Sunday, January 08, 2006

Justice and Equality in Capitalism?

Sadly, the notion of "of the people, by the people, and for the people" is in its final throes. A corrupt, plutocratic government "of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich" sucks the marrow, leaving the rest of America to hungrily gnaw the bones. Bearing a striking resemblance to the feudal lords of the Middle Ages, America's plutocrats plunder and hoard the wealth of the land while their serfs fight over the remaining scraps. -Jason Miller -

Injustice thrives in our societies today but how can injustice thrive in societies whose basic principles and laws are meant to provide equality and justice for all? We must first understand how we define justice. Justice has many definitions depending on who you happen to be listening to at any particular time. Wikipedia defines justice as a concept involving the fair, moral, and impartial treatment of all persons —often seen as the continued effort to do what is right. Where we tend to run into differences of opinion when defining justice is in the very fact that the concept of justice is an abstract. There is nothing conrete about the details and in order for one or more to agree on what the definition of justice should be, they have to share some form of common experience that is relative to a certain definition. This shared experience helps formulate a more detailed structure of what justice means to the group who happens to be sharing these common experiences.

This leads to the formation of different groups who define justice in different ways. However, some aspects of the definitions adhered to by a certain group could possibly be synonymous with those of other groups even though the groups don't share common experiences. For example, two opposing groups could still believe that justice would include such things as the government not arresting it's citizens arbitrarily, sanctioning their bondage by others, persecuting them for their religion or speech, seizing their property, or preventing their travel. But how the two groups apply these shared aspects in their definition of justice can still be controversial depending on which group has more power to influence public opinion.

For instance, hypothetically speaking, if the most influential member of my community (owns the majority of the property in town) happens to think I had something to do with defacing some of his dilapidated, bug infested houses in a project which lies adjacent to the industrial complex, I will automatically be detained for questioning at his request and will have to prove my innocence. But on the other hand, if I happen to suspect him of violating people's rights, practicing sex discrimination, and using his slumlord style of power to violate rental contracts, I haven't a chance in hell of getting anything done, unless I can get enough concerned citizens to join together and literally take over city hall. Both of us have the same rights under the laws of our country, state, county, and city. But yet, there is an inequality of justice which doesn't exist within the words of the law both of us are subject to, but this injustice exists never the less.

So we have justice which is built around capitalism and the unequal power that property bestows on certain individuals and groups and we have justice which is built around social contracts to help try to actually bring meaning to the phrase, "and justice for all". Freedom within our societies has very little to do with equality, justice, or public welfare but rather the "term" freedom as used within our current structure pertains more to goods, capital, or commodities. Many have tried and many have failed in their attempts to humanize capitalism. Capitalism is based on class and competition, therefore society under this system is guaranteed of inequality. And this inequality is passed down through the family institution and is innevitably reproduced from one generation to the next as well as from one region to another. This leads to a very decisive inequality of opportunity.
The entire history of social improvement has been a series of transitions, by which one custom or institution after another, from being a supposed primary necessity of social existence, has passed into the rank of a universally stigmatized injustice and tyranny. - John Stewart Mill -

There have been huge increases over the last few years in the number of people getting involved in social justice groups, organizations, and NGOs. These people believe in the importance of human rights, enviromental issues, equal opportunities, neighborliness, engagement, reciprocity, stewardship, responsibility, spirituality, and quality of life benefits, other than just financial and status incentives. There is emphasis placed on convictions and fundamental values rather than just numbers and theories which spill out of the corporate mouth pieces. The capitalist proponents see social justice advocates as being misinformed and think they can remedy that by offering us more accurate data and information. From the capitalist point of view, social justice advocates are radical left, liberal, secularist, heathens who are determined to destroy their nations and their pseudo democratic freedoms and ideals loosely woven around a religious structure.

Common sense and wisdom cannot be bought and they cannot be learned. Wisdom doesn't come from science or economics but rather from human beings who are living within the current systems which promote inequality and injustice. These people are willing to discuss through an open dialogue the need for a new social contract for the entire world, not just individual countries. They constantly come under ridicule and threats to their economic as well as their physical well being is not uncommon. But yet these activists keep on struggling against the adversities while maintaining a vision of humanity. Their vision contains power which motivates and guides other like minded caring people. We are all potential creators and we all have the ability to imagine what does not exist, and then set in motion the energy needed to turn those imaginations into reality. To those who believe in the vision, they see knowledge as being the means of changing the world. But just the receiving of knowledge by a majority of the people isn't enough. Participation in developing ways of understanding and a democratization of knowledge is also a must!

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