Institutional Justice

October 9, 2019 0 By Kody Olson


IT’S VERY EASY, IF YOU WORK OUT
A THEORY OF JUSTICE FOR THE NATION-STATE, TO THINK WHAT
INSTITUTIONAL FORM THAT SHOULD TAKE. SO, LET’S SAY, RAWLS’S THEORY
OF JUSTICE CAN FAIRLY EASILY BE IMPLEMENTED, AT LEAST IN
PART, ON THE PRACTICAL PLANE. BECAUSE THERE ARE ALREADY
INSTITUTIONS SUCH AS A TAX STRUCTURE THAT CAN REDISTRIBUTE
WEALTH FROM THE RICHER TO THE POOR. BUT, WHERE NATIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT’S VERY DIFFICULT. BECAUSE YOU GOT, THE NATIONS
HAVE THEIR OWN PROBLEMS, AND THEY ARE BUSY SOLVING
THEIR OWN PROBLEMS. AND IT’S, THEY’RE NOT SO EASILY
GOING TO GIVE UP SOME OF THE MONEY THEY NEED FOR THE
POOR IN THEIR OWN NATION TO RELIEVE MISERY THAT’S
AT A DISTANCE. SO YOU COULD WORK OUT A THEORY
OF HOW THE WHOLE WORLD WOULD BE JUSTLY TREATED. AND YOU COULD SAY, EVERYONE
SHOULD HAVE WHAT THEY NEED TO LIVE WELL. BUT, YOU KNOW, HOW TO GO
FURTHER WITH THAT, IN INSTITUTIONAL TERMS,
IS THE REAL ISSUE. SOME PEOPLE PROPOSE THAT THE
RESOURCE-RICH NATIONS SHOULD PAY A TAX ON THE RESOURCES THEY
EXTRACT FROM THE EARTH AND THEY SHOULD PAY IT TO THE
NATIONS WHOSE RESOURCES, OFTEN, THEY’VE TAKEN IN
PROCESS OF COLONIAL DOMINATION. THAT’S ONE TYPE OF THEORY
YOU COULD GET. ANOTHER THEORY FOCUSES ON THE
OBLIGATIONS OF INDIVIDUALS IN THE RICH NATIONS. AND SAYS THAT IT’S NOT THE
STATES WHO SHOULD DO THE REDISTRIBUTING, BUT IT’S YOU AND
ME WHO SHOULD JUST TAKE A LARGE PROPORTION OF OUR
INCOME AND GIVE IT. BUT, SEE, THEN THERE’S STILL
AN INSTITUTIONAL PROBLEM. BECAUSE WHO DO WE GIVE IT TO? WE GIVE IT TO EACH GOVERNMENT? WELL, I MEAN, BUT THEN WE HAVE
TO ASK QUESTIONS ABOUT WHAT THAT MEANS. IF THE PEOPLE IN AMERICA ARE
SUBSIDIZING MUCH OF THE GOVERNMENT OF INDIA, WHAT DOES
THAT DO FOR THE PEOPLE IN INDIA WHO OUGHT TO BE IN
CONTROL OF THEIR OWN GOVERNMENT. SO IT’S NOT SO GREAT IF THE
FOREIGNERS JUST SAY, HEY, YOU KNOW, HERE IS ALL OF OUR WEALTH,
THAT DIMINISHES THE POLITICAL ACCOUNTABILITY
OF THAT GOVERNMENT TO ITS OWN PEOPLE. SO I THINK THERE ARE MANY
TREMENDOUSLY DIFFICULT INSTITUTIONAL QUESTIONS
TO BE FACED. AND MAYBE THE FIRST THING WE
CAN DO IS TO FOCUS ON VERY STRONG ENFORCEMENT OF BASIC POLITICAL RIGHTS AND LIBERTIES. AND ON FORMS OF ECONOMIC AID
THAT FOCUS ON EMPOWERMENT OF THE INTERNAL STRUCTURE, SUCH
AS ECONOMIC ADVICE AND ASSISTANCE RATHER THAN
DIRECT RELIEF. PROMOTING STRUCTURAL CHANGE
WITHIN EACH NATION. AND THEN, WE THEN HAVE TO SEE
WHERE WE ARE AT THAT POINT. AND SEE WHAT THE NEXT
STEP WOULD BE.