After suggesting reparations for black Californians which could exceed the state budget twice over, someone needs to tell California there is no prize for reaching Utopia first.

In fact, her only reward will be the utter disappointment at finding herself in the hellscape of a dystopian nightmare.

Anyone with half a brain and a copy of The Republic would be able to warn her against the impending doom, but she threw that book out of the curriculum decades ago.

Plato’s Republic is the first great work of political philosophy. In it, the philosopher Socrates embarks on a dialogue to define justice as a thing with intrinsic value. In order to accomplish this goal, Socrates constructs a central analogy, the city-soul paradigm. The premise of this analogy is that justice within a city would simply be the amplification of justice within the soul, but easier to spell out for its magnitude.

For hundreds of years, scholars have debated this claim, which leads Socrates down a path to destroy the nuclear family, set up a totalitarian regime, censor art, impose a rigid class system, and, of course, place the philosophers like himself atop the pinnacle of the power pyramid.

Can justice for all really be the same sort of thing as justice for the individual?

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This is one of the central questions of Western civilization, resurrecting in commentary on Plato in the Renaissance, in the works of Hobbes and Locke, and even in our own political spheres today.

Social justice, it is claimed, must win if our society is to heal itself.

However, can justice really be social?

Classically, there are two definitions of justice, the Aristotelian and the Platonic.

Aristotelian justice is often paraphrased “to each his own.” That is, each should receive what one is owed, either by circumstance or agreement.

The Platonic ideal of justice rejects this simple definition, instead classifying justice as the proper ordering of parts. Within a soul, this means harmony between reason, spiritedness, and appetite. Within a city, this means rigid class differentiation, and each member contributing their assigned role to the city.

What we are witnessing in our own society is a rejection of the individualistic definition of justice in favor of the communal. If you doubt me, look to the West.

In California, a task force put a dollar amount on racism, up to $1.2 million per individual.

Though the state entered the Union as a free state, as one that had outlawed slavery, this task force believes that black Americans are owed monetary compensation for the discrimination they faced historically.

The reparations are intended to cover disparities in housing, health care, policing, and incarceration, without one shred of victimization evidence necessary to receive this compensation. The monetary compensation is calculated based on the number of years such a person was residing in California.

Still, according to Daily Wire, one woman attending the meeting claimed this payment was nowhere near enough. She suggested a figure closer to San Francisco’s proposal of $5 million in reparations per individual.

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Because a category of people have historically experienced true injustice in our nation, a group of people are now being rewarded, on no merit of their own.

I place extra importance upon the word “category.”

It is not as though groups of people are never wronged all at once. A family of five might be stripped unjustly of their land by the federal government and are entitled to just compensation under the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution. That group of individuals has been wronged and is owed monetary compensation by the government.

However, reparations are not concerned with groups, which are made of necessarily of specific individuals, but with a category.

Based on the category of your skin color, you are either entitled to these reparations or not. The group who was most harmed by discriminatory state and federal laws are resting in their graves. Instead, a category of people who share one characteristic receives this reward.

Social justice perverts real justice.

Social justice, like Socrates, does not consider the injustice done to an individual if its result is so-called justice for the whole.

And what is it we owe one another?

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We owe one another only that which we have been endowed with by our Creator, certain inalienable rights– life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

The government, according to the Declaration of Independence, has been established by the people to secure these rights.

Because I hold these truths to be self-evident, I can agree with those advocating for reparations that slavery was an evil in the sight of man and God. Our nation in its infancy did not extend these rights to all in its care.

However, I cannot support this unjust movement.

Though the government historically withheld rights from categories of men unjustly, it is not justice to repay individuals who were not alive when those disparities were law.

The reparations movement calls for individual rewards for categorical injustice.

Here, I must rise to defy Socrates in the Areopagus. Justice cannot be just without being individual.

If individual harm can be proven with evidence in a court of law, let it be righted. If individual disparity has been perpetuated, let it be assessed individually.

Injustice reigns where men are not their own. And man cannot be his own in this social justice nightmare.

Catie Robertson is an intern with the Convention of States Project, a project of Citizens for Self-Government.

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