The American "Civil War" and the Tower of Babel

The whole truth about Lincoln’s war to prevent 11 American states from forming a federation of their own cannot be understood unless it is seen as an extension of a brutal process of centralization that had been going on in Europe since the 13th century.

Medieval Christian civilization contributed to political philosophy by  introducing a polity in which small political units and independent social authorities are federated into larger units for certain limited purposes while still retaining most of the rights of self-government.  In other civilizations kingly and priestly power were united; in Christendom the emperor ruled over secular matters, and the pope over sacred matters.  Dukedoms, bishoprics, small principalities, republics, free cities and leagues of free cities, and other independent social orders each had something of their own to enjoy and defend and were jealous of their liberty.  The king could not enter the city of London without the permission of the mayor (a ritual still in place today); and, as Pitt the Elder said, the king of England could not lawfully enter a poor man’s house without his consent.

Europe was a mosaic of thousands of political units and independent social authorities of all kinds, held together by oaths, compacts, and contracts.  Something of this federative character of Christendom survives in the Catholic teaching on subsidiarity: that as much as possible should be done...

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