The nation, the State, and the common good of a people

November 25, 2013

Ingólfr Arnarson, first settler of Iceland, painting by by Johan Peter Raadsig

Ingólfr Arnarson, first settler of Iceland, painting by by Johan Peter Raadsig

Society starts with informal groupings of individuals, families, and intermediary associations mostly dedicated to furthering their own individual good. When this collection of social units coalesces into a clearly distinctive whole, a nation is born. The nation forms a cultural, social, economic, and political unity unable to be included or federated into any other one.

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The goal of this new social unit is no longer only furthering the individual good of each member, but the common good of all. This common good ensures the peace of the community, allows virtuous co-existence, and favors the material and spiritual good of all in the community.

Family

Family

The State is the political organization and order of the nation; its role is to safeguard the common good and facilitate virtuous life in common. The State, therefore, presupposes a people, intermediary associations, territory, and organized political power. The government is the political system and institutions by which the State is administered and regulated.

The Roman Senate

The Roman Senate

The end of the State—the ordering of the common good—is qualitatively different from the sum of the goods of the individuals. This is why the State as the form of political life has “a supremacy of mission, power, and, therefore, intrinsic dignity, which is adequately expressed by the word majesty.” There is no more perfect natural society than the State, which is a necessary element for the proper functioning of society.

 

John Horvat II, Return to Order: From a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Society—Where We’ve Been, How We Got Here, and Where We Need to Go (York, Penn.: York Press, 2013), 207-8.

 

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