Saturday, June 19, 2010

The purpose of government

In order to illustrate the real purpose of the church, C.S. Lewis discusses the real purpose of government. Although this is an aside to his main point I thought it was interesting in its own right.
Just as it is easy to think the State has a lot of different objects-military, political,economic, and what not. But in a way things are much simpler than that. The State exists simply to promote and to protect the ordinary happiness of human beings in this life. A husband and wife chatting over a fire, a couple of friends having a game of darts in a pub, a man reading a book in his own room or digging in his own garden-that is what the State is there for. And unless they are helping to increase and prolong and protect such moments, all the laws, parliaments, armies, courts, police, economics, etc., are simply a waste of time.
Mere Christianity, Book III, chapter 8.

1 comment:

  1. Oh dear, this is my third comment today. Sorry Ross.

    But doesn't this quote by Lewis contrast with Dorothy... somethings from a few days ago - The WWII lady?

    I would have thought that she would say that the purpose of the state is (something like) 'to facilitate the achievement of the common goals of the community'. In her world, those common goals are great public works and not that wretchedly wasteful thing called personal comfort. Whereas Lewis' idea is the protection of the population so they can pursue their own dreams (an American political system), hers, I would think from that tiny little quote, would be the protection of the pursuance of our collective goals which is more of a left wing sort of perspective.