What is Social Justice?
If you ask a lot of people to define social justice you’re going to get many different definitions. Definitions will be based on a variety of factors, like political orientation, religious background, and political and social philosophy. If you ask a postmodernist about this concept, he or she is likely to tell you it’s a fairytale that is not in any way achievable in any form of society.
A general definition of social justice is hard to arrive at and even harder to implement. In essence, it is concerned with equal justice, not just in the courts, but in all aspects of society. This concept demands that people have equal rights and opportunities; everyone, from the poorest person on the margins of society to the wealthiest deserves an even playing field.
But what do the words “just” or “fair” mean, and what defines equal? Who should be responsible for making sure society is a just and fair place? How do you implement policies regarding social justice? Alternately, should you legislate for justice in society or merely rely on the moral compass of society’s members?
From a political stance that is leftist, you must legislate to create a just society, and various programs need to exist in order to collect monies needed to even the playing field between rich, middle class, poor and those people who are routinely marginalized by society. Equal rights can be defined as equal access to things that make it possible for people in any societal sector to be successful. Therefore, leftist philosophy would support things like anti-discrimination laws and equal opportunity programs, and would favor taxation, especially of those who make a lot of money, to pay for programs that help provide equality for all.
The far left would argue that there are certain basic needs that must be offered to all. These include things like truly equal education and safety in all schools and programs that would help all children have the financial opportunity to attend college. Far left groups, often termed socialist even if they differ from true definitions of socialism, further argue that a just society cannot be had unless everyone has access to food, safe shelter and medical care. The way to achieve this is through taxation and government implementation of programs that will guarantee these things for all people.
The right political stance equally endorses a just society, but may criticize those who make poor choices and feel that while equal opportunity should exist, a government should not legislate for this. In fact it is argued that social justice is diminished when governments create programs to deal with it, especially when these programs call for greater taxation. Instead, those who have more money should be encouraged to be philanthropic, not by paying higher taxes, which is arguably unjust.
From a religious perspective, you’ll find people all over the political spectrum who argue for social justice. Many Christian groups believe that you bring about justice through Christlike actions of mercy, especially those that help people who have been marginalized by society. Islamic perspective on social justice is similar; one of the Five Pillars of Islam is that all must give to the poor. However, certain sects of Islam promote views of women and men as different; women are not equal to and are subservient to men.
The postmodern critique on the idea of a just society provokes interesting debate. Can there ever be a just society? Can we ever view all people as inherently equal and entitled to the same rights and privileges? It’s hard to know, since most philosophers would argue that no one has ever created a completely just society, where all people have an even chance. Even in the most socialist nations, there is poverty and unequal distribution of wealth.
In societies like the US, which hinge on creating social justice, we have distinct problems, like hungry children, homelessness, and problems with making sure all children receive the same high standard of education. This is no reason to abandon attempting to promote a just society and trying to aim for it. Yet due to the complex nature of society, the US may not ever fully achieve justice for all, and the debate of how to achieve this state is ongoing.
Social justice is a word from the Double Speak language. Social justice is actually a form of injustice; otherwise it would just be called justice. Social justice authorizes me to forcibly take from you, while justice would expect me to give you consideration in return.
I agree that this concept is difficult to implement and not easy to achieve, but I still feel that, at a classroom level, the idea is great. Teachers should treat all learners equally without discrimination and unfairness. It is however, also problematic because in most classrooms, there are learners who need more support and in such instances, they deserve a special treatment.
In any case, it boils down to the same: the special treatment means to bring them on footing with all others.
I have read the posts here extensively and one thing that strikes me is there are a lot of anonymous posts decrying taxes. If a person really thinks they made all their money by themselves with no help, then they are clearly a sociopath.
Without the roads to carry the workers (built with taxes), the laborers to build the hydroelectric dams (built with taxes)to power the cities, the schools to educate the workforce (paid for by insufficient taxes), the clean water to ensure productive healthy citizens, etc., etc., etc.. They would have no wealth.
The 1/10th of 1 percenters who are owners of more than 80% of the stock market and 75 percent of the wealth of the nation are not entitled to that wealth. They mostly stole it. Yes I said stole it. Look at HSBC, a bank that is guilty of money laundering and murder, and embezzlement, and fraud, but the US Justice Department will not prosecute because it is “to big to fail” and would “adversely affect the US economy.”
And yes I said murder. Look at the trail of the the money they have taken that would have paid for medical or housing, education to allow someone to climb out of poverty. The profits of drug dealers and the death they spread with cash for crime and the thugs and money laundering of terrorists and dictators.
I believe a progressive tax strategy is required.
A solution I would propose:
Tax all corporate profits at 25 percent with write-offs for reinvestment (in America) and research.
Tax all money made from any source, investment or labor.
Tax any money made over @1 million a year (not on the amount under 1 million) at 80 percent and, money made from five-hundred thousand to a million at 50 percent and money from three-hundred thousand to five-hundred thousand at 30 percent; from one-hundred to three-hundred thousand at 20 percent; and from seventy-five to a hundred thousand at 10 percent.
If you do that, and eliminate the tax right off on any mortgage interest over five-hundred thousand and only for one primary residence, I think we would be well on the way to surpluses.
A onetime windfall tax on all property of 5% of the value over five million for individuals, fifteen million for couples and families.
Tax all corporation 50 percent of all profits moved overseas. You want to sell in our markets; you must make a minimum of 51 percent of the product here, or pay a 100 percent tariff.
This was the position of our capitalism fifty years ago, it is the position in China, Korea, Indonesia, etc., today.
This is based on the classic sociology framework that all people are equal (the blank state) and if society was changed, heaven and utopia, would arrive. Again, failing to take into account that everybody is different. We have different motivation, needs, wants, desires, work ethic, interests, anger, rage, violence. So be it.
"Social justice" is the religious left's invention that hides the real meaning: "Social debt". "Social debt" means the correction of the injustices of the past or unhappiness or disasters of some kind or the injustices that some unpunished person made. This moral debt is imposed by the religion or by the state and is the pinching of the other people's rights or money or property.
Good. Wide perspective. I wonder if you consider Marxism a source, among others, to define social justice from a structural point of view?
This is a great article as it defines social justice. I will be using this terminology when while explanation of social justice and human rights. --Emmanuel
Wow to some of the comments. First of all, there is no such thing as social justice. There can only be justice and there are only individuals. Society is a fictional imaginary thing. As for a social contract, there is none. I don't remember ever signing one. Do you?
It is the taxation itself that is the problem. Taxes destroy what they touch. If taxes were lower overall, then there would be more help for the poor because there would be more business and employment opportunities available.
Taxes just don't pay welfare; they also pay for the roads etc., so we all pay one way or another for the benefits of infrastructure that allows us to have a decent job and life to begin with, but we do not owe underprivileged non taxpayers a part of our paycheck for that.
They didn't build these roads, or train and hire police fire etc. That was by the producers -- the workers, innovators, etc. who did that, not the poor. Yes, we can help them. No doubt, someday we might be the homeless one, but it must be voluntary, not at the barrel of an air gun. --rose
Excuse me? Quit creating misconceptions about Islam. I
would appreciate that immensely.
Question to the students of Social Justice: Could you first define Social Injustice? Yes it does exist but the answer I usually get is "If you don't know it now you will never know!"
Then they walk away. Kind of tells the story.
To all students who think "social justice" does indeed require government involvement on all levels in order to take money from those who presumably have it, to give it to those who presumably need it via various taxation or mandated "fees", read well the Karl Marx quote: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need."
Then, after you have moved on from your studies and entered the real world of income earners, heads of households and possibly property owners of any kind (home, land, automobile), remember that quote and ask yourself: exactly how many things that you have worked so hard to gain are you willing give up, so that someone else who hasn't worked as hard (out of choice sometimes) can live like you?
Does social justice means that everyone should have equal rights, from richest to poorest? If it's like that, does that mean that the rich and the poor should have equal obligations too? Social justice is a term that i think is unattainable. You can't have equal rights and privileges for everybody, because everybody is different.
The civil rights movement was wonderful, in that it worked to free people from oppression and guarantee them equal rights. The suffrage movement was like that as well. The right to be treated equally under the law.
Yet the progressive income tax and various income redistribution schemes treat people unequally under the law, based on needs of individuals. This is a whole different thing, and is not social justice at all. The fact that all attempts at socialism and communism have failed, does not deter the "social justice" liberals from trying it again. It has always failed because people require incentives to work.
If a man receives the same for not working as the man who works, he is encouraged to become a parasite on the worker.
"From each according to his ability, to each according to his need." Karl Marx.
Social justice plain and simple, is government taking from one citizen to give to another to equalize their positions in life. The question has always been who decides? Which is why social justice is man playing God; unlike equal justice which treats every person equally under law with all people born with equal rights.
Social justice sees people as having only the rights that government distributes. The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which is said to be a social justice document, is a totalitarian document because Article 29 Section 3 states that all rights are subject to UN goals. As with our Bill of Rights, every person is born with equal rights, which are not subject to any government goals; government is subject to protecting the equal rights that existed before government.
Why would it ever be justice to forcibly take anything from one person or group and give it to another? The early legal immigrants in this country understood there sacrifice would lead to their children having better lives. We don't sacrifice these days, we just want it and we want it now. You want social justice? Just remember you live in the richest country in the world.
We are the slice of pie that needs to be taken and given to others. That will occur from the richest to the poorest here at home. So remember unless you are reading this from your rock in the Sudan, your lifestyle is on the way down.
i think social justice must be equal to all people! all justice must be given to them!
I don't really think you can label the ideal of equal access to education, food, health care and housing in this day and age as 'far-left'. You can't really attribute them to any particular political stance (except for out-and-out sociopathic libertarianism) as they are often viewed as human rights - i.e. they are simply something that humans need to be able to have any meaningful life, regardless of your definition of meaningful life!
RE: the wedding feast: And let's remember that it was the custom for guests to be given cloth in which to properly dress, they didn't have to go buy it. To not dress when given the cloth was a hideous act.
This thread shows the polarization of our country, and how people rally against something they don't want to do, such as promote social justice and equality for all regardless of religious creed, race, or gender.
Most people on this thread would rather embrace Glenn Beck's opinion or some author's that defines social justice as something they can hate.
"Every man, wherever he goes, is encompassed by a cloud of comforting convictions, which move with him like flies on a summer day." Bertrand Russell
Hence, Christianity will fail because its Christians fail at it.
#49 You have thought long and hard to arrive at the idea that no one can make us give away "our" money, but have you considered the extent to which the money we have is actually "ours"?
In a society that creates the money and the environment in which we are able to "earn" it (which is also defined by the structure of that society), isn't our ownership of that money (the percentage we are entitled to keep and even how we are allowed to spend it) either rightfully defined by that society or, at the very least, righteously shared by that society?
Don't we all agree to live by the rules of our society or leave it, simply by staying here and taking part in it? Like any club with rules and dues, our society has responsibilities for its members. And as a democratic republic, we the people have a process for setting those rules. We have the right to impose responsibilities like taxes on all of our members because we created this place and those who want to share in its gifts have to play by the rules we set. Christ did not dispute this, did He?
One recalls his "render unto Caesar..." But perhaps more to the point is his scolding of the man who would not dress properly for the wedding feast. Wasn't He acknowledging that if you want to share in the goodies of a group, you owe it to the group to play by its rules?
Additionally, does it harm our souls just a little to conflate our earthly belongings with our bodies? I wonder if both have obligations and blessings, but each has its own morals regarding "sharing". haha
Nevertheless, thank you for your thoughtful post.
It's not just in Islam, it's also in Christianity. I don't understand why you only choose one religion to illustrate your point but not another. Because of this your explanation on social justice is not just.
Social justice would be justice for society right? Social meaning "of society". Is there justice for all in society? In a democracy, I think it comes as close as one can get.
will there be corruption and unfairness? Sure, as long as humans live, there will be, because we are all prone to sin. What most define as social justice today is really humanitarianism from a Marxist or communistic "community" viewpoint.
Share the wealth and everybody benefits, kind of idea. And while Jesus did say "sell all you have and give to the poor" mark 10:21, the Bible also says in 2 Thessalonians 3:10-13 (NASB)
"For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either.
For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies.
Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread. But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good."
So as we can see, since many people take Bible verses out of context, the Bible supports helping those less fortunate, but not those who are lazy or unwilling to work. We give because its ethical, we work because its ethical, and we try our best, albeit with failure at times, to put people to work and not enable dysfunction -- because it's ethical or just.
Justice is not subjective if you have an ultimate truth claim for its standard, namely The Bible. Because at the end of the day, you are either basing justice on mans standards which are feeble at best, or Gods. Which do you think is more prone to err?
Jesus was all about social justice. Remember, he lived under the Roman occupation he whole life.
It seems like a pretty well written piece from where I sit. The danger is in interpretation. Some will see "social" and immediately jump to "socialism" or at least the common erroneous definition applied by pop media culture.
Social justice reaches beyond redistribution of wealth. The idea behind social justice is equality, both political and social (in relation to one another. That is what social means here.) It is accurate that many social justice theorists (Rawls being the prime example) argue that some degree of redistribution is necessary to achieve social justice. So did, however, John Locke in his second treatise on government.
However, social justice as understood by social contract theory focuses on the agreement of the role of society. Our founding fathers did rely heavily upon Social Contract theory in penning the declaration of independence and the constitution.
I argue simply that the role of social justice is about distribution of rights and equality, even equality of opportunity.
Furthermore, if you want a better definition of "liberal" than the one supplied by Fox news and the hosts of most radio "news" shows, I suggest you read Milton Friedman. Then again, since we are driven by society, perhaps the commonly understood definition of the term must be accepted, no matter how painful the butchering of original ideas might be.
This might be a fun exercise. Compare and contrast the definitions of liberal and libertarian. The root of both is liberty, but the beliefs are far from similar. Then again, both agree to some degree of redistribution; the meat of the difference lies in the degree and the recipients.
Please understand though, that social does not mean socialism anymore than Applejacks taste like apples.
@#47: Do you have free will? Yes. In having free will, you are assuming the most basic property right of self-ownership. I own my body. You own your body.
For me to be aggressive and use force, or the threat of force (coercion), against you is a violation of this most basic property right, and is morally wrong.
God does *not* believe in any kind of force or coercion. People have free will. They are free to choose as they see fit, even if that choice is a poor choice.
Ignoring the judgment implicit in your statement about Christians who don't believe in forced redistribution of wealth being Christian in name only, there is an extremely glaring disconnect in your comparison of Jesus and that of the president: Jesus might tell you, might suggest, that you should give your things away. The government will force you to give your things away.
Jesus would most certainly not run for president of anything on this earth. If there's one thing we can agree on, it's that God is a huge fan of free will. And government hates it with a passion. Everybody is equal in the eyes of God.
And God respects property rights. He recognizes that the fruits of your labor are yours to use as you see fit. Whether or not you recognize that ultimately everything you have is of and from Him is up to you. It is your choice to give back to Him 10 percent of all that He has blessed you with. There is no force involved here. And how can you give something which you have never possessed?
We have to separate the temporal and the ephemeral. In a very large and philosophical sense, everything is God's. But what do you say to the atheist? For him, there is no God. And for him, he very much owns things.
And what with respect to government? There is a separation of Church and State. The government obviously recognizes (and then seeks to subvert and confiscate) private property. We're on a temporal playing field when you start talking about things like "social" justice.
If Suzy's parents have more money than Johnny's, and if her clothes are nicer, and her school is better, and her food is better, and her health care is better - what does any of that mean in the end? Does any of this diminish who Johnny is? Who Johnny is in God?
If we are to truly follow the words of Jesus, it needs to be an individual's choice to give, to love, to have compassion and care for the needy, and to forgive. There is nothing remotely Christian or even moral about a government using force and coercion to implement this. And draping Christian ideals and principles, of which free will is the bed rock, over an entity of force and coercion is rotten to the core. I'm sure you're a fine pastor. Peace be with you.
Social justice, just like socialism, cannot work without massive death. Trust history.
What is so amusing to me is that right minded Christians call social justice injustice. They say things like "it's stealing".
Where in The Bible does it say that any wealth in your care is your money? Cause I thought it is God's.
And didn't Jesus say to sell all of your possessions and follow Him?
You people who say you are Christians better be glad Christ is not running for president because he would tell you to give more away then our government would.
Oh yeah by the way I'm a pastor.
I'll just choose the one about helping someone being your choice.
Do we ever choose to help? How often? How far do we reach out to help someone else? To what extent do we actually help in the way someone truly needs it.
The problem is that we need to grow up. We are the children. We need to have the heart and mind to take on more responsibility for ourselves and our fellow man. We need to know that yes, Cain is his brother's keeper. Yes, we need more humility. God help us all.
Good definition. I think accurate without being overly biased either way.
I think the difference between moral responsibility and social justice is that you have no choice in social justice. you are forced to participate.
You were doing fine. Then you just could not help yourself and you exposed your true extreme liberal bias in the last paragraph. As many of the readers also found the key phrase, "In societies like the US, which hinge on creating social justice..." All I can say, is "hinge on social justice..." Oh, really? Find it in the Constitution: our society hinges on the rule of law, and that flows from the Constitution.
"I believe that people should pay more of their income in taxes to help those less fortunate."
(When I say 'people' I don't mean me)
That, my friend is what it means to be a social justice type.
The key is to create an economy and policies based upon a 'hand up' not a 'hand out'. Socialists want to spread the wealth to provide a 'hand out' whereas the more right want to give people a 'hand up' so they can help themselves.
I work in a further education organization. The organization is going through a restructure due to reduction in funding. The organization has come up with this new post called 'Social Justice Manager'.
i raised the question in a meeting what exactly does social justice mean! She looked me in amazement and replied it's about safeguarding issues and diversity. Sorry for my ignorance, but what is the proper meaning of this word, or is it just another government quango to make the majority of people feel good?
It's a joke that these governments change words just to confuse the masses of people.
Social Justice. So the person who does drugs,drinks until his/her liver gives out, eats him/her self into morbid obesity. Can't hold a job,pay their rent or feed there several children by different fathers deserves my taxes to help them out?
I chose to stay healthy, work my tush off and put myself though school with no government help whatsoever. Now they are telling me i need to be taxed to help out those who did not care out! This is not social justice. This is stealing from those who worked hard to give to those who did not.
Thanks. Really helpful.
Clearly, social justice implies a moral action. Feed the poor, give people housing, provide plain old money for some and not others.
My question, do you liberals really want George Bush to be the one doling this stuff out? I thought you hated him. Half the time someone like him will be in the White House.
Let's fight these issues on the state and local level. Keep the federal government out of it.
Do you know that it take 75 cents of every dollar to do anything in DC? SO these poor you want to help? Each buck you give the government loses 75 percent to bureaucracy. That is a word i refuse to spell correctly.
Libs: Stop pushing your agenda on the federal level. Do you have brains? Do you have a soul?
You hated george bush. You voted in a a non-vetted, chicago machine politician to the white house and you are going to give him all the power he wants.
Conservatives on the other hand, are not wacko like me, but watch it. Some of us wackos. wack.
Bring back freedom!
Freedom and government do not mix.
Just a rant.
Social justice is a term coined by the liberals and is taught in our education system. Nowhere in the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence is the term "Social Justice" found. There is your history lesson.
There will never be social justice as long as we have a law that allows the destruction of the most vulnerable in our society: Roe v. Wade.
Today was a good day for all of us who watch "Fox News" and a very bad day for liberal, socialist and Marxist views.
I can't wait to see the American people take back this country, one election at a time. Get ready because it is coming.
Redistribution of wealth can be accomplished in your world, but not mine, and not the rest of America who is waking up to find out the change they are getting is not quite what they were looking for.
Actually reality is founded much deeper than homeless people who seek to live off of the work of others who are drug addicted. Also, if you knew your American history you would understand that this country was founded on some philosophies that may be quite backward to what we consider appropriate for today's standards.
The terms "liberal" and "conservative" are necessary functions of balance in our country and by disregarding either term you are neglecting this process of balance. Many of the founding fathers were against having political parties because of the natural human tendency to
categorize things, thus dividing people.
Napoleon Bonaparte used this philosophy "divide and conquer". It's so easy to make ill-informed statements (I often do) but it is important to remember humility. America was founded on slave labor, genocides (roughly 80 million Native Americans) and economic imperialism (still continuing today).
"Sure we should be concerned but at the same time, we need to be good stewards and not enable bad behavior."
I completely agree with this statement, but on the same note we do not live in an egalitarian world. Social justice is a means in restoring balance and equilibrium to a world that does not exercise altruistic values that human beings strive to obtain.
It's a lot easier to say something than to actually follow through with it.
Let's talk about people who have a learned socialization of helplessness, defeatism, historical and systematic oppression, the vicious cycle of poverty and notions of privilege (such as white and gender privilege). I am not accusing anyone, just suggesting that understanding that truth is founded far deeper than making harsh rationalizations about the world we live in, and that such lethargic thinking does not solve anything and promotes a lack of compassion, empathy and further isolates humanity from unity.
We are after all, communal beings meaning that we need one and other to survive. We all have something to teach.
If you knew your American history, not the books written by the liberals, you would know what "social justice" means and how it can destroy the rule of law this country was founded on.
Read, "A Patriot's History of the United States" by Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen. You may learn something.
I believe social justice is a concept of making opportunities available to all. The reality is, vast numbers of people don't want to work for a living but off the livings of others. And most homeless are drug addicted and do not seek help.
Sure we should be concerned but at the same time, we need to be good stewards and not enable bad behavior.
In the US you have the "pursuit of happiness" but nobody says you will achieve it.
Social justice is crap and regulations made to promote social justice do the opposite, such as National Recovery Act to destroy small business then was overturned because it's unconstitutional.
Social justice is just another name for socialist government. If you want to help someone it should be your choice, not the government's!
This article rocks, answers tons of my questions. But I have one more. Hypothetically speaking, if I were to travel to another country to work on getting their citizens out of sex trafficking, would this be considered social justice work?
I like that this site offers multiple perspectives. It really helps show the ambiguity behind defining "social justice".
The pledge of allegiance states "One nation under God, with liberty and justice for all" yet, to date, there is not justice for all in our US society; how sad!
This article helped a great deal. No biases, just a clear overview of what social justice is about.
I agree that you defined social justice with a decidedly leftist slant. Your bias is exposed in your last paragraph, and the overall concept is still vague. Is that by design?
very helpful. thumbs up.
Does our society really "hinge" on social justice? In our country "social opportunity" abounds and it is what we can legislate without taking away the rights of individuals.
Although this article attempted to provide both sides, there is an obvious slant. Just think about justice versus autonomy!
Nazi movement? Poor deluded person.
I feel sorry for people who are so gullible that they swallow any lie crammed down their throat by Fox News. I notice the person who repeated the lie that the Nazis were into Social Justice failed to provide a single source for his lie. How sad.
Thank you for this. No bias explanation rocked!
For me, at least, it was exactly what I was looking for. I was happy to see there was no bias one way or the other - just an overview and different perspectives on how social justice is viewed. Thanks.
I would be helpful it it included the history of social justice in that it was a cornerstone of the nazi movement.
this was an okay site.
thank you so very much, i am entering in a speech contest and the question deals with social justice, and i had no idea what it even was! now i can share this with my class who are having similar problems. thanks again!
Thanks! This article helped me to understand social justice better when writing my personal statement for graduate school!
this article helped me out a lot because i have a debate in class on this topic. more information though, would be nice to post up about juveniles and social justice! thanks though!
i learned a lot from this page of yours... thank you so much... now, i can share it with my class.. if you do not it is my assignment in one of my subjects... thank you so much... although it's just a brief explanation but its everything i'm looking for...
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