May 16, 2010
What Exactly Is 'Social Justice'?
The term "social justice" is now commonly used by leftist activists, clergy, educators, judges, and politicians to describe the goal they seek to achieve with many of their policies. No precise definition of "social justice" is ever offered by the left. Instead, the term is always used in a vague way -- as if everyone already knows, or should know, what the seemingly well-intentioned phrase "social justice" means.
So, what exactly is "social justice"?
Social justice is the complete economic equality of all members of society. While this may sound like a lofty objective, what it really means is that wealth should be collected by the government and evenly distributed to everyone. In short, social justice is communism. It is rooted in the Marxist idea that the money people make and the property they own do not rightfully belong to the people who make the money and own the property.
Karl Marx's ultimate criticism of capitalism is its recognition of private property. The reason private property is so evil, Marx contended, is that it is a function of economic class warfare. In other words, "the rich" use the concept of private property to oppress "the poor." In order to understand this convoluted thought process, Marx's view of money must be examined, since money is the means by which private property is acquired.
According to Marx, money is really a "collective product" that belongs to everyone. His reasoning, as described in The Communist Manifesto, is that money can be made only "by the united action of all members of society." Factory owners, for example, cannot manufacture goods by themselves. Rather, the factory owners need workers to run the machines that produce goods. Consequently, in Marx's mind, when the manufactured good is sold, the worker has as much right to the proceeds of that sale as the factory owner does.
Marx transposed that idea to the societal level, professing that the aggregate wealth of the rich was actually created by the aggregate work of the poor.
As a result, capitalism is seen by Marxists as a system invented by the rich to ensure that the poor do not get their fair share of money. Instead, the rich keep most of the money for themselves. In turn, the rich use this "stolen" money to selfishly purchase private property in the form of factories, land, houses, and anything else they choose. As such, Marxists see all privately owned property as the fruit of a massive capitalist fraud against the poor.
What about wages? Aren't workers compensated for the work that they do under a capitalist system? Not according to Marx, who saw wages merely as part of the capitalist scheme.
First of all, Marx believed that capitalists pay workers only the bare minimum to survive -- an amount that "merely suffices to prolong and reproduce a bare existence."
Secondly, Marx stated that every cent a worker makes is paid back to the rich in the form of rent, groceries, car payments, and the like. As Marx said, "no sooner is the exploitation of the laborer by the manufacturer ... at an end ... than he is set upon by the other portions of the bourgeoisie, the landlord, the shopkeeper, the pawnbroker, etc."
Consequently, Marx held that workers, by design, can never make enough money to acquire private property of their own under the capitalist system.
"Social justice" is intended to remedy this exploitation of workers by capitalists. Marx saw man only in a social context -- meaning not as an individual, but as a part of a class. Thus, the word "social" (in "social justice") refers to classes in a society.
"Justice," in the Marxist context, means economic equality. This is the Marxist utopian ideal that all members in a society should receive the same amount of compensation, regardless of occupation, skill, or work ethic. The oft-quoted socialist mantra, "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need," comes from this concept.
Social justice can be accomplished in only one way in a capitalist society -- by wealth redistribution. This is done by seizing the wealth of the greedy rich and giving it to the poor, using the government as the agent of redistribution. This is the true aim of the left's social justice agenda.
Marx's dim view of capitalism must be put in context, taking into consideration the time and place in which he lived. In 1848, the year of The Communist Manifesto's publication, the Industrial Revolution was at its height in Europe. In many European towns, the skies were filled with black smoke spewing from massive factories that employed scores of workers in horrible conditions.
However, just as Marx's understanding of capitalism was limited to factories existing in 1840s Europe, his criticisms of capitalism must be likewise limited. Marx's philosophy is demonstrably false in the modern-day United States.
To begin with, Marx contemplated only two classes. One was a very small and privileged class of property and business owners; the remainder of the population was grouped into a massive class of impoverished workers. Therefore, Marxism cannot account for the millions of American middle-class property owners, nor can it explain the existence of small businesses, which are the backbone of the American economy.
People who enjoy their job or make more than a subsistence wage are also inexplicable under Marxism, as are "rags to riches" stories and anyone advancing in salary or position. Those people simply don't exist in the Marxist world.
The truth is that the only "class" in the United States excluded from reaping the benefits of capitalism is the class that chooses not to participate in American society. Fueled by the rhetoric of leftists, this class sits idle, dreaming of perceived wrongs that justify its inactivity. The only exploitation in America is committed by politicians, who use stolen money to subsidize this class in exchange for votes. That is not justice -- it is criminal.