No “State” has the monopoly of the common good

There a few notes should be made in the margins of the article by Italian historian Guido Formigoni, published in "TamTam democratic" and entitled "De Gasperi, Dossetti and the false dilemma statism-subsidiarity."  It seems worth noting that the interesting debate animated by Formigoni is found in the notions of "social order" and "State" a decisive interpretation.

Having the need to synthesize and asking myself the goal of showing some problematic aspects of the important Formigoni’s intervention, I propose to reflect on two arguments raised by the author. First, Formigoni writes: "Liberalism was swept away by history, just as totalitarianism. So much so that throughout Europe, the liberals were discussing programming without problems. " First, it should be said that liberalism was not swept away by history, let alone totalitarianism: the first had survived in the work of dissidents and had never been questioned in the Anglo-Saxon world while the latter continued to show his worst side in Central and Eastern Europe. That said, after the Second World War there coexisted in Europe several narratives about rebuilding a new social order. In a nutshell, we could say that we recorded at least three versions: one Italian, one German and one English. The Italian version was well represented by the theoretical perspective that emerges from the Code of Camaldoli, 1943, from the German Freiburg School of Ordoliberal Manifesto of 1936 (Unsure Aufgab), and the British Beveridge Plan, introduced in 1942.

Using a comparative analysis of the concept of social order that affects the Code of Camaldoli, the Freiburg School and the Beveridge Plan, I would place emphasis on three different solutions, each of which more or less conforms to a distinct continental European and Anglo-Saxon tradition of liberalism. If the prospect that emerges from camaldolians is typical of the Aristotelian-Thomistic classical political tradition, forced in the direction of a certain brand of Catholic corporatism, highlighting, consequently, the finalist role of the "State," in the Fribourg perspective, by contrast, the state assumes the function of legal framework, the guarantor of the action of individuals and communities and never a sui generis organ which task would be to homogenize interests and individual expectations. For this task of synthesis processes should respond "free and regulated” competition. A competition, because regulated in the constitution, is the guarantor of freedom, an obstacle to the claims of the omnivorous state power as a bulwark against the risks of concentration of monopolistic markets, which are public or private.

Definitely different is the position which emerges from the Beveridge Plan. Here we assume a notion of "social order" under which the state is taken as the administrative tool, which, as far as possible, enabling people to live in conditions of freedom, as "free from want." Here we assume a notion of "social order" under which the state is taken as the administrative tool, which, as far as possible, enabling people to live in conditions of freedom, as "free from want." In this way, individuals are entitled to pursue the good from the particular vision they have of what is "good," while at the same time the general interest is preserved with respect to a possible drift anarchist. In practice, this would eliminate the camaldolian theorem about "connatural end of the state" identified in the "common good," because in the contractualistic framework  the notion of common good - far from being dissolved - has resulted in the ability to enter into a relationship contract that satisfies all parties involved.

Secondly, the fact that Formigoni does not grasp this comparing element among some of the most important political experiences of the war is understood from the following: "To affirm a finality of the State for the common good is linked to a clear warning that 'power is determine the order of the State.' Indeed, the order was in things selves, in a vision for the common good, however democratically sanctioned". According to the Sturzian perspective, and more generally the Catholic brand of liberalism, there is no finalism of the state, because the state - in epistemological terms - cannot have purposes, and if it vindicates them, could only be those, however legitimate, vindicated by the clique currently in power. To say that is not "in the power of the state to establish the end", because the end is the common good, as it is recognized and represented by the "State," means giving to the "State" exactly the monopoly of the end, giving it the task of selecting the interests and mixing them in the light of a superior end. This perspective contrasts - even with a thousand nuances that prevent an insane break - that of Alcide De Gasperi and Luigi Sturzo, we would say liberal and based on the principle of subsidiarity, read in polyarchycal key and not corporatist, for which no guiding principle for policy is better than the liberal one: according to the Lord Acton’s aphorism: "Power tends to corrupt, absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Ultimately, it means recognizing the importance to individual instances and not to allocate the power to synthesize state authority,  which in this case, inevitably, end up taking over the role of "synthetic summit" of individual and community interests. I wonder what the difference with respect to corporatism and if this vision of social order is not far distant from Sturzo’s and De Gasperi’s perspective, innervated by that polyarchycal concept that the same social teaching of the Catholic Church, from Rerum Novarum to Caritas in Veritate, recognized as the foundation of Christian anthropology.

Saying "polyarchy" is to go beyond the perspective of the social order, as well as declined in the modern (ie in the form of state): it is rather a resumption of the classic Judeo-Christian tradition with the modern methods of social sciences, where the political sphere is only one of the different environments in which man is part of the divine power of creation, along with other life-worlds (family, religion, economy, etc..).

"In other words, there's no reason for any claim of compulsory hierarchization of social forms in the name of an importance of human freedom totally and finally secular and of his dignity whose the state cannot dispose at his pleasure"

Flavio Felice is Adjunct Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and President of Tocqueville-Acton Centre Studies

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