"For Love of Neighbor" is a new documentary film offering a hopeful vision for Christian engagement in politics. Click here to learn more.

Social Justice, Institutions, and Communities

Over at the Witherspoon Institute’s Public Discourse: Ethics, Law, and the Common Good, Adam J. MacLeod writes: “A successful account of social justice must affirm the primacy of communities, and institutions directed by communities, over both the individual and the state in promoting human flourishing.” Read an excerpt of his essay here:
On November 3, 2011, our nearest Communist neighbor-nation came as close to acknowledging the failure of Communism as any Communist nation can be expected to come. Cuba announced that, after half a century of state control of land, it is permitting the conveyance of real estate titles between private owners. As even the Cuban government now acknowledges, state ownership has been a spectacular failure. It has incentivized black markets and dishonest deals, produced scarcities of resources, and caused the housing stock to deteriorate. Most significantly, central government control of real estate has needlessly trammeled the Cuban people in poverty. This development came to mind when reading Ryan Anderson’s recent admonition, published here in Public Discourse, that conservatives should pay more attention to social justice. Anderson identifies two concerns about capitalism: First, capitalism tends to promote materialism, which corrupts culture and morals. Second, though capitalism benefits the poor more than non-capitalist systems, there remains the question whether the prosperity that capitalism has created is distributed justly. Anderson invites conservatives to consider what obligations individuals might have in justice to share their wealth. Anderson’s challenge is well-timed. Material inequality is presently a hot topic, with good reason. And he is right that the champions of economic freedom can do more to affirm the obligation that each of us has to provide for the least well-off. One wonders, is it possible to challenge both the collectivist practices that have impoverished Cubans (and millions of others) and the radical individualistic claims that are often invoked in support of free economic institutions?
Read the rest of his essay here.