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The concept of social justice- Myth and Reality

Dr. Anand Kumar                                                                                                                                               Dr. Avinash Kumar

Principal                                                                                                                                                                 Assistant Professor

B.D.S. Degree College Risia                                                                                                                                   Medieval History

Bahraich U.P. Pin 271875                                                                                                MNRA P G College, Nanpara Bahraich

The present paper is an attempt to  analyze  the  concept of  social  justice,  to  explore that social justice is one of the most important concept of  the  modern social and political theory, to examine that the modern concept of social justice does not fit in with the concept of Universal  justice  as  propounded of by Plato and  medieval  exponent  of  natural  law  theory  and  to   conclude   that   the hue and cry of modern concept of social justice is only a doll in he hands of the Politicians for needy and aspirants  of the ‘Achchhe Din’ and is only a  ‘Lolipop’  Politics  to superfacially  satisfy the people who constitute  a  huge  chunk  of  voters  in elections.  It is of utmost importance to examine in depth the concept of the social justice; its philosophical foundation as well as its political implications. Broadly speaking distinction between the traditional metaphysical  and the modern positivistic – empirical theories of social and legal justice. Plato’s Idea of Justice is divine in origin; it is the   o?os by  which “all things are steered through all things”. It is the same  as Lex Aeterna  of the medieval scholastics. It is common to both the Eastern and Western  traditions. In  the  Hindu  tradition  it  is  called  Dharma,  the  reign  of  righteousness, and  in  the  Chinese  tradition it is  known  as  Tao.  The  Natural law or ‘Higher Law’ tradition in the West  which  continued  in some form until the time of John Locks in the seventeenth  century and was revived by some writers even in the twentieth, had its origin in  the  immutable, eternal Truth of the First principle. “Fed are all human laws  from   the   one   Divine  Law”.  In these  words  the  great  Herakleitos  summed up the essence of the traditional view of justice. Social justice,  according to this view, is nothing but an aspect of the cosmic justice. According to an apophthegm,  ascribed  to  Pythagoras, “Themis in the realm of Zeus, and Nomos in the cities of men; so  that  one  who  does not justly perform his appointed duty, may appear as a  violator of  the whole order of the universe.”   The  idea  is that  justice  consists  of  the  eternal  and  immutable principles  which  are  constitutive  of  the  Kosmos;  they  are  not  the product of social/ political contingencies or human  idiosyncrasies and individual predilections. In modern times the traditional  approach has been summed up by Emil Brunner in the following words:       Whoever says with serious intent, “That is just” or “That is unjust” has . . . appealed to a standard which transcends all human laws contracts, customs or usages, a standard  by  which all these human standards are measured. Either this absolute  divine justice is  merely  another words for something which suits some but not others . . . . Either the word justice refers to the  primal ordinance of God and has the ring of holiness and absolutes validity, or it is  a  tinkling  cymbal and sounding brass.1                 As against this, the modern concept of justice, either individual or social, is a human construct relative to time and place. It has  no  basis in the objective order of things. John Rawls, usually considered  to  be the greatest political of the twentieth century ( at  least  in  the  Anglo- Saxon World). States the modern view in unequivocal terms:”[a] part from the procedure of constructing the principle of justice, there a re  no  moral facts. Whether certain facts are to be recognized as reasons of right and justice. Or how much they are To count, can be ascertained only from within  the  constructive  procedure,   that  is, from the under-takings of rational  agents of construction when suitably  represented  as  free and equal moral persons”.2                                                                                In other words, no trans-human, absolute principles based on objective nature of things are at all necessary for a theory of justice.       When we talk of social justice we must first be  clear  about  what kind of justice we want: based on transcendent, objective and absolute principles, or resting simply on rational agents’ calculation of their self-Interest according to certain condition of fairness. This is the first most  vital question for this Seminar to decide, otherwise the whole discussion will go astray.         The next problem is the meaning of ‘social’ in the term Social Justice . Can unjust individuals constitute a just society? Does not the very adjective ‘social’ seriously qualify the idea of justice ? And what does the category ‘social’ signify ? How does it differ from that of the individual and of the state ? In this context Hannah Arendt’s view is highly illuminating. One may or may not agree with her,   but one cannot just brush her aside, if only because of her acknowledge authority to speak on the subject. She says: “Society is the from in which the fact of mutual dependence for the sake of life and nothing else assume public significance and where the activities connected with sheer survival are permitted to appear in public.” She calls society “that curiously hybrid realm where private interest assume public significance.”3 Arendt’s view is that the rise of the social is responsible for the abolition of the distinction between the private and public realm, i.e., Where the private becomes the public, and the public becomes the private. We know that globalization and privatization ate the battle cry of the modern state. We have to think whether any kind of justice is possible in such a situation which has arisen in the modern market-governed, technology-driven, profit-oriented, globalized corporate capitalism?     The invasion of privacy of the home and hearth and the consequent destruction of the intimate relationship of family life caused by the revolution in information technology and cybernetics have gone so far That what happens in our bed rooms is open to the public gaze and the sweet and cordial relationship between husband and wife and between father and son has been made a subject of legal scrutiny under the guise of right to information and prevention of domestic violence. The increasing incursion of coercive legal enactments has removed the moral space and cordial atmosphere in which mutual adjustment, self-compromise, reconciliation and persuasion had much significance in domestic life, and far from serving the cause of happiness and harmony in family life, has created conditions in which every little misunder-standing or disagreement becomes an occasion for litigation and endless dissatisfaction.            We are generally led to believe that the Development of modern science and technology, ‘the Scientific temper’ as it is called, enables us to solve our human problems, social justice being its main ingredient in due course of time. But this, it must be said once and for all, is nothing but a grand illusion of the modern world. Leo Toltoy, followed by one of the greatest philosophers of modern times, Ludwig Wittgenstein, was of the view that even if science and technology could succeed in solving all their problems, the problem of man would not have even been touched. This, our leaders and intellectuals must clearly understand. Science andtechnology have nothing to do with the idea of justice or of good life. They are only the means, that too of very doubtful nature, and not ends in themselves.       In the light of the above, the seminar may be divided into four sections. The first two sections may be devoted to the theoretical – philosophical examination of the subject on the lines suggested above. In the next two sections the relevance of the theoretical discussion can be taken up in the context of the Indian situation with especial reference to Gandhi, Nehru and Ambedkar. But the difference between Gandhi and other the two thinkers must be clearly emphasized. Gandhi was totally opposed to the modern technologically oriented society. His theory was based on the concept of love, Non-violence and Civil Disobedience, all being based on firm belief in God and his infinite Grace. Nehru and Ambedkar are modernists. Though Nehru realized very late in life what He called the  “disease of gigantism” , it was too Late by then. The disease of gigantism, big dams, big power projects, big industries, the Dominance of multinational corporations etc., have nothing to do with the problem of social justice. We know how disastrous has been the policy of constructing big dams. They have rendered countless people homeless and deprived them of theirs means of livelihood, besides causing ecological crisis of unprecedented and unmanageable magnitude. Economists like Amartya Sen do recognize that economic growth by itself is no remedy foe ills of our society. Globalization and privatization are all right, they think. There must, however, be a national safety net to protect the local economy. They forget that the boundary line between the national segment and globalization will be drawn by globalization itself.           Then we may take the question of Reservation, its genesis, growth and future possibilities. We must clearly understand that reservation is not theEssence of social justice; nor is its indefinite continuance likely to bring out a really just social order. It was intended by the framers of Constitution to be a temporary measure to help those sections of society who had suffered in the past on account of certain abuses and distortion That had crept in society. Its purpose was to redress the grievances of those who had for centuries been subjected to unjust and discriminatory treatment and had no chance of getting their due as human beings simply by equality before law or equal opportunity granted to them by the Constitution. They had to be compensated, it was thought, for their suffering and neglect over a long period of time which had rendered them incapable of taking advantage of the of the ordinary legal provisions on account of their lowly social status and abject poverty. In other words, they required some initial push to enable them to catch up with the higher sections of society to compete with them on equal and fair terms. This was thought to be required by the principle of equity and natural justice. Ruskin’s principle of ‘unto This Last’ or vUR;ksn; of Gadhian thought or ‘worst off’ in society may be invoked here, though, as we have already said, it must be remembered that these principles had different Philosophical implications and were based on different premises. Rawls’s Theory is a theory of individualism, a modified version of the post- Utilitarian or hedonist, consequentiality theories of justice in the light of so called ‘Kantian Constructivism’, While vUR;ksn; and Ruskin’s theory have an altogether different, that is ethical or idealistic, and deontological, foundations. However, our main point at this stage of argument is that reservation was without any shadow of doubt intended to be temporary measure, a stop gap arrangement. What actually happened was that the politicians of post-independent India found in it a convenient tool in their scramble for power and acquisitiveness. Incidentally it may not be quite impertinent to mention that India never gained Independence or Freedom in the real sense. What happened in1947 was just a transfer of power from one set of rulers to another. Is it not known to people that Jawaharlal Nehru once proclaimed himself to be the “last Englishman to ruler India”?  Social Justice is not a flat uniformitarian concept which can be applied In all cases in a mechanical manner. It is a highly nuanced and complicated idea with varied application; it is not a ready-made formulae Which can be applied uniformly to all spheres of social life. This is not to outlook the complexity of the “complex equality” but to suggest the need for exploring the idea of reservation in the light of Spheres of Justice.   We could like to close with a few words on an important aspect of social justice: the subject that is known as the emancipation and empowerment of women. Feminism in our days has grown in to a full fledged philosophy of life and the issue that it raises are extremely complex and baffling. But a discussion on this will require a separate paper which we may expect in the present seminar. In brief, I can only say that the subject is very complicated and it has passed through several phases which must be taken into account. It is not only a question of equality between man and women. We know that the feminists are opposed to the idea of universal justice and human rights as propounded by political philosophers like Rawls. Respect for women, their rightful place in society, maintenance of their dignity and opportunity for the development of their potentialities, all this is never in dispute. In a traditional society like ours women have always been held in high esteem. They are an integral part of humanity. Lord Siva is called v)Zukjh”oj] that is half man and half women, Parvati being an integral part of  his personality. The whole universe is comprised of Prakriti and Purusa of which the two sexes are expression on the human plane. Women are epitome of exquisite beauty, charm, sanctity, grace, kindness and they are the object of worship. In fact the world cannot be conceived without them. They function in a variety of ways, as mothers, wives, daughters and sisters and they bestow their charms on whoever comes in their contact. But feminism as conceptualized and practiced today signifies the end of womanhood. It spells the doom of family life, uproots  women from their homes, throws them out to the vagaries of open market which Treats them as commodities for enjoyment and satisfaction of carnal pleasure. What the feminists want is a “gender free” society, a society in which ultimately marriage and family ties would be contractual and there would spring up “a universal market in bodies and service” (Pateman) to provide the services presently available in marriage. The division between  men and women, according to this view, is not natural; it is just a social construct. According to Julia Kristeva, “The belief that ‘one is a women’ is almost as absurd and obscurantist as the belief that’ one is man’.” One feminist has clearly stated that feminism is the theory, lesbianism is the practice. This may seem to be an overstatement. But it reveals the logical implications of the complete emancipation of women which I have called the end of womanhood. We are often told by some models and film actresses that their only ambition is to get easy money and that there is no harm in exposing their bodies or strip teasing if it brings them emotional satisfaction, popularity and opulence.     Modern feminism on a close examination turns out to be debasement of the dignity, charm, piety, grace, kindness and honour of womanhood under the pretext of emancipation and empowerment of women. This is the seamy side of the movement that is gaining momentum these days all over the world. Its proponents do not understand the meaning of beauty and love for which women are known, admired and worshipped. There is striking sentence of Schuon’s in one of his books which merits attention here: “The beauty of a man is his intelligence, and the intelligence of a women ie her beauty.” It is not easy to explain the meaning of this aphorism, but I deem it to express the same idea as “beauty is the splendor of the true.” Both Truth and Beauty, like man and women, are principally  identical but appear different at the cosmogonist plane. They are, so to say, complementary aspects of the same primordial unity. Sexual differentiation, bipolarity of man and women, is the very condition of the manifestation of the sexless Unity of Reality. At another place Schoun observes: Women manifests beauty as such, so much so that there is no beauty superior to hers, when   when contingency has not separated her from her prototype; and thus one may discern in beauty as such features of femininity, of passive perfection, of virginal purity, of maternal generosity; of goodness and love.4
References:-1. Emil Brunner, Justice and the Social Order (London: Lutterworth Press,1945), 472. John Rawls, ‘Kantian Constructivism in Moral Theory’ in Collected Papers, ed. Samuel Freeman (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1999), 3023. Hannah Arendt, The Human Conditions (Garden City, New York: Doubleday Anchor Books, Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1959) 43, 33.4. Frithjof Schoun, The Play of masks (Bloomington, Indiana: World Wisdom Books, INC,1992), 45, fn.2.      5. The Whole discussion is based on the key note address delivered by Late Prof. Raghuveer Singh on the National Seminar on The Concept of social Justice Sponsored by University Grants Commission (Dec.-17-18,2006) Hoasted by National PG College, Lucknow.

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