F.04 – Justice vs. Social Justice

Justice is the philosophic concept of rectitude, fairness and morality within a society, and it serves as a balancing force between the collective security and the personal liberty of individuals.  The Justice System consists of laws, law enforcement, courts, and consequences for violations.   For justice to be effective, all members are expected to pledge allegiance to the traditions and laws of that society.  An effective justice system then ensures people receive the justice they deserve, and is a deterrent to others who may be considering similar transgressions. 

In the 20th century, an expanded version of “Justice” called “Social Justice” became widely accepted throughout much of the world and in America.   This concept had its roots in the philosophic theory that the “General Will” of the community needed to take precedence over the “Individual Will” of each person.   After World War II, the concept of Social Justice grew in popularity and the role of government took on a greatly expanded role.

The primary difference between Justice and Social Justice is:

Justice – is the result of the fair and proper administration of law.  It is the principle that people receive what they deserve based on ethics, rationality, law, religion, and fairness.  Justice involves holding individuals accountable for their actions based on laws and morality. 

Social Justice – seeks equality of outcome for individuals and societies as measured by comparative wealth and other differences, including standard of living, personal liberties, and employment opportunities. Social Justice involves holding individuals accountable for a collectivist vision and concepts of equality.  

The Conflict – Actions to achieve Social Justice violate the principles of Justice

Although Social Justice contains the word justice, it is not a logical extension of justice.  The two concepts are actually in conflict.  The goal of justice is to safeguard the natural rights of individuals.  The goal of Social Justice is to achieve objectives, which can’t be achieved without violating the natural rights of individuals.  Social Justice gives governments the directives that legalize unjust actions.

Where We Started – Founding of America

The American Justice system is deeply rooted in Greek philosophy and the Western justice tradition. It is derived from the U.S. Constitution.   Its roots include:

The Code of Hammurabi – a well-preserved Babylonian code of law of ancient Mesopotamia, dated to about 1754 BC. The sixth Babylonian king, Hammurabi, erected the code.

Themis goddess of Justice – from Greek mythology, was the Titan goddess of divine law and order, and the traditional rules of conduct as established by the gods.   She was the divine voice, who first instructed mankind in the primal laws of justice and morality. 

Plato’s Republic – “The Republic” is a Socratic dialogue, authored by Plato around 375 BC, concerning justice, the order and character of the just city-state, and the just man. 

Magna Carta – a royal charter of rights agreed to by King John of England at Runnymede, near Windsor, on 15 June 1215.

British Common Law – the common legal system of England and Wales, comprised mainly of criminal law and civil law, each branch having its own courts and procedures.

America’s justice system was derived from British Common Law and was documented in the Bill of Rights of the Constitution.  This includes defensive activities such as maintaining national military and supporting police forces for protection against loss of life, property, and liberty at the hands of foreign despots or domestic criminals.  Its mission also ensures adherence to the Constitution, which is the contract between “We the People” and the representatives we select to govern us.

Throughout our history, Americans have taken steps to create a fairer and more compassionate society.  This has included a welfare system for the truly needy.

A Major Shift in Direction

Social justice has entirely different goals.  Instead of a concern about evil, punishment and safety of the community, social justice was founded on theories about compassion.  The idea of social justice can be found throughout history but the term “social justice” has only been in wide use since the 1840’s when a Jesuit priest named Luigi Taparelli popularized the term.   Social justice has been mainly a religious concept, and since 1931 it has been part of the official teaching of the Roman Catholic Church.

Since the Second World War, however, “social justice” has come to mean something very different. The socialist aspects of it have won out over its rivals and gained solitary possession of the field. The term now stands for a very particular view of what is right and wrong in society.

The optimal resource for understanding the current interpretation of this concept is the United Nations’ publication entitled “Social Justice in an Open World.”   This document can be downloaded for free from the internet.  Below is a brief summary.

The introduction defines the concerns that Social Justice is intended to address.  It describes the problem of rising inequality throughout the world, most notably the ownership of capital and the gap between the richest and poorest countries.  It refers to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights as the framework for resolving this imbalance. 

It states that, unlike justice, social justice is a relatively recent concept born of the struggles surrounding the industrial revolution and the advent of socialism.  Most of its adherents believe in the collective welfare of society.  They admit that believers in absolute truth, virtue and justice are not likely disciples of social justice.     

Using the motto that “Morally, all injustices are unacceptable,” the United Nations justifies a series of concepts aimed at achieving greater equality.  These concepts include eliminating all forms of discrimination and achieving economic justice.  Actions to realize economic justice include redistribution of income, progressive taxes, financial and other forms of assistance, and controlling markets. 

“Social Justice in an Open World” states that “Social justice is not possible without strong and coherent redistributive policies conceived and implemented by public agencies.  A fair, efficient and progressive taxation system, alluded to in Commitment 9 of the Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development allows a state to perform “its duties.” 

The negative aspects of Social Justice include:

  1. “Social Justice” uses the term “Justice,” however Social Justice does not adhere to the traditional definition of “Justice.”
  2. The actions encouraged to achieve Social Justice (Equality) require agencies to violate the justice principle of Liberty (protection of individual rights).
  3. The goals of equality of people and nations do not adequately consider human nature (natural disparities, personal aspirations and immorality) and therefore are impossible to achieve.  But, when attempted, they can only be achieved through force by agencies. 
  4. Social Justice actions are in violation of the U.S. Constitution unless activist interpretations are employed. 
  5. Instead of achieving a fairer and more equal world using Social Justice principles, it creates  envy and resentment; instead of promoting positive aspects of human nature (love, compassion and the need for meaning).
  6. The dramatic differences between these conflicting concepts, especially with them sharing the term justice, is a major cause of America’s unhealthy hyper-partisan environment.

Where Are We Today?

James Madison once said that if people were angels, we would have no use for law.  But we live in an imperfect world, and evil exists.  So, America’s justice system has a significant challenge protecting its citizens from people who want to do them harm.   And most Americans feel our current justice system is unjust, but for entirely different reasons.     

Social Justice has flipped the world’s justice systems upside down.  It has created unimaginable confusion about what is just and admirable and what is unjust and abhorrent.  Meritocracy is now discouraged and activism is encouraged.  Looting is acceptable, but disagreeing with a social cause is offensive and could cost you your life.  With all its goals, social justice makes the world extremely complex and incentivizes more dependence, unfairness and immoral or unethical actions.

Social Justice has now become a worldwide movement of activist warriors fighting against victimization.  Everything is either a victim or a perpetrator.  The victims receive special treatment and the perpetrators are shamed and intimidated.  The normal principles of justice no longer apply.   Under the court of public opinion, the activist warrior are the judges and “innocent until proven guilty” no longer applies.  Achieving Social Justice is given a higher priority than Justice, even though it is unattainable and results in turmoil, unhappiness and more violations.

Our diametrically opposed viewpoints of Justice and Social Justice are symptoms of our different political ideologies and views of the world.   How can Americans achieve unity when they can’t agree on what Justice is? The concepts of justice and social justice are not compatible, and in fact are like oil and water.    

Prior to the mid 1900s, Americans shared a common understanding of what America’s core values and principles were.  After World War II, this began to change with the increased influence of Progressive Ideology in America.  Justice is more closely aligned with Conservativism and American Tradition, while Social Justice is more closely aligned with globalism, modernity, and Progressivism. 

Conservatism  – is loyal to the wisdom of our ancestors that was developed and written down in much simpler eras and has stood the test of time.  The purpose of Justice is to deal with evil and protect the members of society.  It is also intended as a deterrent to others who may be inclined to perform unlawful actions.

Progressivism – believes in modernity and popular groupthink based on theories and ideologies that are constantly evolving and have not been proven to be true.  Social justice is intended to achieve a utopian vision of what the world could be.   Social Justice theory might have been based on an admirable vision, and using the term justice may have helped the movement gain authority and traction.  But, like all ideologies, it keeps mutating and evolving, whether it is true or not.  Just because it is backed by the United Nations does not make it beneficial to achieving a fairer and more equal world. 

In American culture, the term “Justice” infers law and demands respect, authority, and allegiance.  Under Social Justice however, this sense of authority and allegiance is redirected to a popular utopian vision.   But this utopian vision is based on identity politics and is an opinion that is not held by all members of society.  With social justice we are trying to enforce opinions, not laws.  Backed by a sense of authority, these opinions become the “ends” which justify means that are often unattainable, unjustifiable and in violation of the principles of the U.S. Constitution.      

America was founded on a set of values and principles that made it the greatest country in world history, and Americans need to unite based on America’s founding values and principles.  We can and should be an example for the rest of the world.  We don’t need to follow the rest of the world off the cliff, if that’s the direction they choose to go.  We need to be better.  

Learning Circle Discussion

Problem Statement

The concept of Social Justice as we know it today, grew from admirable intentions in the late 1940s.  World War II, which was said to be the war to end all wars, ended and the United Nations was formed.    Much of the world was destroyed, many people were living in horrible conditions and the United Nations took aim at the inequality gap between the richest and poorest countries.  Under the motto “Morally, all injustices are unacceptable,” they enacted a series of concepts aimed at achieving greater equality among nations and people within nations.

Solving the world’s problems is a monumental task that required an unbelievable amount of authority and a new world order.  It resulted in a new political ideology and movement which placed more emphasis on equality than freedom.  Social Justice has now become a worldwide movement of activist warriors fighting against victimization.  Achieving Social Justice objectives is taking precedence over Justice principles, even though it is unattainable and results in turmoil, unhappiness and more violations.   And under the guise of Social Justice goals politicians and world leaders are ignoring Justice principles for their personal goals.

Is it possible for the world to unite in solving compassionate goals without the dangers associated with invalidating our founding principles and taking away individual freedoms?

Group Discussion:

  • How would you compare and contrast the vision and goals of both concepts?
  • How does the concept of morality differ under Justice and Social Justice?  Explain.
  • How do you feel about political correctness, identity politics, and massive welfare?
  • Will we become a fairer and more equal society because of our focus on social justice?
  • How should America resolve the confusion about social justice?
  • What are the dangers associated with continuing in our current direction?
  • Should America be more like Europe, or should America go it alone?
  • Is a world order and authority beneficial or dangerous?  Why?  Can the risks be mitigated?
  • Should we support the Social Justice movement or try to counter balance it?
  • Are Social Justice activists making the world better?  Are they educated and do they understand what they are doing?