Rankism = the abuse of the weak by the strong. 
"By analogy with abuses based on race and gender, abuse based on rank is given the name rankism. Once you have a name for it, you see rankism at the heart of many infringements of human rights, far away or close to home. Rankism is the root cause of indignity, injustice, and unfairness. Choosing the term rankism, places the goal of universal human dignity in the context of contemporary movements for civil rights. Reexamining racism, sexism, and ageism as examples of rankism breathes new life into the movements opposing them. Identifying rankism in all its guises and overcoming it is democracy's next step." (http://www.breakingranks.net/rankism.html)
The concept Rankism has been coined by Robert W. Fuller, a past Professor of Physics at Columbia and President of Oberlin College.
Background: Against Rankism, for a Dignitarian Society
Text by Robert W. Fuller:
"The idea of a universal right to dignity seems too simple to pull together the disparate elements of this divided nation, but it’s not. Dignity is what people want, on the left, on the right, and most importantly, in the vast, non-ideological middle.
Dignity is not negotiable. People will stand up for their dignity and once they’re on their feet, they’ll insist on justice.
Two hundred years of blood-soaked history have shown that there is no direct path from Liberty to Justice. But if we interpose a steppingstone, we can build a bridge to justice. The name of that stone is “Dignity" By establishing the right to dignity, and then enacting legislation that protects everyone’s dignity on equal terms, we can deliver on this country’s founding promise of “liberty and justice for all."
A dignitarian society pulls what’s best from the three broad strands of civic culture that have dominated politics since the French Revolution—Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity. The stranglehold that these ideals exert on the contemporary imagination is a major source of the incivility that infects our politics today.
Conservatives see themselves as Liberty’s defenders; progressives pride themselves as the champions of Equality. Both parties promise Fraternity, but neither delivers.
Dignity is more encompassing than Liberty, Equality, or Fraternity. It’s the missing link that restored will yield an electoral mandate that heralds an historic extension of “liberty and justice for all."
The politics of dignity puts the “We" back in “We the People." It spans the conservative-liberal divide. It closes the ideological fissures that separate libertarian, egalitarian, and communitarian philosophies, breaking the stalemate that has stalled the advance of justice since the 1960s.
A dignitarian society does not tolerate indignity—towards anyone. When this principle is translated into policy, it rules out acceptance of a permanent underclass. It disallows prejudice and discrimination toward all the groups that have rallied around the various flags of identity politics. It makes a woman’s right to choose and gays’ right to marry self-evident. It proclaims everyone’s right to a sustainable environment." (http://www.breakingranks.net/weblog/archives/187)
Key Books to Read
Somebodies and Nobodies. Robert Fuller.
All Rise. Robert Fuller.
- Wikipedia article at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rankism
- Robert Fuller's blog is at http://www.breakingranks.net/weblog/
- See for his biography: Fuller, Robert.
- Print interview with Robert Fuller on Dignitarianism
- Webcast interviews with Robert Fuller on the Dignitarian Society and with Robert Fuller on Rankism
- More webcasts and podcasts are compiled here at