Friday, November 29, 2013

Matters of justice are not necessarily matters of government

I've seen this come up twice recently - the idea that if an issue is one of 'justice' then automatically it's an issue where the government should intervene.

I disagree, of course. I think the government can reasonably be involved in some issues of justice, sure - but I think what's going on here is that people want to get to the 'and now the government should get involved!' part of the discussion as soon as humanly possible, spending as little time as they must on ever discussing (or justifying) such intervention. So we're starting to see 'Justice means the men with guns need to be in on this!'

Respectfully, no. It does not. Human beings can and should handle some issues of 'justice' without the government doing a damn thing. Again, this seems pretty central to the Christian view as Christ communicated it.

7 comments:

Gyan said...

"if an issue is one of 'justice' then automatically it's an issue where the government should intervene."

There is nothing automatic. My point was- if the matter concerns justice, then the State may justly intervene.

So, there is nothing 'should' here; only 'may'.

There is a tendency to mean by govt only the federal govt, but even a village council is a govt and is governed by exactly the same principles as the federal govt.

Crude said...

There is nothing automatic. My point was- if the matter concerns justice, then the State may justly intervene.

I'm denying that, at least if 'justly' entails meaning 'reasonably'.

There is a tendency to mean by govt only the federal govt, but even a village council is a govt and is governed by exactly the same principles as the federal govt.

Unfortunately this tendency is in force among modern political liberals to an extreme.

Gyan said...

I don't think we disagree--'justly' does not mean 'reasonably.

Welfare of the deserving poor is anciently recognized as a State duty--all the exhortations in Bible about the kings that did their duty towards widows and orphans are NOT exhortations for charity but obligations in justice.

It is necessary to keep this distinction between State justice and private charity.

Crude said...

Welfare of the deserving poor is anciently recognized as a State duty--all the exhortations in Bible about the kings that did their duty towards widows and orphans are NOT exhortations for charity but obligations in justice.

I'm not so sure this translates well. Kings have different duties than presidents, to start off with.

Also, something else you said bothers me. You said that these are matters of 'justice', and that matters of 'justice' are matters of 'government'. But then you left open the level of government in question - federal, state, local, etc.

But if government is so broadly defined, then it seems like matters of justice are not necessarily matters of government. Can singular individuals have any duties of justice to other individuals?

Gyan said...

Certainly, there are obligations on individual and family levels. You are obliged to save a drowning individual even though he be a stranger and not a citizen with you. A father has obligations to his children and so on.

The City, and family and the individual are, I repeat, irreducible levels of human organization.

The king is like a father to his people, while in republic, there is rule among equals such that individuals rule and are ruled in turns.

But in the matter of justice and the duties of the ruler, there is no difference.

Crude said...

But in the matter of justice and the duties of the ruler, there is no difference.

I just do not see it, Gyan. I think those duties depend on the powers, and what powers the ruler should have in a republic should be limited. Again, this goes back to Chesterton himself via distributivism. I don't think this is an abandonment of justice, but the proper placing of it.

In fact, taking that power from the ruler may be justice itself.

Gyan said...

"what powers the ruler should have in a republic should be limited"

Monarchs don't have unlimited powers.

"A man should rule his wife politically, his children monarchically and his slaves despotically"

Aristotle-Politics.

Monarchical rule is ordered to the good for the ruled. The despotic rule to the good of the ruler only.