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ten An Active, Limited State The Meaning of Public Justice Dooyeweerd defines the state as a differentiated, organized, public-­ legal community, marked by a juridically qualified structural principle. Its public-legal leading function implies the norm of public justice, and this norm should direct the state in all its activities. The nuclear moment of the juridical aspect is characterized as retribution, meaning the harmonious balancing of different juridical interests. The state’s defining­ responsibility—its destination—is to realize such a harmonious juridical balance in the public realm. Various interlocking concepts make their appearance in Dooyeweerd ’s discussion of public justice.1 In addition to juridical harmonization , the most important of these are the distinction between internal functions and external relations; the principle of sphere sovereignty; the idea of the public interest; the distinctions between “structure” and “purpose ” or “task” and “typical” and “atypical” tasks. It proves to be no easy matter to clarify precisely the meaning or interrelation of these concepts. After attempting a reconstruction of these various elements I propose an important clarification that both shields Dooyeweerd from an obvious objection and opens the door to a fruitful interchange with the Catholic notion of the common good. A first step in attempting to clarify this idea is to underline the distinction between the internal functions of the state and its external enkaptic relations. Dooyeweerd, however, sows needless confusion at this 219 220 h e r m a n d o o y e w e e r d point by failing consistently to respect the distinction between the relations obtaining in the internal sphere of the state—those between government and citizens or between different branches of government—and those obtaining outside this sphere, that is, those between the state and other kinds of societal structures with different leading functions (or persons acting in nonpolitical roles). There is, for instance, a fundamental difference between the government’s relationship to its citizens expressed in electoral legislation and the state’s relationship to a school expressed in compulsory curricular standards. Dooyeweerd does recognize the difference between internal and external relations, but he misleadingly refers to some of the latter as its “modal aspects.” In his ex­ position of these modal aspects,2 he cites illustrations of both internal relations and external relations. The state’s regulation of private economic structures is also misleadingly cited as an example of the internal economic functioning of the state.3 A correct example of internal economic functioning would rather be the state’s own housekeeping activities, such as raising taxes.4 Of course, the two have significant effects on each other—fiscal policy is one determinant of company performance—so that it is tempting to abandon the internal/external distinction entirely. Dooyeweerd’s point, however, remains a sound one. In raising its own revenue, the state is requiring its citizens to fulfill the proper duties of membership in the political community . Without such revenue the state could perform no functions at all since it could not even pay its officials. By contrast, in regulating private industry, the state relates enkaptically to independent economically quali­ fied societal structures. This is not part of the state’s internal economic life. Similarly, a valid distinction can be made between a balance of payments deficit and a budget deficit. The former refers to the national accounts, the latter to the government’s own accounts. This distinction is crucial to maintaining a clear boundary between state and society, as public and private realms respectively. I have noted Dooyeweerd’s rejection of both individualistic and universalistic conceptions of society and his own view that society is not a whole with its own internal structure but a network of complex enkaptic interrelationships between structures such as schools, families, unions, political parties, and so on. The state is not involved in all these enkaptic relationships, and my focus is only on those in which the state is involved. An Active, Limited State 221 In Dooyeweerd’s view both universalism and individualism misconceive the enkaptic character of the relationships between state and other structures. In universalistic theories societal structures are viewed as parts, which are dependent upon the state as an all-inclusive whole. On a consistent universalistic theory the state is in principle entitled to regulate all areas of any human activity. Aristotle, for instance, conceived of the household as part of the political community and proposed that citizens be divided into compulsory occupational classes with the government regulating compulsory common meals...


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