Each conservative has a term for the left. The "commies" and "pinkos" of the '40s and '50s became the "libs" and "socialists" of the '60s, '70s, and '80s. Presently, some have floated such evocative terms as "Fabians" and "progressives." Others have come to call the left "Democrats." Regardless of the terminology, contemporary conservatives should recognize the left by the fruit it bears.
The left embraces "social justice," a concept in which the State -- not the individual, guided by the Constitution or any god -- is the ultimate authority to determine the best interest of its wards. The intent is to subvert the "evils" of the marketplace and create an "equal opportunity" for all citizens to be entitled to a piece -- not merely a chance at a piece -- of the pie. Further, top proponents hold that the State should manufacture the condition through legislation, progressive taxation, and the redistribution of wealth.
For social justice to apply, though, there must be victims. The left draws from a pool of "victims" suffering ostensible injustices based upon class, race, the environment, gender, and diversity/multiculturalism. If it can be said that successful capitalists produce a multitude of valuable goods and services, it can also be said that successful proponents of social justice manufacture a plethora of useful victims. Under social justice, the State defines the victims and perpetrators of "crimes" and intervenes to punish the guilty and restore balance.
In America, however, a government modeled on social justice is ripe for abuse -- not only because the concept of redistribution flouts the individual rights and liberties guaranteed us by our Creator and echoed in our founding documents, but also because a strong and willing federal government must exist for social justice to be enforceable. And further, for social justice to be truly effective, a government must rely upon guilt and fear. These buy-ins are (and always should be) alien to American liberties and exceptionalism.
Consider the left's ploy in light of the techniques of used-car salesmanship. The left "sells" the idea to the public that the purchase of a vehicle is required. Its necessity or affordability has no bearing; it's for the greater good, and time is of the essence. The deal is valid for today only. The "car" is more fuel-efficient, greener, safer, and better for everyone. In other words, the price -- as well as the historical moment -- is right. The "dealership" even offers incentives to sweeten the deal and a bailout if we're in over our heads. What hucksterism. This is a forced "cash for clunkers" program -- the real "clunker" is not our old, constitutionally reliable trade-in, but the new social justice lemon for sale.
Who are the real agents of change in the social justice crowd? For an answer, conservatives should watch a G-20 Summit protest, such as the revealingly titled 3/28/09 "Put People First, March For Jobs, Justice and Climate" in London. Unruly and often masked in "black bloc," this seemingly disparate assemblage united under social justice is particularly "unjust" to police (and to the glass storefronts of chain restaurants, banks, and other symbols of capitalism). Foreshadowing the events that occurred in Pittsburgh and Toronto, radicals in London shattered glass, displaying the behavior (see 1:35 onward) of those unafraid to use direct action -- i.e., vandalism and destruction -- in order to "save" us all. Yet radicals and leftist university professors who fuel this ideology are not the most dangerous participants in the social justice movement. The movement also needs the lifeblood of moderate but supportive "useful idiots." It needs people who can view the 1977 Constitution of the USSR and see its guarantees of freedom of speech, equal rights, housing, and -- under Article 42 of Chapter 7 -- health care as attractive positives from a basically egalitarian form of government that somehow went wrong. In sum, the social justice movement needs people who take Article 39 of Chapter 7 at face value:
Citizens of the USSR enjoy in full the social, economic, political and personal rights and freedoms proclaimed and guaranteed by the Constitution of the USSR and by Soviet laws. The socialist system ensures enlargement of the rights and freedoms of citizens and continuous improvement of their living standards as social, economic, and cultural development programmes are fulfilled.
Enjoyment by citizens of their rights and freedoms must not be to the detriment of the interests of society or the state, or infringe the rights of other citizens.
Social justice needs followers who believe that their path will enlarge the rights and freedoms of the world's citizens as surely as Socialism promised. However, these "usefuls" need never realize that such expansions are unlikely, if not impossible, under the system. Conservatives, in contrast, realize that Soviet rights were granted by the government and administered as the government saw fit. Conservatives don't gloss over the second paragraph of Article 39; they acknowledge that the Soviet government could revoke rights that interfered with the state or its "egalitarian" workings.
Socialists, progressives, Fabians -- the names are unimportant. The left's true believers will likely scream bloody murder at comparisons between their philosophy and Socialism, even though birds of a feather have been shown to flock together in London, Pittsburgh, and Toronto. In this light, then, a conservative's christening of the movement is surely less important than unmasking the real uniting factor behind the social justice game's disparate groups. To be sure, they all share and wish to perpetuate a basic misunderstanding of two Constitutions -- a Soviet one that promised what a government would do for its citizenry, and an American one that guarantees what a government will not do to its people.
Dmitri Rutkowski is a writer who lives in Connecticut.