Social Justice and Implementation of Economic Justice: Contemporary State UnderstandingJune 28, 2021
In the previous topics, we defined social justice as the fair sharing of all social values in that society to groups of people living in the same society but having different worldviews.
But we mentioned that this cannot be separated from economic justice, and that the economic wealth of that society should be distributed in a way that will benefit the least advantaged in the society. So, how will this distribution be, who will do it? Of course, this distribution will start with the legal field and take place in the political field. In other words, the state and law should be the enforcers and guarantors of social and economic justice. However, the classical understanding of the state, which was fed with the basic principles of social contract thought that started with Hobbes, could not achieve this goal.
Because the main purpose of the state at that time was to establish the social order by providing freedom and absolute equality. Although, as we mentioned above, social and economic rights were mentioned in the constitution made after the French Revolution, the main purpose of the state was still to protect basic personal rights. In order for this classical understanding of the state to change, the understanding of social and economic justice had to be well established. This situation shows that there is a parallelism between the understanding of social and economic justice and the development of the contemporary understanding of the state. Therefore, starting from the 19th century, a new order, namely a new understanding of law and the state, can be mentioned. The state needs to intervene more in social life in this century. How and how much this intervention should be is also a separate issue. Because, as we mentioned above, the intervention of the state can be unlimited in radical social justice theories. Again, with the totalitarian state understanding, a type of state intervention in which freedoms completely disappeared has also been observed. However, in the 20th century, we can talk about the real implementation of social and economic justice in the contemporary understanding of state called “social state”.
First of all, the social state is the “welfare state”. Social state is a type of state based on “an economic system in which some compulsory transfers of income and wealth are applied by the state without violating the principles of private property and market economy” (Savaş 2001, p. 127). Thus, the relationship between the social and welfare state requires each other, as does the relationship between social and economic justice. So the “social state” can be defined as:
“Democratic state type that intervenes in social life with various public measures for the purpose of ensuring social order through the improvement of socio-economic conditions of certain groups of people and the realization of this basic principle” (İzveren 1991, p. 102).
The understanding of the social state based on this definition can also be defined as the “social state of law”. Because the social state of law is a form of state in which the aims that must be implemented in accordance with social and economic justice are legally guaranteed. In a social state of law, each person has “subjective public right as a right of claim against the state” (İzveren 1991, p. 103). Although the “subjective public right” is a technical expression in the legal sense, in the most general sense, it means that the person has a right to defend against the state in cases where the demand for social and economic justice is not realized.
So, how will this defined welfare, social, rule of law realize social and economic justice? First of all, in this new understanding of state, social and economic justice should be considered as a social policy principle and a social rule of law. Social and economic justice will be implemented in public, legal and political planes with principles and rules covering all members of the society, such as ensuring a minimum income and living standard, protecting the workforce by improving working conditions, equitable distribution of national income, and ensuring social security. will be the state itself. The understanding of the welfare state, in which social and economic justice is dominant, tries to eliminate strict class differences. If we speak in terms of political philosophy, the aim of the welfare state is to strengthen the middle classes by reducing the differences between the bourgeoisie and the working class (İzveren 1991, p. 103). Thus, the duty of the state in contemporary societies is not only to protect fundamental rights and freedoms, but also to ensure a fair distribution of all social, cultural and economic wealth to all members of the society by protecting these rights and freedoms. From here on, social and economic justice appears as the foundation of the modern state, that is, the modern social and legal state.
In the circular published by the Ministry of Justice in 2001, the word “property” was replaced with “state” and it was instructed to write “Justice is the foundation of the state”. This discussion is about the words “property” and “state”, although this decision was later changed back to the adage “Justice is the foundation of property”. What should be understood here is the social and economic name of justice.