Untrue Things People Believe
This is the second article addressing those things most people believe that are not true introduced in the article, "Most Of What You Believe Is Not True." To see all the articles, or any other one, please see the Index.
Justice is the relationship between one's choices and actions and the consequences of those choices and actions. The consequences of one's actions are always just so long as those consequences do not involve any interference by other human beings. I will call this, "real justice," because when there is no human interference, reality alone determines the consequences of one's actions. Reality penalizes all wrong acts and rewards all right ones. Right acts are those that conform to the nature of reality. Wrong acts are those in defiance of the nature of reality.
Almost all popular views of what justice means are contradictions of real justice. All political justice not only contradicts real justice but defies it.
What Is Reality
If real justice is determined by the nature of reality I suppose I'm obligated to explain what I mean by reality. I will not, however, allow this to be a philosophical explanation.
Reality is all there is, the way it is. It is all that exists, with all the things that exist having the exact nature they have.
"Reality is immutable, absolute, and ruthless. Immutable means the nature of reality cannot be changed or ever be other than what it is. Absolute means reality is complete and unconditional; it is all there is and is not contingent on anything. Ruthless means reality determines what is true and not true, and no human feelings, desires, choices, acts, beliefs, or wishes can change it." [From the introduction to my unpublished philosophy.]
Reality includes all physical things which we can directly perceive or indirectly know from what we perceive; all living things, the life of which cannot be perceived; all conscious things, the consciousness of which cannot be perceived; and all human beings, the conscious volitional mind of which cannot be perceived.
[NOTE: To say anymore about reality would require a philosophical discussion I do not intend to indulge. If you are truly interested in the philosophical basis for these assertions, they are fully discussed in my last philosophical work published here, How We Know, particularly the chapters, Ontology, Life, and Consciousness.]
The world clamors for justice, but it is really not justice they want. All the horrors and sufferings in the world that are thought to be injustices are actually real justice. The two sections of, "Never Take Any Of It Seriously," "Justice Prevails," and "One Gets What One Deserves," describe the real justice everyone hates.
Nobody really wants to know what reality is, because reality is not nice:
- The real world is a very difficult place to live.
- There are no shortcuts to life, success or happiness.
- You must earn everything by your own effort.
- Anything less than your best is failure.
- You cannot do wrong and get away with it.
- There is no forgiveness.
- There is no mercy.
- Neither your feelings nor your desires matter.
Because the world hates true justice, the philosophers, academics, and politicians have invented their own versions of justice, because they are much nicer, much easier to swallow, and excuse almost every human failing. Most of the following are descriptions of those false views of justice.
Justice And Rights
The wrong views of justice are frequently couched in language invoking rights which was the subject of the previous article. Since there is no such thing as rights, any view of justice which uses rights as a premise is automatically untrue.
The Religious View
The majority of people in this world are religious, and for most of those, their understanding of what justice means is determined by their religious beliefs. Most believe justice is dictated by their God.
The Christian view of justice is dangerous, but mostly for Christians. Their view of justice includes the belief that one can do wrong and get away with it. That's not how they say it, of course. They call it forgiveness, which means whatever terrible or evil things one has done, they do not have to face the consequences for their acts if they just confess them to God (Catholics) and repent (Protestants). [Yes I know this is a simplification.]
Most people believe cutting off peoples' hands and feet for minor offenses or cutting of their heads for believing the wrong thing is unjust. Muslims, on the other hand, believe lopping of hands, feet, and heads are acts of justice.
Those who believe justice is dictated by God can 'justify' almost anything. Muslims believe they are acting justly when they cut people's hands and feet off for minor offenses or cut their heads off for denying their God.
Since this article is not about religion, but justice, this subject will be covered further in the article on Religion.
Justice And Natural Law
If Natural Law meant the principles which describe reality, a theory of justice based on that would be the truth, or at least very close to the truth. That is not what it means, unfortunately, but it is still better than most theories.
The natural law view of justice essentially views justice as similar to the natural laws of physics, for example. Just as the third of Newton's laws of motion says for every action there must be an equal and opposite reaction, justice requires that every human action must receive what that action deserves. This is very similar to real justice. The problem is, the natural law view assumes that it is human beings who must determine what every action deserves and administer the just distribution.
This, in fact, is the problem with almost all wrong views of justice—it is the view that justice is something human beings must do, when in fact, almost anything human beings do to administer justice violates real justice.
Distributive And Commutative Justice
These both have the same fault as the natural law view of justice.
Distributive justice means that rewards and punishments must be distributed to each individual according to the individual's merits.
Commutative justice means that every individual must receive what is deserved so that no individual gains by another's loss.
Who decides who merits rewards and who merits punishments, and by what standard? Who decides what every individual deserves or whether or not one individual's gain is another individual's loss? No one can decide such things. Only reality determines them, not some self-appointed judge.
Retributive justice is partly the basis of what is called Penal law. The principle of retributive justice is that someone who does something bad deserves to have something bad done to them. The bad thing done to them is called punishment.
While reality itself never allows wrong actions to go unpunished, the consequences of wrong actions reality is responsible for are always commensurate with the nature of the wrong act. Human beings throughout history have been their most inventive when designing new and more horrid forms punishment.
The correct names for retibutive justice are retaliation and revenge and have little to do with correcting wrong, and everything to do with satisfying the cruel lusts of the self-righteous.
Retributive justice will be addressed more fully in the article on penal law.
Social justice is an oxymoron. Just as morals or ethics pertain only to individuals, only individuals are the subjects of justice, and only individual's actions are just or unjust.
All relationships of moral individuals with others are just ones. Moral individuals neither desires or seek anything they have not acquired or achieved by their own effort, never seek or require from others what has not been earned, never interfere in others' lives, and ask nothing from others except that they refrain from interfering in their lives. Moral individuals are never a threat to any other individuals, except to those who choose not to deal morally with them.
Any view that makes justice a social issue, determined by some supposed social values, subordinates individuals to something outside themselves and either violates the freedom and autonomy of individuals, or provides an excuse for some to live or gain at the expense and oppression of others. Every view of social justice is a contradiction of real justice.
Fairness is one of those squishy concepts that is a favorite of politicians, academics, and so-called social scientists, because it can be squeezed into almost any meaning that allows social engineers to manipulate people.
Just anything that anyone wants or wishes for but has not earned for themselves, when others have, can be claimed on the basis of fairness. There is always some excuse for claiming that it is not fair for some to have or enjoy something that others do not have or cannot enjoy. It's not fair! It does not matter that those who have whatever is claimed to be unfair that others who have earned or produced what they have, and that those who do not have it do not have it because they were unwilling or unable to make the effort to achieve or acquire it.
The specious argument is always, "But what if, through no fault of their own, they cannot make the kind of effort required to have the desired thing?" Whatever it is, if they truly cannot do what is required to have and enjoy what they want, they must just do without it. No one's inability gives them a claim on others' lives or anything else.
Reality is what it is. If you want to go somewhere, you must use your own resources to get there: drive your own car; or if you do not have a car, take a bus; or if you do not have the money for a bus or no bus is available, walk; if you cannot walk, stay home. Your inability is not a claim to anyone else providing you transportation. In real life, most people are generous, and someone will probably offer you a ride, but no one has a claim to such things or any "right" to expect it.
The idea of fairness is almost always a contradiction of reality. It's not fair that some people have more money than others. It's not fair that some people can walk and others cannot. It's not fair that some people can breathe and other's cannot. It's not fair that some people live over a hundred years and others die before sixty. Whatever it is that is meant by, "not fair," any attempt to make such things, "fair," will be a violation of real justice.
Justice and Government
The argument for all governments, when governments bother making one, is alway to institute justice. Government justice is always a violation of real justice. Government justice is a promise to provide what reality does not provide: the unearned and the undeserved; and it is on the basis of that promise that all modern governments are put over. Government justice is always a violation of real justice.
Justice Is An Almost Useless Concept
The absurdity of all these views of justice is obvious to any truly rational person. There is only one kind of justice, real justice. It is ruthless and hard, but when embraced, it is the source of all that is good and worth living for.
Since it is almost never real justice that is meant, almost everything that is said about justice, all the movements and programs that are promoted as "fighting for justice," every politician that promises to restore justice, and every government action taken in the name of justice flies in the face of real justice. The moment some self-styled authority starts talking about justice, you know it never has to be taken seriously.