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Social justice is pursued in Western democracies by the (currently declining) institutions of the Welfare State.Access to social justice programs is usually understood as provided by “rights of second generation,” which require a specific obligation of the State to respect and guarantee them.
This is why dominant social sciences, having internalized the zero-sum vision of market and government, are ill-equipped to grapple with the issue.
It could be said that the commons disappear as a result of their structural incompatibility with the deepest aspects of the Western “legality,” a legality that is founded on the universalizing combination of individualism with the State/private property dichotomy.
In the West, since then, social justice was never able to capture again the core of rights discourse, and consequently has remained at the mercy of fiscal crisis: no money, no social rights! The concept of the commons can provide exactly the necessary tools, both legally and politically, to address the incremental marginalization of social justice.
Being outside of the State/Market duopoly, the commons, as an institutional framework, presents an alternative legal paradigm, providing for more equitable distribution of resources.
An example is the role served by mangroves in coastal regions.
When making development decisions, people take their existence for granted and simply do not consider their important role in protecting coastal villages from tsunami waves.
Seeing the commons and fully appreciating their role in the ecology of life on earth is politically crucial and an absolute necessity for any serious scholarly endeavor.
The commons cannot be circumscribed for purposes of analysis; they claim a fully holistic approach.
Distribution was seen as applying to the whole society and not just to its parts, and was assumed as a social fact.
Thus the concerns of distributive justice were expelled from legal science.