The Fundamental Structure of the Political Community: A Fruit of Each People’s Genius and History

July 4, 2011


The Constitution Gaudium et spes (1965) of the Second Vatican Council says:

At over 1,000 years old, the Althing (Icelandic Parliament) is the oldest, still existing parliamentary institution in the world. At its beginning, members assembled at the Law Rock shown in this 19th century painting by W. G. Collingwood.

“Individuals, families, and various groups which compose the civic community are aware of their own insufficiency in the matter of establishing a fully human condition of life. They see the need for that wider community in which each would daily contribute his energies toward the ever better attainment of the common good. It is for this reason that they have set up the political community in its manifold expressions.

“Hence the political community exists for that common good in which the community finds its full justification and meaning, and from which it derives its pristine and proper right….

“The practical ways in which the political community structures itself and regulates public authority can vary according to the particular character of a people and its historical development. But these methods should always serve to mold men who are civilized, peace-loving, and well disposed toward all—to the advantage of the whole human family.”

Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, Nobility and Analogous Traditional Elites in the Allocutions of Pius XII: A Theme Illuminating American Social History (York, Penn.: The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property, 1993), Appendix IV, p. 396.



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