The Church teaches that the principle of “subsidiarity” is opposed to all forms of collectivism. It sets limits for state intervention. It aims at harmonizing the relationships between individuals and societies. It tends toward the establishment of true international order. (Catechism, 1885, p 460-462)
(We believe this would apply to a national coherency as well.)
Subsidiarity is nothing more than meaningful deference.
The Acton Institute defines subsidiarity as a tenet holding that “Nothing should be done by a larger and more complex organization that can be done as well by a smaller and simpler organization”.
As a theoretical principle like Natural Law, it is a rule or body of rules inherent in human nature and essential to or binding on human society. Meaningful deference is built on the premise of sensible humility. On an individual basis it recognizes that in the eyes of the Creator everyone is equal, and each is favored, in freedom, to decide right from wrong based on conscience in which the good is naturally known.
Without a certain amount of sensible humility and meaningful deference we would be the kings and queens of our own invincible selfishness on an accelerated path back to barbarism.
We live in communion with one another, and that demands mutual respect without exception. Even those who have decided against the greater good, and from whom evil dispositions spring, respect must be given as human beings; but certainly not for perverse acts, which in a civilized society must be punished to the fullest extent of the law.
Secular law is founded on Justice; another principle which is drawn from Natural Law, essentially a result of human understanding regarding the immutable laws of God.
“The way God acts in governing the world, which bears witness to such great regard for human freedom, should inspire the wisdom of those who govern human communities. They should behave as ministers of divine providence”, never considering themselves in place of the divinity, but with sensible humility strive to serve the greater good in truth.
“Wherever politics (of itself) tries to be redemptive it’s promising too much.
Where it wishes to do the work of God, it becomes not divine but demonic.” (Benedict XVI)
In that case, politics steps beyond its competence and becomes the peoples demon.
For the people who will not believe in the goodness of God, their ethics and morals clearly derive from the same common source entrusted to every creature. “ The functions they are capable of performing are in accordance with the capacities of their own nature”, and from our viewpoint, is supplied by the “ground of all being” whom they can not nor will not fathom.
“To be is to will and to love.” (Maurice Blondel)
Selfishness, in one way or another, is the antipathy of being human. An ill or antagonistic will can be thought of as hostility against balance, an aversion to peace and harmony, generally brought on by anxiety and fear. In some, actually loathing the good in themselves is a conscious repudiation of their own good nature, and since misery needs company to survive, people of ill will are able to convince others by connivance, that what is wrong is right and what is right is wrong.
After a time, this deviancy can become a belief system; a preternatural faith in direct opposition to the revealed will of God, standing against the greater good. In fact, when ill will becomes systemic in a society it can result in high crimes, even genocide, as we have seen historically. This is nothing more than grievous sin, on a grand scale justifying itself by enslaving and murdering others.
Powerful people of ill will manipulating one society tend to destabilize the whole. Overt forms of collectivism, such as socialism, communism, racism, anti semitism, anarchism, absolutism, etc., often are the main causes of extended wars. Not only wars of slaughter and violence, but wars of massive cultural, political and economic aggression.
By applying the principle of subsidiarity in a democracy, both elected officials and the electorate are bound by the practice of meaningful deference; that is, “the government (those given authority) should not interfere in the internal life of the governed, depriving the latter of its functions, but should protect and support it only in the case of need, and should help to coordinate activities with the rest of society always with a view of the common good.” In a democratic society the higher order is always at the service of the lower order. Since they were chosen by the latter and put in charge of the common good, they have the sacred trust of using resources to that end, seeing to it that opportunity for prosperity is open to all people according to their talents and abilities, promoting the general welfare and fostering domestic tranquility which produces a natural progressiveness.
A government which chooses to take sides, exclusive of the governed, have overstepped their bounds. If the well-to-do are gratuitously favored it can become Fascism; if the needy are politically favored it can become Socialism then Communism. In either case only the “elite” rule and the people are subjugated.
There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that a preferential option must be given to the poorest of the poor, those who have found no way to help themselves. Here again, only meaningful deference (subsidiarity) will work.
Both business and government must provide a helping hand to bring the able destitute into a productive situation – with dignity. The recipients must cooperate with improved conditions by making an honest effort to contribute to the common good using whatever abilities they my possess.
Conservative, market driven capitalism can never eliminate the evils of greed and corruption altogether, but with proper oversight by an intelligent government, employing the principle of subsidiarity, it can evenhandedly broaden the avenue of prosperity for all.
An unbalanced, obese bureaucracy based on political expediency, and pushing the “inversion of means and ends” will eventually morph into either Fascism or Communism, the brother and sister of violence and dictatorship. Government should never become a class in and of itself.
One may ask: “What is the will of God?” Jesus would reply:
The first is this: Hear O Israel! The Lord Our God is Lord alone!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul,
with all your mind, and with all your strength.
The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no commandment greater than these.
(Mark, 12: 29–31)
One must remember these were not given as suggestions, they were given as two equal parts of one commandment, and there was none greater!
Feast of St. Augustine 2009