Economic and Social Justice

By: Dave Perkins

I have always said that “justice” is not a word that can be modified without losing all of its meaning. It is a complete word in itself.

“economic justice” means redistribution of wealth for fairness as determined by some judging party.

“social justice” means redistribution of wealth for fairness as determined by some judging party.

Obviously, neither one of them is actually justice; they are both “fairness”, which is arbitrary and situational. When more people need my money, government will say I owe more, in spite of the fact that I did nothing to cause their need and have even been quite charitable in my choices. How can more be taken from me, without my agreement, if “justice” is what is being administered?

That is, precisely, unjust to ME. What I owe, I should be able to control. I choose my debt, I make my contracts and agreements, and I am the financial decision-maker in my life. But not if I submit to “economic and social justice”. They are high-sounding words for the control of my life and the fruits of my labor by someone else, on behalf of someone else, for a stated purpose which will never be achieved– namely the “leveling” of wealth distribution. Inequities will always exist (because people are constantly changing their choices and decisions in response to conditions in the economy and in their own lives), and therefore the moral argument will always be made that some will always owe more than they are paying. It is subjective, not in accordance with any actual moral rule (e.g. the biblical 10% tithe for everyone regardless of wealth). And this endless pursuit of the unachievable is a de facto endless empowerment of the judges, the arbitrators, those who decide how much you owe. It is a ticket to their unending political POWER.

The only way to return some measure of control to your own life is literally to work less and earn less, so that less will be required of you. “Going Galt”, as Rand fans say. While that is technically a decision you make, it is NOT real freedom; if you were free, you’d be free to earn as much as you can, as much as you want, and it the only person controlling your debt and obligation would be you, by your own choice. Needless to say, the idea that earning more puts a target on your back is a dampening factor, economically speaking. People WILL choose to do less, so they don’t find themselves working their lives away for the benefit of ungrateful strangers rather than themselves and their families. And this will reduce available resources for government to “do good”. It will need to respond to this fact, and the response will be, as usual, higher demands on the productive; larger targets on their backs. The downward spiral then continues.

But there is a darker possibility; Marxism famously says “from each according to his ability”, and does not include as legitimate variables “his willingness to work”, “his relative happiness” or any other factor. Only “his ability”. At a certain point, farther down the slippery slope, one can conceive of a government which gives citizens labels of ability and then demands they live up to their abilities in terms of productivity; in other words, slavery.

Justice is ancient moral law; don’t murder, don’t steal, don’t even WISH you had what the other guy has, don’t lie and defraud people, don’t violate my rights. Nothing of ancient justice includes the idea that a man owes a subjectively variable fraction of the fruits of his labor to a collective, said fraction permanently out of his control.

In fact, ownership of what you make and earn is part of ancient justice; the Commandment says “thou shalt not steal”. If collective ownership of wealth were morally valid, this commandment would simply be incoherent.

The founding fathers, in considering the language of the Declaration, hesitated and eventually demurred on “the right to life, liberty and property”, because they were concerned the pro slavery forces would point to this part and claim it justified their position, that slaves were “property”. The founders did not want to grant the pro slavery forces that small victory, so they left out a specific reference to property rights and called it “the pursuit of happiness” instead, presuming that happiness and prosperity would be understood to be linked. And they were so understood for about the first hundred years. The constitution was being written by men with Bibles in their other hands; they all understood and took for granted that human beings have the right to own the fruits of their own labors. Property.

Then came the Marxists.

“Economic and social justice” are only Marxism, only situational; in that framework, what is required of you is ALWAYS subject to change, as the relative condition of others (whom you did not put into that condition) means the demands on you are relative also. The word “justice” is a self-contained idea. Adding a modifier to it only removes its inherent meaning. But it is a powerful idea, and so it can be combined with other words and be influential in a less than fully conscious way.

That misuse of words for their subconscious influence, by the way, is known as “propaganda”.

Now i have found this at the end of a post by the Instapundit–

–Just remember “social justice” has no intrinsic meaning apart from “what we want.”–

Even better!


“There is a secret pride in every human heart that revolts at tyranny. You may order and drive an individual, but you cannot make him respect you.” William Hazlitt (1778 – 1830)

Donate to

Support American Values...