Dwight Writes


Non-territorial governments - a thought

We appear to be in a state of transition. Are there any historical patterns available to us to guide us to a resolution of our problems? I can think of one.

There was a time in the history of the west known as Christendom. To oversimplify a bit, we were a diverse people joined by common sets of morals and religious doctrines. The Reformation caused division within the area of doctrine. We split, then splintered. Unity of doctrine was lost, seemingly for good. At first, the attempts to repair the damage involved the use of armies, the letting of blood. Eventually we learned to coexist. More than that, the divisions themselves perhaps taught us something about freedom of conscience. It isn't that everyone is right in his own way. It is just that everyone has the right to be wrong in his own way.

Until fairly recently, doctrine has divided us, but we clung to a core of common moral beliefs. That has changed. And, like the division on doctrine, there is no going back, at least not by a direct route. But we have not yet figured out how to deal with this new reality.

What if we were able to find a solution to the new problem that worked like the old one did? What if we recognized everyone's right to be wrong, not just about doctrine, but also about morals? What would that look like?

What if rather than keeping our one-size-fits-all, winner-take-all government, we devised a way to have multiple, non-territorial governments. The Republican and Democratic Parties become non-territorial governments (NTGs), jointly controlling the various departments of government in proportion to the number of their paying members. The numbers of members would be adjusted each month as members switched party affiliation.

At some point, the parties would be allowed to split, and split they would. Eventually they too would splinter. But the parties would continue to jointly operate the national government departments like so many companies.

How would this be any different from our current situation? Like so many sons of the Prodigal Father, they would insist on splitting their inheritances and going their own ways. This one wants to maintain Social Security along the old formula: off he goes! That one wants private accounts: rip! That one wants to police the whole world; this one wants to scale back dramatically. The inheritance of the old departments of government come apart at the seams. Each NTG acts according to its lights. People vote with their feet, moving their affiliation and cash to the one that reflects their moral beliefs. Costs of doing business are trimmed to attract new members.

What would all this change create? It would do away with the idea that government must be monopolistic and involuntary. It would prove that government could be truly run like a business. It would allow each person the freedom to express their moral beliefs, to live within a government whose actions reflected their beliefs, whose tax dollars (if they could still be called taxes) would only go to fund actions that were in keeping with their morals.

Yes, it does away with our self-image: we are a Christian nation, with a single set of moral beliefs in all things. We would be divided along the moral issues that already divide us. No need to worry if the new Supreme Court judge will help tear down Roe v. Wade. Irrelevent! With our intertwining, non-territorial governments, each will act (as he would anyway) according to his own moral beliefs. The difference is, WE won't be supporting THEIR causes with OUR money. The sun shines on the just and the unjust. We each have the right to be wrong in our own ways. And we are all responsible for our own actions. The monolithic, monopolistic, territorial, involuntary government will be no more.

End of the story? No. Moral evil is objective. We will witness the consequences of evil choices, and need to bear witness to the truth, about morality just as with doctrine. The sun shines on the just and the unjust. But the wages of sin still demand to be payed.

God draws straight with crooked lines. The doctrinal divisions of the Reformation, the moral divisions of our own times, perhaps they are paths to truths that we would not have seen clearly otherwise. Perhaps they are the straightest paths God could have fashioned for us. Respecting the dignity of the human person, including the right to be wrong, could be the shortest, straightest path of all.


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