... and a long awaited for announcement!
... and a long awaited for opportunity!
Anarchism is a fools errand. It is all too unfortunate, then, that there happen to be so many fools running errands. One may understand (albeit with a smirk) how the unbeliever or Protestant could believe in a stateless society. But I find it rather strange when running across distributists who would envision a stateless society, or even the "night watchman" notion reminiscent to the likes of Utopians who apparently can't distinguish between liberty and license. How a distributist, advocating a political economy that best reflects the entirety of Catholic Social Teaching, can advocate such notion of the central government is truly remarkable. So remarkable, in fact, that I believe it to be an impossibility, or at least a most horrific inconsistency.
As I stated earlier, the anti-State mentality may very well fit into the non-Christian or even Protestant scheme of things. In fact, it would be quite natural for them to maintain such a position concerning the State. I say as much because it would be in no way inconsistent with their concepts of autonomy, be it radical individualism or ecclesiological relativism.
Take the Protestant. He maintains both the notion of radical individualism (we see this most clearly in regards to hermeneutics) and ecclesiological autonomy. Left to himself and contractual religious bodies that have no hermeneutical authority or ecclesiastical jurisdiction over him without his consent, he is an island of sorts. The religious assembly he chooses to attend holds very little sway over his faith and practice, unless he willingly gives is assent. Otherwise, to the religious assembly next door we go! One sect's heresy is another sect's orthodoxy, and the origin of ecclesial (as well as civil) authority comes from the individual's personal consent.
In much the same way, Distributists who ignore the Church's teaching concerning the origin of civil authority and proper role and functions of the State are playing pick-and-choose with the Magisterium. These folks have assumed the kind of autonomy that causes them to believe that they have the right to overlook or under-emphasize portions of Catholic Social Teaching that either bumps heads with Chesterbelloc and Co. or goes beyond select portions of encyclicals that cover details already dealt with, explicitly or implicitly, in Rerum Novarum. I mean, it is a given that distributists have a special love for the Magna Carta of Catholic Social Teaching. But what about Diuturnum, Graves de Communi Re, Immortale Dei, or even Sapientiae Christianae? Well, unfortunately, these are tough sells.
Why not stick with Diuturnum, as this was the encyclical first mentioned in the above list. Not so ironically it deals with the origin of civil power. Pope Leo XIII lays out here a number of functions the state is responsible for, or at least has a hand in. Among these are public safety (1); to reign, to rule, and to decree justice (9); to govern the wills of individuals so as to make one will out of many and to impel them rightly and orderly to the common good (11); and to study the welfare of the people (26). To say that this description of the state, as taken from bits and pieces of Diuturnum, is a far cry from the kind of stateless society advocated by certain distributists would be as daring as declaring that Thomas Woods doesn't believe the Church has jurisdiction or competence in the realm of economics.
One could very well delve into other encyclicals which lay out still more functions and responsibilities of the state, but the list is rather extensive. This is especially true once we get to Blessed Pope John XXIII. A cursory glance of Mater et Magistra or Pacem in Terris would leave the reader curious as to whether the Church has more in common with culturally conservative, populist democrats than their culturally conservative republican counterparts.
When push comes to shove, distributist are not bound in time to the writings of the early distributists or confined to the text of Rerum Novarum. It is their duty, as faithful Catholics wishing to embrace and live out the entirety of Catholic Social Teaching, to toss aside such anti-Catholic concepts as a stateless society or "night watchman" state, refusing to run errands for the fools any longer.