chapter  8
12 Pages

Problems of International Government

Political science in its descriptive form has been concerned with the internal governmental and administrative systems of sovereign States; and the functions which arise from the relations of these States to each other have been thought of as falling within the province of particular Government Departments, or as involving, as for instance in the case of the United States, special responsibilities on the part of the legislature. Political theory, which has in a sense a longer history, has also concerned itself with the single community; and its central problem, the problem of obligation, has been thought of as a discussion of the relations between the individual and the community of which he happens to have been born a member. Whether this community be as small as a Greek city state or as large as a modern nation the fundamental problem has been no different, and in consequence political philosophers find no difficulty in following through a single line of thought from Plato or Aristotle to the thinkers of our own day. It is true that the idea of a possible dual obligation or of a conflict of allegiances has not been unknown at any period of human history. But almost invariably this conflict has been between two authorities acting on different human levels, the spiritual and the secular. The problem of Church and State is, therefore, one which is familiar to thinkers on politics, and for which various solutions exist. It is a problem that can be embraced within the general field of political theory, and its institutional expressions, State churches or voluntary religious associations, can be dealt with within the descriptive framework of political science.