I asked the other day what the hell the term meant, and concluded: “’social justice’ would seem to mean a vicious cycle of liberal nonsense”, in which a do-gooding government would stick its nose into the marketplace of labor and management for the benefit of the former and the detriment of the latter (that’s the justice part), only to see its heavy-handed, anti-capitalist efforts lead to layoffs and economic sclerosis.
I kinda talk that way sometimes.
But God bless Prager University (and Professor Jonah Goldberg) for taking a crack at the question too.
The video won’t play for me, but here are selections from the transcript:
Try this at your next party. Ask your guests to define the term Social Justice.
Since everyone on that side of the spectrum talks incessantly about social justice, they should be able to provide a good definition, right?
But ask ten liberals to tell you what they mean by social justice and you’ll get ten different answers.
That’s because Social Justice means anything its champions want it to mean.
“The mission of the AFL-CIO is to improve the lives of working families — to bring economic justice to the workplace, and social justice to our nation.”
In short, “social justice” is code for good things no one needs to argue for — and no one dare be against.
This very much troubled the great economist Friedrich Hayek.
This is what he wrote in 1976, two years after winning the Nobel Prize in Economics.
“I have come to feel strongly that the greatest service I can still render to my fellow men would be that I could make the speakers and writers among them thoroughly ashamed ever again to employ the term ‘social justice’.”
Pro or con, good or bad, it still has no concrete meaning (which is Goldberg’s point).
So what the hell does it mean?
Hayek understood that beneath the political opportunism and intellectual laziness of the term “social justice” was a pernicious philosophical claim, namely that freedom must be sacrificed in order to redistribute income.
Ultimately, “social justice” is about the state amassing ever increasing power in order to, do “good things.” What are good things?
Well whatever the champions of social justice decide this week.
But first, last and always it is the cause of economic redistribution.
Well, “Professor” Goldberg, that’s what you say, you reactionary killjoy. Maybe it means flowers and butterflies to other people.
You don’t have to take my word for it.
That is precisely how a UN report on Social Justice defines the term:
“Social justice may be broadly understood as the fair and compassionate distribution of the fruits of economic growth.
Social justice is not possible without strong and coherent redistributive policies conceived and implemented by public agencies.”
I repeat: “Strong and coherent redistributive policies conceived and implemented by public agencies.”
And it gets worse.
The UN report goes on to insist that: “Present-day believers in an absolute truth identified with virtue and justice are neither willing nor desirable companions for the defenders of social justice.”
Translation: if you believe truth and justice are concepts independent of the agenda of the forces of progress as defined by the left, you are an enemy of social justice.
Yet again, if you scratch a liberal, you find a fascist underneath. (And probably need a tetanus shot.)
The self-declared champions of social justice believe the state must remedy and can remedy all perceived wrongs.
Anyone who disagrees is an enemy of what is good and right.
And the state must therefore coerce them to do what is socially just.
And that, as Hayek prophesized, is no longer a free society.
It is, rather, ObAmerica.