Investigations into “Universalist Corporatism” (Pt. I of II)

Bogumil,

To begin, I must apologize for not being able to reply to your latest ARPLAN Post sooner. As much I was interested in reading it, I have been extremely preoccupied within my personal affairs, preventing me from being able to also update my own Blog as much as I should. My plan is to eventually return to my original schedule two weeks from now. I hope you are doing well at the moment because I am always looking forward to every new Post.

I can understand why some of the ideas outlined here by Gottfried Feder were not as well-received as one might assume from hindsight. Most people nowadays would like to think that Feder was an authoritative figure on Pan-Germanic Socialism’s economic and financial policies, when in reality he was just one among many. It is a shame because Pan-Germanic Socialism did have its Socialistic tendencies and that not everyone in the movement within the German-speaking world were interested in a Corporatist economy.   

While the majority of these passages are broad enough to more or less align with similar stances found in other Socialisms and not just Pan-Germanic Socialism, one should not assume everything here reflects those stances. A few statements by Feder do stand out as being indicative of a specific version of Corporatism. I say this because the version which I am referring is not the same one that was the main topic of last month’s ARPLAN Post.

Feder’s stances on Private Property, his insistence on Kapital and Arbeit not being in opposition, and emphasis on a constellation of economic interests between State, Corporations and Employees are reminiscent of the same Tripartism which I also mentioned in that previous Post. Yes, the same Tripartism that is also the Roman Catholic model of Corporatism as opposed to the one emerging within Fascist Italy. But unlike the Church’s model and its inherent compatibilities with Parliamentary Democracy, Feder’s version has Corporations (the “Occupational Estates”) as the basis through which political organization occurs among the various professions, enterprises, industries and sectors of a national economy. It represents a further elaboration of the “Social State” concept which he had developed in 1919 and was covered in a much earlier ARPLAN Post.

The question that has left me wondering is why Feder had advocated for Pan-Germanic Socialist political-economic policies that can be best described as a hybridization between two distinct versions of Corporatism, the Fascist and Catholic models. It is implied throughout much of his language that he was writing in favor of this peculiar subvariant and wanting to promote it as an alternative to STEP (Soviet-Type Economic Planning). The impression I was being given from reading Feder is that somebody not aligned with Pan-Germanic Socialism was providing him with the philosophical basis to advocate for his subvariant.

When I noticed that Feder described his subvariant as “Universalist-National Socialist,” I immediately went to the associated footnote since I wanted to know what the term “Universalist” meant. I was stunned to learn that Othmar Spann happened to be a key major influence on Feder, and I am beginning to notice some parallels throughout much of Feder’s writing. Rereading this ARPLAN Post, I cannot help but notice the similarities with Spann’s rhetoric in The True State.

Even more astonishing is the fact that Spann was also the same philosopher who introduced Friedrich August von Hayek to the Austrian School of Economics through Friedrich von Wieser. And that was before von Hayek would later go to write “The Road to Serfdom.” There is an expensive biography on von Hayek from 2018 that delves into this particular topic, thereby providing what I think is the missing link behind why Feder eventually fell out of favor after the Anschluss in 1938. 

The book is entitled Hayek: A Collaborative Biography and the Chapter in question is called “Residual Reverence Towards the Second Estate.” Here is a link to the relevant Chapter:

https://books.google.com/books?id=3wJ2DwAAQBAJ&pg=PA95&lpg=PA95&dq=Residual+Reverence+Towards+the+Second+Estate+Spann&source=bl&ots=OH9pFAYcD3&sig=ACfU3U3sFy1WE2jx2EqgmCUsWLDRItYQ_w&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjJi5C2p7L3AhWLg3IEHWW0BKQQ6AF6BAgCEAM#v=onepage&q=Residual%20Reverence%20Towards%20the%20Second%20Estate%20Spann&f=false

I am sure that there are other works from Feder where I can draw parallels to Spann’s worldview. If I have any more time in the near future, Bogumil, I will definitely write a follow up comment because there are other aspects of this document which piqued my interest.   

Signed,
-DAH



Categories: Philosophy

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