|E.L. Hebden Taylor (1925-2006)|
THE STATE IN WESTERN HISTORY
by E.L.H. Taylor (first published 1969)"No more persistent and troubling issue has plagued the modern study of society than the concern for the place or power and authority in social life. Society is no longer rendered cohesive and stable by a common Christian faith and shared values. Modern western society has struggled for three centuries to find new secular humanistic modes of cohesion and stability comparable to the unifying function played by Catholic Christianity in the Middle Ages. [...] Our Anglo-American doctrine of the limited state grew inevitably out of the Puritan demand for freedom of conscience. The principle of religious freedom won during the English civil war established the principle of the limitation of political authority. If the government has no right to interfere with the religious life of its people then there is a department of social life (of what Calvin called the realm of things indifferent) in which the political authority as such has no competence. Democracy as we understand the term in America, Britain, Holland and Canada is this denial of the omnipotence and absolute sovereignty of the state. The opposite of democracy is, therefore, totalitarianism, which rests on the claim of the state to have legitimate authority in every department of life. The recognition of the great principle of freedom of conscience to worship God as each man sees fit without interference by the government also implied the freedom of all other cultural activities. It implied and achieved in the course of two centuries freedom of conscience, freedom of thought, freedom of education and learning, of art and science and business life from control by the state."
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