of our citizens begin life with many resources while others begin life with little but the bear necessities. "Equality of opportunity" is a myth unless all Americans start out with at least a solid beginning and have available to them the resources necessary to developing themselves through education or other such endeavors.
Whenever equality comes up right-wingers immediately erect the straw man of differences in biologically based characteristics to argue that complete equality is not possible. Most people are fully aware that 'complete equality', whatever that might mean, is not possible and do not advocate any such foolishness. However, 'equality of opportunity' is quite another matter and to be meaningful would have to accord basic resources and opportunities for developing one's human potential.