October, 2009

Land Reform as Social Justice: The Case of South Africa

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In his 1976 work Law, Legislation and Liberty, F.A. Hayek discusses the concept of social justice, pursued by redistributing resources acquired through an unplanned and impersonal market order, to increase the material equality or equality of outcome of the members of that order.  Broadly speaking, calls for social justice are aimed at making life better for the less fortunate or otherwise disadvantaged members of society. Behind calls for a war to end poverty, to promote racial or gender equality, or to provide universal health care is the idea that collective action is needed to overcome a set of ills. Collective action can be undertaken voluntarily, through philanthropic or civil society efforts, or coercively, through use of government’s powers.

Post-colonial African governments have continued the sorry story of ineffective political representation, ethnic or religious discrimination, and misuse and abuse of local resources, creating what some perceive as a role for policies dedicated to social justice. But, how would these prescriptions translate into actual policy making? What kinds of policies would correct past injustice but not work a new injustice?

Citation (Chicago-Style):

Boudreaux, Karol. "Land Reform as Social Justice: The Case of South Africa." Working Paper, Mercatus Center at George Mason University, 2009.