The dictionary’s definition of Justice is:
- 1. the quality of being just; righteousness, equitableness, or moral rightness: to uphold the justice of a cause.
- 2. rightfulness or lawfulness, as of a claim or title; justness of ground or reason: to complain with justice.
- 3. the moral principle determining just conduct.
- 4. conformity to this principle, as manifested in conduct; just conduct, dealing, or treatment.
- 5. the administering of deserved punishment or reward.
More often than not the fifth stated sentence defines the word justice.
The punishment versus reward dichotomy of the current justice system is carried out by the agents and functionaries of the prison industrial complex. Judges, domestic military law enforcers (known as police), representatives (lawyers), and your average mild-mannered self-appointed guardian of the status quo become a tool in the oppression of their fellow man.
We currently have a system of punishment and reward as a result of the judicial system whether civil or criminal. When someone violates the law they are tried to prove if they are at fault for the accused violation and as a result of that trial, punishment or reward is enforced upon both sides of the party which the majority of the time results in a mutually exclusive and mostly antagonistic reward in opposition to a punishment.
In other words, one party only gets a reward and the other only gets a punishment. These rewards and punishments are to serve as deterrents for violations of laws but tend to serve as operant conditioning that restricts individual volition. The behavior it elicits is one of fear of performing the “wrong” or abhorrent behavior, love of performing the “right” or conforming behavior and, in essence, removes a person’s volition to play the role he or she chooses.
What a mutually exclusive and antagonistic dichotomy provides is an eternal almost divine form of competition similar to Mutually Exclusive Goal Attainment in structural competition, my success requires your failure; our fates are negatively linked. Put differently, two or more individuals are trying to achieve a goal that cannot be attained by both or all of them. In essence, current justice provides a competition that only provides what any traditional form of competition can provide and that is a winner and a loser.
This almost complete guarantee of a winner and a loser is suppose to deter the loser from losing but does not deter the loser from violating the law in the sense that a law can be technically violated. Punishment for a violation of a policy can deter but cannot due to the laws of the physical world stop any violator of law to technically commit the violation. The court system becomes a game or competition in which the winner gets an advantage over the loser.
In the doling out of justice in a capitalist system in that the “justice system” becomes a tool of capital, it becomes the edifice in which even “justice” becomes a commodity. The structure built is one of a system of the accumulation of capital in every facet. Those with the initial capital to invest in a good representative(lawyer) are the ones who capitalize off of their ownership of and accumulation of capital and also being the winner of the court proceedings accumulate additional monetary capital but also social capital, while the loser loses monetary and/or social capital.
The loser may suffer a financial loss and then be coerced by the state apparatus into forced inequality by forfeiting property or themselves and as a given be labeled a criminal. The loser becomes characterized as a criminal.
The winner reinforces the illusory necessity of the state and coercion and all are conditioned through the rewards and punishments accumulated through that system. The justice system also can be used as a tool of oppression and domination in informing behavior that is “legally” sanctioned and appropriate in certain frames or contexts.
The prison system further exploits the losers of this process through legally culturally sanctioned low-wage slavery, dehumanization through the treatment and housing of humans like caged animals domesticating the human spirit, and going through this process nurtures more of the same behavior considered abhorrent in the first place.
On the other side, it generally fosters a sense of real justice for the winners and an attributing of real justice and compromise to an alienated system of exchange, to have power is inherently understood as gaining an advantage over another through their disadvantage instead of gaining advantages together or in the empowerment of one another.
Equitableness, harmony, balance, “Justice”. In creating a winner and a loser there is no justice for all but injustice. In coming to a consensus on issues you can come to a mutually inclusive and beneficial solution for both parties where both parties can be more or less satisfied with the resolution if not at the very least share accountability and responsibility for the outcome.
What about arbitration?
Arbitration is the dependence of both parties in conflict to include a third party in the decision making of the initial two parties which takes the responsibility and volition from the parties involved. Having an intermediary or one who facilitates can be useful and necessary for communication between participants but should be used minimally as the final say so in a conflict resolution. Additionally, the intermediary and participants should be properly trained in conflict resolution, facilitation, and non-violent communication.
Having the two parties participate in finding a resolution strengthens and shifts the responsibility and accountability previously conceded to the justice system as an externalized institution dis-empowering those involved, to the parties involved. Providing the opportunity for those involved to be directly participating in their conflict resolution brings practicality to the process of getting to the root of the conflict to solve it more permanently and not have lingering inequitable effects. It also can nurture a learning experience for those involved empowering them to resolve future conflicts.
There is the rising use of arbitration currently in a form called Alternative Dispute Resolution or A.D.R. The rising popularity of ADR can be explained by the increasing caseload of traditional courts, the perception that ADR imposes fewer costs than litigation, a preference for confidentiality, and the desire of some parties to have greater control over the selection of the individual or individuals who will decide their dispute. ADR has been increasingly used internationally, both alongside and integrated formally into legal systems, to capitalize on the typical advantages of ADR over litigation which include:
- Suitability for multi-party disputes
- Flexibility of procedure – the process is determined and controlled by the parties to the dispute
- Lower costs
- Less complexity (“less is more”)
- Parties choice of neutral third party (and therefore expertise in the area of dispute) to direct negotiations/adjudicate
- Likelihood and speed of settlements
- Practical solutions tailored to parties’ interests and needs (not rights and wants, as they may perceive them)
- Durability of agreements
- The preservation of relationships and the preservation of reputations
From these findings, it could be concluded that a new way of manifesting justice, forming a structure that creates real justice and harmony in the world is gaining ground.