Theories of Political Authority



The compact and nationalist theories are ideas of how governments should be made up and how their authorities should be dispersed.

The compact theory is the idea that there is a collection of smaller states and governments that make up a larger government or society.  So a town has authority over itself and other areas don’t have very much authority over it.

The nationalist theory is when a whole area is under the authority of one government and the smaller units hold much less, if any, authority over their area of domain.

When political units are smaller and have more authority than the bigger governments you have more liberty and freedom.  When there are fewer political authorities in charge of an area (one big government towering over everyone) your liberty and freedom is at stake.

Here is an example to help show a few differences between compact and nationalist governments.  You live in a society where one BIG government has authority over everything; smaller political authorities virtually have no power.  One day you decide that you are extremely disturbed with the way the government is handling your liberties so you decide to consult the political officer in charge of your town.  He manipulates his words to try to convince you that your concerns are actually benefits for you, so you leave in a happier state, yet you’re unsure if you had gotten anything resolved in terms of your concerns.

After another month of living in the same town you no longer can stand living under the same pressing circumstances.  You decide to move to a different town that appears to be more liberty based.

From the first glimpse the new town seems much better than the one you had moved from, but as time goes on you realize that the town is no different, so once again you move.  Similarly, the next town has little political difference from the other towns.

With time you discover that because there is one big government in control over the country you live in and the different sections of the country have very little political authority in their areas.  There is virtually no political difference between any parts of the country.

If there were smaller different political units, like a compact theory of government, spread out among a country you would be able to “vote with your feet,” by moving and affecting the town you left.  If more people moved away from the oppressive town that town would realize that they had better change their system if they want to continue existing as a town.

If all of the towns were politically the same it would make no difference whether people voted with their feet or not.  What would happen if the whole entire world was under the authority of one big government, like the nationalist government theory?  If the whole world was under a nationalist government people and their liberties would be oppressed.  People would not be able to escape the big government.  Simply put: people could not vote with their feet.

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