Social Justice, from Merriam-Webster: “a state or doctrine of egalitarianism”. From the same source, egalitarianism, archaic: “a belief in human equality especially with respect to social, political, and economic affairs” Egalitarianism, modern: “a social philosophy advocating the removal of inequalities among people.”
Social Justice, from Oxford: “justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society. “
My issue with social justice is not the concept, but rather the mechanisms required to administer it. I believe social justice can only truly develop as an outgrowth of personal equality. This happens as laws are placed and strictly enforced which guarantee equal treatment of people under similar circumstances.
That is not the focus of most activist demands, who instead call for transfers of wealth and power from perceived “haves” to “have nots”. This holds true whether it is approached from the perception of minority groups attempting to balance the sins of the Jim Crow era or nationalists trying to restrict the definition of society to exclude those who seek to join the country. Whether it’s a demand for a guaranteed living wage or an elimination of “Press 2 for Spanish”, the concept remains the same: separate people and elevate some of them at the expense of the others.
The notion that individuals should have equal outcomes independent of the time, effort, and creativity they put into reaching their goals is something which most find irrational. There is no reason to hold entire categories of people to a different standard.
The core of social justice is pitting groups against each other. Black vs. white, poor vs. wealthy, blue state vs. red. It gains power as a philosophy when oppression exists, because it is an effective shortcut toward a sense of equality. Because the groups are already at odds, the negative ramifications of staging groups in opposition is typically ignored.
This is a mistake which results in trading one social failure for another.
When broad-scale social justice is embraced it fosters senses of entitlement and resentment. Neither of those is good, whether for a single person or large swaths of a society.
These feelings are generated because the raising of one group is being accomplished only through the diminution of another. As wealth and opportunity are being stripped from people, the group losing potency feels resentful and the group gaining, having done nothing to earn their riches, reconciles their gains through a sense of entitlement.
One only has to look through history to see that resultant conflicts have a tendency to simmer below the surface, waiting to re-emerge when stoked. The philosophy which is meant to result in a more cohesive society instead results in a splintered one.
As mentioned above, I believe the solution lies in administration of laws designed to promote individual opportunity and punishing those who keep others from attaining their dreams simply because of what their origins might be. As people are shown that opportunity exists for them, I believe most are going to try to better themselves, and in so doing benefit all of society.