Friday, April 27, 2007

Rowan Williams on the State

"The modern state needs a robust independent tradition of moral perception with which to engage. Left to itself, it cannot generate the self-critical energy that brings about change – change, that is, for the sake of some positive human ideal. As a guarantor of security, internal and external, and increasingly as a broker and provider of people’s ‘market’ requirements, it is not equipped to work as moral forum. The increasing assimilation of the state, in ways that would have startled Wilberforce’s contemporaries, to the provider of goods demanded by a population means that the primary question is likely to be about the means of provision rather than the ideology cal desirability of what is demanded. Quite understandably, the experience of command economies in the twentieth century and the appalling oppressiveness of systems that have had clear definitions of ideological desirability have strengthened the case for a severely neutral state apparatus and have reinforced the growth of the ‘market state’. But this leaves it with a set of questions about its moral legitimacy that cannot be left indefinitely ignored."

Rowan Williams

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