Friday, November 20, 2015

Abuses of Subsidiarity

Civil society is a word we use often, and one that helps us understand the social teaching of the Church. In Korea, the feeling of many is that civil society has little to do with our spiritual life and relations with God.   Forgetting, we are an integral part of civil society as Christians.

"Civil society is the sum of the relationships and resources, cultural and associative, that are relatively independent from the political sphere and the economic sector." A seminary  professor writes in an article of the Catholic Times how we fail to see a complete picture of our lives as Christians and gives us the quote from the Compendium of the Social Gospel #417.

Looking over society, we see a plurality of theories and ideologies, which at times tend  to reduce and curtail  this freedom in  society. An example would be a dictator or totalitarianism that wants to bring pluralism under the control of the government, and in the economic sector where they want to increase their domain and  decrease the domain of society.

Catholicism sees a three-part division: political reality (nation), economic (market)  and society. Politics tend to go into totalitarianism and market into neo-liberalism, and we have a loss of autonomy and harmony in society. 

Both the nation and economics are at the service of society: acknowledging the dignity of the individual.   "The political community and civil society, although mutually connected and interdependent, are not equal in the hierarchy of ends. The political community is essentially at the service of civil society and, in the final analysis, the persons and groups of which civil society is composed. Civil society, therefore, cannot be considered an extension or a changing component of the political community; rather, it has priority because it is in civil society itself that the political community finds its justification (Compendium #418).

Society proceeds the nation and the principle that makes this clear is subsidiarity. Which holds that a larger and more  complex organization should not do the work that can be done as well by a smaller and simpler  organization. Government should limit its control to areas that can't be handled by society.
In the conclusion of the article, he shows why he is concerned in the direction Korea is going. Government is not listening to the citizens and in different ways manipulating public opinion. We have the problem with the history text books the government wants to oversee, and in dealing with North Korea using the word follower of the North to designate those that don't agree with government policies. These are ways  the government is trying to extend its control over society: an abuse of subsidiarity.

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