mercredi 18 novembre 2015

(12) Dooyeweerd: Structural Principle of the State

by Herman Dooyeweerd
     The structural principle of the State necessarily expresses itself in all the aspects in which this societal institution functions as a real unity. Our analysis will start with the moral function. The qualifying juridical function has already been amply discussed, and we will postpone the discussion of the function of faith to the end of this section. The reason is that this latter function presents particular difficulties connected with the idea of a Christian State, which we had better treat as a separate theme.

The expression of the structure of the State in the moral societal function of the love of one's country. State and nation.
     Does the State as such function in the moral law-sphere? No doubt the (moral) love of country displays an internal societal structure not reducible to the inter-individual relationships in the moral meaning of love. There are, however, two different objections to be made against the statement that the structure of the State expresses itself in this typical bond of love.

     First of all it may be argued that love of country may assert itself in opposition to the State. We may refer to the re-awakening of patriotism in the nations incorporated into the French empire by Napoleon I. The oppressed nationalities at last rose on the oppressor. Their struggle for freedom was a strong stimulus to the Romantic conception of the "national spirit", as a primary datum of nature, of which the national State is merely an outward manifestation.

     In this context we should also pay special attention to the first occasion of HERDER's discovery of national individuality. During the important years of his stay in the town of Riga, HERDER came into contact with the Lettish folk character ("Volkstum"), which made a deep impression on him and suggested his idea of nationality. In the case of the Letts, the people's individuality had no political structure, for there was no Lettish State. As HERDER remarks in his essay on Ossian, he had first noticed the expressions of the indestructible peculiarity of this folk in its language, songs, popular dances and customs, notwithstanding its tyrannical oppression in a cultural and political respect (1)
(1) HERMANN ONCKEN, Nationalitätenbewegung des 19. Jahrhunderts, in his Nation und Geschichte (Reden und Aufsätze 1919-1935, Berlin 1935), p. 308/9 — quotes HERDER's words: "Lebendige Reste dieses alten wilden Gesanges, Rhythmus, Tanzes unter lebenden Völkern...denen unsre Sitten noch nicht völlig Sprache und Lieder und Gebräuche haben nehmen können." [Living remains of these old wild songs, rhythms, dances in living nations... whom our manners and customs have not yet entirely been able to deprive of language, songs and customs.] 
     He was the first to consider the nation as a "natural organism" with an entelechy of its own, a vital purposive force, in sharp contrast with the artificial organization of the State. It was this conception which inspired the doctrine of the Historical School concerning the "national spirit" as the real source of culture. This irrationalistic Romantic view found its antipode in the rationalistic political conception of nationality prevailing in the natural-law ideas of ROUSSEAU and the French Revolution. 

     Although the former was doubtless right insofar as it rejected a simple identification of a national unit with a State, it has not really increased the insight into the nature of a national community.

     The latter cannot be approached with the aid of a biological analogy. In the second Volume we have elaborately explained that there is an intrinsic difference between a primitive folk community and a nationality, whose historical aspect of individuality can only develop in the anticipatory direction of time. This implies that a nationality cannot be of an undifferentiated character. It is not folklore which can lay bare its characteristic traits, since this specific branch of ethnology is unable to explain the real integrating potency of a nation. In the last instance the ethnical particularities may strongly differ within one and the same nation.

     The so-called supra-functional view of a national community, as it is defended by GURVITCH and other modern sociologists, is not able to clarify our insight. It is strongly influenced by the irrationalist and universalistic conception of the Historical School, which impedes a critical structural analysis. In what sense can we speak of a national science, national fine art, a national industrial life, a national Church, etc.? Does this really mean that there exists an all-inclusive national community, which as such is independent of any organization? If so, why has nobody succeeded in discovering any tenable criterion of such an all-embracing national whole?

     The reason is that an unorganized all-inclusive community cannot exist within the structural horizon of time, because in the nature of the case it would lack any structure of individuality which alone makes a temporal individual whole possible. An irrationalist universalism cannot uphold the illusion of an all inclusive national community without levelling out the fundamental difference between the geno-typical [primary] structure of a nation and its enkaptic interlacements with other societal structures of individuality. In addition it does not sufficiently distinguish a nation from an ethnical unit. The term "national" in its geno-typical sense refers to the inner nature of a national community. But it may also mean a particular variability type which other societal relationships assume in their enkaptical function within a national unit. It is therefore necessary to account for the geno-typical characteristics of a nation. 

     Community of language or religion (2) or natural descent are certainly no inner geno-typical characteristics. They are only of an occasional pheno-typical [variable] character, and for this very reason they have always proved to be insufficient to define the inner nature of a national unit. 
(2) The term religion is of course not used here in its central religious sense, but in the current sense of a system of faith and worship.
     A nation is not a natural community in the sense defined earlier. It is the result of a political formation which presupposes the differentiation and integration of human society. The typical character of a nationality has always been formed in a struggle for its internal political integration and for its international legal acknowledgement as an independent political unity. Well, nobody has succeeded in describing the individuality of a national character in an adequate way. The reason is perhaps that this individuality can only be approached in a pheno-typical way because it does not display itself but in the full complexity of the enkaptic intertwinements between a nation and the other societal relationships.

     Are the individual traits of a nation indeed the same in its individual political life, in its relation to fine arts, science, ecclesiastic life, industry and commerce, etc.? This must be true if the irrationalist and universalist view of a nation as a supra-functional and all-inclusive community is right. But at this point we should remember that such irrationalism elevated the subjective individuality of a national character to a norm of its historical development. As this is not really possible it replaced the individual traits of a nationality by an ideal normative image of its "true" individuality. And the unity of this image was only an idealistic construction, especially because no single effort was undertaken to give a precise description of this ideal image. The famous German lawyer, RUDOLPH v. JHERING, who in his work Geist des römischen Rechtes indeed tried to give a description of the individuality of the Roman national character without any idealization, defined it as "the mind of disciplined egoism". But in fact he took into account only what he supposed to be the national spirit of Roman law since the time that it was no more than a primitive folk law. And even in this restricted sense his conception of the Roman national mind was untenable since he interpreted the primitive Roman tribal law from an individualist point of view, which is incompatible with the very structure of a primitive society.

     As to the [primary-] geno-typical characteristics of a nation the state of affairs is quite different. Here we have to do with a differentiated structural type which lacks the complexity of a [variability-] pheno-type. In this sense a nation is a people (and not merely a group of persons of the same nationality within a foreign country) which has become conscious of its internal political solidarity irrespective of its eventual ethnical differences. The present Dutch nation was not born before the common political trial of the Napoleonic rule melted together the different provinces, which formerly could never conquer their particularism.

     A real nation never lacks a political organization, but it may be that the latter has not yet attained to the position of an independent State, or that it has lost this position. Nevertheless, State and nation have the same radical type, and every national community has the potency to become a real State. This explains why, at least in a democratic constitution, the so-called "pouvoir constituant", i.e. the original political competence, can only belong to the nation. But this is not to be understood in the sense of the people's sovereignty as it was conceived by the Humanist natural law doctrine. For this supposed sovereign people was nothing but a mass of individuals united only by the construction of a so-called social compact. It was nothing but a speculative ideology lacking any contact with political reality.

     It is possible that initially a State embraces different nations. But if it does not succeed in integrating this difference into a higher national unity, it contains in itself the germ of political dissolution. The former Danube-monarchy is a striking instance of the inner weakness of a pluri-national State.

     It is not necessary to go further into the relation between State and nation to get an insight into the structure of individuality of the moral figure of "love of country". In the present context it will suffice to say that in any case "love of country" is entirely dependent on the political structure into which country and nation have been organized. Love of country is not identical with love of an ethnical group of people, nor with the biotically founded love of the land of one's birth alone. The strong manifestation of patriotism in a struggle for freedom (like the Dutch eighty years' war with Spain, or the American war of independence against the British mother-country) is for the benefit of a rising State which has been given a provisional organization.

     Exclusively as a political organized unity under a provisionally constituted or still existing government can a nation turn on a foreign usurper, either manifestly or underground. Genuine love of country always displays an internal political structure, especially when it opposes domination by a foreign State. A would-be patriotism does not know the subject of its love when it ignores the internal structure of the life of a body politic and a nation. This patriotism pictures its beloved as a chiliastic ideal of gentleness, but as soon as the State (the existing or the rising State) demands from its subjects their sacrifice of life and property, there is no longer any room for idealistic dreamers. Stern reality will show which love of country is genuine, and which is internally false. True love of country knows that its way may lead through blood and tears, and in its Christian manifestation it implies the painful consciousness that the State is instituted "on account of sin".

     The light-hearted, but in reality demonic joy in "the strong State" with its powerful army is entirely in conflict with a Christian love of country.

Is the State the subject or the object of love of country? The objective conception is impossible.
     The second objection to the view that in love of country the State structure is subjectively manifest, is that the "native country" can never be the subject, but only the object of this love. When I made my first attempt to investigate the individuality structures of human societal life, I thought that the qualifying function of an organized community must always be its last subject-function in reality, and that such a community can only have object-functions in the later law-spheres. I drew this conclusion from the example of subjectively qualified natural things. But I very soon had to give up this view as contrary to the entire structure of human societal relationships.

     If this view were true, a community for social intercourse (e.g., a club) or an economic-industrial community could never function as a juridical subject. This consequence conclusively proves the untenability of the hypothesis.

     In love of country we may consider the country (in the sense of a political territory) as the object; but the national community of the State as such cannot be an object. The members of the nation can only be bound together by love of country in the subjective structure of the State's people. The second objection to the view that in love of country the structure of the body politic finds its subjective expression thus proves no more to be founded than the first.

The internal limits to love of country, and the principium exclusae collisionis officiorum. 
     Its internal structural principle delimits love of country so that this love can never become an unqualified totality of love relations revealing themselves within other individuality structures. State worship is utterly un-Christian also in its unbounded exaggeration of love of country. This love is limited by its own internal structure in all of the extremely intricate interlacements with the love- relations in marriage, family, kinship, Church, local, and occupational communities, international relationships, etc. If these internal limits are ignored, love of country will become intrinsically false.

     The Aristotelian view that love of country is a "higher" form of love ("friendship", as it is called by ARISTOTLE) than that in family and kinship cannot be true. An argument for this view seems to be that, when the members of the same family or kinship have a different nationality, the duty towards the State should prevail over the natural bonds of blood. But this does not at all prove that love of country is higher than the other forms of love. It only proves that within its own internal structural limits love of country does not recognize any rival. But exactly the same thing applies to other societal structures of love. The love among the members of the same Church, e.g., does not allow of competition on the part of love of country. The latter should never divide the members of the same Christian Church within the internal love-relations implied in the community of faith. Similarly the mutual love among the members of a family must never be dominated in the internal family relations by love of country. The typical political relations are not included in the internal family relations. There can be no question of a real collisio officiorum in the normative relations of love. Such a conflict is precluded by the cosmic principle of sphere-sovereignty within the individuality-structures, just as much as cosmological antinomies are precluded by the principium exclusae antinomiae.

     But this does certainly not mean that a confrontation with the different duties of love may not give rise to extremely painful tensions in our subjective feelings. Nor does it exclude real conflicts caused by an excessive expansion of the moral claims of the love of country, or of those of other societal structures of love-relations.

     The principium exclusae collisionis officiorum, just as the principium exclusae antinomiae, does not imply a denial of conflicts on the subject-side of societal life and temporal reality in general. It only excludes a subjectivist denial of the cosmic temporal order, and the elevation of antinomies to the rank of a dialectical law of reality itself.

Love of country and the problem of the international public relations.
     The structural principle ultimately limits the internal integration on the part of the State to its own country and people. At this point the vast problem of the relations among the different States forces itself on our attention. The international political relations in which the State is involved are quite different from those between the State and non-political societal relationships, or from the function of the State in private inter-individual relations.

     We have rejected the dialectical basic motives in the prevailing political theories concerning the internal structure of the State, but we thereby did not mean to deny the possibility of a seemingly unavoidable conflict between "might and right" in international politics. The internal structural principle of the State cannot offer a solution of such a conflict. For in this case the different States have external inter-communal societal relations to each other of a very special kind, which display neither the internal communal structure of the State, nor that of private inter-individual relations. Foreign policy remains bound to the internal structure of the State, but it has an international character and, therefore, it cannot be carried on according to the standards of internal policy. This was what JOHN LOCKE had in view when he made a distinction between the executive and the federative power and subsumed foreign policy under the latter. The rules of private inter-individual legal intercourse do not suffice here. For in the first place the different States occupy very unequal positions of power in international life. And in the second place the chief interests involved in international relations are of a characteristically public societal nature.

     This is why international conflicts involving the danger of war cannot be judged of according to a civil juridical standard, as KANT proposed in his individualistic project of a league of nations. KANT's idea of law, which lay at the foundation of this project, was exclusively oriented to civil legal intercourse. It had no room for the recognition of the essential nature of international relations which do not belong to this private civil sphere (cf. my treatise Norm en Feit. Een critische beschouwing naar aanleiding van het geschrift van Mr Rozemond over Kant en de Volkenbond, in the review Themis, 1932, no. 2, pp. 1-60).

     There is no denying that there are international private relations for which the various States must devise international arrangements. But the dangerous conflicts in the international intercourse between States are always concerned with the essentially public interests of the latter, each of them vital to their own internal structure. Here the principle of the "reasons of State", in the sense of an unbridled and egotistic pursuit of their own interests by the bodies politic involved in such a conflict, displays its most dangerous and alluring aspect. This is all the more serious since this problem takes account of the individuality-structure of the body politic much more according to its foundation than does the individualistic natural-law view of the international relations.

     During the whole history of the modern system of States since the Westphalian Peace until the second world-war no great power has been prepared to have questions of really vital interest withdrawn from its own sovereign final decision. The famous third chapter of the "Acte général" of 1928 of the former League of Nations provided for obligatory arbitration in disputes about interests. But this provision did not materially alter the situation. Owing to the reference to the 38th Article of the Statute of the Permanent Court of International Justice, the arbitration mentioned above could only result in the maintenance of the formal "status quo", in so far as no compromise was made. 

     It was this international situation before World War II which I had in view when in the first (Dutch) edition of this work I wrote: 'So long as the pluralistic modern system of States continues to exist, there is no other peaceful settlement of disputes about the interests of the States than mutual consultation under the guidance of an international public juridical idea of interccommunal relationship. Conflicting interests should be harmonized on the basis of a mutual insight into, and at least partial recognition of each other's vital interests as each State's well-understood own interests. Added to this the members of the League of Nations should take effective action to prevent or stop wars as means of settling disputes. Recent experience, however, has been deeply disappointing, as far as the application of Art. 16 of the Covenant of the League of Nations is concerned. It has become clear how precarious is the international juridical position of weak States, if the old imperialistic spirit is allowed to persist in the international policy of the Big Powers.'

     Meanwhile the post-war experience has opened some new perspectives at least for the democratic States of the West European continent. I do not mean that the Charter of San Francisco has really strengthened the international position of the small States, as members of the new organisation of the United Nations, in comparison with their position under the Covenant of the former League of Nations. But I have especially in view the growing insight into the common military and economic interests of the West European States, which gradually pushes back the old individualist dogma of sovereignty and tends to a gradual realization of the federative idea.

     I cannot think of submitting this extremely important and complicated question to a more thorough investigation in the present context. Besides, it falls entirely outside of the subject under consideration and would require a separate study. I could not omit to refer to it in passing, however, because I wanted to avoid the misunderstanding that I am absolutizing the internal structural principle of the individual body politic at the expense of the international public relations between the various States. The Christian view of the State must never capitulate to a naturalistic theory of the "raison d'État" elevating the "sacred egotism" of the States to a kind of natural law in international relations. Such a theory is intrinsically false and contrary to the individuality-structure of the States as well as to the basic structure of the international order.

     The internal vital law of the body politic is not a law of nature but bears a normative character. A State can never justify an absolutely selfish international policy of the strong hand with an appeal to its vital interests. God has not given the States such a structure that, with a kind of natural necessity, they are compelled to carry on a Kain's policy for the sake of self-preservation. Only a blind man does not see that the vital interests of the nations are in a great many ways mutually interwoven. It is not the political structure of national life but the sins of the nations that have caused the individualistic selfish power of the States to dominate international politics.

     In international legal relations the internal public juridical structure of an individual body politic is necessarily correlated with that of the other States in public juridical, inter-communal relations. Similarly the love of a particular country cannot fulfil the moral commandment in the international moral relations between the States without its counter-weight in international love of one's neighbour among the nations. Any absolutization of patriotism leads to a blind chauvinism, which lacks the true moral sense of love. It is an absolutely un-Christian thought that the commandment of temporal societal love of one's fellow-men is not valid in international intercourse between the nations organized in States. International relations are also subject to the moral law; they cannot be ruled by a purely egotistic principle. But the structure of the international norm of love is not identical with that of private moral intercourse between individual men. The moral relations between the States remain bound to the structural principle of international political relationships,which presupposes that of the body politic itself.

     The norm of love can never require a State to resign itself to a foreign attack on its independence and to deliver its own subjects to the violence of a usurper. The moral duties of a body politic cannot be measured according to private standards.

(Herman Dooyeweerd, A New Critique of Theoretical Thought, Vol 3, pp 467-477)

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