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Why choose social justice?

The role of the state should be to allow a person all the conditions so that he succeeds in the allotted time to use the full power of his awareness

The mass demonstration for social justice
The mass demonstration for social justice

One of the responses I received to the post It's time to join the social protest! There was a very important question about the nature of the liberal state, what is social justice and why choose it? Important enough for me to write an answer to it as a separate post. Here is the question in the subtle and (almost) original phrasing of the user jboy:

"What if the value of being responsible for your own choices and not the choices of others? Like having a lot of children, studying Zobi science or law even though the market is flooded. Where is the freedom when they oblige me to be responsible and provide for a single mother who chose a screwed-up partner?... I guess that social justice is a subjective matter as well." (I left the gist of the question and skipped the part related to the specific issue of single mothers). what do you say What do you think about the question?

Like any human concept, the concept of "social justice" is subjective and everyone can interpret the concepts differently. For this reason, when planning something like a country or a personal way of life, you must first define andלבחור From the various subjective possibilities of what to believe. What is the ideal of the state, what are the values ​​that derive from this ideal, and only then can one decide on goals to achieve these values. For example, usually when you talk about "social justice" you immediately think of the value of equality with the ideal in the background that says we are all equal to each other. Communism tried to take this value to the limit and create a society where everyone is absolutely equal economically. Everyone received a salary according to their needs and the government had to intervene in every aspect of the citizen's life to ensure that equality was maintained.

We all know how successful the communist idea was.. the economy collapsed, freedom was trampled and equality was not there either. was the ruling class of party members and other poor citizens. Their method failed and it seems that due to this resounding failure there are people who are still afraid to bring up not only the communist idea but also the socialist idea on their lips. I think that from the beginning the basic value of communism - everyone is absolutely equal to each other, is not true. Everyone has their more successful and less successful sides. No two people are the same, everyone is special in something and everyone is successful in certain things and we all want to show our specialness. We don't want to live like identical sheep, individualism is important to man.

So why choose social justice?

In my opinion, social justice stems from another source and not necessarily from the demand for equality. But before I give my answer, let's check something else. On the other side of communism, you can choose the liberal values ​​that you put in mind the value of freedom. If you check the The definition of liberalism In wikipedia You will see that at its base there is an ideal according to which a person can act directly to benefit his personal situation. A person needs to have freedom so that he can act according to his personal choice, and without a motive arising from environmental pressure, for the benefit of his personal situation. For example, if someone chooses to be a carpenter, he should do it out of his personal free choice (because he likes the profession, let's say) and not because someone is forcing him or because he owes money and this is the only job available. Not only does man need freedom to live up to this ideal, he also needs it Equal rights and equal opportunities. It is true that people are not equal to each other, but it should be ensured that everyone has an equal opportunity to try and act directly to benefit their situation. It should be ensured that each and every one can realize their individuality without discrimination. There cannot be, for example, a situation where a person is denied rights or opportunities just because the color of his skin is black, this is a violation of the liberal ideal.

Already now, from the liberal value of equal opportunities, one can see how ideas of social justice arise from it. The country that chose the liberal ideal and values ​​(and in principle all democratic countries define themselves as liberal) should ensure the existence of this value by enacting laws and enforcing them. For example, laws that protect the equal rights and opportunities of weak and minority classes, such as laws enacted following the struggle of African Americans in the US or the women's struggle for equal opportunities. This way the state will preserve the freedom of all its citizens and not just some of them. That is why laws should also be enacted to maintain equal opportunities for those who do not manage to earn enough and to create new opportunities for them. A liberal state cannot allow a situation where there is a small layer of people with great power, who have the most opportunities and the most influence, while the majority of citizens have almost no power to influence and their range of opportunities is very limited. Nowadays we are approaching this situation due to the connections between the capitalists and the politicians and due to the destruction of the middle class.

It cannot be that the rich class in a liberal country will enjoy the benefits of liberalism and get rich with the help of the freedom of property and liberal principles, but then go against liberal legislation that will guarantee equal opportunities for weaker classes. It's called holding the stick at both ends. If you accept liberalism, you have to accept both freedom and the recognition thatEveryone deserves freedom without exceptions. But there is still a problem, there seems to be a contradiction between two fundamental liberal values. On the one hand the value of freedom and on the other hand the value of equal opportunities (which guarantees freedom for all). The problem was nicely demonstrated in the question asked above, "Where is the freedom when they oblige me to finance a single mother?" The economically established stratum can claim that in that they have to finance weaker strata, they are limiting the value of freedom. The freedom to earn, the freedom to own and the freedom to decide for yourself what to do with your capital. What do you do if there is a conflict between two values? When is one value more important than the other and why?

To answer this, you have to try and get down to the depths of liberalism and check again what is the ideal behind liberal values. Is the value of freedom really the most fundamental idea in liberalism? After all, it is possible to make it difficult and ask why is it so important to be free? And free from what? It seems that there is something prior to freedom, more basic which is the basis of liberalism. We will try to reveal it,

So what do we mean when we say be free?

Probably the answer is to be free to make decisions on our own, from ourselves and not from considerations external to us. Fully free to be ourselves, free to be who we are. We are special animals, animals with a brain so developed that it has self-awareness and enormous abilities. We know we exist, we know we are finite and we know we are special. We can choose our own actions, out of awareness. Without this self-awareness there would be no sense of freedom, we would not know at all who is doing all the actions and whether we are free or not. Self-awareness is the basis of freedom. It is important for us to be free because we feel that we exist and that we can choose our own actions. Freedom is the same feeling that we make decisions ourselves And we want to intensify this feeling. We feel thatWe have the power to choose anything ourselves and realize all our desires. When we want freedom for ourselves, we actually want to exercise this power as much as possible. Freedom to use the full power of our ads.

At the beginning of the Woodstock festival, the singer Richie Havens goes on stage and improvises a song called freedom. A song based on the line sometimes I feel like a motherless child. This is a song from the days of slavery in the USA, in those days it was possible to trade the babies of the black-skinned slaves who had just been born. This created a situation of children who did not know their validations and felt like motherless children. This horrible feeling of being treated like a tradable object is an example of a feeling of lack of freedom. We are more than just an object by virtue of our consciousness. Thanks to the fact that we are aware of our existence and feel that we have a choice and the possibility to realize our desires according to our choice. It is this self-consciousness that gives every human being the innate right to freedom. It is always possible to be freer, by strengthening the feeling that we choose our own desires and realize them. The more we do this, the more we can say that we are getting closer to realizing the full power of our awareness.

The founders of liberalism recognized this importance of the human spirit. in the post Are we at the threshold of a revolution? I wrote that liberalism started out of the Renaissance and the scientific revolution. Out of the darkness of the Middle Ages and the dictatorial church rule that suppressed the human spirit, revolutionaries such as Galileo, Francis Bacon, John Locke and John Mill understood the importance of freedom for man so that he could really use the full power of his awareness. Thus man will be able to create, explore nature and find his own path to self-realization. They realized thatThe role of the state should be to allow a person all the conditions so that he succeeds in the allotted time to use the full power of his awareness. This is how the modern state was created, this is the ideal from which the liberalism that we use to this day was born.

I would summarize the liberal ideal as follows: Man is a special being, finite but with amazing abilities, chief among them self-awareness. With its help, man can choose, and realize his amazing desires and abilities. Humans are on a journey of development to realize the full potential of their awareness.

The ideal starts from the uniqueness of man and states that because of the uniqueness of self-awareness we are all on a kind of journey in which we develop from the understanding that we have self-awareness to what we can do with it and how we can use it to create our personality and realize all the abilities we have. It is impossible to realize this power immediately and therefore it is a journey of development in which all human beings participate without exception. According to the ideal, even though we are animals like all other animals we have a uniqueness that allows us to choose consciously. Unlike the other animals, we can choose not to stay only at the level of survival. According to this ideal, thanks to the power of awareness, we have the ability to reach beyond day-to-day survival and we are inA journey of development beyond the life of survival Every animal is stuck in them.

Now that we have gotten to the bottom of the basic idea behind liberalism, the hope is that we can resolve many dilemmas where there seems to be a conflict between two values. From the ideal it follows that the role of the state is allow all its citizens As many of the necessary conditions as possible for them to succeed in their allotted time embark on the journey of development To fully realize the power of their awareness. Several values ​​emerge from this ideal, The value of freedom, so that each person will be free to advance as far as he can in his journey. The value of equal opportunities, so that every person will have all the options open throughout their personal journey. Another important value is Preference for the singular person over general structures, buildings and organizations are tools for the sake of man and not an end in themselves. The value of cooperation between people, because we are finite, it is impossible to persist in the journey of development without contact and cooperation with the environment. There is a limit to how far we can progress alone and without support and help from the environment. The value of education, every journey and development must be accompanied by education and learning. As I mentioned, these are subjective concepts not bound by reality, so you need education to know the different options and to know why to choose this way of life. Without any of these values, the realization of this ideal will fall to the wayside.

The role of the ideal and the values ​​that come out of it is to chart the way for us on how to live and manage the country, now we need to choose goals on how to realize these beautiful values ​​and enact appropriate laws. This is how we descend from the ideal level to the practical level. Every time we discover a problem and a contradiction between laws and values, we can go back and check how it is solved in the light of the ideal. In our case it would seem that there is a contradiction between the value of freedom and the value of equal opportunities. But there is really no contradiction. It should be noted thatLiberalism is an active way of governing. Liberalism actively preserves the individual to always be free. After all, the center of affairs is the individual, he is the one who should feel free throughout his journey. On the other hand, the only person is finite and therefore very weak. It is very easy to trample him and take away his freedom. It is easy to create an organization with a power that will suppress the freedom of the individual so that the individual will have almost no strength to fight against the organization. We all know such stories, organizations that oppressed and oppress people. Organizations such as state, monarchy, religion, army, schools, factories and much more. Liberalism started out of such oppression imposed by the church throughout the Middle Ages and therefore engraved on its banner to protect the freedom of the less able and to limit the power of those who want to control others.

The great words written by Yehuda Pardis for this song illustrate the feeling of the individual's helplessness in the face of a large and powerful system. A system that can without any problem take the freedom from the person and treat him as an object without consciousness. Pay attention to the sentence "The man is small, the wall is huge." The man is weak, the wall is strong. Who knows the man on the wall? The man whispers in a quiet voice, I want to go out." Liberalism is the first governmental system that came to explicitly defend the freedom of the individual person against any system that tries to impose its opinion on the person. This is a difficult task that never ends, therefore liberalism must be active and free those whose freedom is currently easy to trample on. This is a necessary condition for each person to be able to realize the full power of his consciousness.

Therefore, in order to preserve the freedom of the citizens, liberalism is required to be active and neutralize accumulations of power that can harm the freedom of individuals and enact laws that will preserve the freedom of all citizens without exception. For this reason in all liberal countries there is a separation of powers that prevents the accumulation of too much power in government and for this reason in all liberal countries democracy was chosen as the preferred election method that prevents the government from accumulating power and becoming a monarchy. This activism is also expressed in the fact that in a liberal country the people cannot choose to violate the liberal laws that preserve the liberal ideal and one cannot choose to be a dictatorship. There is active protection from the majority fans. Over time, activism continued and after struggles, laws were enacted that preserve the freedom and equal opportunities of groups with little power, such as abolishing slavery or giving women the right to vote. Without this activism we would see more and more laws that preserve or increase the power of certain groups at the expense of the freedom of individual citizens. Until eventually liberalism would lose its validity and we would return to a type of government where a group with great power dominates and oppresses the rest.

It can be said that in order for the ideal to exist, liberalism needs to provide a person with the most infrastructure so that he can go out and continue his journey of development. Infrastructures of freedom and rights, infrastructures of education, infrastructures that will enable effective cooperation between citizens and basically any infrastructure that the state can provide without going bankrupt with the help of which the person can continue to realize the full power of his awareness instead of wasting his time in daily survival. With the help of these infrastructures and education the person should continue to develop. There is no absolute answer that is always correct to the question of how many such infrastructures the state should provide to the citizen. At any time this answer can change. In the past, for example, the very transition to a democratic country that preserves human rights was amazing and satisfying. Today, in countries that already provide these infrastructures there is a demand for new infrastructures to continue the country's development towards the liberal ideal. As in Masalu's pyramid of needs, when we have established ourselves and have infrastructures of food, shelter and security we can continue to develop to higher requirements and infrastructures. Just as the person is on a journey of development, so the country is also developing with him and should provide more and more infrastructure for the individual's journey.

The answer to the question why choose social justice is because we want to get as close as possible to the liberal ideal I presented. In this case, social justice does not necessarily stem from the idea that we are all equal to each other, but from the activism of liberalism, from the active protection of the freedom of the only citizen in the country against those who can amass power and oppress him, and from the understanding of what the role of the state is. The liberal state was created out of the individual man's difficulty to fulfill all his needs and continue his journey of development. Its role is to help the person and provide him with as much infrastructure as possible so that he can continue his journey. Of course, every person is on this journey and therefore the state is designed to help all its citizens and not just some of them. Social justice comes from preserving the freedom of the individual and preserving the freedom of groups with little power, and also from increasing satisfaction of infrastructure for citizens.

The contradiction between the value of freedom and the value of equal opportunities is resolved by the fact that, according to the ideal, it follows that the powerless individual must be actively protected from factors that would suppress his freedom. In any case of a conflict of values, it should be checked Who is the weaker whose freedom is easier to suppress and give priority to this group. In our case, there is the economically established class versus the class of single-parent women. Economically established women have more power than single parents and therefore liberalism must preserve the freedom of single parents so that they are not easily oppressed by the more powerful group. There is another reason why the single parent group should be preferred in this case. According to the liberal ideal, the aspiration is for man to be able to rise above day-to-day survival in order to realize the full power of his consciousness. When there is a conflict between values, you need to check which solution will better suit this ideal. The damage to the pockets of the economically established class will be smaller than the damage to single parents. Without the help of the state, it will be much more difficult for these women to get out of the circle of survival and they will distance themselves from the realization of the liberal ideal. On the other hand, harming the economically established will not distance them from the realization of this ideal, so in this case there is a preference for the value of equal rights for the single-parent women and not for the value of freedom of the economically established class. And again, you can't eat the cake and leave it whole. Those who enjoy the benefits of freedom and liberalism should accept that not only they deserve to enjoy the fruits of the system but all the citizens of the country. Just as we demand responsibility from the person to try and develop and try and improve his situation by himself as much as possible, so we also demand social responsibility from the person who lives and succeeds in a liberal society. Accepting full responsibility for yourself and your environment are part of the meaning of freedom and part of the journey of development that we are supposed to go through.

John Lennon - Power To The People


Nir Lahav is studying for a PhD in Physics at Bar Ilan University, and researches brain activity.
He recently initiated the protest "Social justice begins with education"
He delivers lectures to the general public on science, philosophy, art and society within the framework The magic of science - lectures and courses
And the husband The blog is free and happy where he appeared Post This is the first time.

18 תגובות

  1. Modern Chinese communism and classical communism are not the same thing. The economic system in China is a kind of hybrid between communism and capitalism (it is usually presented as pure capitalism but this is not accurate because there is a lot of economic control by the state - for example there are no private banks.
    However, they still lag behind the West. In addition, there is also a heavy price for communism - murders of regime opponents, taking vital organs from life, etc.
    A kibbutz is not exactly communism. It seems to me that by definition communism is for a state and not a group of individuals who agreed to divide equally.

  2. Nir are you still there?

    When you say "because of communism there is a fear of anything socialist."
    I assume you are starting from the assumption that communism failed miserably

    So how is it that the entire capitalist West owes so many trillions to Communist China? A bit different from the case of the old communist bloc that always lagged behind the west, no?

    And what do you say about communism by choice as in the case of a real kibbutz (kibbutz - kibbutz)? All in all, except for money, it wasn't so bad, wasn't it?

  3. To Eric
    Regarding your question about the yeshiva man,
    The liberal state should try and help a person realize the full power of his awareness. Part of this, as you said, is to support institutions that deal with issues that advance man towards this realization, institutions that deal with education, science, cultural institutions, art and also religious institutions can be included in this definition.
    But note that the state does not fund a specific scientist or craftsman but rather institutions, and therefore the yeshiva man is not included in this category (otherwise every researcher, craftsman, theater person, cleric would ask for money for himself and the state cannot afford such a thing).

  4. Eric,

    To your question, if you do not understand the mechanisms of resistance development and the mechanisms that lead to the spread of resistant bacteria, i.e. evolution, how will you plan the next generation of antibiotics?
    This is similar to building a machine that breaks down after a certain period of time, how will you build the next improved generation if you don't understand what the problems are with the current generation?

  5. A. I didn't say it wasn't important.
    B. "If we learn lessons from the past" "If" (I wondered in the past about this matter - is there really significant learning, and in particular from the details - I was not able to decide)
    third. I'm waiting for an answer about the antibiotics

  6. History is an important thing, especially if you learn lessons from the past. As for the explanation of bacteria and evolution, read the articles in the tag of bacterial resistance to antibiotics.

    And if you're looking for a wrong explanation, don't look for it on a scientific website.

  7. A. I didn't exactly mean evolution. I meant the study of the past in its various forms - history, archeology, philology (on second thought these are already included in the humanities so I was repeating myself a bit). Evolution of the past (that is, the study of the question of which intermediate species were between man and monkey (not in the sense of today's monkeys but of an ancient ancestor) and so on. I did not mean evolution in the sense of measurable evolutionary processes of orders of magnitude that are happening in our own time. It may be useful.
    It is likely that most of the cosmology is also included in the impractical theoretical part but I don't understand enough.

    B. Regarding the claim about the antibiotics, maybe you can explain to me this argument that I have already heard and it is puzzling to me. There is an empirical fact that after a certain time that antibiotics are used, resistant bacteria appear. The explanation given for this phenomenon is that the bacteria undergo evolution. Suppose we didn't know what the explanation was or we would have given a different (even wrong) explanation, why would that prevent him from using current antibiotics?
    What does the explanation contribute to this?

    third. I did not say that these professions have value, but that they have no economic value, therefore supporting them assumes that the state should also support things that do not belong to the satisfaction of needs in the narrow sense, but to the development of the human spirit.

  8. Eric, the subjects of the study of the past are theoretical, you mean evolution (creationists have such a ridiculous argument). Surely you're kidding when you say it's worthless when you go to a pharmacy and get the latest antibiotic that bacteria haven't evolved to adapt to?

  9. As for the yeshiva guy - it is clear that the budgeting of yeshiva students is based on the assumption that there is value in having Torah study at Ami and not simply as support for people to do what they want. Just like the support for theoretical scientific research (in particular in the humanities and the study of the past of all kinds).

  10. Response to Max
    Because of communism there is a fear of anything socialist. That's why I chose to show in the article how social justice can be achieved, not from "communist" principles of equality, but from a liberal principle of freedom for all.

  11. Reply to 'I'
    It's true, freedom definitely entails personal responsibility for your choices. Responsibility to use your freedom for something positive, to realize yourself and take responsibility for the results of your choices.
    On the other hand, when such responsibility is proven and the person still feels that he cannot free himself, the state must help him free himself. Especially with the individual who manages to show that he is not free because of another body that tramples his right to freedom.
    Regarding your example of the yeshiva boy, this case is fundamentally different from the case of a single mother discussed in the article.
    In the case of a single mother, there is a woman who admits that she made a mistake, for example marrying an abusive husband, and now she is asking for help to get out into a free state again. She basically comes and says, if you help me I will be able to free myself from the unwanted situation in which I am oppressed and I can start over.
    On the other hand, the yeshiva student who asks for money to finance the longevity he has chosen does not claim that he is currently in a situation that oppresses him and only with our help will he be able to change his situation and go free. He does not feel depressed, he does not want to change anything, he is satisfied with the way of life he has chosen.
    He can get by by balancing his level of productivity and the level of studying in the yeshiva, but she will hardly be able to break free from oppression as long as she does not receive help from the outside.
    Therefore their cases are fundamentally different.
    ZA that the liberal state should first of all help those who are undergoing proven oppression and want to get out of this oppression and can only do so if they are given outside help (or at least it will be significantly easier for them to break free with outside help). The help should be both financial and by giving tools for personal empowerment.
    ZA that the yeshiva person can ask for help if he feels depressed and wants to break free and cannot do it alone (for example repeat the question).

  12. Great article. Great ideas that explain the idea of ​​liberalism in an optimal way.

  13. "So what do we mean when we say to be free?

    Probably the answer is to be free to make decisions on our own, from ourselves and not from considerations external to us. Fully free to be ourselves, free to be who we are."
    Freedom also entails responsibility. Again, it is immoral (also not utilitarian) to demand freedom to choose evil, and then demand that society bear responsibility for the choices. What about the freedom to choose to study in a yeshiva and not be a productive citizen according to our standards and then demand, being the weak side, as mentioned, funding for his choice?

  14. Whenever they talk about socialism, I see in front of my eyes electricity company workers, ant workers and other socialist parasites as civil servants,

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