1931 Respect for the human person proceeds by way of respect for the principle that “everyone should look upon his neighbor (without any exception) as ‘another self,’ above all bearing in mind his life and the means necessary for living it with dignity.” No legislation could by itself do away with the fears, prejudices, and attitudes of pride and selfishness which obstruct the establishment of truly fraternal societies. Such behavior will cease only through the charity that finds in every man a “neighbor,” a brother.
“Social Justice” remains an undefined, utopian ideal proffered as the goal of many political groups. They hang “Social Justice” about themselves like an impermeable cloak and believe that cloak should protect them from having to provide rational justification for their proposals. They go to governments and insist that, in the name of “Social Justice”, the authorities must submit to their proposals. Even when those proposals are ill considered, not based in fact, may be corrupt and are likely to cause more harm than good. Sadly, the authorities tend to cower before those who come at them with apparently large numbers demanding action for “Social Justice”. This is the well known modus Operandi of the left wing political group “FAST”, a Saul Alinsky group that has consistently demanded bad policy in the name of Social Justice with the political threats of 3,000 members at an “action Assembly” to back them. When our elected officials capitulate to such strong arm tactics, they are abrogating their responsibility as a legitimate leader with the mantle of “Authority” envisioned in the paradigm of TRUE Social Justice laid out by its original authors: The Catholic Church. When “Social Justice” action groups refuse to actually engage in charitable action and insist ONLY on legislation to produce this end, they have engaged in hypocritical behavior.
As the true definition* of Social Justice reveals, it is linked to the “exercise of Authority”. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is the arguably the most appropriate place to look for a true definition of Social Justice since it was invented, refined and promulgated through the Catholic Church since the mid 19th century. This definition requires that authority respect individual rights and points out that “Regimes whose nature is contrary to the natural law, to the public order, and to the fundamental rights of persons cannot achieve the common good of the nations on which they have been imposed.” Thus, while some sort of governing authority is required to achieve the common good in Society, it cannot be moral if it is an authority such as that in Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia where authority was abused to kill tens of millions in the name of “the common good”.
“Common Good Before Individual Good.”
Adolph Hitler, Nazi Party Slogan.
There is a reason why the CATHOLIC DEFINITION OF “COMMON GOOD” POINTS OUT THAT IT MUST FIRST RESPECT INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS. Individual rights are often trampled by those authorities and special interests claiming to work for “the common good”
Excerpts from The 25 points of Hitler’s Nazi Party. An extreme example of an illegitimate authority claiming to work for “The Common Good”. In 1944, philosopher Ayn Rand pointed out that every totalitarian system in history claimed to work for the Common Good, by trampling on individual rights.
“24. We demand freedom for all religious faiths in the state, insofar as they do not endanger its existence or offend the moral and ethical sense of the Germanic race.
The party as such represents the point of view of a positive Christianity without binding itself to any one particular confession. It fights against the Jewish materialist spirit within and without, and is convinced that a lasting recovery of our folk can only come about from within on the principle:
“COMMON GOOD BEFORE INDIVIDUAL GOOD”
25. In order to carry out this program we demand: the creation of a strong central authority in the State, the unconditional authority by the political central parliament of the whole State and all its organizations.
The formation of professional committees and of committees representing the several estates of the realm, to ensure that the laws promulgated by the central authority shall be carried out by the federal states.
The leaders of the party undertake to promote the execution of the foregoing points at all costs, if necessary at the sacrifice of their own lives.
“The workers and peasants must and will prove that they can properly distribute labour, establish devoted discipline and ensure loyalty in working for the common good, and can do it themselves, without the landowners and in spite of them, without the capitalists and in spite of them.” Vladimir Lenin
“Historian J. Arch Getty has remarked that “Lenin deserves a lot of credit for the notion that the meek can inherit the earth, that there can be a political movement based on social justice and equality.”
The Nazi and Soviet regimes are extreme examples of illegitimate authorities. However, seemingly benign authorities can also be illegitimate if they “employ(s) morally (il)licit means to attain” the common good. Likewise, authorities are not legitimate “if rulers were to enact unjust laws or take measures contrary to the moral order” since “authority breaks down completely and results in shameful abuse.” This is one of the reasons that so many in the Catholic Community have risen up against the Obama administration’s immoral insistence that Catholic institutions pay for birth control pills and abortions through the morning after pill. One could just as easily argue that when local governments bend to the will of groups like FAST or others working under DART, PICO, IAF, or Gamaliel, they are no longer legitimate. They are placing their political future above good policy that truly serves the common good. For instance authorities lose their legitimacy when they bend to politically motivated demands to create and fund a “drug court” that actually violates the constitutional due process rights of those participating. They have enacted “unjust laws” and taken “measures contrary to moral order”. They have used morally illicit means of doing so since the main motivating factor appears to be their desire to be re-elected at any cost and not the desire to actually pass good and moral policy.
Social Justice cannot be achieved through legislation alone and is most easily achieved through the charitable actions of individuals (paragraph 1931 above). Rather than expend untold energy to get governments to pay for dubious reading, drug treatment and jobs programs, why not tutor children, adopt a recently released prisoner, or create a job in the market? Rather than ask for more taxpayer spending on programs that don’t work, why not ask for lower taxes so the private economy can grow and allow more resources in private hands to provide jobs and charity? Rather than demand millions for “Affordable housing” programs that may be corrupt themselves, why not ask for lower property taxes so more people could afford to buy homes? The liberal groups that claim to work for “Social Justice” fail miserably when they refuse to engage their members in charitable acts and instead insist on interventionist activities of governments. They promote illegitimate behavior among elected officials who they encourage to engage in “vote seeking behavior” rather than moral, effective and constitutional public policy. They do not seek a proper role for “authority” in growing true Social Justice but promote illegitimacy among authority and outright injustice.
*“1928 Society ensures social justice when it provides the conditions that allow associations or individuals to obtain what is their due, according to their nature and their vocation. Social justice is linked to the common good and the exercise of authority.”
1897 “Human society can be neither well-ordered nor prosperous unless it has some people invested with legitimate authority to preserve its institutions and to devote themselves as far as is necessary to work and care for the good of all.”15
By “authority” one means the quality by virtue of which persons or institutions make laws and give orders to men and expect obedience from them.
1898 Every human community needs an authority to govern it.16 The foundation of such authority lies in human nature. It is necessary for the unity of the state. Its role is to ensure as far as possible the common good of the society.
1899 The authority required by the moral order derives from God: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.”17
Pope St. Clement of Rome provides the Church’s most ancient prayer for political authorities:18 “Grant to them, Lord, health, peace, concord, and stability, so that they may exercise without offense the sovereignty that you have given them. Master, heavenly King of the ages, you give glory, honor, and power over the things of earth to the sons of men. Direct, Lord, their counsel, following what is pleasing and acceptable in your sight, so that by exercising with devotion and in peace and gentleness the power that you have given to them, they may find favor with you.”19
The diversity of political regimes is morally acceptable, provided they serve the legitimate good of the communities that adopt them. Regimes whose nature is contrary to the natural law, to the public order, and to the fundamental rights of persons cannot achieve the common good of the nations on which they have been imposed.
1902 Authority does not derive its moral legitimacy from itself. It must not behave in a despotic manner, but must act for the common good as a “moral force based on freedom and a sense of responsibility”:21
A human law has the character of law to the extent that it accords with right reason, and thus derives from the eternal law. Insofar as it falls short of right reason it is said to be an unjust law, and thus has not so much the nature of law as of a kind of violence.22
1903 Authority is exercised legitimately only when it seeks the common good of the group concerned and if it employs morally licit means to attain it. If rulers were to enact unjust laws or take measures contrary to the moral order, such arrangements would not be binding in conscience. In such a case, “authority breaks down completely and results in shameful abuse.”23
1904 “It is preferable that each power be balanced by other powers and by other spheres of responsibility which keep it within proper bounds. This is the principle of the ‘rule of law,’ in which the law is sovereign and not the arbitrary will of men.”24