Free will may be defined as 'the ability to decide what to do independently of any outside influence' (Cambridge English Dictionary). As Rothbard defines it, free will distinguishes man from beast: 'man, the rational animal, possesses reason to discover [his proper] ends and the free will to choose' (The Ethics of Liberty).
In the modern world, received wisdom informs us that there is no free will. Nobody can freely decide what to do. This is mostly because of The Man, and also because of Capitalism, Colonialism, Multiple Historical Grievances, and other oppressive influences we all know about from personal experience: racism, sexism, exploitism, etc. Plus sheer bad luck and misfortune, and our general vulnerability to the risks posed by life, which are also important factors contributing to the structural conditions that displace free will. All these factors beyond our control prevent us from achieving our goals through no fault of our own. If something is not our fault then, obviously, there is nothing we can do about it, and Somebody needs to help us. This is where Social Justice comes in. Social Justice is a way of empowering the government to step in and make sure we are not forced to solve our own problems.
If something is not your fault, and you have suffered a misfortune entirely outside your control, then the social consensus is that you are quite vulnerable and you shouldn't be expected to fix whatever went wrong through the exercise of your own moral judgment. Someone needs to help you. Hopefully somebody will volunteer to help, but if nobody steps up then there have to be Ways to identify those capable of helping and force them to help. Forcing other people to help you is not as easy as you'd think, because sometimes when people are forced to do things they say No. This is where Social Justice becomes very important. Social Justice allows the government to pass new laws, to force other people to step up and help you when you suffer from all these social ills that are actually not your fault at all. This is a really important point to remember - the reason you need Social Justice is because none of this is your fault and nobody should say No when you tell them to help you.
Most of the time all you need is a bit of extra money to help to resolve the situation, so hopefully good people will volunteer to donate funds to help others to achieve Social Justice. But we can't rely on volunteers, as there will still not be enough money to help everyone who needs help. Social Justice requires that everyone who needs help can be helped. It is the mark of a civilised society. Rich people must help poor people, and rich countries must help poor countries. That way, society and the world will be more fair and just and everyone who needs help will get it. Through Social Justice, we are able to identify those who are Rich, and make them pay.
Luckily, rich people will always exist. It's like magic, all the wealth that somehow erupts from somewhere and permeates society! This is the point that Milton Friedman failed to account for, in his insistence that somebody has to pay for the money that's available for society to spend on helping others and doing much-needed Social Justice:
Well, he was wrong. It's clearly not a myth, because superficial signs of wealth are everywhere! You see the millionaires every day on Instagram, showcasing their latest acquisition! Those are the people we can target to pay higher taxes!
They won't pay the taxes by closing down the business, or lowering wages, freezing promotions and new jobs, or raising prices of goods as the morose and pessimistic Friedman feared; no, they will write the tax cheques from the money they had set aside for refurbishing the yacht! Or simply buying less expensive champagne! Going on fewer holidays, choosing less exclusive holiday locations! If they really can't afford the taxes they could just sell the yacht, or sell their second home, downsize to a smaller house and cheaper car, etc. They would make all these sacrifices for those poorer than them, because it's the right and socially just thing to do! Being richer than other people is very wrong, and morally unacceptable: it shows selfishness and greed, which are vices.
There are many great belt-tightening ideas millionaires can easily think of, that would help them to fund higher taxes from their pockets, without hurting their customers and employees. They should definitely not hurt the shareholders by cutting dividends, because those shareholders include pension funds, and nobody wants the pension funds to suffer: that's where all the workers' pensions are invested. Without a vibrant stock market we're all going to retire in poverty, and nobody wants that. So we can't fund Social Justice by targeting shareholders. The only solution is for the millionaires to dig into the private funds they have stashed away in their tax havens. It's fine, they can afford it: development artists have proved that tax havens are sheltering trillions of dollars on behalf of billionaires and trillionaires, so that's where they'll get the money to help others. Surely they wouldn't pass on the costs to consumers, when there's no need for it.
Well, we can easily fix that, by passing a new law, which will simply ban millionaires from passing on the costs of higher corporate taxes to consumers. Nor would we expect that to have any effect on jobs or the wider economy; surely there's no need for that to happen.
Well, we can easily fix that too, by passing a new law that will simply ban companies from allowing corporate tax hikes to affect wages or long-term investment. The right set of tailored legislation will 'nudge' millionaires towards more socially-appropriate spending habits.
Or maybe simply pass a new law that bans millionaires from spending any of their private money unless it's on essentials. That way, their personal dosh will be available to fund taxes for the wider good of society. They don't need to spend their money on non-essential stuff, do they. They already have enough stuff.
In this way we can easily safeguard Society from paying for tax hikes, when everybody knows that the millionaires are the ones who should be paying, from out of their corporate wealth (but without hurting shareholders or workers or consumers).
This is a very comforting thought, just knowing that by following these steps there will always be untapped pools of wealth springing forth to help fund Social Justice.
The role of the government is to make sure all that wealth is evenly spread out so that everyone is helped to be as rich as the others around them. This way nobody need suffer the scourge of relative poverty, the horror of being poorer than other people.
It's obviously not your fault if you can't live the lifestyle being enjoyed by others around you, and thus you deserve to be helped to be more equal.
Long ago, poor people were divided into two categories: 'deserving' and 'undeserving'. The deserving poor were poor for no fault of their own. The undeserving poor were suffering the consequences of their own choices made through their own free will, and thus did not deserve help from public funds. The undeserving poor were simply sent to the workhouse to earn their own keep. Nobody wants to return to those dark days.
Over time, in modern civilisation, it has become clear that nobody has 'free will.' Nobody 'chooses' the cocktail of circumstances that brought suffering upon themselves. Nobody functions 'independently of any outside influence' and thus nobody can be said to 'choose' their life circumstances. We cannot distinguish between those suffering from bad luck and those suffering from wrong choices, since nobody has the capacity to make free choices. We are all victims of structural factors beyond our control:
Nobody would encourage you to embrace 'individual grit, determination and resilience' because let's face it, that never works when you are relentlessly ground down by The Man, does it.
Also, why should you have to bother with 'individual grit', when other people don't have to? How is that fair? Rich people don't have to make tough choices, so you shouldn't have to make tough choices either. This is known as Social Justice: the government makes all the decisions so that nobody is forced to be 'resilient' and make tough choices when others are enjoying an affluent life and have never had to make a tough choice in their life.
If you are black, then for sure you have absolutely no free will and no capacity to make choices. It's almost like you're not actually human, and all you can do is hope that a nice human will soon come along from the government to help you. Everything that happens to you is, obviously, a result of racism and other structural factors. If you end up in prison, that's not because you did anything wrong, it's because of 'a stunningly comprehensive and well-disguised system of racialized social control.' Memorize that phrase. It will come in handy when called upon to explain your conduct. 'Your Honour, it was a stunningly comprehensive and well-disguised system of racialized social control wot made me do it.'
These days racism is so comprehensive and well-disguised that it's not actually visible to the naked eye - but it's definitely all around you even though you can't see it, and it's controlling everything you do and everything that happens to you. Yes, even the coronavirus is racist! It is undeniable that this virus targets black people for no reason other than the colour of their skin! How is that your fault? Time for social justice to step up and fix this unfairness.
Scholar, Writer, Friend