'Social justice' a feel-good phrase

Updated 3/22/2011 9:38 AM

There has been a disturbing trend over the last decade by the mainstream media, university professors, activists and even the Catholic Church to promote the cause of "social justice." Sounds great, right? Who wouldn't support justice?

Watch the terminology here. We all understand, or at least agree on the definition of, "legal" justice. Even when we disagree on our laws and their implementation, we all know that "legal" justice consists of a fixed set of rules which, when broken or adhered to, result in a fixed set of positive or negative consequences. This justice transcends social boundaries and applies equally to all citizens.


"Social" justice, conversely, reflects the varying social values of its proponents and is applied extremely unequally upon a disinclined populace. Hence, if the aforementioned activist classes feel it "unjust" that Mr. Entrepreneur earns more than Mr. PlayStation, they advocate "redistribution" (i.e. theft) of wealth from the former to the latter, all in the name of their vaguely defined "justice."

There is nothing "just" about this in the legalistic sense of the word. "Social justice" is a mere euphemism for radical socioeconomic policy, rife with terminological fabrications such as "underserved communities" and "privileged classes" designed to control the rhetoric of the debate and, accordingly, the direction of the debate itself. The Catholic Church can be forgiven its naive meandering into economic theory. "Social justice" howls fantastic on paper, but as economic historian Thomas Woods Jr. points out, the Church unintentionally does more harm than good to the poor with the policies it advocates. The campus elite and self-appointed spokesmen of "the people," however, need to realize that arrogance does not imply expertise, and earning a Ph.D. in meaningless hyphenated "studies" programs is about the furthest academia can get from being qualified to engineer society to what they determine just.

Christopher Skeet