More on revolution, social justice, and bare necessities

Juliana Shearer julie at
Wed Sep 9 17:40:15 PDT 1998

Doyle: Thanks for responding to me at such length again. You put the problem well, though unintentionally so, when you say:

"How can I possibly get across something about what I believe in, that is social justice, if the content of what you say is replete with racist jargon, and chauvinist concepts of who makes revolution?"

This is *exactly* what I was trying to point out. These are not my own conceptions I am reporting; they are the expressed beliefs of most worker types that I run into that bother to talk to me. My brother-in-law is a union plumber, and this is the sort of thing he spoughts at holiday gatherings.

If you want to spend a long time explaining to people like this exactly why there is no social justice, and how there can be social justice if we just band together, you will almost inevitably run into a barrier. I would like to think better of humanity, but I just don't. Whether due to nature (I doubt more than a small amount) or nurture (probably a lot), people are selfish, look to the short-term, won't make very big sacrifices for non-relatives, etc.

American society is based on the protection of individual rights, which usually works out to be the protection of a person's right not to be intruded on by other people. A radical change in our society such that there is more social justice must entail some infringing on this, thus it will be hard to get going.

I am not saying that nobody should try to speak to people about revolution. In a way I am expressing my admiration for people who try, since I see it as such an uphill battle. I agree for the most part with Marxian analytical techniques and ideas. But I believe that there must be *some* compromise. Small (or even baby steps) are needed. Most social change is carried out in this way, rather than through carrying out sweeping plans.

If this seems like an apologia for university professors and others, so be it. I understand what you are trying to say, Doyle, but I just don't believe that there is anything that *requires* people to suggest things. It would be nice if everyone has answers to what they complain about, but that just doesn't happen.

I'm not sure that this argument Doyle and I are having is very worthwhile. I would be interested, however, in discussing peoples' conceptions of social justice, if there are any takers on that one...

Also, Doug suggested that it is more important to furnish others with food and other basic necessities than to furnish them with trade opportunities. Can you guys supply any interesting groups/NGOs that are concentrating on this?


Julie Shearer julie at

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