Monday, October 15, 2018

Social Justice, Social Democracy, Democratic Socialism...?

     It’s been said, and truly, that to insert the word or particle social into a phrase negates its prior meaning. Now that averred socialists are a conspicuous element of our political fracas, it’s time to examine the contention closely. When you start to unpack a political nostrum, you can never be perfectly sure what you’re going to find.

1. “Social Justice”

     This au courant phrase has been applied to innumerable political and quasi-political causes. Every such case alleges that one group has violated the rights of another. But how could such a claim accord with objective reality?

     Groups do not possess rights. That’s an American fundamental. Neither, it can easily be observed, does a group ever do anything; all actual deeds are done by individuals. So we must begin by asking how the concepts of rights and justice could ever apply to “group rights” or “group action.”

     The essence of the “social justice warrior’s” allegation is always statistical. Some demographic exhibits a statistical characteristic the SJW uses to claim “systematized injustice.” Here’s a ludicrous example: Dwarves are under-represented in American legislatures! Going entirely by the statistics, by now several dwarves should have been elected to federal or state legislative positions. Therefore there has been a systematic exclusion of dwarves from legislative office. We must act at once to redress this injustice; there’s no time to lose!

     The non sequitur here is the notion that a particular cohort “should” be statistically represented in some other cohort, regardless of any other facts of the matter. In the case above, the question that would put paid to the idiocy is “How many times has a dwarf run for a legislative office?” Similarly dispositive questions can be asked of virtually any other assertion made in the name of “social justice.”

2. “Social Democracy”

     The term social democracy is often used to describe various European nations. The underlying intent is to feature such a nation’s welfare-state / “social insurance” provisions as a key part of its political arrangements. While this term is less dishonest than “social justice,” it nevertheless conceals certain important aspects of the situations it purports to characterize.

     To call a polity a “social democracy” is to distort the meaning of democracy in a tendentious fashion. Many such nations are notable for how resistant their arrangements are to alteration by popular vote. The recent case of the “Brexit,” Britons’ referendum against the European Union is especially revealing. The heavy majority in favor of leaving the EU has displeased the United Kingdom’s political class. Were the politicians to get their way, the referendum would either be ignored or repeated until it produced a “remain” result – after which no further popular voting on the subject would be allowed.

     In a “social democracy,” “democracy,” whether in the pure or modified sense, is not allowed to interfere with the “social” agenda of the political class. “Social” in this application denotes a rationale for an agenda, rather than a reified actuality. That agenda may have originated with the general public, but once the political elite have found a way to exploit it, the public had better not change its mind! The parallels with the American political class’s dislike of and resistance to the Trump Administration’s agenda deserve reflection.

3. “Democratic Socialism.”

     Whereas in a “social democracy” the political class must exercise cleverness and evasive maneuvers to avert changes demanded by the general public, the political elite of a democratic socialism need do far less. In such an order, the political class is in irrevocable control of all the levers of power. “Democracy” has been tamed, with the franchise limited, the ballot restricted, and the focus of “elections” narrowed so that a popular mandate sufficiently vigorous to effectuate alterations can never occur. Populist candidates willing to make significant changes to the political order are prevented from running, or marginalized so that they cannot prevail. An effective initiative or referendum cannot occur. The will of the political class is beyond challenge.

     No “social democracy” has long resisted the descent into recognizable oligarchy. For the public to vote the “social democrats” into power is to surrender, de facto, all further voice in the nation’s political order. In Thomas Sowell’s formulation, it amounts to “One man, one vote – one time.”

     Socialist candidates use the term “social democracy” as an aid to the concealment of their actual intentions. That alone should disqualify it from use by the wise and honest.

4. Summation

     The following cartoon from Crozier and Seldon’s Socialism: The Grand Delusion summarizes the points above rather neatly:

     Do not doubt that this is the goal of the “social justice,” “social democracy,” and “democratic socialism” hucksters. The process is always characterized as undertaken with impeccable motives and “for the good of society.” It always eventuates in totalitarian control of the nation and the suppression of dissident views. The many historical examples of this are enough to convince anyone...except, of course, those to whom power is everything and “social” is merely decoration intended to deflect public attention from their true motives.

1 comment:

FrankC said...

Don't know where from or when that cartoon surfaced, but it sure looks like Michael Foot, late of this parish.