Social Justice, Socialism and Democracy: Three Australian Lectures

“The term “social justice” is today generally used as a synonym of what used to be called “distributive justice”. The latter term perhaps gives a somewhat better idea of what is intended to be meant by it, and at the same time shows why it can have no applications to the results of a market order. There can be no distributive justice where no one distributes. Justice has meaning only as a rule of human conduct, and no conceivable rules for the conduct of individual persons supplying each other with goods and services in a market order would produce a distribution which could be meaningfully described as just or unjust.”

“Socialism is related to Science in various ways. Probably the least interesting relation today is that from which Marxism lays claim to the name of “scientific socialism”; and according to which by an inner necessity, and without men doing anything about it, capitalism develops into socialism. This may still impress some novices, but it is hardly any longer taken seriously by competent thinkers in either camp. Socialists certainly do not act as if they believed that the transition from capitalism to socialism will be brought about by an ineluctable law of social evolution. Few people now believe in the existence of any “historical laws””.

“The advent of democracy in the last century brought a decisive change in the range of governmental powers. For centuries efforts had been directed towards limiting the power of government; and the gradual development of Constitutions served no other purpose than this. Suddenly it was believed that the control of government by elected representatives of the majority made any other checks on the powers of government unnecessary, so that all the various Constitutional safeguards which had been developed in the course of time would be dispensed with. Thus arose unlimited democracy – and it is unlimited democracy, not just democracy, which is the problem of today.”