Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Small is Beautiful

I am a strong advocate of a smaller and more limited Federal government. This is not because I am a libertarian who believes in self-ownership and personal autonomy. I am a communitarian rooted in the tradition of Catholic social teaching. However, community is a meaningful concept only when it is envisioned and implemented on a human scale. The fashion of speaking of large interest groups as communities -- e.g., the international arts community -- is, to my mind, an utterly meaningless and somewhat Orwellian way to use the word community.

I believe deeply in both community and order. The vision I embrace is of a multiplicity of communities each with their own telos and sphere. Government is good -- contra libertarians. But government should be limited -- contra statist progressives.

All of this is rooted in the idea of subsidiarity. This is the idea that all communal endeavors ought to take place at the smallest communal structures first before it moves up to larger structures. The purpose of this principle is to preserve human persons as bearers of God's image.

An example is how social welfare is implemented. That which is local, independent and relational ought to the central means by which welfare is implemented. Other large institutions -- such as government -- should step in where the smaller contexts are inadequate and rather than usurp these contexts should seek to foster them.

Small is beautiful.

3 comments:

The Scylding said...

Great post. "Small is Beautiful" is my entry under political views on my facebook page - so we agree there. And I like your description of being a cummunitarian rather than a libertarian. So once again - Amen!

Alice C. Linsley said...

"The fashion of speaking of large interest groups as communities -- e.g., the international arts community -- is, to my mind, an utterly meaningless and somewhat Orwellian way to use the word community."

I agree! Your balanced perspective is refreshing.

I'm linking to this at Ethics Forum, here: http://college-ethics.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

I have no problem with the basic ideas about community going hand in hand with limited government. However, it seems that once governments are given power, or take it by force, then government no longer remains limited. Historically, this has happened over and over again. So I would lean more toward libertarianism and small is beautiful and because the individual is beautiful.