The bastardization of 'social justice'
Socialists tend to repeat words as if they were stuck in some perpetual spin cycle of the past repeating itself. They use old words, like "progressive," as if it is the newest fad while ignoring the historical context that goes with those words and the people who used them.
"Social justice" is one of those examples of the socialist past repeating itself. The view today of those who spout out social justice does not come close to matching the original intent. It has been bastardized to the point of losing the historical context.
The term began as part of Catholic thought about the negatives of leaving the farms and villages for the cities. It was believed that some important aspect of humanity would be lost to industrialization. There was also some Enlightenment thrown in as well as ancient Greek thought.
On December 29, 2009, Heritage published Social Justice: Not What You Think It Is by Michael Novak and George Frederick:
The first known usage of the term is by an Italian priest, Luigi Taparelli D'Azeglio, who wrote a book about the need for recovering the ancient virtue of what had been called "general justice" in Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas, but in a new contemporary form. He gave it the term "social justice." The term was given prominence by Antonio Rosmini-Serbati in La Costitutione Secondo la Giustizia Sociale in 1848.
Over time, the thought on social justice was expanded on within Catholic circles but given much-needed clarity by Pope Leo XIII through his papal encyclical in 1891, On Capital and Labor. Throughout the encyclical, there are clear distinctions between socialists and Catholicism, with the pope making clear that Catholicism and socialism could not coexist.
17. It must be first of all recognized that the condition of things inherent in human affairs must be borne with, for it is impossible to reduce civil society to one dead level. Socialists may in that intent do their utmost, but all striving against nature is in vain. There naturally exist among mankind manifold differences of the most important kind; people differ in capacity, skill, health, strength; and unequal fortune is a necessary result of unequal condition. Such inequality is far from being disadvantageous either to individuals or to the community.
The encyclical is lengthy, consisting of 64 paragraphs, each damning of socialism. It was the acceptance and importance of the individual, which socialists can never accept.
Over the next few decades, social justice was bastardized in order to fit a socialist agenda by people who began calling themselves progressives, since socialism had fallen out of favor in America.
Father Charles Coughlin, the well-known anti-Semite, was a socialist who staunchly supported President Roosevelt's election over Herbert Hoover in 1932. Like other socialists of his day, he believed that the promise of the New Deal would usher in a utopian country.
The New Deal did nothing other than extend the human suffering of the Great Depression. When everything is taxed, there can be no economic recovery. Everyone who has looked at Roosevelt's action without a biased eye knows he was the reason the Great Depression continued, which the socialists, like Father Coughlin, could never bring themselves to admit.
From Digital History on Roosevelt's Critics:
Coughlin blamed the Depression on greedy bankers and challenged Roosevelt to solve the crisis by nationalizing banks and inflating the currency. When Roosevelt refused to heed his advice, Coughlin broke with Roosevelt and in 1934 formed the National Union for Social Justice.
No American conservative, then or now, would ever call for the nationalization of banks. Nationalization of anything is considered to be a negative by conservatives due to poor results every time government takes control of anything best left to the private sector.
Since the days of Father Coughlin, socialists continued to bastardize social justice to force it to fit whatever narrative they wish. It has long since lost its original intent of being an anti-socialist mindset.
Socialists are not particularly creative people. They reuse terms from the past as if they were new with no idea of the history behind them. Social justice, in time, will stop being used as socialists find some other thing from the past to replace it, but it will return.
Bob Ryan is the pen name of a writer who has an MBA and is a science fiction writer and mostly historical blogger. He has been a weekly blogger at the Times of Israel since 2019. He is an American Christian Zionist who staunchly supports Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state.
To comment, you can find the MeWe post for this article here.