Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Kingdom or Nation-State?

My friend Charles Bartlett writes:

Republicanism seems to represent a major shift in history, and perhaps related to this is the problem of modern sovereignty. In writing this essay, I sort woke up to some dangers with classical nationalism v. imperialism. Popular sovereignty and contract theory have done their nasty work in the church. This begins with beliefs regarding the loci of political freedom. Contract theory would start with those inalienable rights belonging to the individual in a fictional state of purine nature which then transfers over to a constitutional governance according to sound reason. In contrast, divine right would begin with the freedom of God who has declared a divine order upon the earth prior to the fall of man where the King fills is given an office in temporal affairs to punish wickedness while acting as a supreme warden in the church. Rather than start with the individual in a state of poetic nature, divine right begins with the order of man as it is willed from heaven, namely, appointed headship.

However, the king properly executed is not a tyrant. He is constrained by 1. the laws of God, and, 2. the oaths which his predecessors or himself have rightly pledged. From #2 we derive a sort of constitutionalism which upholds custom and established rights. Yet, #2 would be those rights established over time with various corporations of society. A ‘corporation’ might be a city, guild, manor, or many divers households. What emerges is a graded society each corporation possessing their own rank and dignity, some with more or less freedom/duty plus a fairly complex system of formal and informal law backing such.

Modern nationalism, with its fictional individualism, sweeps this all aside into a single “third estate”, and everyone is given an equal freedom or lack thereof. To me, this is tyranny because 1. it is based upon a false notion of sovereignty (beginning with the nature of fallen man rather than God’s grace) and 2. equality is given without a distinction of precedent, duty, or service, eliminating the possibility of higher freedom. In terms of countries, this makes colonies and dominions equal to Kingdom(s) from which they originate, much as a child might be erroneously treated as a peer to his father. The idea of a graded community is lost. I can see how this principle further translates to the citizenry within the nation-state or even the particular church; hence, democratic social contractions.

In contrast, Empire is maintained upon the principle of households or corporations, ranking the heads of each. Both Israel and the primitive church seem to have functioned upon this model. This allowed the incorporation of both local and universal principles since a “household” was predicated upon a subsidiarity authority (of ‘fathers’) yet nonetheless each was joined to the whole through mediums of greater ‘heads’(sic., barons, dukes, earls, marques, princes, et al.). This allowed a ranking between kingdoms without their elimination as such. I don’t believe nationalism is capable of this because modern or liberal federalism lacks the corporate, subsidarian character– mostly, a’gradedness’ that permits diversity minus chaos. In the church, this ‘empire’ would correspond to ranks of bishops (metropolitans, archbishops, patriarchs, even a ‘pope’) which the old ecclesia had plenty.

1 comment:

charles said...

Thanks for posting this, Andrew. It caused me to correct some typos in the original comment. I hope UP readers have a chance to visit those essays under AR's "Anglican Ascendancy" on the Script page. Basically, the "Ascendancy" is an outline regarding provincial authority when the Crown is otherwise absent from the church. See the essay, "Litany's Faldstool".