What did the “father of modern economics,” Adam Smith, actually think about slavery?
The Deluded Cult of Social Justice
“Justice,” wrote Pascal in the Pensées, “is as much a matter of fashion as charm.” The truth of the 17th-century mathematician and theologian’s observation is richly corroborated at present. Seldom have the demands of justice been so manifestly faddish. Increasingly, justice is seen as not an attribute of legal systems but of entire societies. At the same time it is believed to be owed to groups more than individuals. In these circumstances, everything depends on whether the group to which people are deemed to be belong is in vogue.
Tibetans are no longer à la mode, though the destruction of their civilisation by the Chinese state continues, and few opinion-formers consider the persecution of Christians in the Middle East worth mentioning. Little is heard any more of the Yazidi, despite their still being a target of genocide by Isis. The Kurds are receiving media attention following their betrayal by Trump, but it will surely not be long before they are re-forgotten. Being identified as a victim of injustice has become a kind of privilege, handed out to favoured groups and denied to others according to the shifting diktats of progressive opinion.
A certain arbitrariness goes with demands for social justice. Possibly for this reason, SJWs (social justice warriors) are intolerant of criticism. In the US, anyone who argues that despairing Appalachian proles might be more deserving of concern than middle-class student protesters is condemned as a white supremacist, and their views suppressed. The suggestion that individuals and groups may suffer different degrees and kinds of injustice is rejected as reactionary thinking. Overthrow the prevailing power structures, and injustice will simply vanish. Anyone who questions this vision is not just wrong but evil.
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