Friday, October 16, 2015

Justice and the State

I have recently been visiting a number of web sites concerned with social justice, rights for minorities and women and similar topics, and it never ceases to amaze me that, to a one, they are supporters of not just big government, but almost always very activist, almost inevitably socialist or communist policies. I simply cannot comprehend this.

Let us look at the facts. How many times in history have a bunch of private citizens gotten together and committed genocide? How many private citizens have deprived a minority group of rights? Or driven one into exile? I grant, in some periods there were spontaneous riots and pogroms, though in many of those cases, the "spontaneity" was still just a guide for state action. However, for the most part, almost every great massacre, every act of oppression, every harm done to minorities of every stripe, as been at the ands of the state, many times even against the inclination of a majority of citizens*.

All of which makes me wonder why people so interested in equality would want to give the state more power.  Even if we assume a state run by "the best people", the fact remains you cannot control who will rule forever, or even how those who rule will change. Private mistakes, they effect a small group, and can be balanced out by everyone else. A mistake of the state as the force of law, and harms us all. Similarly, one private bigot is an annoyance, maybe costs some people jobs or business at worst. One bigot in the right government office is a potential genocide. And the more power the state has, the more harm one mistake can do.

All of which makes me think that those truly interested in social justice, in equality for all, in liberty, and the like, would be arguing strongly for as little government as possible. Granted, it will not end all racism, idiots will always be with us. But state power will never end all racism either, it will just make it possible for a wrongly placed racist, or someone else with a bad idea, to do incalculable harm.

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* To be clear, most atrocities are committed against unpopular minorities. My point here is that, though the majority may be less than fond of a group, most acts of genocide are not demanded by the majority, but are acts of convenience for the state, and the populace needs to be convinced of their utility. (Or, in many cases, the full scope of the atrocity is hidden.)

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