“‘Council State’ or ‘Corporate State?'”

Anyone who reads The Fourth Estate will know that I tend to republish comments responding to monthly posts on the ARPLAN Blog. While my Blog is more focused on post-1945 discussions of Political Science and the fields which intersect with it, ARPLAN is geared toward pre-1945 discussions of historical politics and economics in the early 20th century. One important overarching theme on ARPLAN is the exchange of ideas between Fascists and Communists during that period. Recent ARPLAN Posts focused on their respective alternatives to Parliamentary Democracy. To quote what I had written yesterday:

On the ARPLAN Blog, Bogumil and I arrived at the conclusion that in the early 20th century, there was once a looming debate over what will replace Parliamentary Democracy, Council Democracy or Corporatism. To use the “Left-Right Political Spectrum,” Council Democracy was advocated by the Left, whereas the Right promoted Corporatism (in its Social and State-oriented forms). Almost never did we encounter anyone advocating for a hybridization between Council Democracy and Corporatism. The only political group where proponents of both ideas coexisted was in Pan-Germanic Socialism. On the one hand, there is a desire to promote a different form of democratic governance and, on the other hand, a concurring desire to promote a different model of economic governance.

In the 1930s, Communists and Fascists proposed the Council State and Corporate State respectively. Both functioned differently from each other, but their aims are the same. They shared the same fundamental belief that political governance is inseparable from economic governance.

The Council State relies on employees and employers alike voting for somebody to delegate on their behalf at the local council, whose councilors in turn choose someone among them to delegate on their behalf at the regional council. The process repeats at the regional council, which is governed by a State Council that is formally part of the central government.

The Corporate State by contrast envisages the employees and employers of different Professions acting as separate economic groups within their respective enterprises and industries. Those same enterprises and industries are governed by a nationalized State Corporation beholden to the central government.

If there was something which distinguishes a Council State from a Corporate State and vice versa, it should be the smallest building block of political-economic governance. Does political-economic governance begin at a professional level or at an organizational level? Or, as the “Council State” from The Work-Standard (2nd Ed.) is inclined to argue, what if said building block actually began with the Community in which the Profession and Enterprise coexist?

It is not too hard to understand why I went with the Community as the foundational block. After all, this Community is comprised of Families whose members are affiliated with different Professions at certain Enterprises. And the “Community-organized Guild” concept discussed in The Work-Standard also originates here.

The Guild is formed by a Community comprising of individual Families. Each Guild includes members of the Community’s affiliated Professions. The Professions which fall under the Community-organized Guild have delegates in every Enterprise, who act on behalf of their Communities at the local Council. That same Council presides over the municipal jurisdictions of all Enterprises and Professions within each Guild and its respective Community. Thus, the concept of the Guild in The Work-Standard acts as the missing intermediate between Enterprise and Profession.

This diagram from The Work-Standard describes how everything appears overall.

In both theory and practice, I am envisaging a sort of arrangement where the Corporatist-like support structures exist at the local and municipal levels, while Council Democracy functions at the regional and national levels. As the above diagram demonstrates, the Economic Planners do not appear until at the level of POE (Public Owned Enterprise), which is where the local Council becomes subordinated by the regional Council. Even though I discussed this topic already in The Work-Standard, it is an noteworthy contrast that deserves mention here in relation to the more recent claims that Mainland China, a Socialist country, is also capable of exhibiting Corporatist characteristics in its Socialist Market Economy.

Categories: Politics

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