The Spectacle Blog

First-World Activism: The Paradox of Social Justice

By on 7.1.14 | 2:05PM

A recent satirical article titled “What I learned about capitalism by walking into a Starbucks and screaming ‘capitalism!’ at the Barista over and over until they had to call the police" was written in jest, but it spoke to a frightening trend. First-world activists have redefined themselves as anti-capitalist proponents of “social justice.”

Social justice is not justice in the traditional sense, but rather a fancy pseudonym for what liberal activists deem to be “fair.” Traditional justice means equality of opportunity, not the equalizing of economic classes.

In his book The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame, Peter Dreier glamorizes what he calls “practical idealists,” a group of people who confuse fairness with equality of outcome, and hide their Marxist intentions behind the word “social justice.” 

It's true that, as Hayek argued, treating people as equals politically, under the law, leads to different economic outcomes for those individuals. Social justice seeks exactly the opposite—to equalize economic outcomes by treating “classes” differently with regards to politics.

This paradox is apparent with modern day activists. They rage against capitalism, the very system responsible for raising the standard of living for the most people in the shortest amount of time.

Social justice is Marxism, socialism, and collectivism reborn and repackaged into the idea that Americans are owed health care, a job, a college education, and financial peace of mind. However, the cost imposed on all citizens to those things largely outweighs the benefit to some. In effect, taxpayers are paying government a transactional fee to redirect wealth in a way that is necessarily inefficient.

Advocates of social justice set out to fix society; however the assumption that one person (the activist) knows what is best for society is exactly the presumption that endangers it. No one person has the knowledge to create a pencil, much less a functioning society.

Our most apparent systemic problems have come at the result of “well-intentioned” social and economic tinkering. Think federal student loans, run-away entitlement programs, and clean energy subsidies. The Great Depression, like the 2008 financial crisis, stemmed from overzealous speculation and a cheap credit boom that prompted unsustainable investments, a result of money manipulation at the federal level.

True justice means fighting for increased access to goods and services, not making those goods and services more expensive for the majority of Americans, as Obamacare, minimum wage laws, and anti-fracking protests do.

Dreier’s so-called progressive heroes of social justice are actually villains to progress.

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