by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
… [S]ocial justice is nonsense.
Now, when I say “nonsense,” I mean nonsensical, as in lacking interior logic and definitional rigor. A few years ago, while working on my book The Tyranny of Clichés, I put on my prospector’s helmet and mined the literature for an agreed-upon definition of social justice. What I found was one deposit after another of fool’s gold. From labor unions to countless universities to gay-rights groups to even the American Nazi party, everyone insisted they were champions of social justice. The only disagreements hinged on who is most in need of this precious resource.
Common to almost every definition of social justice is some version of “economic justice,” which usually means what philosophers call “distributive justice” — i.e., taking money from the haves and giving it to the have-nots. But what it’s really about is power. Its advocates want the power to do what they want, and if they say it’s for social justice, that’s supposed to make it okay.
For instance, the Green party platform on social justice is nearly 60 pages (and 17,000 words) long. Among its planks: stopping speech that perpetuates “oppression and abuse,” reform of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, sovereignty for Hawaii, compensation for gays and lesbians who’ve suffered from “injustice,” the encouragement of young people’s potential “to the greatest extent possible,” and reinvestment of a “significant portion” of military spending on “family support, living-wage job development and work training programs.” Social justice isn’t a theory; it’s a wish list.