Saturday, 28 December 2013

Justice as the job of State

Simonides said in regards to Justice that "the repayment of debt is just".

But it cannot be just if that repayment causes you greater harm.

Justice is, or should be, the balancing of rights and obligations. And whilst you might be obliged to repay a debt, you also have a right to be kept from harm.

The business model of credit companies playing odds on their customers being less scrupulous and more spendthrift, where they thrive on others' misfortune, cannot ever be called just.

It is obvious then that a person behaves "justly" when they are ABLE to repay a debt and then does so.

But it is "juster" still if the debt never need be taken in the first instance. For then the problem of being "when able" becomes a non-problem.

From this we can glean that irrespective of our definition of it, justice can take many forms and have many levels.

And that it is rather easier for us to say that injustice is "the withholding of payment of debt whilst you have the means". That therefore justice is and should be the norm whilst injustice is something to be hated and reviled.

This leads us a more proper definition of justice as pervading where injustice dissipates. And then that the doing of justice, in order to earn the appellation of "being just", is the removal of injustice. It is not a singular thing in itself but becomes when a person fights against wrong. And this is why Harun ar-Rashid (rh) was called both just and the fifth rightly guided.

When we consider that whilst we might call an individual "just", as in a just King or Ruler, it can never be that a sole individual can have the power to remove injustice. That is even the case when we concentrate on one solitary injustice and ignore wholesale injustices.

This because every act to remove an injustice can quite easily be thwarted by further injustice.
It is not enough to follow one act of justice with myriad acts of injustice.

And so Harun ar-Rashid (as) was called just because he restored Jizya to its rightful place and nobody could dispute with that. That act could not be followed by further injustice because his job was to restore what was in the first place, and was recognised as being such by all.

Whereas the Allies when they deposed Sadam freed the political prisoners, only later to incarcerate a greater people within their jails without recourse to Law. Irrespective of their first act, no one could claim that they were just.

And furthermore, even to forgive a debt may not be called "just" if it leads not to the debtor's improvement but yet still deepens his irresponsibility and dependency. Rather he should be the recipient of an ongoing charity that may be small but keeps him whole.

And therefore we might agree with Plato that justice, or the removal of injustice, is the responsibility of people as a whole and not of individuals.

That it is a job of state.
But should not be the job of law.
See: Justice and Law


(ADDED LATER on 29//12/13.)
What is further clear is that Simonides classification of justice as a means debt repayment is clearly a one sided treatment in favour of the haves. It does nothing to tell us about the justice due to the have-nots.

Is Justice not for them who have not? And if Justice provides a balance between rights and obligations, then what right is due to the have nots, by way of being?

These are examined in the prior post. (See link above).

But what is clear from the treatment above is that injustice is a greater and more powerful relation than justice.
That does not affect my belief that justice is, and should be seen as, the norm.

And that society and the state should be charged with the fight against injustice.

That justice is not for the creditor but for the people as a whole.

And the creditor who would seek to use justice as a means of pursuing debt should be known as unjust. Since justice is not a word to be bandied about for individual selfish ends. Rather justice is like the mother who on suffering the fate of seeing her son or daughter wronged, pursues it so that no one would suffer as she did. Or the son who craves to see his father released from an unjust incarceration. These are real examples. And politics should be in the job of helping them realise those ends, and not thwarting them as is so often the case.

At last, the collection of debt might be a right which when exercised could lead to injustice. Therefore the exercise of a right does not necessarily lead to justice, and can in fact be unjust.

A sobering thought in our society full of rights, and full too of obligations made law by our politicians. Whose job it should not.



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