The right to choose your government.

The Pope: a budding panarchist?

Benedict XVI recently published an encyclical (a teaching document) specifically about social issues. In it he reaffirms the teachings of previous popes over more that one hundred years. One of the foundations of Catholic social teaching is

the principle of subsidiarity, an expression of inalienable human freedom. Subsidiarity is first and foremost a form of assistance to the human person via the autonomy of intermediate bodies. Such assistance is offered when individuals or groups are unable to accomplish something on their own, and it is always designed to achieve their emancipation, because it fosters freedom and participation through assumption of responsibility. Subsidiarity respects personal dignity by recognizing in the person a subject who is always capable of giving something to others. By considering reciprocity as the heart of what it is to be a human being, subsidiarity is the most effective antidote against any form of all-encompassing welfare state.

[Caritas in Veritate, Section 57, all emphasis mine]

A litte further on he makes a most remarkable and, as far as I can tell, an entirely novel (for the popes) suggestion:

A more devolved and organic system of social solidarity, less bureaucratic but no less coordinated, would make it possible to harness much dormant energy, for the benefit of solidarity between peoples. One possible approach to development aid would be to apply effectively what is known as fiscal subsidiarity, allowing citizens to decide how to allocate a portion of the taxes they pay to the State. Provided it does not degenerate into the promotion of special interests, this can help to stimulate forms of welfare solidarity from below, with obvious benefits in the area of solidarity for development as well.

[Section 60, emphasis mine]

Panarchy is about voting with your taxes, about deciding, as a free human being, how to allocate all of your taxes so that the government will do with them the good that you intend, and not the evil that you despise. I, for one, am very happy to see the Pope encouraging the very core idea of panarchy.


2009/08/11 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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