What is Social Justice?

At the beginning of this section, I described the Pilgrims’ experience with socialism and their preference for capitalism. Now, I would like to demonstrate their wisdom. 

“Steve Jobs, and Steve Wozniak, built the first Apple Computer out of their garage. They were just young men with an idea that people would like to own their own affordable computers. They didn’t have enough money to start a company, so they sought out money from a capitalist. This could have been a bank or a rich individual. In their case it was multi-millionaire Mike Markkula, who provided essential business expertise and funding of $250,000. 

Jobs and Wozniak were right, people did want to own home computers and sales took off. Today Apple, employs over 48,000 people worldwide, and has annual sales over $65 billion. As of September 2011, Apple became the largest publicly traded company in the world by market capitalization and the largest technology company in the world by revenue and profit.

Capitalism allowed these two men the freedom to buy parts for the first prototype computer. The freedom to seek out funds to set up a new company, develop production and distribution to customers, is the American Enterprise of Invention which we call capitalism. 

Did Jobs and Wozniak steal from the poor to become rich?  NO!  They borrowed money from a capitalist, who wanted a return on his investment – and got it. They all took a gamble and might have lost, but instead they won.  They ended up creating great wealth for themselves, their employees, their financial backer and their stock holders.  They did not steal money from anybody!   

Steve Jobs was not born rich.  He became rich by following his dream and performing the hard work of learning, mastering, innovating, building, failing and trying again and again.  In doing so, he created new products, he created a new company and new jobs.  This all worked to create more wealth for many people.  He did not steal his money from the poor like some progressive liberals would have you believe.  He created his own wealth through capitalism.  

So should he, and all other rich people, have to give their money away until everyone in America has an equal amount? This is the mentality of progressive/liberals; “… they stole the money from the poor who didn’t get paid enough for their labor, and they must give it back.” This is the big lie of the Communist Social Justice ideology. The idea that all capitalists steal money from the poor is utter nonsense.  Virtually all capitalists create money through innovation of new ideas, hard work, good investments, good business decisions, accepting – no, thriving on – risk and properly managing their assets.

“Political writer and editor Barry Loberfeld points out that (edited for clarity); “…the signature of modern leftist rhetoric is the deployment of terminology that simply cannot fail to command assent – i.e., a hybrid deconstruction. As Orwell himself recognized, even slavery could be sold if labeled “freedom.” The Nazis practiced this policy at their concentration camps – where six-million Jews were slaughtered. Over the entry gate they put this sign: “Arbeit macht frei” the German phrase meaning “work sets you free”. In this vein, who could ever conscientiously oppose the pursuit of “social justice,” — i.e., a just society?

“To understand “social justice,” we must contrast it with the earlier view of justice against which it was [ill]conceived – one that arose as a revolt against political absolutism. With a government (e.g., a monarchy) that is granted absolute power, it is impossible to speak of any injustice on its part. If it can do anything, it can’t do anything “wrong.”

Justice, as a political/legal term, can begin only when limitations are placed upon the sovereign, i.e., when [citizens] define what is unjust for government to do. The historical realization traces from the Roman senate to Magna Carta to the U.S. Constitution to [political movements of] the 19th Century. It was now a matter of “justice” that government not arrest citizens arbitrarily, sanction their bondage by others, persecute them for their religion or speech, seize their property, [in America, sanction their right to bear arms] or prevent their travel.

This culmination of centuries of ideas and struggles became known as liberalism. And it was precisely in opposition to this liberalism –  not feudalism or theocracy or the ancien régime, much less 20th Century fascism –  that Karl Marx formed and detailed the popular concept of “social justice,” (which has become a kind of “new and improved” substitute for a store full of other terms – Marxism, socialism, collectivism – that, in the wake of Communism’s history and collapse, are now unsellable).

“The history of all existing society,” he and Engels declared, “is the history of class struggles. Freeman and slave, patrician and plebian, lord and serf … oppressor and oppressed, stood in sharp opposition to each other.” They were quite right to note the political castes and resulting clashes of the pre-liberal era. The expositors of liberalism (Spencer, Maine) saw their ethic, by establishing the political equality of all (e.g., the abolition of slavery, serfdom, and inequality of rights), as moving mankind from a “society of status” to a “society of contract.”

Alas, Marx, the Prophet, could not accept that the classless millenium had arrived before he did. Thus, he revealed to a benighted humanity that liberalism was in fact merely another stage of history’s class struggle – [now labeled]”capitalism” – with its own combatants: the “proletariat” and the “bourgeoisie.” The former were manual laborers, the latter professionals and business owners. Marx’s “classes” were not political castes [at all,] but occupations.

Today the terms have broadened to mean essentially income brackets. If Smith can make a nice living from his writing, he’s a bourgeois; if Jones is reciting poetry for coins in a subway terminal, he’s a proletarian. But the freedoms of speech and enterprise that they share equally are “nothing but lies and falsehoods so long as “their differences in affluence and influence persist.”

The unbroken line from The Communist Manifesto to its contemporary adherents is that economic inequality [affluence] is the monstrous injustice of the capitalist system, which must be replaced by an ideal of “social justice” –  a “classless” society created by the elimination of all differences in wealth and power [affluence and influence].

Give Marx his due: He was absolutely correct in identifying the “political freedom” of liberalism –  the right of each man to do as he wishes with his own resources [in the pursuit of – his own – happiness] – as the origin of income disparity under capitalism.

[Of course, before liberalism there was a virtually absolute disparity in affluence and influence. The monarch owned everything and, at his/her pleasure, aristocratic friends enjoyed all the wealth and power of the kingdom while the loyal subjects enjoyed (owned) and influenced nothing.]

So now, if Smith is earning a fortune while Jones is still stuck in that subway, it’s not because of the “class” into which each was born, to say nothing of royal patronage. [The truth however, is that] they are where they are because of how the common man spends his money.

That’s why some writers sell books in the millions, some sell them in the thousands, and still others can’t even get published. It is the choices of the masses (“the market”) that create the inequalities of fortune and fame – and the only way to correct those “injustices” [according to liberal dogma] is to control those choices. Every policy item on the leftist agenda is merely a deduction from this fundamental premise.

Private property and the free market of exchange are the most obvious hindrances to the implementation of that agenda, but hardly the only [ones]. Also verboten is the choice to emigrate, which removes one and one’s wealth from the pool of resources to be redirected by the demands of “social justice” and its enforcers. And crucial to the justification of a “classless” society [where the masses’ behavior is controlled by big government] is the undermining of any notion that individuals are responsible for their behavior and its consequences.”

[This is scary stuff!]

“To maintain the illusion that classes still exist under capitalism, it cannot be conceded that the “haves” are responsible for what they have or that the “have nots” are responsible for what they don’t have. Therefore, [it can only be that] people are what they are because of where they were born into the social order – as if [capitalist societies existed in] early 17th Century France.

Men of achievement are pointedly referred to as “the privileged” – as if they were given everything and earned nothing. Their seeming accomplishments are, at best, really nothing more than the results of the sheer luck of a beneficial social environment (or even – in the allowance of one egalitarian, John Rawls – “natural endowment”) [or, at worst, are the result of theft from the have-nots – even in the age of contracts]. Consequently, the “haves” do not deserve what they have.

The flip side of this is the insistence that the “have nots” are, in fact, “the underprivileged,” who have been denied their due by an unjust society. If some men wind up behind bars, they are (to borrow from Broadway) ‘…depraved only because they are “deprived”.’ Environmental determinism, once an almost sacred doctrine of [the] official Soviet academe, thrives as the “social constructionist” orthodoxy of today’s anti-capitalist left. The theory of “behavioral scientists” and their boxed rats serviceably parallels the practice of a [Soviet style] Central Planning Board and its closed society.

The imperative of economic equality also generates a striking opposition between “social justice” and its [“republican”] rival. The equality of the latter, we’ve noted, is the equality of all individuals in the eyes of the law – the [equal] protection of the political rights of each man, irrespective of “class” (or any assigned collective identity, hence the blindfold of Justice personified). However, this political equality [person-hood] … spawns the difference in “class” [economic status] between Smith and Jones [because of the political freedom to make choices – good or bad – guaranteed by the Constitution].

All this echoes Nobel laureate F.A. Hayek’s observation that if “…we treat them equally [politically], the result must be inequality in their actual [i.e., economic] position.” The irresistible conclusion is that “the only way to place them in an equal [economic] position would be to treat them differently [politically, e.g., legally and legislatively]” – precisely the conclusion that the advocates of “social justice” themselves have always reached.”

[Simply put, if you are economically unsuccessful, its someone else’s fault or, if you are economically successful, it’s – literally – your fault.]

“In the nations that had instituted this [type of] resolution throughout their legal systems, “different” political treatment came to [include] the extermination or imprisonment of millions because of their “class” origins. In our own American “mixed economy,” which mixes differing systems of justice as much as economics, “social justice” finds expression in such policies and propositions as progressive taxation and income redistribution; affirmative action and even “reparations,” its logical implication; and selective censorship in the name of “substantive equality,” i.e., economic equality disingenuously reconfigured as a 14th Amendment right and touted as the moral superior to “formal equality,” the equality of political freedom actually guaranteed by the amendment.

[For the deconstructionists among us – “economic” now means “political”, so, again apologies to von Clausewicz – business is merely politics by other means – which is exactly what the PLDC intends.]

This last is the project of a growing number of leftist legal theorists that includes Cass Sunstein and Catherine MacKinnon, the latter opining that the “law of [substantive] equality and the law of freedom of expression [for all] are on a collision course in this country.” Interestingly, Hayek had continued, “Equality before the law and material equality are, therefore, not only different, but in conflict with each other” – a pronouncement that evidently draws no dissent [from the PLDC].

Hayek emphasized another conflict between the two conceptions of justice, one we can begin examining simply by asking who the subject of liberal [Constitutional] justice is? The answer: a person; a flesh-and-blood person, who is held [personally] accountable for only those actions that constitute specifically defined crimes of violence (robbery, rape, murder) against other citizens. Conversely, who is the subject of “social justice” – society? Indeed, yes, but is society really a “who”?

When we speak of “social psychology” (the standard example), no one believes that there is a “social psyche” whose thoughts can be analyzed. And yet the very notion of “social justice” presupposes a volitional Society whose actions can (and must) be held accountable [and asserting,] at the root, that [Society] precedes and determines the characteristics of those who are [its] members” (R.A. Childs, Jr.).”

What then, is “social justice”? It is, in fact, the theory that implies and justifies the practice of socialism. And what is “socialism”? Domination by the State. What is “socialized” is state-controlled. So what is “totalitarian” socialism other than total socialism, i.e., state control of everything? And what is that but the absence of a free market in anything, be it goods or ideas? So, social justice is the absence of a free market in anything – thoughts as well as actions!

“Again, what is “social justice”? The abolition of privacy [- the freedom to do what a person wants to do – within the law]. It’s repudiation of property rights, far from being a fundamental, is merely one derivation of this basic principle. Socialism, declared Marx, advocates “the positive abolition of private property [in order to effect] the return of man himself as a social, i.e., really human, being.” It is the private status of property – meaning: the privacy, not the property – that stands in opposition to the social (i.e., “socialized,” and thus “really human”) nature of man.

Observe that the premise holds even when we substitute [anything] for property. If private anything denies man’s social nature, then so does private everything. And it is the negation of anything and everything private – from work to worship to even family life – that has been the social affirmation of the socialist state.

And again, what is “social justice”? The opposite of capitalism. And what is “capitalism”? It is Marx’s coinage (minted by his materialist dispensation) for the Western [constitutional] liberalism that diminished state power from absolutism to limited government; that, from John Locke to the American Founders, held that each individual has an inviolable right to his own life, liberty, and property, which government exists solely to secure.

Now what would the reverse of this be but a resurrection of Oriental despotism, the reactionary increase of state power from limited government to absolutism, i.e., “totalitarianism,” the absolute control of absolutely everything? And what is the opposite – the violation – of securing the life, liberty, and property of all men – other than mass murder, mass tyranny, and mass plunder? And what is that but the point at which theory ends and history begins?

Those who contend that a socialist government need not be totalitarian, that it can allow a free market – independent choice, the very source of “inequality”! – in some things (ideas) and not in others (goods – as if, say, books were one or the other), are saying only that the socialist ethic shouldn’t be applied [equally and] consistently.

This is nothing less than a confession of moral cowardice. It is the explanation for why, from Moscow to Managua, all the rivalries within the different socialist revolutions have been won by, not the “democratic” or “libertarian” socialists, but the totalitarians, i.e., those who don’t qualify their socialism with antonyms.

And yet even before that point – before the 20th Century, before publication of the Manifesto itself – there were those who did indeed make the connection between what Marxism inherently meant on paper and what it would inevitably mean in practice. In 1844, Arnold Ruge presented the abstract: “A Police and Slave State“. And in 1872, Michael Bakunin provided the specifics:

‘[T]he People’s State of Marx … will not content itself with administering and governing the masses politically, as all governments do today. It will also administer the masses economically, concentrating in the hands of the State the production and division of wealth, the cultivation of land, the establishment and development of factories, the organization and direction of commerce, and finally the application of capital to production by the only banker – the State. All that will demand an immense knowledge and many heads “overflowing with brains” in this government. It will be the reign of scientific intelligence, the most aristocratic, despotic, arrogant, and elitist of all regimes. [Does 21stCentury environmentalism come to mind?]

There will be a new class, a new hierarchy of real and counterfeit scientists and scholars, and the world will be divided into a minority – ruling in the name of knowledge [the PLDC], and an immense ignorant majority [made so by the Democrats, academia, the media, the entertainment industry and the progressive/liberals]. And then, woe unto the mass of ignorant ones!’”

[Presto, Saul Alinsky’s America described in 1872!]

“It is precisely this “new class” [the PLDC] that reflects the defining contradiction of modern leftist reality: The goal of complete economic equality logically enjoins the means of complete state control [since 1950, the amount of federal regulation has grown from 13 book equivalents to 234 book equivalents – a more than 400% increase – with more than 1 million restrictions placed on American citizens], yet, this means has never practically achieved that end.

Once again, back to our example; Yes, Smith and Jones, once “socialized,” are equally poor and equally oppressed, but now above them looms an oligarchy of not-to-be-equalized equalizers [the PLDC]. The inescapable rise of this “new class” – privileged economically as well as politically [think, Bill and Hillary Clinton], never quite ready to “wither away” – forever destroys the possibility of a “classless” society. Here the lesson of socialism [and the communism that infatuated Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal] teaches what should have been learned from the lesson of pre-liberal despotism – that state coercion is a means to no ends but its own [- wealth and power].

Far from expanding equality from the political to the economic realm, the pursuit of “social justice” serves only to contract it within both. There will never be any kind of equality – or real justice – as long as a socialist elite stands behind the trigger while the rest of us kneel before the barrel.

But, the concept of “social justice” with respect to capitalism goes far beyond the economic realm. We must [recall] that “discrimination” originally referred to the bias, not of individuals in their private dealings, but of government in its defense of the life, liberty, and property of all people (in other words: political equality).

That’s because Jim Crow [, for example,] was not a social custom, but a political system. Here we come to the reality that the Left [PLDC] cannot face. Ever since the Sixties, the Left has spun the line that racism is the outgrowth of “[free market] capitalism.” Without government controls [they say], bigotry will germinate from every square inch of the open society. However, [this] is a theory of racism that is falsified [another big lie] by the practice of racism.

Next time: The history of racism is the history of statism – racism is government controlled.

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