Social justice is injustice

And the source of so many of India’s problems

Today’s dose of excellent writing comes from Mint, where Vipin Veetil argues that “social justice is injustice”.

Governments were larger than ever before, and socialism the intellectual high ground. And justice became muddled. Right to education, right to leisure, right to what politicians want were all called justice. And this is (Amartya) Sen’s notion of justice. Social justice is, however, self-contradictory, for a simple reason. Since individuals have the right to own their produce, heavy taxation is theft. So is price control and taking away land for social good. We run into a logical contradiction—for justice we practise injustice.

And once justice loses meaning, collectivism triumphs, for the old solid moral foundation of law can now be replaced with political opportunism. The government takes to cost benefit analysis (CBA)—any and all actions are possible if politicians can claim it’s for the greater good of society. Only trade can ensure that exchange of property rights happen only when both parties are better off. With CBA, experts decide who should command resource and who should leave their property. Violence erupts as some citizens feel they lost out. Interest groups capture the government; if there is going to be theft, why not get the government to steal for me than from me.

And justice begins to mean different things to different people. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) claims it is unjust to halt development that will bring jobs to millions; displaced farmers claim it is unjust to take away lands. And both are right because justice has no meaning. Behind the present turmoil lies a muddled notion of justice. Private property must be reinstated as a fundamental constitutional right for justice to have meaning. [Mint]

Related Links: Here at INI, in the December 2007 issue, Pragati argued for the reinstatement of the right to private property; and Offstumped had declared war on social justice.