New social contract; old strategy: Part 1: Rousseau style social justice
By Debra Rae
Following the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Brazil (Rio+20, June 2012), UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay commended its broad inclusion of human rights provisions—i.e., rights to development, adequate standard of living, food, water, sanitation, health, education, social protection, labor, justice, equality, and sexuality.
For this, the Conference's outcome earned a nickname, "the Rio surprise." Rio+20 rethought development strategies and business practices toward ensuring a sustainable, equitable future for all world citizens. In effect, the conference introduced a new social contract compelling folks to rethink the nature of social relationships and interactions.
New Social Contract
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's message to the 2012 World Day of Social Justice was this: "Let us work together to balance the global economy and build a new social contract for the 21st century. Let us chart a development path that leads to greater social justice and the future we want." The social contract theory to which he referred was taken from the playbook of 18th-century Swiss-French philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
Rousseau embraced two distinct social contract theories—the first an evolutionary, "naturalized" account; the second, "normative." Viewed together they mirror our moral and political circumstances. Rousseau ceded that folks start out in solitary. Nature supplies their relatively few needs. Hence, their simple, non-competitive lives remain free from conflict; and goodwill prevails. Over time, folks band into families (later, communities), whereupon increased leisure time fosters comparisons one with the other. Along with public values, ownership of private property and social classes emerge and thereby foment greed.
The eventual establishment of government guarantees protection of private property, but the naturalized social contract, described above, bears responsibility for inequality. Afforded freedom and equality by nature, folks become corrupted and, as a result, they reconstitute politically. Employing strongly democratic principles, political structures govern how folks live together allegedly free of domination by others. It was Rousseau's contention that this is accomplished only when we submit our individual wills to its collective counterpart serving the common good.
On the surface, social justice sounds magnanimous, even obligatory; however, sustainable development speaks to "spreading around" the benefits of greener products and services. In the name of fairness, the new social contract purposes to "balance the global economy" by employing the Robin Hood approach of taking from the "rich" to give to the "poor."
The purported enemy to global social justice—namely, America's free enterprise (or free market) system—uses private capital in business (no problem here), and profits go to private companies and individuals, rather than to the world's needy (herein lies the problem). Today's not-so-new global mindset is "from each according to ability; to each according to need." You know, communism.
Today, world citizens by the millions voice discontentment with their lot in life, and they demand for themselves an equitable slice of the prosperity pie. They are, after all, entitled; but at a price. Although communism endorses redistribution of wealth and a sort of egalitarianism, it nonetheless elevates few elitists to the status of being "more equal" than others and thereby creates conditions for a Stalin or Hitler to come to power. Not a good plan. Recall that communists are responsible for more mass murders than the combined number of deaths tallied in all modern wars, and practices within Hitler's Germany defy imagination.
Even so, the same tactic Hitler used to overcome Germany—namely, class struggle—is likewise being used today. Alinsky took the best of Gramchi and the Fabian Socialists in order to bring about the Cloward–Piven Strategy to destroy capitalism. Well known by radicals in the 1960s, the Crisis Strategy is to overload the system with unsustainable entitlements that accompany open borders.
Social Justice Issues (Culture of Abundance and Discrimination)
Ostensibly an American evangelical Christian writer, the Rev. Jim Wallis is best known as founding editor of Sojourners magazine, also the D.C.-based community of the same name. He is a political activist whose primary support is from the progressive religious left, focus for which is social justice. Wallis was involved in the radical, leftwing Students for a Democratic Society, and now serves as a spiritual advisor to President Barack Obama.
Wallis maintains that Christ resides in the poor, who are just waiting to be served; and ours is a global mandate to eliminate their poverty. Even though America has proven to be the most generous nation on earth, Wallis' social justice platform is said by Deepak Chopra to represent "a quantum leap in American consciousness."
Culture of Abundance
Canadian billionaire and Rio Earth Summit Secretary-general (1992), Maurice Strong accepts that global ecosystems will be preserved only when affluent nations lower their standards of living to counter the culture of abundance. This is because all human activities like eating meat, having air conditioning, and using appliances are, well, unsustainable.
Achieving social justice globally is integrally linked to realizing the agreed global development goals articulated at the Copenhagen Social Summit, the Millennium Summit, and elsewhere. To merit the coveted status of "sustainable," enlightened communities first must limit growth, eliminate suburbs, establish ethnic/economic equality, and curtail consumption patterns consistent with America's prosperous middle class.
Having written many brochures and speeches for the Fabian Society, George Bernard Shaw emerged as an accomplished orator in the furtherance of socialist causes. In the bogus name of gaining equal rights for men and women, alleviating abuses of the working class, and promoting healthy lifestyles, Shaw favored rescinding private ownership of productive land. Not only did he support Stalin, he also believed in Hitler's eugenic dream to improve the human race through selective reproduction. All the same, Shaw's tired ideals are being recycled to this day.
Recall President Barak Obama's interactive web campaign ad, "The Life of Julia," a mythical cartoon of "everywoman." Rather than portray Julia as an autonomous, rugged individual capable of finding her own way, Julia instead views government as her national sugar daddy, delivering free money and goodies up and down the life cycle. To discriminate is to mark distinctions—i.e., between autonomy and dependency. That being the case, the real discrimination here is between a semi-helpless dependent and the Nanny State that claims to know what's best for her.
Discrimination Against Indigenous Peoples
A subsidiary body of the Economic and Social Council, the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues addresses economic and social development, as well as human rights, pertaining to indigenous peoples. So inclusive are universal rights, entitlements, and justice that, now, the forum has established a Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth. (Yes, Gaia has rights, too!)
Indeed, eco-theologian Father Thomas Berry affirms that every component of the earth community has three rights: (1) the right to be, (2) the right to habitat, and (3) the right to fulfill its role. Only when GNP (Gross National Product) is replaced with GNH (Gross National Happiness) will everyone's rights be realized. Allegedly, this is accomplished by (1) spreading wealth, (2) mobilizing green jobs, and (3) combining Earth Rights with Keynesian economics (calling for big government).
Started in South America in the turbulent 1950's, Black Liberation Theology likewise emphasizes wealth redistribution. Bolstered in 1968 at the Second Latin American Bishops Conference, Colombia, the movement today fights for social justice and calls for total liberation of black people from racism, capitalism, and imperialism. The theology's primary architect in North America, Jim Cone recognizes the value of a Marxist critique of the capitalist system.
Civil religionists, as Cone, believe that "Black Power, even in its most radical expression, is Christ's central message to twentieth-century America." In Cone's simplistic, highly inflammatory terms: "To be oppressed is to be black; and to be an oppressor is to be white." Discarding biblical truth that, with God, there is no respect of persons (whether black or white, male or female), Black Liberation theologians effectively discriminate in the name of nondiscrimination.
Considered by many to be the founder of the modern American gay rights movement, the late Henry "Harry" Hay started the Mattachine Society, the country's first gay rights organization that operated largely underground. In the 1970s, Hay formed a gay men's spiritual group, the Radical Faeries. Now out of the proverbial closet, gays still portray themselves as victims of religious bigotry. Furthermore, upon demonstrating for their human right to marry, gays claim to have been unfairly subjected to economic boycotts. Truth told, gays are hard pressed to claim financial oppression in that they rank among America's most educated and affluent subgroup. Though some call this characterization a myth, the "gay-friendly" marketing firm, Rainbow Referrals, confirms higher household incomes among gays.
It's broadly accepted that global need for social justice demands a new social contract, one that entails a collectivist mindset. On Christmas Day 2000, Mikhail Gorbachev wrote a letter to then President George W. Bush. Published in the Washington Post, this communiqué insisted that America's claim to hegemony is not recognized worldwide, nor is America's extraordinary privilege tenable over the long run.
To create this "New Paradigm," US policy must yield to that of an allegedly superior, transnational federal government stripped of the worldwide system of checks and balances inherent in sovereign nation-states. History is clear: Though dusted off and recycled, the old collectivist strategy, when applied to a new social contract, is destined yet again to fail miserably.
Debra Rae is a regular contributor to The Intellectual Conservative. © 2012