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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

One Tall Voice: Social justice is a stupid idea

Published: May 2, 2008
Section: Opinions

Social justice is stupid. There, I said it, and it feels good. Surrounded by the legions of deluded Brandeisians, using this term almost as much as they speak Hebrew or complain about Sherman, I am now finally happy to write about the imbecilic nature of this concept. This ideal is talked about frequently at our university, and is even one of the four pillars of our institution. Many try (most in vain) to classify all manners of activity as promoting “social justice,” while others self-righteously point out that they are defenders of this “noble” ideal. What is actually quite comical is that none of these “guardians” are fully aware of what the term actually means. The concept is ambiguous at best, and many are content to blindly pursue the tenets of this nearly nonexistent ideal. In addition, if social justice is what I think it means (and truly, I have almost no idea as to its definition) then followers are mere slaves, servants to the wishes of the grand collective. Furthermore, I am now convinced that this term is exclusively used in order to make leftist policies seem more palpable, and it is inevitably empty indeed. Social justice is said to be deeply infused in the fiber of our university, and I would like to second guess this cornerstone of our institution.

Social justice is an ambiguous term at best. Someone once told me that social justice was “justice for everyone,” but what in the world does justice mean anyways? Others have defined it as increasing opportunities for all, and promoting a general situation of equality. In essence this sounds okay, but the process by which to conduct this policy is unsure at best. Fair trade coffee, for instance, decreases opportunities for stockholders to freely compete in the market, lessening their overall business liberties. Redistribution of money to the poor unfairly taxes the rich, many of whom have worked hard for their assets. Heck, if leveling the playing field is part of social justice, then I can classify assisting that awkward kid on your hall in the pursuit of action on a Friday night as part of this ideology. These fellows are obviously disadvantaged, and don’t contain the right background to be successful in this arena. Why not use Affirmative Action to level the playing field and assist them in this endeavor? The truth is, no one really knows what social justice is, as value judgments and ambiguity hinder true understanding of the concept.

I am becoming more of an objectivist, a follower of the tenets laid out by the contemporary philosopher Ayn Rand. Her beliefs stem from the central philosophy that people should not live for others nor ask others to live for themselves. Social justice is diametrically opposed to this philosophy. This ideal essentially asks servitude of its followers as each is shackled to the obligations and responsibilities of the concept. Social justice makes people slaves, as they are taught to assist others, give of themselves and be servants to people whom they hardly know. This is sickening indeed. Masses of people donate to charity, or give their time to service projects, out of the sheer pressure of this responsibility. I am adamant that most are mindless when committing these selfish acts, and this blind obedience is troubling indeed. Do what makes you happy, live for no one but yourself. Social justice creates a system of bondage as its tenets preach a fictitious obligation and responsibility to others.

I am also convinced that social justice is just a construct that people use to make themselves feel righteous. People ally this concept with certain causes, such as anti-poverty campaigns, in order for them to feel good and generate a positive image. I have already described at length in previous articles how these people accomplish nothing tangible in these endeavors, but to propagate their own egos. It is also despicable how social justice is such a catch phrase on this campus. People throw it out there to associate it with all kinds of things, and it pops up all around our community. I saw a campaign flier in North Quad with few words other than the phrase “social justice” emblazoned in the center of the paper. Like the words “sex” or “free pizza”, this term was simply used to catch a passerby’s attention and associate the campaign to positive perceptions. I have come to see that the term is hollow indeed and has no true meaning. It is merely a phrase casually tossed around by countless people in order to promote themselves or their ideals. I have finally come to realize that the emperor has no clothes that there is only emptiness in using this term. The phrase has descended into a mere play-thing, a commodity used to generate a positive image from others.

Every time I hear the words “social justice,” I cringe. Every time I see those damnable words, I close my eyes. This phrase has no true meaning and its ambiguity is only compounded by the various causes that are unjustly associated with it. If social justice is what I think it is than following this ideology makes people servants to others. Never think you have an obligation to anyone but yourself, and don’t let society dictate where your responsibilities lie. Lastly, social justice is meaningless and has virtually no substance. It is merely a phrase constructed by masses of people who want to associate themselves with the positive attributes of this pre-fabricated construct. I am certainly against using the term “social justice,” but for all of my past activities, it would seem that I would support this ideal. I have done two terms with Americorps, completed 625 hours of national service, served as a commissioner of my town’s environmental commission, and won the Raoul Wallenberg Humanitarian Award, among other accolades. Still, I am proud to stand up to the pressure and propaganda to say that I am anti-social justice. And I believe that many Brandeis students should be able to relate to my sentiments. Here on campus, being “anti-social” seems popular indeed.