Where Did the Idea of Organic Society Come From?

The Amazing Power of Assimilation of Christian Civilization

“The implication of this metaphor is that government and political rule are natural to man.”

While some concepts of an organic order can be found in Plato or Aristotle, a more developed theory only came later. It is said that the book, The Policraticus, by John of Salisbury (1115?-1180) first introduced an organic theory of the secular political order into European thought. The author was the secretary of Saint Thomas Becket, when Archbishop of Canterbury, and he was thus greatly involved in the political controversies of the day.

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As scholar Harold Berman notes, his organic metaphor held that “every principality, that is, every territorial polity headed by a ruler, is a body. The prince is compared with the head, the senate with the heart, the judges and provincial rulers with the eyes, ears, and tongue, the soldiers with the hands, the tillers of the soil with the feet” (Harold J. Berman, Law and Revolution: The Formation of the Western Legal Tradition, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1983, p. 286).


The implication of this metaphor is that government and political rule are natural to man. It differs from those who hold that government is an artificial construct imposed on society by force or the result of some compact or convention.

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