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The Myth Of Social Justice"Social justice"? What is it? Social justice refers to the concept of a society in which justice is achieved in every aspect of society, rather than merely through the administration of law. It is generally thought of as a world which affords individuals and groups fair treatment and an impartial share of the benefits of society. The strict dictionary definition of justice is: the quality of being just; righteousness, equitableness, or moral rightness: to uphold the justice of a cause. Also, justice is rightfulness or lawfulness, as of a claim or title; justness of ground or reason. Combine that with social : of or pertaining to the life, welfare, and relations of human beings in a community.
Right away there are problems with the "concept" of social justice. Who decides what is just or not for which individuals? Is it just that one man doesn't have a Mercedes, and another does? I might decide that becaue I'm poor and can't even afford a bicycle to get to my minimum wage job, it is unjust that someone else rides a Mercedes, or a Lincoln, or a Honda, etc., to work. Now the question becomes, how am I to collect on my claim of injustice? Who will provide me with a new car (or even a used one), since it is "unjust" that I have to walk while others can ride in comfort? Should I walk up to any car owner I see and demand that he or she supply me with a car, since that would be the just thing to do? Or should I apply to the government to redress this alleged injustice? The more likely case would be the latter, applying to the government for a car. Got to have social justice, right? But why should I stop there? Others live in mansions in beautiful neighborhoods, while I live I live in a slum hovel in a crime infested neighborhood. That's unjust! I must have that mansion! I demand that you pay for it, rich boy! If you refuse, why, I can join the Democratic Party and force you to pay for it through higher taxes...soak the rich! Hell, might as well eat the rich (can you say "moral cannibalism"?)
Not so, you say? Perhaps you think social justice doesn't mean just an "impartial share of the benefits of society". Perhaps you are thinking along the lines of ending racism, sexism, homophobia, et al. Now that is at least theoretically possible, if we can get ahold of kids at a young age and make sure they don't succumb to the psychological and intellectual vices that leads to such ills. But how are we going to do that, exactly? Isn't this all a matter of personal decision, and in some cases a function of intelligence? How are you going to stop a stupid man from becoming a racist, aside from putting the fear of jail in him? (and that doesn't always work). There will always be poor people, and there always will be stupid people who just can't be taught such things. In other words, poverty, racism, sexism, homophobia, et al, will always be around, and it is futile to use the power of government to try to stop it. Instead, start at home. Teach your kids about love, rather than hate. Teach them to respect differances. Teach them healthy, legitimate self-esteem, along with virtues such as productivity, honesty, integrity, rationality, etc., etc. The thing about trying to end these evils through the government is that the government can only do one thing: use its' power against the individual. This can only be done, in essence, by criminalizing thought. How on Earth can you ever hope to prove what a man or woman is thinking? Pretty soon Orwell's thought police will become a reality, and we'll have the cops studying up on reading facial expressions and body language to determine if a thought crime has been commited.
Really, there is no such concrete thing as "social justice." In the abstract, it can be reduced to absurdity. But you can certainly get youngsters to get all fired up about it. You can use this ardor to harness it for your own ends, if you're a socialist. You see, as Ayn Rand pointed out, you can fill people's minds with this sort of right-seeming mush, inflame them with a fake vision of Utopia, and they will flock to the first credible tyrant/thug that comes along promising to deliver this Utopia. Exactly like Barack Obama.
By: John Russell Turner
CESJ is a a Special Interest Group (SIG) of the American Educational Research Association (AERA)