November 24, 2014

Society is not the State

By In Blogs, C.Jay Engel

Once we realize that “society is not the State” and the “State is not society” all sorts of confusion about Christian duty to the “public square,” the “society that surrounds us,” the “civil sphere,” and other such concepts immediately disappear. The Progressivist confusion of society and state, which was made crystal clear in the writings of Fascist Theorist Mussolini, still clouds our thinking today. “We” are not the “State.” The society exists independent of the State. The State is a parasite on society and feeds from it as a pig does a trough. Even the doctrine of marriage, which is not a Church sacrament in the Protestant view, is a civil and social institution. By making the society one with the State, the State takes over all things, and all things function under the direction of the State. That marriage is rightly “public” and “civil” in its extent, does not in any case make it something that should be overseen and managed by the State bureaucracy.

I am convinced that one of the greatest tragedies of various Christian writers who discuss society at large is their assumption that “we are the government” and the State represents the “will of the people.” In actuality, the market represents the will of the people. Only the market is the expression of the actual desires of millions of people. The State is something else entirely. The society logically precedes the State and the State merely wants to latch on and accumulate resources that were not produced by itself.

Civil society is a wonderful thing. The concept of the “public square” is quite attractive. But these things are not the State. In our age of Statism, it is true that they have been taken over by the State. Mussolini, describing his ideal, has words that describe what has happened today:

“everything is in the State, and nothing human or spiritual exists, much less has value,-outside the State.”

Written by C.Jay Engel

Editor and creator of The Reformed Libertarian. Living in Northern California with his wife, he writes on everything from politics to theology and from culture to economic theory. You can send an email to reformedlibertarian@gmail.com