THE STRUCTURAL PRINCIPLE OF
THE STATE (14)
by Herman Dooyeweerd
The expression of the structural principle of the State in the internal sphere of political economy.
The aesthetic structural aspect of the body politic necessarily refers back in the foundational direction of the temporal order to the economic modality. The problem of "the relation between the State and economy" has been posited on the immanence standpoint in as confusing a manner as that of "the relation between the State and law". The confusion was due to a lack of insight into the relation between the modal and the individuality structures of reality. Even those writers who emphasize the pluri-sidedness of the State as a real "social organism", in opposition to the individualistic theories, go astray as soon as they want theoretically to conceive of the relation between the body politic and the economic law-sphere.
As examples of such a confused and erroneous way of positing the problem I mention that of OTTMAR SPANN and HERMANN HELLER. In his interesting book Fundament der Volkswirtschaftslehre, SPANN summarizes his view of the relation between the "State" and "economy" as follows: 'As an active part of economic life the State has meanwhile become a real element of economy and is within the latter no longer a "State", but a capital of a higher order, the support of all economic activity, the instrument of all instruments —and therefore itself "economy". With this social genus of "economy" a social genus like the body politic can as little mix, as food mixes with blood: the food must first change into "blood", if it is to work like blood; else food remains an inactive foreign body in it" (1).
(1) O. SPANN, Fundament der Volkswirtschaftslehre (3e Aufl. 1923) p. 184; cf. also p. 28, 103 ff. The German text of the quotation reads as follows: 'als wirksamer Teil der Wirtschaft ist er (i.e. the State) indessen wirklich Bestandteil derselben geworden und in dieser nicht mehr "Staat", sondern Kapital höherer Ordnung, Beistand alles Wirtschaftens, Werkzeug aller Werkzeuge, also selber "Wirtschaft". In die Gesellschaftsart "Wirtschaft" kann sich eine Gesellschaftsart "Staat" ebensowenig einmischen wie sich Speise mit Blut mischt: sie muss erst zu "Blut" werden um in diesem als Blut zu wirken oder sie bleibt wirkungsloser Fremdkörper darin'.
Here the entire economic structural aspect of the State is fundamentally denied. The State as such is only conceived of in an external teleogical relation to "economy", and this latter is merely considered a means for the attainment of non-economic purposes, in this case for political aims (2).
(2) Op. cit., p. 60. SPANN's definition of economy is: "Wirtschaft ist die rangordnungsgemässe Widmung von Mitteln für Ziele durch ausgleichendes und sparendes Abwägen... bei Knappheit an Mitteln". [Economy is the devotion of means to ends according to a scale of needs ordered in conformity to a balancing and sparing mode of estimation.., when there is a scarcety of means.]
HELLER's way of positing the problem is equally wrong. Besides, he restricts it to the relation between the State and the typical capitalistic "Marktwirtschaft" [market economy] (Staatslehre, 1924, pp. 211 ff). He, too, conceives the "State" and "economy" as self-contained and equivalent functions of human society, each of them with relative autonomy. The State can only affect economic life from the outside. But HELLER lacks the insight that the body politic has an internal economic aspect, in which its individuality structure finds expression, just as in its internal juridical and moral spheres. This internal economic sphere of the State is quite different from the free economic market relations in which the former is only enkaptically bound.
The structural principle of the State necessarily expresses itself in its internal economic aspect. This really political economic sphere can never be understood in terms of private inter-individual economic intercourse. The internal political economy is a territorial "Zwangswirtschaft" (controlled economy), in which the economic function has been structurally opened in a typical direction to the public juridical leading function of the State. The system of taxation, as a typical political manner of economical provision of income and capital, forms the basis of the whole of the State's internal economy, and unmistakably displays a political individuality-structure. In this typical economic structure the system of taxation is subject to politico-economic norms of a communal character. In it the modal economic principle of a frugal administration of scanty means, in the alternative choice of their destination, according to a well balanced scale of needs, has been typically individualized and opened under the leading of the juridical idea of public interest.
The modal economic principles are not at all eliminated from the internal political economy: but here the question as to what (not how) is economic, is entirely dependent on the individuality structure of this typical economic sphere. The internal economic value of the material apparatus of a military and a police organization, of a network of roads, etc., for the political economy of the State cannot be measured according to the market value of the required goods and services, nor according to a certain marginal utility.
In the internal economy of the State it may be justifiable in an economic sense to deviate from the prices in the free market and from the principles of efficiency prevailing in a free economic enterprise, if such deviations are required by the politico-economic structural relations (3). From the teleological viewpoint the entire economic sphere is considered to be merely a means for the attainment of non-economic purposes. But this view is subjective, and destructive to a correct insight into the internal structural relations in economy; for it excludes the question as to what is economic, from the "Wirtschaftstheorie" [economic theory/ pure economics](4). SPANN also does so.
(3) Remember the expensive administrative services required by the juridically qualified "public interest". These services must not be judged according to the profit earning efficiency-principles in a free enterprise.
(4) The economic needs of the State are in principle dependent on its individuality-structure.
The integrating function of the State in the internal political economy and the exaggeration and denaturing of this function in the modern absolutist idea of the State's economic autarchy [self-sufficiency].
In an internal economic sense the State also performs a political integrating function, which is fundamentally different from that of economically qualified societal relationships, such as international trusts, cartels and the like. The positive contents of this task cannot be defined in a universally valid way because of their variable character. There is a tendency in modern times to a large-scale "ordering" of the whole of "national economy" within the territory of the State. The idea of economical ordering and planning reveals a radical reaction to the old liberal idea of the free play of social forces in economic life ruled by a "natural order", in which the State should not interfere. The entire development of modern Western political and economic life has resulted in abandoning the old liberal policy of "laissez faire, laissez passer".
In itself this thought of ordering is congenial. But it may bring on all the dangers of the totalitarian idea of the absolutist State, if it is not subject to the control of the structural principle of the body politic. The economic integration of the State's population within its territory by means of a political ordering of non-political economic industrial life should remain under the leading of the juridical idea of public interest. The structure of the State necessarily requires this typical leading so that the internal sphere-sovereignty of the economically qualified societal structures will be safeguarded.
The tendency towards planning may be the result of a totalitarian policy, aiming at economic "autarchy", the self-sufficiency of the national production with a view to increase the power of the State as an end in itself. In this case the State's task of economic integration will be fundamentally falsified because the typical [juridical] leading function of the body politic is lost sight of. Naturally a complete economic autarchy of a State, however large it may be, is impossible, since it is excluded by the increasing economic interdependency of all parts of the world. But, as a politico-economic maxim of the totalitarian State, the principle of autarchy means that, within the territory of the body politic, the whole process of economic production is to be made serviceable to the policy of power. Then there is not any respect for the justified economic interests of other nations, nor for the internal sphere-sovereignty of the non-political societal relationships.
This autarchical principle was already defended by FICHTE in his project of the closed commercial State. Its tyranny over economic life has been painfully brought home to various countries in the last economic world-crisis [this text published 1969]. Even its partial realization accelerated the dislocation of economic relations before the second world-war enormously. It is easy to see what dangerous effects it must have on States that are poor in raw materials. The counterpart to the principle of autarchy, as the characteristic consequence of the modern idea of the national power-State, is an imperialistic foreign policy. It is, therefore, misleading when RUDOLF KJELLEN defends the autarchical principle on the ground of his vitalistic-organic idea of the body politic by identifying it with the principle of the "individuality of the State in the economic sphere". He puts it on an equal footing with the geographic individuality of the State's territory and with nationality revealing the demic [(sociology) characteristic a population] individuality of the State (RUDOLF KJELLEN, Der Staat als Lebensform, 2e Aufl. 1917 p. 162).
In this sense the autarchical principle is intended as a general individualistic principle of economic policy valid for all nations; but as such it does not at all take their individuality into account. If carried through consistently, it means the dissolution of the whole intricate complex of international interlacements and mutual relations of dependence in economic life. But then it appears to be nothing but a fantastic dream of power in the modern nationalistic political mythology (5).
(5) KJELLEN shrinks back from this consequence. He writes: "Auch das autarchische Prinzip darf nicht Zum Fetisch werden, dessen Anbetung gegen die Bedeutung und das Bedürfnis eines wirtschaftlichen Verkehrs zwischen den Völkern blind macht" (op. cit. p. 166/7). [The autarchical principle should not be made into a fetish whose worship would blind us to the importance and the need of economic intercourse between the nations.]
But the real issue is whether or not the principle as such implies the individualistic exaggeration that in principle does not allow of any restriction. The entire notion that according to its internal economic structure the State is a "closed and self-sufficient organism" has originated from an absolutization.
Only as an example I mention the leading ideas of economic planning according to which the Italian fascist State intended to carry out its programme of economic integration. They have been summarized by WOLDEMAR KOCH in his book Die Staalswirtschaft des Faschismus (1935) p. 14/5, Finanz. Forsch. hrg. v. Fritz Karl Mann) as follows:
1. The idea of the maximum area for the production of foodstuffs for the growing population;
2. The idea of economic independence;
3. The idea of ruralization;
4. The idea of an equal economic development of the separate parts of the country.
The author does not omit to point out that these four ideas were directly or collaterally dependent on the idea of the "Potenza della Nazione" (the power of the nation). He rightly adds that Italy's practical policy could not strive after a complete autarchy but only after a restricted economic independence of foreign countries, and that even such a restricted autarchy was extremely difficult to realize: 'For the one-sided dependence on foreign countries is founded in the natural basic conditions of the Italian national economy' (p. 17). This is true, for Italy is poor in raw materials, and as far as agriculture is concerned, the comparative costs assign to Italy the place of "a garden of Europe". The developmental tendencies of Italian agriculture not affected by the State, favour exactly those branches of industry in which that country can boast of an advantage over other countries. This would entail a considerable amount of interweaving of Italian economy with the international effort to supply economic needs.
The carrying through of the German national-socialistic "völkische" idea of autarchy in agriculture was to be accomplished by means of a compulsory organization of the farmers in a "Reichsnährstand" [(RNS) government body set up in Nazi Germany to regulate food production]. and by the "Erbhofrecht" [Hereditary Farm Law]. Cf. Dr. HEINRICH STOLL: Deutsches Bauernrecht, Mohr, Tübingen 1935.
(Herman Dooyeweerd, A New Critique of Theoretical Thought, Vol 3, pp 480-485)
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