Representative Figures and the State

December 12, 2013

[T]here is little need for big government in the organic State since shared authority is expressed everywhere. In such an atmosphere, representative figures at all social levels play their important role.

George Washington and Lafayette at Valley Forge. Painting by John Ward Dunsmore.

George Washington and Lafayette at Valley Forge. Painting by John Ward Dunsmore.

In fact, this model of the State relies much more on human relationships than on money contracts. It governs more by influence than by command. It penetrates deeply into society by drawing on the prestige and moral standing of those to whom it delegates its powers. It integrates into the culture, expressing itself in the very human terms of ceremony, pageantry, and legend.


This intensely personal form of government confers a great unity upon society, which rests upon the broad shoulders and prestige of its representative figures and its parceled-out authority. Thus, a State like this becomes not a necessary evil but a great good since it unites and protects individuals and groups so that they might live together with great autonomy and liberty.


What Is a Representative Character?
A representative character is a person who perceives the ideals, principles, and qualities that are desired and admired by a community or nation, and translates them into concrete programs of life and culture.
We might point to famous figures like General George Patton or those lesser known people such as self-sacrificing clergy, devoted teachers, or selfless community leaders who draw and fuse society together and set the tone for their communities. Modern culture discourages the idea of representative characters and proposes false and unrepresentative characters that correspond to our mass 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), 211.


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