Feature from–Truth Based Logic
By William Flax
Synopsis Misuse of term ‘Social Justice’ in academic & political discourse for what is neither social nor just. > (Socrates, Socratic Method & an age of deception. Socratic purpose & Questions to ask.)
In a world in which words, and particularly defining terms, have meaning consistent with a purpose in reasoned discourse, social justice would refer to that deemed just within the scope of the particular mores of a particular people under discussion. This is certainly not the use to which the term has been put by those who have pushed one or another variety of collectivist egalitarianism on Western Nations over the past century. Indeed, a far more descriptive term for what has been promoted under such banner would be “Anti-social Injustice.” Social Justice has become a sort of shibboleth for the most flagrant attempts to re-engineer social attitudes, to redistribute the fruits of men’s labor, to attack their traditional patterns of identification, ethical values & fundamental priorities.
By what standard has an effectual promotion of an amalgamation of disparate & dissonant social elements, a leveling of human success or a reordering of social & individual priorities, including a many faceted “robbing of Peter to pay Paul & corrupt Mary,” been so far advanced? How has such a deliberate attack on past social values been accomplished, with so little opposition in Academia, with so much journalistic & political support? Let us examine the Academic quest, since the days of Socrates (469 – 399 B.C.), the pursuit of truth by Socratic methodology–to consider & understand how totally that once honored quest, pursuit & methodology, has been corrupted by both the culpable & ignorant.
Socrates, Socratic Method & The Age of Deception
Socrates was the mentor of both Plato (427 – 347 B.C.) & Xenophon (435 – 355 B.C.). Before Socrates, Western ideological discourse was in a state of verbal chaos, not unlike that of the 30 second sound bite in modern politics. While Socrates did not espouse a particular philosophy, so much as an honorable pursuit of wisdom, the Socratic Method provided a foundation for others to begin the process of systemizing–explaining in terms of logical relationships, demonstrable premises, cause & effect — philosophical quests & conclusions, verbally. From the time of Plato until 1900, at least, the Socratic Method was that preferred by the skilled teacher. It involved the use of probing questions, challenging the intellect to justify any conclusion by sound & grounded reasoning. Socrates applied Socratic Method both for his own — largely vain, because uncompromising — quest to find true wisdom, and to his students, in a far more successful technique to induce an ability to actually reason — or perhaps better stated, to explain, illustrate & defend the results of one’s reason, verbally.
Using effective & probing questions, Socrates stimulated in the Socratic student, a discipline to base ideas and opinion on an ever-improving understanding of fundamental aspects both of the natural order and those most specific to the human experience, conduct, achievement, virtue or vice — even to the point of rational exploration of the very determination of virtue or vice. Perhaps the most despicable aspect of an increasing pseudo-intellectual domination of the “Humanities” & “Liberal Arts” by educational poseurs (whether those who act deliberately & malevolently, or their hapless, sheep-like, followers) has come in a clear corruption of Socratic Method.
If there was one thing, which proper application of Socratic Method should have prevented, it was a mass acceptance of question-begging premises, underlying most contemporary social policy. Policy based upon an unproven, specious — even absurd — premise of human equality, or the interchangeability of human types; or the desirability of amalgamating diverse human cultures & communities, should never have passed the test of even the most rudimentary academic discourse, unchallenged & unrepudiated. The reason, of course, lies in an abandonment of the Socratic quest; in asking the wrong questions. Rather than challenge wish lists of Socialists & other proponents of a more egalitarian, more centrally directed, human experience, many teachers over three generations, have utterly begged every fundamental question involved, to simply assume the veracity of egalitarian & collectivist premises. Thus instead of probing Socratic questions, which should have led to critical examination, students have been diverted; not to ask “why?” or “what should we?”; rather towards asking “how to?” achieve goals, born not in reason, but in compulsion and/or fancy.
We first encountered this rational deception while yet in High School, in examining something labeled “Debate Handbook” on the shelves of the school library. It was a product of a “Writers’ Project,” growing out of a Depression-era Federal program that had provided employment for Leftist writers with an obvious ‘axe to grind,’ and to others willing to ‘grind’ such ‘axes’ for a Government paycheck. As an answer to Communism, the manual probed the question of whether or not it was yet practical to achieve–not whether it was wise or foolish, natural or perverse, good or evil, moral or not, even rational or not. Every basic question begged, the student was never stimulated to examine the subject critically; rather, delivered from reason, to pursuit of a goal premised on nothing but the writers’ wishful fancy or vented hatred of human nature & individual achievement.
On the subject of World Government, the focus was on how to achieve such denial of national & ethnic aspirations and continuity. Again, every basic, foundational, question being begged; no examination of the validity of any supposed reason why such would be desirable, much less of any practical benefit to anyone but the would-be rulers, was offered.
The revulsion, felt, inspired us, almost half a century later, to write the Conservative Debate Handbook. It was not that the Writers’ Project product attacked our most fundamental beliefs. The flagrant intellectual dishonesty, a total disregard of the very concept of an Academy devoted to education by reasoned examination of both natural phenomena & the human experience–in short, by a method well proven since the age of Socrates & Plato–was as offensive as watching thugs rape & pillage in a sanctuary. The lesson, however, was obvious. The Left cannot win a rational debate. They can only prevail if we continue to allow them to “fudge” the issues. Raise the right questions; challenge the false premises? Their only response will be to try to insult you, smear you, shout you down, or shut you up. Failing in these, they will scurry off like rats leaving a sinking ship. If you have never so challenged them, try it, before you concede your heritage to the intellectual scum we would describe.
Let us consider what questions, a modern Socrates might ask a Leftist Professor, pseudo “statesman,” journalist or preacher, to encourage each reader to try such a revealing experiment for himself.
Socratic Method? Questions to Ask
For almost three generations, the ideological tide in Western Academia has been flowing increasingly in favor of the sort of egalitarian collectivist values, so clearly reflected in contemporary prattling on “Social Justice” as the pursuit of social egalitarianism. This has gone virtually unchallenged; promoted by a sort of circular tunnel vision, fed by its own never supported fantasies, which can only rationally suggest the image of a dog chasing its own tail. (While the issues are somewhat different, some of those unchallenged underlying premises are the same as those which have been adduced to support the pursuit of World Government. So we will briefly examine that, also.) What questions, then, might a modern Socrates or Plato have raised in the Academy, in the media, on the hustings, from the pulpit, or simply over the lunch or dinner table?
Those which reason demands, those so largely–and so sadly–not spoken, are so numerous, that we can only just begin the process of answering our own query. Yet, even here, we must start by endeavoring to classify conceptually–to try to bring a little clarity out of the intellectual chaos of long unchallenged folly. First, then, we need demands for definition. The proponent of “Social Justice” must be required to clarify “what” he considers just in human affairs and “why,” with particular focus on human experience within a particular society, a particular political & social order — ordinarily, the particular political & social order to which the proponent & the Conservative interlocutor belong. The pursuit of something that cannot be reasonably defined, is only a pursuit of chaos! While a “social” goal, not rooted in a societal purpose, is an oxymoron.
Now, when pushed, the advocate of “Social Justice” will almost certainly refer to some egalitarian pursuit. You will likely have to listen to pleas for a more “equal,” more “inclusive,” society — even a more “equal,” more “inclusive,” humanity. Such answers will, at least, lead to clarity on the part of the prepared Conservative as to questions that should follow. These, in turn, should be classified conceptually, not necessarily to determine an order of use, but that we may more clearly understand the function.
Some must go to the nature of Government within a particular social order. The Founders of America had a clarity on this subject, largely lost over the past century. Yet no Government springs from the earth. Governmental powers arise in a social compact. That compact may be written & formal, as the United States Constitution, defining our Federal Government, or — as under Magna Carta in Britain — intended primarily to insure Governmental respect for the rights of property & inheritance; or it may be informal — arising in ongoing rational reflection among those both in and subject to the Government; — involving also, what the latter may or may not be willing to tolerate at any given moment. It may also, as so often the case historically, arise in a surrender of one people to conquest by another. Yet, all of the above lead to questions involving what is legitimate, what is morally acceptable; to questions of duty, allegiance, responsibility & method.
Thus, many questions come to mind: By what authority does any Government seek to interfere with previous or organic development of wealth, social position, or status within an ongoing social order? What is the extent of such authority–how far can it go? What is the duty of a citizen, as opposed to a slave or bondsman, to such authority; to respect such an “unequal” application of power, as must be required to “redress” an imagined injustice in the inequality of wealth, social position or status? Would anyone argue that the duty of men to defend their social order against attack, extends to supporting a Government, which has turned on the more successful within that social order, by taking from the high achievers to give to lesser, low or non-achievers? If so, on what basis? Is not a part of the former, a duty in part to oneself, recognizing common purpose in the survival of a society with which one identifies? Is not the latter, simply an abuse of collective power? Is not a coerced or forced surrender of earned assets, a very different thing than a charitable gift to one whose need & worth are both recognized by the giver?
How is there justice in denying anyone the full benefit or advantage of their natural endowments? The fruits of their extra effort? If so, upon what premise, based upon what concept? Was the reader ever in a classroom, where all were equal in mental aptitude? All were equal on any playground? Later, in an ability to attract the opposite sex? Where in the Federal Constitution of the United States is there even a suggestion of a right or duty to interfere with the natural or earned advantage of any citizen for the particular benefit of any other? Where is there any rational reason to conceive such an extension of Governmental power to be just?
If Government will not respect legal & traditional limits, why should any citizen respect Government? And if Government must rely on its power of the moment–employing a Hitlerian “might makes right” creed — how long before such Government may be expected to fall to new self-promoters — perhaps, its own “Palace Guard”– led by some opportunist, with no more loyalty to his superiors than they had had to those they were sworn to serve, under terms once sacred? A host of other questions, concerning the importance of predictability in human interaction; the importance of trust in both equal & unequal relationships; all have essential relevance to the appropriateness of any Governmental role.
To return to questions that challenge the underlying philosophic goals of those crying for “Social Justice.” Is there any hard evidence of an equality of human potential — regardless, or regardful, of whatever Government may do; — or in such sub-comparisons as an interchangeability of human sentiments, preferences, behavioral patterns or sociability? [Does any variety of human interaction, comparative study of group intelligence, anecdotal evidence of intelligent & ethical observers; anatomical studies of human crania, brain tissue, etc., comparative history of definable groups, their achievements, failures & peculiarities; any data, indicate there are not profound variations of the human type?] What legitimate interest can there be in trying to force a pretense or “show” of equality of those manifestly not equal? What possible benefit can flow from forcing what amounts to a lie — an effort to remold man to suit a verbal construct, i.e., the equality of mankind, even as a goal? What actual benefit can there be, in taking from any people, any class, family or individual — any part of the fruits of their labor & ingenuity — for such a pursuit? Do not those subsidized in such a quest, suffer also in a diminished incentive to better apply themselves — incentive drowned by a sense of unearned entitlement?
We but scratch the surface! Virtually limitless questions require consideration. The Egalitarian, in effect, seeks an amalgamation of all human interests. Why is such proper for the most complex species, where it does not obtain in any other? (Look at any other social species. Is there any parallel to what the Egalitarian seeks to inflict on mankind?) Again, who benefits? What, if any, legitimate interest is served? If the objective is to eliminate strife by removing competition or rivalry, is this not the pursuit of an ultimate tyranny — to deny each folk, rights to what was always more important, even than the quest for peace & tranquility? Does not a study of nature & natural history, as well as of the human past, suggest that it is natural for all intelligent species to develop what might be classified as a “pecking order?” What sort of analysis can demonstrate any injustice in this natural phenomenon? What of patterns of social preference, preferred patterns of association?
The cry for “social justice” was reflected in “Civil Rights” legislation. The demand was that property rights must give way to “human rights!” But by what reason are the accumulated fruits of an individual or his family’s labor, not human rights? How can any other person, whether similar or different from the property owner, have any right at all in such owner’s estate, superior to the lawful owner? Yet what else can it mean, when Government tells an individual property owner that he must not exercise preference for someone, whose religious beliefs make him appear more trustworthy to the property owner, than another? It is the same principle, whether the issue is hiring for a job, or renting an apartment; and does not such contravention of rights once deemed sacred, also include denial of a major attribute of freedom of religion? Would not a modern Socrates question the same species of legislation, where it makes it illegal for a property owner to prefer one whose family shared a similar heritage, because that would violate a prohibition against a racial or ethnic standard? Where is the “social justice” in appropriating the normal attributes of a man’s property — which include the legitimate use of that property — to attack traditional patterns of social association & identification?
How is the concept — this intrusion into private decision making — acceptable in a Federal Union of diverse States, often settled by persons deliberately crossing the ocean in order to live in local communities peopled by those of a particular religious denomination, or having a common social or cultural orientation? Where in the Federal Constitution is there even suggestion of such purpose or intent?
Does this reflect an implied tendency toward — indeed a contrived pursuit of — amalgamation of all the diverse elements found across the land? Is not such pursuit suggested by an ever increasing dependence on more distant Government in the United States? In the declining power of the States relative to the Federal Government over the past three generations? Was not an extreme example of the same pursuit involved in 1965, in scrapping an immigration policy that had favored human stocks in proportion to their demographic contribution to the American past? Indeed, is not a similar thought pattern — as suggested in parenthetical note above — essential to the drive to inflict Mankind with some form of World Government? Do not these parallel tendencies suggest that the issue is not, and has never been, about “justice”; that, rather, there is a compulsion involved to, in fact, amalgamate the peoples of the earth? And, if so, why should we accept the premise that we can better trust alien peoples, who must ultimately be able to apply brutal force to be effective, than our own leadership (as that of other nations) to act wisely in each people’s interest? Is there anything in human history, which would suggest that more remote, less personal, force, is kinder or gentler than true local leadership?
If nations are now truly willing to cooperate to pursue a means for peaceful settlement of all problems, why trust an ever more remote, ever less representative (hence, accountable or tolerant) group of foreigners, than one’s own countrymen, immediately interested in both that pursuit & the welfare of their own peoples? Is not any movement for World Government, simply a cry for surrender of responsibility & accountability; a surrender by subterfuge, but a surrender, none the less?
These are a few of the questions with which a modern Socrates might challenge the exponents of popular fantasy; a Socratic challenge to examine each premise, to determine if it has rational bases. They are not questions with which most contemporary academics will be comfortable.
Article by William Flax from www.truthbasedlogic.com