Under the control of the State


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ABSTRACT "Under the control of the State": Catholic World Report HOME ARCHIVED ARTICLES EDITORIAL CWR BLOG VIDEO ABOUT US NEWS BRIEFS / RSS FREE eNEWSLETTER DONATE ADVERTISE The CWR Blog "Under the control of the State" February 17, 2012 01:30 EST By James V. Schall, S.J. In 1956, in his book,  The Political and Social Ideas of St. Augustine , Professor Herbert Deane at Columbia University wrote: “Only with the rise of totalitarian societies in the twentieth century has a new general effort been made to bring  all aspects of human life under the guidance and control of the state  or the totalitarian party” (8).  When these lines were written, we assumed that they applied only to Nazi or Communist societies. But in the fifty some years since Deane wrote these words, the reabsorption of all spheres of life once separated by the division of society, religion, and polity has increasingly taken place under “democratic” auspices, under the relativist doctrine that no truth exists, that the state is free to define whatever it judges to be fit for human living. This all-powerful state was something that had not been seen in the West since the Fall of the Roman Empire. The causes of this change are both metaphysical and moral. We have been taught to think that “democracy” is automatically “the best regime,” the only alternative to any totalitarian state power. Though it has been coming for some time, within these past couple of weeks, we are seeing clearly that the desire, force, and will to subsume all subsidiary social institutions, especially religion and family, under the control of the state is also endemic in current democratic societies. Religion is seen to be, not the “first right,” that popes speak of, but the principal opposition to the utopian move to provide everything for everybody under the benevolence of the all-caring state. Perhaps no organization has been more reluctant to grasp and acknowledge the operative logic of this total control ideology than the Catholic Church. It has prided itself in its subtle accommodation in recent times to what were thought to be reasonable principles for understanding of the political order, the nature, limits, and place of revelation within it. Catholics have striven to show that its beliefs and organizations are able to accept a limited state, a state that understands its own nature and does not claim competence over all spheres of human life. On the surface, we might be tempted to look on the move to extend what is called “health care” to everyone, including religious institutions, to be something wholly neutral and well-meant. The fact is, however, that it is but one aspect of a world-wide logic, by no means limited to this country. It demands, under the name of the universal common good, the complete control of the state over all aspects of human well-being, especially those having to do with matters of life, death, human reproduction, and efforts to prevent or control the same. That an American president should cast himself as the main advocate of this massive extension of unlimited state power should, in fact, surprise no one. The essential premises of such expansion have been taught in most American universities for years with little effective criticism. The position that the President employs to justify his actions.......