Equal Justice
By Peter O’Brien

If there’s one idea that encapsulates the Founding Fathers goals, it’s this: Equal Justice. A responsive government that worked – literally and figuratively – for the citizens, was a means to that real end: a political system wherein everyone – everyone – was treated the same.

Last week a Congresswoman opined that Vice President Pence would be impeached, just as soon as they finished impeaching President Trump, because 'Pence would be no good.' As no charges have been brought against President Trump, never mind any sort of impeachment vote in Congress, never mind any hint of Mr. Pence having done anything wrong, one might well ask what this really means.

Such comments – and they’re legion, and other behavior (the incessant leaks, the continual shopping for judges to issue injunctions even after Supreme Court rulings, the "sniping” commentary by elected officials, etc.), should concern everyone, whether you love Trump or hate him, because this isn't how our government works. But, that’s precisely the issue: those saying and doing these things, the people insisting that there must be new forms of justice – to include some members of Congress – they don't care. They use the words of government, but what they seek is simple power.

There’s more to this than simply: "one side won the election, the other lost.” After all, we’ve had 57 presidential elections and chosen 45 different presidents. To be sure, there’ve been hotly contested elections: 1800, 1812, 1828, 1861, etc. But, there’s something decidedly different since last November, and we need to look at what lies behind it all.

Not to get too esoteric but, there’s an important philosophic point to make: if you hold certain beliefs, you can’t meaningfully hold certain other beliefs. You can’t be for both government healthcare and free markets, for example. Further, to hold certain beliefs, we need to understand them. That means we need common values and a common understanding of what words mean.

Important words – justice, fairness, equality – either have an accepted, fixed meaning - or they don't. You can’t believe in equal justice and also believe the definition of justice is ever changing. If justice is a fixed mark, we can hold our leadership accountable to that mark. But if justice is flexible, defined by the leadership, then we’ll never be able to hold accountable our elected or appointed leaders.

Yet that’s precisely the real struggle, a struggle over the nature of government and the understanding of virtually all values. And the philosophy that’s driving this intellectual struggle, that’s driving the progressive movement, is postmodernism.

Michel Foucault, the late French philosopher and a leading proponent of postmodernism, stated: "It is meaningless to speak in the name of—or against— Reason, Truth, or Knowledge." This idea, the meaningless of reason, truth and knowledge, is central to the philosophy of postmodernism.

Postmodernism doesn't speak about an "independent reality,” nor about "absolute truths;” for postmodernists there is no objective knowledge. Everything is subjective, and "histories" are collective; individuals are only identified inside social groups (sex, race, ethnicity, wealth, religion, etc.), and histories emphasize conflict between groups.

Therefore the only things that matter are these social groups (sex, race, etc.), and the conflicts between the groups. But that really means power. And because there’s no objective truth, no absolute right and wrong, there can be no meaningful attempt to be on the side of truth or right. Instead, what really matters is who wins.

There is, of course, the other side; Reverend King observed that: "I am not interested in power for power’s sake, but I’m interested in power that is moral, that is right and that is good.” But in the postmodernist world there can be no right, no good, no morals, for there is no agreed, objective truth, no reason, no knowledge.

Western Civilization, evolving for over 2,000 years, is predicated on absolute truths, on clearly defined justice; where, despite our failings, the citizens work towards a single ideal of justice. Postmodernism asserts that justice of even 50 years ago is different than today, there are no fixed truths, and can be no fixed definition of justice. And that would mean the power of government could be wielded without meaningful restraint.

Washington, Lincoln, King et al envisioned a society based on justice, equal justice. But equal justice requires objective truth. Postmodernists insist there is no such thing. We need to choose which side we’re on.

 





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InBrief 14dec17

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