Just world doctrine, also called the just world fallacy and just world hypothesis, is the belief that the world is pretty much just – or at least one’s corner of it, even if the rest of the world is screwed up. There are “imperfections”, of course – like Nixon, Enron, Abu Ghraib, Love Canal and the death of Sean Bell. And of course new laws and reforms are needed from time to time too – and maybe a bit of sensitivity training. But by and large society is just.
Justice is not a hope for the future but an achievement of the present. No messiahs need apply.
From what I can tell, this seems to be one of the main differences in how whites and blacks think about America and why they often talk past each other: most whites seem to take it for granted, assume it, while most blacks do not.
The experience of most blacks in America, particularly those who are poor or who live in ghettos, is not of a just world. Injustice is not a matter of a few “imperfections” – it comes standard; it goes straight down to the heart of what America is.
Meanwhile it seems like most White Americans do believe in just world doctrine. So much so that some take it as a given and reason backwards from it: if America is just, then so are the police and the courts, the schools and the press – and even, for the most part, large companies. Not perfectly just, of course, but for the most part.
And if America is just then racism can no longer a big issue and the troubles that blacks still have must be all their own fault – or just their imagination. You see that all the time in comments on this blog. And you hear it from the mouths of Rented Negroes and other well-paid blacks.
Why people believe in just world doctrine:
- It is pushed on television and at school – particularly in history books and on the news. At least in America.
- It allows the winners of society to feel they won fair and square, that they are good people; that the losers need to grow up and stop complaining.
- If power in society and the world is exercised in your interests, there is little reason to question it or doubt its goodness.
- It can be comforting to think society is just and orderly even if you are at the bottom (though it is harder to believe).
The winners think society is just and have the power to push that belief on others. And they succeed in doing that with the broad middle of society.
But it is not just those blacks who love to complain and blame others who disbelieve in just world doctrine. Neither does the Bible, The Economist, Shakespeare, Jefferson, Lord Acton, Orwell, Thucydides, Tolkien, Plato or Aristotle, to name a few. In the Bible justice does not come till the end of time on Judgement Day. Meanwhile sin rules the world because of man’s fallen nature.
– Abagond, 2009.
- yet more White American moral blindness
- All the best writers live north of 110th Street
- black patriotism
- The police
- black ghettos
- white privilege
- How to argue like a white racist – just world doctrine is not racist in and of itself, but it is often assumed in racist arguments.