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Social Justice, Human Rights, and Common Good: Facing the Danger of Totalitarianism

The pandemic of the 21st century inevitably influenced social, political, and economic thought. It is becoming increasingly clear that humanity will have to modify the ways in which we used to function in the milieu surrounding us. Some things will have to be changed, possibly forever. Yet the pandemic has also taught us that many big questions that have been troubling us for centuries have acquired added urgency as we transition to the post-Covid world.

The extreme systemic stress has exposed the dramatic difference between those who are better off and those who are not, as evidenced in both large-scale life prospects and quotidian concerns such as occupation, education, medical care, logistics, and entertainment. Any environmental, economic or military crisis might affect all of us, but some are more vulnerable than others.

The split is as explicit in the post-industrial global West as it is in developing countries,

and it demands that we address the issue of social justice. Even more fundamentally, the perception, justification, and implementation of human rights is also being reconsidered in the light of the new kinds of tensions, such as the one between religious liberty and the freedom of conscience, on the one hand, and public safety, on the other, to name just one instance. Likewise, the devaluation of truth and the crisis of reasonable, evidence-based argument in public spaces throws shade upon the holy grail of the freedom of expression.

The problem of identifying and acknowledging the moral orientations of public officials,

opinion makers, and media outlets is begging for careful philosophical reflection,

inasmuch as "fake news" is now becoming recognized as part of the regular democratic process. Simultaneously, the need for states and transnational organizations toaccumulate more regulatory power raises concerns about totalitarian threats. How legitimate are those concerns, given that such a temptation may well be driven by the pure desideratum to further the common good and eliminate injustice? Finally, considering the possibility of present imperialist regimes utilizing the global crisis to increase geopolitical instability, we must seek to determine how liberal democratic values are to be protected.


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