A while back, in a private correspondence with a conservative blogger about what the Left means when it talks about “social justice”, I wrote the following:
Daniel Dennett once wrote that “if you make yourself small enough, you can externalize everything”. The central principle of liberal “justice”, and of Rawlsian justice, is exactly that: to view the individual not as as an originating agent of free choices, with all the responsibility for the resulting outcomes that free choice entails — but rather as a social infinitesimal, whose freedom, and therefore personal responsibility, is diminished effectively to zero by the nexus of external causes in which he is embedded: racism, gender stereotypes, corporate greed, economic inequality, political favoritism, institutionalized (and even unconscious) prejudices, and so on.
Dennis Prager has said that “the bigger the State, the smaller the citizen”, but this goes even farther: at the logical endpoint of the liberal, Rawlsian view it is not until all intrinsic aspects of individual advantage have been externalized, and thereby compensated for in the social framework, that a truly ‘just’ society will have been achieved. If Smith is congenitally smarter, more future-oriented, and more industrious than Jones, then he will end up being better off than Jones. But behind the Rawlsian “veil of ignorance”, one cannot choose in advance what inborn advantages one will have, so by Rawls’s logic the just society must be one in which such natural inequalities cannot confer an advantage.
Ultimately, under such a philosophy the individual human being vanishes altogether.
I was reminded of this today when I ran across an item in the news about the poor woman who was brained a while ago by a shopping cart tossed off a shopping-mall balcony by two “teens”. The article, which you can read here, opens with the following sentence (my emphasis):
The husband of a Manhattan real-estate agent left with severe injuries after a shopping cart was dropped on her head from an East Harlem parking garage claims lax security caused the devastating accident.
That’s it: no human agency, no shred of responsibility ascribed to the attackers themselves for their brutal assault of an innocent woman. The whole thing just comes down to an “accident” due to “lax security” on the part of a corporate entity.
The individual human being vanishes altogether.