Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.
A fascinating video from Prager University with Jonah Goldberg noting that liberals tend to use social justice as a catch phrase to pursue a new program by government. In that context the phrase has little meaning with as little substance as saying “I support policy A and policy A is “good”.”
Regrettably, social justice in contemporary Catholicism is used in precisely the same way. When that phrase is used by Catholics today it almost always means that “I see a problem and this government program is a way to address this problem. If you disagree you are a hard hearted heretic and do not believe in the Social Justice teachings of the Church!” At bottom the argument is really not much more sophisticated than that in most cases when the social justice bat is wielded by Catholics, usually, but not always, on the port side of politics, at least on economic issues. The bleakly hilarious aspect of this is that Catholics, above most other groups, should recall what an enemy Caesar has often been to the Church down through the centuries. The idea of constantly enhancing the power of the State should be anathema to all Catholics. Instead, the first impulse of many modern Catholics, especially in issues related to the poor, is to scream for Caesar to do something about it. This is a betrayal of not only common sense, but the traditional Catholic understanding that we all have a duty to personally help our less fortunate brothers and sisters, and that we cannot simply shuffle off the duty to Caesar. We also have the problem that anti-poverty programs run by Caesar tend to be immensely expensive, wasteful and counterproductive, but that is a subject for another post.