Drawing deeply from Aristotle and biblical teaching, Politica presents a unique vision of the commonwealth as a harmonious ordering of natural associations. According to Althusius, the purpose of the state is to protect and encourage social life. The family is the most natural of human associations, and all other unions derive from it. Power and authority properly grow from more local to more general associations.
Of particular interest to the modern reader is Althusius's theory of federalism. It does not refer merely to a division of powers between central and state governments, but to an ascending scale of authority in which higher institutions rely on the consent of local and voluntary associations.
Johannes Althusius (1557–1638) was a German political and legal philosopher.
Frederick S. Carn was Professor Emeritus of Ethics at the Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University.
Daniel J. Elazar is Director of the Center for the Study of Federalism at Temple University and Professor of Political Science at Temple and at Bar Ilan University in Israel.