Keep social phobias out of social justice

February 19, 2019

Illustration: VectorMine / Shutterstock

Originally published in Ukrainska Pravda on February 20, 2019

During budget discussions in the early days of the formation of the Soviet government, Vladimir Lenin addressed one of the issues of social justice in the following way: "We'll set minimum wages for doctors and teachers because investing more is unnecessary. The people will support them anyway."

The job significance for humanity of the men and women in this field was emphasised and confirmed by this cynical standpoint, while simultaneously rooting corruption in people's minds and way of life, forming a tradition of the Soviet government.

Today, I don't see any major difference in this attitude and how financing is currently handled. The people will support them. The people have to support them. Education gives us the chance to make a living. And medicine is a factor that gives us a chance to exercise our right to life.

The deliberate transformation of certain categories of people into bribe-takers and others into bribe-givers is grossly socially unjust. Passivity in solving this issue is no better.

Social justice affects all areas of our lives, and is not limited to the economy alone.

It is essential that education is accessible for all and helpful for personal development, that it functions as a social lift, and people can become truly valuable through education.

It is equally important that justice is accessible for all. Therefore, a free legal aid system is of the utmost importance, so people from vulnerable groups (regardless of age or financial, medical, sexual, crisis or situational factors) can benefit from legal advice and protect their rights, freedoms and interests in court.

The active presence of male and female minorities in representative and executive bodies is of no less significance. I believe the quota principle of involving women in politics is reasonable, not because women are better than men, but because women know, see, understand and can represent the interests of women more effectively.

Generally speaking, for me the key to social justice is the desire of policies and politicians to see people as people, as individual, human personalities. It is irrelevant whether society, the state or other people like a person or not; the rights of any person must be ensured.

People have social phobias and stereotypes, but state policies must never be based on them.

State policy should not consider internally displaced persons as different from other citizens, meaning all their proper constitutional rights and freedoms must be ensured. Furthermore, the state should create additional conditions for their realization by people who are living in unusual circumstances, and sometimes circumstances of crisis.

State policy should be intolerant to language-related hatred. A contemptuous attitude towards Ukrainian should not be approved of, as persecuting a person for their linguistic identity is unlawful and unjust.

State policy should not abandon Ukrainian villages, neither should it disassociate the male and female inhabitants of rural areas from towns and only consider land, without taking into account the people that live there. All infrastructure needs must be provided equally, including educational, medical, legal, cultural, transportation, and social.

State policy must not claim that Ukrainian Roma men and women are a constant source of theft and fraud. Indeed, state policy should help everyone feel part of a united nation regardless of their ethnic identity and create conditions for them to exercise their civic and political rights.

State policy should not consider all people who were imprisoned ‘defective’ and deprived of the right to dignity, care, socialisation, employment and respect.

State policy must not consider homosexuals and lesbians, feminists and profeminists as sources of a demographic crisis and destruction of the family, as this facilities the spread of ignorance instead of effectively addressing domestic violence, introducing responsible partnership practices, creating new jobs, and assisting people in times of crisis.

Today, 20 February, is the World Day of Social Justice, a holiday meant to foster in governments a conscious attitude towards all people.

The effective investigation of criminal cases from Maidan protests and the inevitability of punishment for perpetrators are also to some extent a test of how atuned the Ukrainian authorities are to social justice domestically.