“Social Justice Isn’t What You Think It Is”

“The political and ideological force of “social justice” may be seen—by critics as well as some calculating proponents—as useful in its functional vagueness…Social justice is a term that can be used as an all-purpose justification for any progressive-sounding government program or newly discovered or invented right. The term survives because it benefits its champions. It brands opponents as supporters of social injustice, and so as enemies of humankind, without the trouble of making an argument or considering their views. As an ideological marker, “social justice” works best when it is not too sharply defined.” From “Social Justice Isn’t What You Think It Is,” by Michael Novak.
I have reserved a copy at the library for a good read and some reflection. I am convinced that this word is a sledge hammer used by the left and by leftist Evangelicals without any thought to serious definition. It fits anti-capitalist sentiments and the undefined ‘Jesus is on the side of the poor’ slogan. What does it even mean? Such Novak explores, all within the context of creating a virtuous society, a la RC social teaching, Thomas Aquinas and Aristotle, and, of course, the Bible. Today social justice is often used primarily within the context of expansive government and the growth in the power of the State, often in link with social service agencies fueled by the State. In the use of this phrase, much depends on definition of the terms. Ambiguity here is the enemy.

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