What is Social Justice? Ask 10 people, get 10 different answers ranging from social responsibility, racial equality, and economic distributism to the ubiquitous "isms" of the 20th Century: Marxism-Leninism, Fabian Socialism, Maoism, Islamic Collectivism, and European Socialism that inspired the latest utopianism, Global Collectivist Society.
In a relativist world where all ideas are thought to be created equal, any and all ideas that advanced the development of "the human being" in history are subject to reinterpretation and adulteration.
Therein lies The "Social Justice" Trap.
"Social Justice" originates in the 19th Century writings of Italian Jesuit Luigi Taparelli who articulated the idea that free will is not the sole condition of the dignity of man. Rather, man's social existence (natural dependence) carries moral dimensions. As such, one cannot equate "the good" with the pleasurable nor the useful; in fact, the autonomous individual who pursues material existence cannot experience true transcendence, for it is grace that transforms the (informed) conscience and moves us to choose the greater good over the fulfillment of individual desires.
In 1887, Pope Leo XIII (Taparelli's student) advanced "Social Justice" as a transcendent ideal by personally appealing to America's wealthiest socialite Katharine Drexel to become a missionary in the service of America's poor and dispossessed blacks and natives. Miss Drexel resisted at first, but accepted her calling as "Mother Drexel" and founded her Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, dedicated to Social Justice. Pope Leo also inspired fellow Italian Mother Francesca Xavier Cabrini who set sail for America in 1890 to care for poor Italian immigrants. The next year, Leo published his encyclical Rerum Novarum that laid the foundation for integrating materialist ideas (property rights, worker rights to unionize) into Catholic social teaching, without fully articulating their context and origins within free will, transcendence, and the key social themes, life and dignity.
As Mother Drexel quietly established schools in 48 states across America for the children of newly freed slaves and American natives, Mother Cabrini established her first center in New York City and 79 more. When the Great Depression of the 1930s hit, journalist Dorothy Day witnessed the need for direct assistance to America's poor, converted to Catholicism, and established the Catholic Worker Movement, advocating the Catholic economic theory of Distributism with its mission to directly aid the poor and homeless with food and shelter, including nonviolent direct action on their behalf. By the mid-20th Century, life and dignity were presumed to be foundational in Western democracies that defended freedom and prosperity. The term "Social Justice" had attained popular use in the American media and cultural elite for its transcendence as well as its materialist ideas, without fully articulating its origins in free will, the culture of life, and the dignity of man. This void presented an open invitation to opportunists and plagiarists who sought to reinvent the term for willful, materialist, and political purpose. The first to co-opt "Social Justice" was Egyptian Islamist writer Sayyid Qutb who, in 1949, published "Social Justice in Islam" featuring collectivism (as opposed to transcendence) as its foundational concept. His thesis attracted the endorsement of the Muslim Brotherhood whose leader Amin Al-Husseini (The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem) had colluded with Adolf Hitler (as of 1933) to eradicate the Jews from the world. Qutb's popularized work served its purpose to radicalize Muslims against the West, and he was quickly promoted to chief propagandist of the Brotherhood, inciting the overthrow of the Egyptian government in 1952. At the same time, Westerners adopted their own use of "Social Justice" to call for social responsibility in business or economic terms, prompting ambitious political dictators to claim the phrase to justify overthrowing authoritarian governments and impose their own totalitarian regimes. In 1979, after The Shah of Iran and Nicaragua's Samosa were replaced by totalitarian regimes, then Georgetown University Professor Jeane J. Kirkpatrick briefly referenced "the abstract idea of social justice" in her prescient essay, "Dictatorships and Double Standards" in which she clarified that economic distributism occurs most successfully in Western capitalist societies, not totalitarian collectivist regimes. Dr. Kirkpatrick, an ardent supporter of union rights, remarked these paradoxical events from 1979 as "disastrous" to American strategic interests. In 1981, Egypt's Anwar Sadat was assassinated, and Al-Husseini's Egyptian-born protégé Yasser Arafat proclaimed the collectivist "Qutbism" mantle for the Palestinian Liberation Organization, fueling a new form of international terrorism, based on anti-American, anti-Israeli rhetoric to delegitimize the State of Israel. With that, "Social Justice" lost its Jesuit hallmark of transcendence, and the trap was set.
After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, America became the world's sole superpower and defender of human rights. As a ripe democracy, America thrived as a free society in which all ideas were equally disseminated, as if that implied all ideas were created equal, and therefore, true. Even the relativist culture of death rivaled the culture of life, ensnaring America into The "Social Justice" Trap.
In 1993, the term was ready for a public lynching at the hand of Osama bin Laden whose first attack on New York's World Trade Center made him a household word to those following the "Social Justice" bouncing ball. Bin Laden latched onto the word, boldly bastardizing its popularity to recruit Islamic jihadists to kill the infidels (Jews and Christians) in the name of Allah. He laced his diatribes with anti-biblical hate-speech to expand the ranks of Al Qaeda, fueling his worldwide terrorist network to destroy Israel and America, termed "Little Satan" and "Big Satan."
By 2001, the once-pristine "Social Justice" was successfully perverted into culture of death, the perfect storm for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to launch his own totalitarian (Shi'ite) Islamic Regime in Tehran. In 2005, he usurped absolute power, denied the existence of the Jewish Holocaust and Israel's right to exist, and announced the goal to push Israel back into the Mediterranean Sea, the first step in establishing the (Shi'ite) Islamic Caliphate from Tehran, with its long-term goal to destroy America: "A world without America is not only desirable, but conceivable."
Not to be outdone, Sunni Muslims (via Al Qaeda) mounted behind-the-scenes offensives against American forces in Iraq, but were defeated in 2008, under the leadership of General David Petraeus who led the Iraqi Surge.
Anti-Christian killings resumed in Baghdad in October of 2010 when Islamic terrorists bombed a Catholic Church, killing 68. Another bomb exploded on Christmas Eve in Nigeria, where six Christians were killed and 25 injured. On New Year's Day of 2011, a third explosion occurred in Saints Church in Alexandria, Egypt where 1,000 Coptic Christians were attending Mass. Six were killed, and 25 injured.
While the culture of death "Social Justice" triumphed over the culture of life "Social Justice" on Christmas Day of 2010, the Vatican and America stood silent.
In January of 2011, the prevailing Islamist "Social Justice" triumphed in the Egyptian public square through the voice of Mohamed ElBaradei, former U.N. Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency. In the afterglow of the Cairo uprising in Tahrir Square, Google's 30-year-old Wael Ghonim's secular youth movement gave Egypt and the world hope for a new horizon, while ElBaradei positioned himself for the cameras as Egypt's new Islamic savior of "Social Justice." He denounced Hosni Mubarak, negotiated the terms of a new Egyptian government, and guaranteed the ascendancy of the formerly banned anti-Zionist Muslim Brotherhood with Yusef Al Qaradawi in command. So much for Mr.Google Who.
The time has come to reclaim Fr. Taparelli's original concept of "Social Justice" for its true and universal elements that advanced the idea of "the human being" in history, for this is the transcendent ideal that flourished throughout world, inspired by grace.
But then, America and her few remaining allies, especially Israel and the Vatican, would be compelled to reassert the values that truly advanced the idea of "the human being" in history, the same values that blessed America and made her the greatest nation on earth.
And those values are America's unique belief in "the human being" born free and transcendent with Creator-based rights, based on the sanctity of life and dignity of man.
1. Behr, Thomas C. (© Septiembre de 2003). Luigi Taparelli on the Dignity of Man, Barcelona: E-aquinas - Instituto Santo Tomas de la Fondacion Balmesiana.
2. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: Theories of Social Justice.
3. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: Sayyid Qutb
5. Kirkpatrick, Jeane J., Ph.D. "Dictatorships and Double Standards," © 1979, Commentary Magazine.
6. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: Qutbism.
7. Slackman, Michael, "Islamist Group is Rising Force in a New Egypt," page one, March 24, 2011, NEW YORK TIMES.