Socialists of all parties have learned to live with markets because they want the prosperity that market competition can deliver. Disillusioned with state control over the economy, they aspire to achieve instead ‘social justice’, that is, the equalisation of the capacity to consume. In this Occasional Paper, David Green challenges the pursuit of social justice on three grounds:
- It is based on a shallow and materialistic conception of human nature that ignores unpriced and unrewarded voluntary human services;
- It has transformed democracy into a selfish vote-buying process in which the state bribes people with their own money;
- By increasing taxation, especially for the low-paid, it has transferred power, not from the rich to the poor, but from all individuals to the state.
Liberals should counter the rhetoric of social justice by restoring the moral dimension of capitalism to its proper place in political debate. Rather than encouraging greed and selfishness, the institutions of the free society foster personal responsibility and promote benevolence without also politicising every walk of life.