Sowell paraphrases Hayek in A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles to make the point that much of what passes for social justice is merely a smokescreen:
Hayek treats much of the rhetoric of social justice as a confused evasion of harsh realities inherent in the processes required to move toward such goals. To Hayek, those things commonly modified by the adjective "social"-justice, conscience, democracy - are by their very nature inherently social, so that this adjective is meaningless by reason of redundancy, if the word is used in an honest and straightforward way. It is "incredibly empty of meaning," according to Hayek, so that "to employ it was either thoughtless or fraudulent."
Although Hayek found the concept of "social justice" to be devoid of specific meaning, he found it fraught with insinuations which he considered both erroneous and dangerous. Many "who habitually employ the phrase do not know themselves what they mean by it," he said but others who have used it were not simply engaging in "sloppy thinking" but "intellectual dishonesty." According to Hayek, "the phrase 'social justice' is not, as most people feel, an innocent expression of good will towards the less fortunate," but has become in practice "a dishonest insinuation that one ought to agree to a demand of some special interest which can give no real reason for it." The dangerous aspect, in Hayek's view, is that "the concept of 'social justice'�has been the Trojan Horse through which totalitarianism has entered". Nazi Germany being just one example. [pg 212-3]
Just last month, Dan Henninger pointed out that < a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204603004577267632224945836.html?KEYWORDS=santorum">people were putting up with Rick Santorum's weirder beliefs because he kept hammering this position, and it was working.
38. While Hayek regarded some advocates of social justice as cynically aware that they were really engaged in a concentration of power, the greater danger he saw in those sincerely promoting the concept with a zeal which unconsciously prepares the way for others - totalitarians - to step in after the undermining of ideological, political, and legal barriers to government power makes their task easier. [pg. 215]