THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
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Justice vs Social Justice 2

One of my old posts most found from Google et al is this one. People are curious about what "social justice" really means and rightly so. It is one of the most dangerous and deceptive phrases in current use and it pains me when even a "Conservative" like David Cameron uses it approvingly.

I heard a story recently that made me think of it. It involved some disgraceful behaviour by a man I had never met. The details were told me in confidence so let's just say he conducted himself to a lady in a distinctly unchivalric manner. Trust me, this is a massive understatement even by English standards.

What has this to do with social justice? Well my first reaction, as someone educated by Socialists in a British state school and regularly exposed ever since to BBC/Guardian collectivism, was to be embarrassed on behalf of all men by this stranger's behaviour. This is, of course, nonsense. He is a bad person who happens to be of the same sex as me. Respectable men who would never conduct themselves thus are not to blame for his wicked conduct.

This reaction made me think however. If ladies from the anglosphere read my second paragraph and the word "sexist" went through their minds, they were guilty of the same error. Because social justice is really nothing more than blaming and penalising groups for the misconduct (real or imagined) of individuals. It is collective punishment, than which there are few greater injustices. It is also scapegoating as a basis for hate-based ideology and - most often - as a justification for redistribution of wealth or "privilege". It is insidious because it appeals to the tribalism deep in our natures. The exact same tribalism in fact that makes for petty nationalisms, racism and other things that social justice merchants denounce as evil (when they are not exploiting them).

If you have thought nastily about all bankers on the basis of the misconduct of some, or exclaimed "men!" or "women!" in exasperation at one individual's behaviour, or dislike people because of their family background, their accent or the school or university they went to  (as opposed in each case to judging an individual human on the content of his or her character) you are a collectivist practising social justice and therefore committing injustice.

I respectfully suggest it's not a good idea.


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Peter Whale

When at school the class were all punished because the guy who was humming did not own up. When I challenged the teacher he new the area that the sound was comming from, just behind me, but could not pinpoint the culprit. I pointed out that he should at least not detain the kids whom he knew to be innocent.After arguing for several minutes I was sent to the head for him to administer the cane to me. On hearing the offence he asked where I was in the classroom and I told him I was in the suspect section although at the front. Cane lightly administered because I was not defending myself. This and many other incidents makes me abhor "social justice"


Tom, I think you are making some good points and I do mostly agree with them.

Just because some person does something wrong, reprehensible, bad, wicked… does not mean that all (or even a majority of) members of any group they happen to be part of will do similar things, or are responsible for the things done.

I am not sure how you use “social Justice” is all of the picture. Isn’t “Social Justice” also about wealth confiscation and redistribution? State sanctioned mugging, where you are in less danger of being stabbed…

Although I do think it is true that some groups for some reasons (social?, maybe more societal?) do tend towards some behaviours. So Mick C does have a point. If they stand on street corners and have a hood covering their face… They call it profiling.

It is a short hand way of thinking and needs to be used carefully and sparingly only if you don’t have much time, not _all_ the time. (useful servant/poor master)

It can be a lazy person’s way of “thinking” or more avoiding actually thinking. Some people and bloggers never seem to get out of that and thinking like that all the time is dangerous.

The guy in your example. I don’t know what he did so I can’t comment on what he did.

To me I don’t see much difference in kind between Jim Crow and so-called Affirmative Action. Two sides of the same bogus coin. Like heads you win tales I loose.

I do think Antisthenes makes a really good point. Justice is a bit like money. Look after the pennies and the pounds/dollars mostly take care of themselves. Look after the individual and the masses…


Again with respect, I must disagree on your first point. I believe it is inherent in us, the human creature, to think, initially, in such terms. It is what, probably, has allowed us to survive. I most certainly would not keep an open mind if faced with a "bullpit". My reaction would be one of extreme caution. If the dog was reaonably friendly, the view would change-but there would still be caution, only less of it. The same would apply, I think, to humans.

When I was younger, I blithely wandered around parts of London I would not do so now. That does not mean I class all the inhabitants as dangerous, far from-I was visiting friends. However caution has intervened-because of, well what? Probably age, and second hand related stories. Be that as it may, it is how we REACT. But not how we should ACT.

I entirely agree that policy and legislation should not be based on such "animal" reactions. And for a considerable time, it was not. However we now seem to have rowed backwards somewhat on this-and legislation, as you and others point out, is becoming increasingly repressive.

The Enlightenment is being revoked-even in the land whose constitution represented its pinnacle (and of course whereof your namesake was a leading light).


I read somewhere unfortunately I forget where where a person was commenting on this very subject. The person stated that social justice was indeed wrong and in fact what one should be striving for is individual justice. I for one must agree with that comment and believe that if we did reach that goal then all the bad unintended consequences of striving for social justice would melt away.


You make a fair distinction and I accept it, save to observe that by thinking in such terms we are at least enabling the conduct of collectivists. Nothing important like government policy or legislation should ever be based on such shortcuts, don't you agree?


With respect, I do not think that making a "judgment" (i.e. forming an opinion) on the basis of family background,school, etc. makes one a collectivist practising social justice. Acting on that opinion may well do but forming an initial view does not.

The only way of forming an opinion of another one does not know, is entirely by what one can ascertain immediately. That will consist of where one meets them, how they dress, who they know in common-in fact a huge number of factors.

To take an extreme example, if someone dresses like a banker, talks like a banker, and is usually in the company of bankers, it is a fair bet they probably are a banker- with the attitudes and opinions generally held to be associated with bankers.

It is only when one has a more immediate knowledge of the person that the character can be known. It is impossible to live like that-there just isn't the time to do so. Therefore we all "pigeonhole" others-to avoid danger and make value judgments. Regrettable, but true.

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