Government is Always an Owned Business

Whatever its outward ostensible form, government is always owned, & is always farming society for its own benefit.

The fiction that it is ever otherwise is like the fiction of objective, unbiased journalism. There is no such thing.

There is always a nomenklatura, and there is always a deep state; and the interpersonal relations of the people therein are always more or less feudal and familiar.

The only questions are, first, whether or not everyone is open and honest about who and what they are, and second, whether or not they are and do evil. If they are honest and good, they participate a hierarchy; if not, a babelarchy.

If the true nature of the government is obscured, then it is more likely to be and to do evil; if the people who own the government are evil, then is its true nature more likely to be obscured.

As a general rule, the more loudly the state and its officers protest that they are engaged in the disinterested service of the public welfare, the more likely it is that they are lying and cheating.

28 thoughts on “Government is Always an Owned Business

  1. If all govts. farm society for their own benefit, then does it follow that no govt has legitimacy in the sense that people ought to obey the govt?
    Is all the talk about common good and how govts are charged with deliberating on the common good and pursuing it is just a sham, a sham perpetrated by traditionalists?

    • No. My tone in the post can be read as cynical and jaundiced, but it was not intended that way. The fact that all governments are privately owned business enterprises is actually a feature of society, not a bug. I should add a post to that effect, so as to clear this up.

      That governments operate in their own interest does not prevent them from operating in the interest of their subjects, or of the common good. On the contrary. A good businessman treats his customers and employees as well as he can while still turning a profit, so as to increase his firm’s productivity and to increase his revenues and the value of his business. A good businessman who was running a government as a business enterprise would do all he prudently could to promote the welfare, health, prosperity, industry, and righteousness of his subjects – and promoting righteousness involves promoting tradition and right religion. He would tune his policies so as to optimize economic activity in his realm, thus increasing his revenue base, thus increasing his revenues and the net present value of his realm. The interests of the governor and his subjects would then be aligned.

      There are lots of bad businessmen out there, of course, no matter what the system or culture of government. But bad governors are far more numerous when the fact that government is run for the benefit of the governor is obscured. In such cases corruption – bad government – becomes the only way that the governor can take his profits. So you get more corrupt scoundrels as governors; more bad governors. And corrupted policy decisions are almost always bad for the general welfare. They impoverish the whole society. Not to mention the fact that they engender a culture of corruption. It’s a vicious cycle. Pretty soon, corruption is the only way anything gets done.

      So, best for everyone to be honest about things, and admit – aye, and agree – that the governor is entitled to his profits. Then he can take them above board, without subterfuge. That’s how things were done through much of history.

      I don’t know how it could be demonstrated empirically, but my hunch is that through most of the millennia in which everyone understood that realms were the personal property of their rulers, most governors have been more OK than not, just as most businesses (and most farms, most families, and so forth) are run more OK than not. Most of what’s written in history is the stuff that happens when things go wrong. Stuff going right almost never makes the news: it’s ordinary, and unremarkable.

  2. Is the claim that govts are owned by certain people or the govt owns the land and the people?
    Is the use of the word “owned” univocal or analogical?
    Did a king own his kingdom in the same sense a man owns his house?
    The kings did have their Crown lands from which they derived their revenue. Doesn’t it imply that the king did not own the kingdom in the sense he owned the crown land

    • The claim is that the *operations* of government are owned by certain people, de facto if not de jure. The use of “owned” is loose; it is literal, but equivocal. The reason is twofold. First, in many jurisdictions, no one openly admits that the operations of the government are owned, or therefore even knows how to think about such a thing. Second, the details of how ownership is construed vary greatly from one jurisdiction to another.

      That said, it is a pretty safe generalization that most jurisdictions have understood their subject assets and persons to be, in the initial and final analyses, the property first of the sovereign, and devolved then from him temporarily to the control of his subject persons only in virtue of his licenses, which are revocable at need or for cause. The doctrines both of taxation and of eminent domain (not to mention the modern American innovation of civil asset forfeiture) derive from that prior doctrine. Likewise, military conscription, capital punishment and penal imprisonment – indeed almost all the activities of police, judges and attorneys – are rooted in the prior doctrine that the persons of his subjects are ultimately at the disposal of the sovereign.

      It is possible ultimately to construe all law as an exercise of incidents of ownership by the sovereign over the persons and assets of his realm.

      The king did not indeed own the Crown lands in the same sense that he owned the kingdom. But that did not mean he did not own the kingdom *in some sense.* His vassals after all had title to their domains in virtue of his recognition – of his license, which could be conferred or revoked at his pleasure (provided he was strong enough).

      • Private ownership only exists in the nexus of laws of a particular community. But is it really useful to call this state of affairs as the people and their assets being owned by the king *in some sense*?

        The moral premise of ownership is mixing of one’s labor with a previously unowned thing. If a king is indeed owns everything, what labor has he mixed?

        As Belloc has argued, the true sovereign is the community itself, not the person that represents it.
        The community possesses or occupies the land–but does not own it. It can be easily seen why.
        Ownership is something that can be argued. Possession needs not to be argued. It is just possession, ultimately backed by pure might.
        The nations and the sovereigns possess their lands by pure might. It can not be doubted. No amount of arguments work. Might is right in this situation. East Prussia is now Russia, with all the East Prussians expelled. Thousand years of mixing their labor count for nothing.
        There is no Court where arguments secure possession they could appeal to.

      • Thanks; these are all excellent points. They help me understand the lacunae in my understanding of the topic. There are lots of them: the realization that governments are always owned private enterprises dawned to my sight only a couple weeks ago, so really I have just begun to cook the idea. I have no disagreements with anything you’ve said, but rather only some comments.

        Private ownership only exists in the nexus of laws of a particular community.

        Yes! I’ve made this point myself in other discussions. Whence, then, the ownership right of the sovereign? Sir Robert Filmer argued that, like all private property in his realm, it came from the dictate of the sovereign himself, in which all the laws of the polity originate, and by whom they are enforced; and that the authority of the sovereign to declare law came in the first instance, not from the sovereign himself, nor from his subjects (whether in part or in toto), but (echoing Paul) from God.

        How do we know that a sovereign enjoys the Mandate of Heaven? Well, possession as they say is 9/10 of the law.

        … is it really useful to call this state of affairs as the people and their assets being owned by the king *in some sense*?

        Well, useful enough for the time being. It behooves us anyway to take the notion seriously enough to try to figure out what it means exactly, because historically most sovereignty has been understood in this way. American and British law still construes it that way.

        The moral premise of ownership is mixing of one’s labor with a previously unowned thing.

        I’m not sure about that. Is it not contradicted by ownership in virtue of marriage, or inheritance, or gift?

        As Belloc has argued, the true sovereign is the community itself, not the person that represents it.

        Yes. But then also, the sovereignty of the community is always invested in a person, or a few persons; or else, it is bootless, moot. Indeed, in the political theory of the Middle Ages, the community itself is invested in a person. The king has two bodies: his body natural, and his body politic. The former is just his animal body. The latter is the embodiment in and by his natural, animal body of the whole body of the people, as their head. This theory was deeply informed by the theology of the Incarnation.

        As a bonus, the theology of the Incarnation inherited the political theory of the ancient Near East, on which the king was the earthly embodiment and vicar of the angel of the nation. The Prince was the avatar of the Principality. So the king had implicitly three bodies: his natural animal body, his body politic, and his body angelic. In virtue of the latter two bodies, the sovereign is the embodiment of the logos of the nation, and thus of its law.

  3. If careful distinction is made between “owning things” –i,.e securing a thing with arguments and laws and “possessing a thing”–securing a thing with brute force, then a very self-consistent scheme emerges that solves a lot of puzzles–for instance difference between theft and conquest.
    Nobody is proud of being a thief, but being a conqueror is always a pride.
    If you think in terms of sovereign owning the country, then what is conquest? A theft? Which is always wrong.
    There are other paradoxes that are solved by making this distinction. Like many tiresome examples beloved of libertarians –homesteading oxygen around a person etc etc.
    In general, economics does not ponder carefully enough as to what their moral premise of ownership requires. Something unowned gets to being owned if a person mixes his labor with that thing. But how much labor is required to be mixed with which thing—there is no premise for that,
    A consensus is required which is supplied by particular laws of a community.
    That is community and its laws first (there is no community without laws) and ownership second.
    A sovereign can not own the kingdom because there is no law anterior to the fact of sovereignty itself. The simplest way to see this is that a political community occupies a certain territory –such a kingdom of Franks. Their laws apply there. The ownership of things can exist in these nexus of laws. No laws, no ownership. But the king of Franks does not own the territory of Franks. It doesn;t make logical sense.
    In short, we need to make proper distinctions. Not all relations between persons and things are of “ownership”. Sometimes persons just “possess” things.

    • Bedarz, I think I see where you are going with this, and it is super helpful. I’m going to have to ponder it for a while before I respond at any length, whether to agree, to disagree, to quibble, or to amplify. Or all of the above.

      All I have so far is that I don’t see any contradiction between sovereign possession of a domain by conquest and subsequent sovereign declaration of ownership of that domain under laws proclaimed by that same sovereign – whether the sovereign in question be construed as the community that conquered, or as its ruler and personal embodiment (for, in the real world, communities always have rulers). Possession, it would seem, is a requisite of ownership; is 9/10 of ownership.

  4. If you’ll pardon my interjection into this dialogue, I have a question that may help clarify: what is the relationship between father and family in this context? I think the challenge might be that the discussion is going around modern “sovereigns” which are, in fact, huge monolithic bureaucracies. If we simplify: A tribe, a territory, and a chief. There is a government, in the form of the chief and delegates of that chief. Elders perhaps. But the chief is the ‘sovereign’. I would say the chief neither owns (by law) nor posesses (by force) the subjects: His relationship is paternal. A Father provides for his family; a Father protects his family. That is why Christ is able to describe Himself as both Father and King without inconsistency.

    Scale it up to the bureaucratic age: The Chief or Sovereign is now a group of people appointed to a given task. There are many many more delegates. Their charge is the same: Provide and protect for the people in their care; for the subjects.

    One could draw a distinction then: Government bureaucracies are always owned organizations farming for self benefit. But Sovereignty is a distinct issue, and bears a distinct relationship. Bureaucracy can manipulate the sovereign for its own benefit just as well as it can manipulate the subjects. Bureaucracy is almost the embodiment of the antithesis of subsidiarity.

    Filial bond supersedes acquisition by force or acquisition by law; the duties required by a filial relationship are obliged by love and loyalty more than constitution or conquest.

    • Scoot, thanks, this is great input; another terrifically helpful set of distinctions.

      Government bureaucracies are always owned organizations farming for self benefit.

      *Yes.* It is the *bureau* of government – i.e., the state and its organs and assets – that the sovereign owns as a private business (and quite apart from his business operations in his own personal lands); that is exactly what I was getting at in saying upthread that it is the “operation” of government that he owns.

      Your suprapolation of the paternal relation to his family is exactly how Filmer derives the authority of the sovereign in his Patriarcha: or, the Natural Power of Kings.

      Filial bond supersedes acquisition by force or acquisition by law; the duties required by a filial relationship are obliged by love and loyalty more than constitution or conquest.

      Yes, exactly. It takes a nation to carry off a conquest. And nations are bound together by bonds more or less feudal, friendly, and familiar; i.e., more or less loyal and lovely; all of which are bound together ultimately in and by the person of the patriarch, the Father of the Nation.

      Filmer points out that fathers have the power and authority to regulate the lives of their children, right down to what they may eat and when they must go to bed. Their authority to control their children is an incident of ownership. And while the notion of a man legally owning his wife and children is odd and repellent to us today, it has been the norm for much of human history. So perhaps it would be accurate to say that, whether or not anyone realizes it, or admits it, paternal authority is in fact tantamount to ownership of his wife and children, and that their authority and independence subsists in and by virtue of his let. Nowadays, that let is mostly given by default; perhaps it always mostly was thus given, in just the way that in most lands, the sovereign does not retain all authority in himself, but rather devolves it to his vassals and servants, who then in turn devolve it to theirs, and so on, down to the very bottom of the social hierarchy: infants.

      At any rate, to sum up what we have so far from Bedarz and Scoot:

      • There is a nation of tribes, clans, and families, each supervised by a father figure (or else, running wild and unsupervised), and surmounted by a sovereign Father of the Nation. The Father of the Nation is attended and assisted by at least two hierarchies. First there is a hierarchy of his servants, or advisors, or ministers, or bureaucrats. This hierarchy the sovereign and his cohort own and run as a personal business, de facto if not de jure. This hierarchy is the bureau of government: the state. Second, there is a hierarchy of his vassals, each of whom in turn supervises two such hierarchies.
      • Supervision involves control, which is generally construed as an incident of ownership.
      • Nations and their subsidiaries may possess lands, whether by conquest or mere occupancy. Possession involves control, which is generally construed as an incident of ownership. But formal, legal ownership supervenes possession and concomitant control.
      • The sovereign makes law. The law governs the behavior of both sorts of hierarchy: of subsidiary servants and of subsidiary vassals.
      • On that law, the sovereign formally establishes and keeps the ownership and supervision by himself, and by extension of each of his vassals, of the hierarchies under each of their supervision. Practical supervision then is translated into formal ownership.

      So, the Nation with her Father, and with her laws as noticed and promulgated and enforced by her Father, is prior to the National possession or ownership of the dominion of the Nation. Whether or not possessed of a dominion – think of Alaric and his Visigoths on the move – the Father and his cohort of ministers and vassals rule the Nation. The close cohort of the Father – roughly, the servants and thanes of his own household or family or clan or what have you – administer the state (whatever its degree of formal or legal development) whose officers enforce the laws of the Nation promulgated by the Father. The authority to enforce the laws is tantamount to an incident of ownership. So in effect the Father of the Nation exerts control over his subjects and their assets – whether to let, or to stint, by how much or by how little – that is tantamount to his ownership of them. Nevertheless the Father of the Nation rules her as he rules his own body, and with the same relation of love for the Body Politic as (provided he be sane) he bears to his Body Animal, or to her progeny (the body is always feminine to the masculine regnant occasion). His subjects are his wards, and he via his ministers and vassals is their guardian. Thus the ancient ubiquitous cult that the King Must Die for the sake of his people; such is the role of the Father in the defense of his family. The Father of the Nation then, as the embodiment of the interests of all his National kin, acts on their behalf and as their agent in all that he does in the office of Father. Thus is he the embodied Vicar of the Angel of the Nation; and her arch-ambassador, and her Royal Paraclete. He owns his people and their assets, including their dominion; but he does so as their National agent; so that by and through him is effected the National ownership, both de facto and de jure, of her possessions by his operation of her laws, that are proper to her true nature and that must therefore, as proper, work to her general welfare; which laws he is charged by duty and his own personal interests as First Proprietor to discern and to tell forth.

      Riffing off the top of my head here, but I’m pretty sure I’ve got it right.

      • By the political theory of Aristotle, we find that
        The individual, the family and the City are three irreducible levels of human organization. None can be derived from another. The City is NOT a family writ large or an extended family.

        Consider also the meaning of this statement from Aristotle: A man should rule his slaves despotically, his children monarchically and his wife politically.

        Thus, political rule differs from paternal monarchic rule.

      • I disagree, Bedarz. Political rule is an exercise of authority, same as paternal rule, at least under Zippyist conceptions of authority. Further still I think the family is the smallest irreducible level of human organization–individuals are best contextualized in a family unit, not alone, otherwise they are like unitless numbers. Therefore: Authority (that is, authority as conceived in microcosm by analogy to family) is scalable to any other level of human organization. I don’t believe the quote you give from Aristotle disproves this. Despotic, Monarchic, and Political rule are three ways sovereign authority is exercised, not three distinct and mutually exclusive methods of sovereign rule. To illustrate, can you describe how a man would rule his slaves without using any of the terms used to describe the same for the other two options?

        Kristor: I really like your summary. I was going to quibble with “control” vs. “ownership” but then i remembered that’s definitely the business terminology. a ‘Controlling ownership interest’ is 51%. So I think you’ve got the measure of it. You may have scratched the tip of a more complex issue of legitimacy, which is easier to conceive in a monarchical system than a democratic one, but nevertheless I think that’s a concise summary of things. It occurs to me that this may have been what you were saying in the OP but if I failed to grasp it the first time, I do grasp it now.

      • Bedarz, the obvious facts that the City is not a Really Big Family or a Really Big Body, and that the family is not a Small City or a Big Body, have never prevented political philosophers from noticing the analogy between these three sorts of organisms. Likewise, the human body is not a Really Big Cell, but it does have some features analogous to those of the cells of which it is composed.

        The proper unit of scalation for biological organisms of our sort is it seems to me the household. A household can include members of different families, but one of those families will include the man who is the Head of the Household, and as it were the regnant member thereof. Individuals, families, clans, tribes, cities and nations likewise can be composed of diverse sorts of members (the human body is crammed with symbionts, especially in the gut), and will tend always to have a regnant member.

        I agree with Scoot that despotism, monarchy and politics are not mutually exclusive modes of governance. I have certainly used all three with my children, when they were young. What’s odd to me is that it is harder for me to rule my grandchildren despotically than it was to rule my children that way. I suppose it is because my grandchildren don’t worry one bit that I might punish them, the way they do with their parents.

        Scoot, you are absolutely right that legitimacy is harder to ascertain under a democracy than under a monarchy. In fact, it may be impossible. Democracies are generally characterized by a lot more factionalism and political turmoil than other sorts of government.

  5. Scoot,
    I don’t know what Zippyist notions of authority might be, but the political rule is rule among equals in the classical conception. Which differs from monarchical rule where the king is more like a father to the people.
    When you say you have used despotic rule with your children, you haven’t understood what Aristotle is saying. The despotic rule is ordered to the good of the ruler. The ruled slave does not count. It is NOT paternal at all.

    • I doubt that you can quite understand what I understand about Aristotle. Believe me, I sometimes ruled my children despotically. Not often, but it happened.

      Again, there is no necessary conflict between despotic, monarchical and political rule. A ruler can deploy all three in respect to the same subject at different times and under different circumstances.

  6. Scoot,
    There are no isolated families either. All families are embedded in some City or another. A family is not self-sufficient unit of cultural continuity. The immigrant families adopt the local culture.
    And individual can not be denied. He is embedded in a family but he can not be derived from a family.
    Aristotle puts it strongly. He analogises a family without the City as a cancerous cell.

    The error of Communism is to overemphasize City.
    The error of classical liberalism is to overemphasize individual (and to derive family and City from individuals)
    The error of familism-is to overemphasize family. Political relations as obtain in the City are not same as or reducible to relations as obtain in the family.

    • I agree that families are not isolated. If you’ll permit the analogy of society as a brick house, families are the smallest irreducible units (bricks) of the house, and the legal structure are the supports and framing. So again I don’t think we have a disagreement in principle, only in terms.

      I guess I would put it this way. If I understand correctly, it seems your thesis is that society is structured on an aristotlean basis between individual, family, and city. I am proposing a different conception. The precepts of my proposal are as follows:
      1- All exercises of authority are the same. This is what I described as a Zippyist notion. [Authority Figure] has a moral capacity to oblige [subject figure] to choose [preferred behavior] to [non preferred behavior]. A Father obliges a child to mow the lawn over sitting in front of the TV. A Mayor obliges a citizen to drive the speed limit rather than street race. A Sovereign obliges a citizen to march to pay a share of his income to the treasury rather than use it for his own ends.
      1a – It seems to me your description of ‘political, monarchic, and despotic’ serves to describe attitudes of that authority. Political rule as rule among equals, as you say, is a mechanism of exercising authority. An Equal has a moral capacity to oblige a fellow equal to choose [XYZ] over [PDQ]. Monarchical rule follows the same rubric, but maybe has different perception by ruler and ruled. Likewise with despotic: Someone is obliging another to do something. How, why, and what everyone thinks of it are all variable. But Authority is being consistently exercised.

      2- Because all exercises of authority are the same, all authority structures can be compared by analogy. To wit: A Father is like a King, but a Father cannot rule like a king. A families ends and means are completely different. But the way Authority is structured, from Father to Subject, is comparable.

      3- The end, the goal, the objective of all exercises of authority are distinct, but the lesser is contained within the greater, and the greater directs the subordinate units to the greater aim. Said another way: Families, as bricks in the house of society, are not self sufficient units nor autonomous units, as you say. It is the role of the Mayor to oblige the family to choose the good of the city over the good of the family, if ever they differ. Likewise it is the role of the Sovereign to oblige the City to choose the good of the Nation over the good of the City. anything else is chaos, as you describe.
      3a- One thing you say that perhaps I don’t understand is this: “A family is not a self-sufficient unit of cultural continuity.” Why not? A child is more likely to retain the culture of the parents, and parts of the culture of the surrounding society. But if cultural continuity were the aim of the the authority figure at any level, they would have the moral capacity to oblige the subordinate authority to prefer [XYZ cultural elements] to [PDQ cultural elements]. I would disagree that culture itself is an end of political authority but I do not disagree that there are some authority structures designed for cultural continuity. I would only say that cultural continuity is not, in my opinion, the biggest determinant in the usefulness of the family as a unit of authority.

      4- The role of the individual is to comply with all authority structures of which they are part. An individual ought to work to the benefit of their family structure, city structure, and nation structure but not all on their own. An individual works in a family to the benefit of the family. An individual works in a family so the family can work to the benefit of the city. The family works in the city so the city can work to the benefit of the nation. An Individual that views themselves as the supreme end and means of all of these structures is the cancerous cell you describe. They are not operating within the social structures or hierarchy, they are not helping any group benefit. That is why I assert that individuals are best contextualized as part of a family: That is their first exposure to the greater aims of their nation.

      5- The “Political” realities (i.e. the legalistic structures through which authority is exercised) are extremely convoluted. In Democracy, there is no clear, distinct Sovereign in the traditional sense. The people select a delegate to stand first among them, which gives their chosen delegate power and authority (this is the social contract). But in the present day and age, the exercise of that authority is limited by other delegates who oversee and restrict actions of the Executive delegate (this body is the legislature), and who adjudicate conflicts between executive and legislative delegates (the judicial). All three ultimately derive their authority from the people, and the people obey the authority of the delegates. It is a tautological system, and when it grows to be large and unwieldy, it can and does break down. There are a lot of things to consider when exercising authority, so structures are built to facilitate. The beginning of the bureaucracy is when executive or legislative delegates appoint subsequent delegates who derive their authority from those executive or legislative delegates. And their term does not end when the source of their authority ends. Thus the bureaucratic state, which is separated from direct link to the people, and at varying times subject to or in rivalry with the legislative and executive delegates. This bureaucracy is an authority structure which is distinct from and not directly subordinate to the greater aims of the political authority. It finds itself variously subject to or in rivalry with the Family, City, or Nation. It is wholly owned by the governing polity, but serves its own ends. This is the challenge of the day.

      Forgive the lengthy comment but I hope this helped clarify where we agree and/or disagree!

      • I hate to do this but I have a “Post Scriptum” Afterthought. In point #5, I describe politics at a national level. This structure is not reducible to the subordinate levels, as pointed out in #2. A family can be neither democracy nor Monarchy, but is its own ‘political’ structure.

        If a family is like a brick, a “city” is like the wall, and the nation is the house. A pile of bricks does not make a nation. A series of parallel walls does not make a house. Each brick must be ordered towards the wall. Each wall must be ordered towards the house. One does not consider the house when making the brick, but how it fits into the wall. The rules that govern how to order the bricks will not be the same as the rules that govern how to order the walls.

      • Scoot, thanks for all the work you have done on this. I have only two quibbles. First, when you say that all exercises of authority are the same, it seems to me that you should make it crystal clear that what you mean is that however they might differ in other ways, all exercises of authority are alike in that they all involve an authority who has a moral capacity to oblige others.

        Second, you say that, “A family can be neither democracy nor monarchy …” I would amend that to say, “A family can be neither a pure democracy nor a pure monarchy.” I would add further that a properly ordered monarchy would integrate aristocratic and democratic processes. Such is the Polybian ideal, that engenders stability of the social order. Feudal subsidiarity is one way to accomplish that, provided that members of each level of the subsidiaritan stack have a safe, regular and established way to appeal the rulings of their immediate superiors to the judgement of a higher court.

        Bearing in mind that neither Scoot nor I would propose that the city is nothing but a big family or that the family is nothing but a big individual, it seems to me then that neither Scoot nor I have any fundamental disagreement with Bedarz on that score.

      • Scoot
        The individual is supreme and sovereign in his own sphere. He does not exist merely or entirely for the sake of higher order structures. The city isn’t an ant hill
        Sometimes he must reject his own father

        That family isn’t sufficient to transmit culture is an empirical fact
        How much culture would two people transmit while being entirely embedded in the city?
        The language itself supports — you talk of American culture or Amish culture but it would not make much sense of talk of culture of a particular family

        The final end of a City is realization of its Way. For example, the American Way is a particular realization of Natural Law – the way people ought to live—anf this people — the Americans live in this way
        To realize this way — to make concrete this wY of living — is the final end of a City

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  8. Scoot
    How is authority of a man over his wife same in nature as of a father over his children?
    Or of a property Owner?
    Also I don’t understand why you exclude the individual from your scheme?
    There is a good discussion of Aristotle theory of authority in CS Lewis — Preface to Paradise lost

    • Bedarz,
      I still think theres a chance we are talking past each other. Theres a big ol asterisk on my ideas that states, essentially *assuming all things are properly formed. This is not a reasonable expectation in a practical sense.

      Consider this scenario: a properly formed father making a properly ordered request of his properly formed son. Is there a way the son could reject his father AND have the outcome be better than if he had listened? I dont believe so. Yes, a son can reject disordered requests from an imperfectly formed father, conditional on it being respectful and honoring thy father, etc.

      And if he should be allowed to reject his father, should he not also be allowed to reject his city and nation? If these are all perfectly ordered, does it not follow that the defect os in the individual? Consider a brick with a crack in it. It would not do well to support the wall; reducing the walls ability to support the house. Indeed, too many broken bricks puts the whole structure in jeopardy.

      Regarding authority of man over wife or man over family, Kristors quibble is a valid one. They are comparable only insofar as a man has a moral capacity to oblige behavior of someone else. What he obliges will be different, how he obliges it will be different. The essence is that he will be obliging wife or child to do some thing rather than some other thing. That is the ONLY way they are comparable.

      I exclude individuals from this scheme because an individuals will is not inherently ordered to the good of their social structures. An individual must be ordered to family, just as the other individuals in the family must be so ordered, for maximum benefit to family and the component individuals. I am not saying individualism must die. Im not saying strict compliance must be enforced.

      Lets use another construction analogy. Two families are building a house. One family says working hours are 9-5, with a break in the middle. Every member has a job they must do, and every member must finish that job timely for the completion of the house next week. All members comply and the house gets done. Billy-bob can go hang out at the corner store after hours and shoot marbles with his buddies during lunch. If he doesnt come back to work, someone else must pick up his task. If he does his job poorly, the same result.

      Consider another family building a similar house. They are ordered to the individual. Dad comes by and nails a few timbers together at 9. Johnny lays a few bricks at 10, but then his friends call so he leaves. Mom spends the day sewing “home sweet home” to hang on the wall. Their individual wills are not automatically ordered such that the house will be built timely or well.

      I will habe to look at the lewis book, i am a fan of his, thank you!

      That i havent read it may be why i dont understand your other two points. I dont understand what you mean about culture, or someone “embedded” in the city. Nor do i understand the particular “way” of a city. My initial reaction was that natural law only has one perfect expression, it would seem that if cities are expressing it differently they are expressing something other than natural law, or that law imperfectly?? Any clarification on these would help.

      • As each saint is individual with his unique personality each city is unique and the laws of each city realize the natural law in its own way
        For example a tribe — of hunters – may dispense with private property in land
        Another people may have lands owned communally Another may go for full individual ownership of land

      • Bedarz,

        I have been meaning to write further clarification about natural law and rights, etc. In brief: Natural Law says nothing, to my knowledge, about land ownership. That is strictly a human legalistic construction (known as Rights). God does not guarantee land ownership, but he does guarantee, for example, the dignity of Life. Taking someones Land may or may not be a sin; taking someones life will always be a sin. I’ve written a bit about Rights vs. Natural Law here and here, and since we’ve strayed a bit into the intellectual woods I invite you to visit my site where I reposted of one of my earlier comments here and our conversation would be more germane to the op!

  9. Nice article. Currently, we can say a government “a union of powerful people only”.
    I have recently published a post for improving political system in developing countries, “Workable Political Science for Developing Countries”. Hope you will enjoy reading this article.


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