Since its publication in 1971 the political ideas expounded by philosopher John Rawls in A Theory of Justice have provided the justifiers and apologists (i.e., the informers and the regulators who, respectively, mould opinion and behaviour within the bourgeois state) for a ‘just’ capitalist democracy — the currently prevailing form of class society — with an alternative to utilitarianism. It also provides, to quote Burns*, “…the oppressor’s cruel smile / Amid his hapless victim’s spoil” with an ideological mask of ethical legitimacy for the predatory values — and practices — of nakedly amoral neo-liberal capitalism. The question remains: how can bourgeois rule be defeated without putting something worse in its place — and without having to plough through the deliberately mystifying lexicon of neo-liberal gobbledygook (e.g. “dialectic” and “contradiction”, for conflict and division, respectively), with which they seek to cover their own self-serving bureaucratic agenda?
* Lines Written on a Banknote
“The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.”
Rawls’ stated aim is to develop a theory of justice that is a viable alternative to the classical utilitarian and ‘intuitionist’ concepts of justice and morality. In contrast with classic utilitarian thought he argues that each person ‘possesses an inviolability founded on justice that even the welfare of society cannot override.’ Policies that lead to the loss of freedom for some or the imposition of sacrifices on the few in return for the benefit of the majority are not, therefore, compatible with a ‘just’ society.