Every classical liberal will agree that Wikipedia tends to push a progressive agenda. So, I feel no shame in using their definition of Social Justice as a springboard.
Social justice is “justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society”. Classically, “justice” (especially corrective justice or distributive justice) referred to ensuring that individuals both fulfilled their societal roles, and received what was due from society. “Social justice” is generally used to refer to a set of institutions which will enable people to lead a fulfilling life and be active contributors to their community.
The definition of ‘justice,’ as I understand it, is “You get what you deserve.” Webster assures me it is, in summary, “the process or result of using laws to fairly judge and punish crimes and criminals.”
So, if you murder someone, you may be executed in return, as a just punishment for your crime.
So, why do we need a new term, “Social” Justice instead of just “Justice?
The answer is that justice is a fundamentally liberal and individualist concept. If I am to be given justice for my deeds, then my deeds alone will be considered. Not the deeds of my ancestors or friends. Not the situation in which I find myself. Not my upbringing.
Justice is a thing that applies on an individual basis. Justice in terms of the distribution of wealth means forcing me to repay a man if I steal from him. Justice in terms of opportunities means denying me the opportunity to work as a kindergarten teacher if I have been found to abuse children. Justice in terms of the distribution of privileges means denying me the privilege of a night at the movies should I have used my last night at the movies to spray-paint obscenities on the screen.
Justice for denying God the worship and obedience he is due is to be banished forever from his presence.
Social Justice, on the other hand, is intrinsically collectivist. Hence the “Social” prefix. The UN defines it thus:
Social justice may be broadly understood as the fair and compassionate distribution of the fruits of economic growth…
That is to say, Social Justice is not giving to each man as he deserves. Rather, it is giving to all with an even hand (which, of course, necessitates taking from all with an irresistible hand. But let’s not go there just yet…)
The lack of Social Justice is, in fact,the moral failing that Karl Marx saw in capitalism, the aggravation, by liberals, of the very inequalities over which liberals overthrew monarchists. Even more strongly, though is its ties to the great disconnect of humanity from his noble agrarian roots caused by the industrial revolution. The term was coined by a Jesuit Priest when discussing that problem. Which, in turn, you may recognize as one of the rallying points of the Fascists…
Collectivism and counter-enlightenment rejection of technological progress. All we need to stir in for a proper pot of classical fascism is an anti-rational epistemology and the assertion that good, strong pagan cultures have been enervated by the Jews with their slave-religion and their crippling need to rely on logic instead of passion…
Of course, as C.S. Lewis observed, if there is no God, the collectivists are right: societies are more important than individuals, and it is acceptable for anyone to murder you, rape you, or steal your belongings provided that society as a whole benefits. Whereas, in the fairy-tale world of the true liberals, treating one man unjustly is a terrible sin no matter how many people benefit.
Social justice is nothing more or less than denying that justice ultimately has meaning.