Social Justice and the Protestant Work Ethic

There is a disturbing trend happening in society today, where the want for policy, regulation and taxation is higher than that of personal responsibility and civility.  This trend seems to be the epoch of a gathering storm of cultural and technological influences and late-stage cultural decadence.

American capitalism, and much of its culture, has been theorized as being largely a result of the Protestant work-ethic; a belief that if you work hard and were virtuous, dedicating your toils and effort to the glory of God you would be rewarded.  The effects of this should not be underestimated, for it permeates the nation’s history.  The belief that if people served something higher than themselves, something greater than royalty or aristocracy, an enlightened ideal or god in their everyday tasks that freedom and prosperity would be the result.  This is the philosophical root of the nation, and progressive in its time.  Best phrased in the Pledge of Allegiance, “One Nation under God…”

Thoughts on social justice are not new and have been debated since the time of the ancient Greeks.  Modern social justice theory at its core is easy to understand, but is increasingly being made complex by competing interests and divisive political rhetoric.  At its core, social justice theory points out that the biggest thing that happens to us that will determine much of our life, is completely beyond our control – our birth.  Who we are born to and where is the most significant life event for all of us and we have no choice in the matter.   We do not get to choose our genetic make-up, family or country of origin.  We could be born to attractive and intelligent loving parents in the West with the emotional and material means to support us, or more likely be born in impoverished, repressive country plagued by social and physical disease.   I bet given a choice everyone would choose the former.  Social justice theory points out, correctly in my opinion, that each of us is born with inherent greater or lesser advantages and asks us to be sympathetic, i.e. being born a Kennedy has many advantages over being birthed by an impoverished prostitute and drug addict. What do we do or should we do about this?  As it has been said, “life is not fair.”  But can it be just?

Ideally, we should be taking responsibility and understand what creates a healthy, happy and productive human being, which we actually know a lot about, and do our best to lay these foundations for the succeeding generations.  I believe this would be the highest a best use of social justice theory.  Unfortunately, modern social justice has intersected with identity politics to create what are know as social justice warriors (SJWs). This movement appears to be more focused on tearing down certain groups to benefit others.  Disturbingly, too often information, data and science is suppressed because it may not be P.C. enough.  SJWs rarely speak about uplifting or the psycho-social concepts that help create healthy people. Instead they speak emotionally about checking one’s privilege or level of perceived oppression.  Social justice warriors have applied illogical game theory (zero-sum) to their causes.  My feelings are that modern day SJWs are self serving, bitter and not too bright.  They parade around virtue signaling and/or wearing their oppression status as a badge of honor.  It is an utter disgrace to the intellectual ideas of thousands of years of thought on social justice.  Social justice has become trendy for mass consumption and every bit as deep as the declining culture that spawned it.  It is increasingly hijacking progressive, liberal ideals and damaging the left.  This idea that if we taxed enough, regulated enough, controlled enough or had the right political savior this will lead to some sort of civil utopia; rather than doing hard work (including educating and thinking for ourselves) and living a civil, virtuous life in glory of something higher than self is disturbing.

As an alcoholic in recovery, I was asked early on in the process to find a god or higher power.  For some this is a sticking point in many recovery programs.  But the wisdom is profound and verifiable from a psychological stand point.  People who do not believe in something higher than self, be it universal energy or a god, often tend to rank high as narcissists or sociopaths.  It is said that addiction is a spiritual disease combined with faulty thinking. By focusing on something greater than oneself a person learns humility and accepts new ideas.  Modern day social justice warriors have lost sight of their higher power and have become self righteous, loosing the intellectual and spiritual goodness that is the foundation of social justice.  SJWs seem to be motivated by emotion and bias, not intellect and reason, and that is a dangerous cocktail.

Currently the ideas of hard work and virtuous living and social justice are in competition with each other.  They both have validity and are under appreciated for the guidance they provide.  If we could learn or relearn to value and respect them as tools and instruction then we will have achieved something great.  Life is not fair, but we should always try to achieve justice.  History teaches us that these things never come automatically, only to those who are willing work hard and virtuous.

 

* It is important to note that I did not mention race, gender or sexuality. These are worth consideration.  In 21st century Western civilization, I do not see these as primary factors.  I believe loving, nurturing families and healthy communities and culture have a much greater affect on today’s young individuals; the next generation and our future. It should also be noted, that the take over of the economy by central banks, astronomical debt levels and a tolerance for corruption, working hard no longer is a guarantee of prosperity.

Think responsibly!

Christian X

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