Saturday, January 21, 2006

consistent sphere sovereignty

or Civil Society and an Anti-Socialist View of a Positive Role for Civil Government

I'm currently working on a short paper (15+ pages), which, when completed will be posted here. This is a little teaser for you:
In this paper I will focus on a conception of societal structure and functioning, known as "sphere sovereignty," that was significantly developed by Herman Dooyeweerd. I will argue against an interpretation of sphere sovereignty that is what I will call "tax-based" as inconsistent with Dooyeweerd's view. The interpretation of sphere sovereignty I will put forward as consistent with Dooyeweerd's view is "nontax-based." Furthermore, I will distinguish this nontax-based sphere sovereignty from what I will call a laissez-faire interpretation.

For some historical background on this topic see James C. Kennedy's excellent article, which I would have entitled The Anti-Revolution Betrayed (pdf).

Dooyeweerd writes in his 1946 essay The relation of the individual and community from a legal philosophical perspective:
"...the State is characterized as a public legal community of government and subjects... the State cannot assume an absolute sovereignty over the other societal spheres that differ in principle from the State. Every form of legal power, that of the State also, is structurally delimited by the inner nature of the sphere of life within which it is exercised... As soon as one ascribes an absolute sovereignty to the State, one has abandoned the boundaries of law and collapses into State absolutism, based upon a deification of the State. Then also the idea of the "public interest" degenerates into a lever for an unhampered Sate absolutism... The ius publicum, constitutive of the internal law of the State as a public legal institution does not permit service to group interests external to the (public) jural qualifying function of the State. Therefore, the nature of the State is irreconcilable with the allocation of privileges to specific persons or groups... It is only the State, on the basis of its public legal power, that can... guarantee against an overexertion of the public legal power itself, as long as the public office bearers keep alive an awareness of the inner limits of their competence. The State, in view of the inner nature of the ius publicum, does not have the competence to bind the exercise of civil private rights to a specific social-economic destination, simply because the ius publicum intrinsically lacks any specific economic qualification... [There is an] undermining influence that the idea of "social rights," in its overextension, exerts on civil private law."