While it is true that in the past the political has been on the verge of abandoning the search for social justice as the north of society, especially in 2020, we see its total renunciation.

By William Alberto Méndez Garita

In these last two years – a short period in relation to 70 years of constitutional history inspired by the “Christian principle of social justice” – an attempt is being made to replace the human-centered vision with a vision centered on the production model.

Social justice is now resolved through the cold calculation of the cost to public finances, income and expenditure; it is not an investment but an expense. In other words, it has lost its human face to become a number without sensitivity.

We have gone from being people with human rights and protected by the vision of a “permanent policy of national solidarity”, as the Political Constitution states, to being empty and depersonalised statistics.

If the country’s economic situation has been gradually worsening, it is because of repeated proposals by groups that have discredited the interpretation and understanding of social problems from the human being himself and his central role in society, in order to worship an economic “reductionist” theology.

They are part of the problem, even if they find it hard to accept.

This situation has been aggravated in recent years by the disappearance of political leaders who defend the model and the principles of social justice. At the same time, there has been a loss of space in political, social and business organisations due to the arrival of socially insensitive cadres.

The disarticulation of the defense of social justice can be seen on three levels.

First, those who speak from a social perspective are pejoratively disqualified as “progressive” or center-left.

Secondly, there are no longer many references left who are capable of making statements on the social rule of law and social justice in accordance with the updated perspective of the founders and foundresses of the Second Republic and the important social movements that laid the foundations of our modern society.

Some of them, lacking ideological consistency and with astonishing pragmatism, embraced the once renegade conservatism.

Third, in the country’s current context, the few voices advocating social causes are silenced because they do not belong to the club of the Greek god of wealth Pluto, also known as Eniato.

For example, in the formation of the government’s so-called dialogue roundtables, neither experts in social justice nor organisations that could incorporate this perspective into the discussions and agreements were invited to the substantive discussions.

If we look at the government programs, the national development plans, as well as many of the proposals that have been made in relation to the country’s crisis, it is possible to see how people stop thinking in terms of social justice and only find answers in economic models that have the audacious and shameless attempt to be imposed as absolute truths.

In an investigation by sociologist José Luis Vega Carballo (who died a few days ago and who was my first instructor in social research at the UCR), citing the economic and social thought of Rodrigo Facio, he comments: Facio was and remains to this day the leading intellectual and political figure of progressive reformism, a political-ideological current that likes to play in the middle ground and that still tries – perhaps in vain – to give capitalism a “human face” in order to move towards a moderate, liberal and market socialism “a la tica” (Social Sciences Review 138: 41). (Rev. Social Sciences 138: 41-52 / 2012 (IV)

The vision of the groups that have captured the political does not even come close to Rodrigo Facio’s thinking on economics and social justice.

As is well explained in classical social conflict theory, societies are not just the sum of individuals, as is the present approach to public policy.

Under that premise, we can affirm, as others have indicated before, that society is the result of the interactions of people (human beings) and the conflicts that derive from their relationships. (H. Heller and K. Marx).

But the groups that have taken over the political, in and out of government, do not see society as a system in which subsystems intervene and which must be understood in the context of the complexity of the human being itself.

Instead, they prefer to resort, as we said before, to repeated doses of economic individualism, which transforms the human being into an instrument of the economy and a commodity.

If we think of the metamorphosis of “Kafka” in which “Gregory Sansa” loses – not by his will – his condition as a human being, the political has been transformed into a desperate attempt at survival in which, unfortunately, “the end justifies the means”.

In this sense, to paraphrase the schools of social political thought, what is of interest is not necessarily who owns the means of production or “all the factors involved in the production process”, which are guaranteed in the Political Constitution, but rather the possibility that with them there is hope and the possibility of a distribution of wealth that allows for a positive impact on sectors in conditions of social exclusion (Marcelo Prieto Jiménez, Essay written in 1971).

This is what politics has lost.

This inspiration must be present in all areas, be they political, economic, social, cultural or environmental, of social justice with a human-centered sensibility as the guiding source of the public and the political.

William Alberto Méndez Garita is a lawyer and political scientist