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corporatism

Certain actions or groups may be described as corporatist. That is not the same as the actual ideology that has come to be known as:

Corporatism


Corporatism is a political philosophy that first found its way into the vocabulary when Benito Mussolini said it was a better word than fascist to describe his ideology.

This modern kind of corporatism derives from the latin root "corpus" or body. In corporatism the state is imagined as a single being with a head, a body, internal organs, etc. Business, government, workers, and thinkers are all united by an overarching will to achieve big things as a nation. Since the early 20th century the term has evolved to describe the rising influence of multinational corporations? over public policy, with negative implications for social justice and participatory democracy, as the ontological metaphor of the single body tends to justify a single command hierarchy in common between military and military-industrial complex.

The original idea of early corporatism was that the society and economy of a country should be organized into major interest groups (sometimes called corporations but possibly larger industrial consortia in the sense of the Japanese zaibatsu?) and representatives of those interest groups settle any problems through negotiation and joint agreement. In contrast to a market economy which operates through competition a corporate economic works through collective bargaining?.

The American president Lyndon Johnson? had a favorite phrase that reflected the spirit of corporatism. He would gather the parties to some dispute and say, "Let us reason together."

The previous POTUS, Dwight Eisenhower?, had very strongly warned in his parting speech in 1961 against such a growing together of government and corporate interests. He also famously coined the term military-industrial complex in that same speech.

Under corporatism the labour force and management in an industry belong to an industrial organization. The representatives of labor and management settle wage issues through collective negotiation. While this was the theory, in practice, the corporatist states were largely ruled according to the dictates of the supreme leader. While there was flexibility and a deal of freedom for industries to set their own structures, the targets and goals and penalties for failing to meet them remained firmly in the hand of the dictator.

One early and important theorist of corporatism was Adam Müller an advisor to Prince Metternich in what is now eastern Germany and Austria. Müller propounded his views as an antidote to the twin dangers of the egalitarianism of the French Revolution and the classical economics? of Adam Smith?, from which he drew only support for the so-called laissez faire? attitude to detailed regulation. In Germany and elsewhere there was a distinct aversion among rulers to allow markets to function without direction or control by the state. The general cultural heritage of Europe from the medieval era was opposed to individual self-interest and the free operation of markets. Markets and private property were acceptable only as long as social regulation took precedence over greed. See also guild?.

Coupled with the anti-market sentiments of the medieval culture there was the notion that the rulers of the state had a vital role in promoting social justice. Thus corporatism was formulated as a system that emphasized the positive role of the state in guaranteeing social justice and suppressing the moral and social chaos of the population pursuing their own individual self-interests. And above all else, as a political economic philosophy corporatism was flexible. It could tolerate private enterprise within limits and justify major projects of the state. Corporatism has sometimes been labeled as a Third Way or a mixed economy, a synthesis of capitalism and socialism, but it is in fact a separate, distinctive political economic system.

Today, corporatism or neo-corporatism is used in reference to tendencies in politics for legislators and administrations to be influenced or dominated by the interests of business enterprises. This system of governing does not exclude influence by other types of corporations, such as those representing organized labor, or environmentalism, but in a world where money is equated to power, their influence is relatively minor. In this view, government decisions are seen as being influenced strongly by which sorts of policies will lead to greater profits for favored companies. If there is substantial military-corporate collaboration it is often called militarism? or the military-industrial complex. There is evidence for the two views growing together from a common mindset of attitude to authority, but, they remain distinct political characteristics.

Free Market theorists like Ludwig von Mises? would describe corporatism as anathema to their vision of capitalism. In the kind of capitalism such theorists advocate, what has been called the "night-watchman" state, the government's role in the economy is restricted to preventing force or fraud from disrupting the autonomous operation of the free market. The market is trusted to provide. Under corporatism, it is not, instead being systematically manipulated to the advantage of certain political constituencies.

In the United States, some 1 argue that Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal? programs were an unprecedented jump towards a corporate state. However, this ignores the long history of narrow economic interests controlling the democratic decision-making process in America. In recent times, the profusion of lobby group?s and the increase in campaign contribution?s has led to widespread controversy and the McCain-Feingold Act? to limit these.

American corporatism is evidenced in the close ties between members of the Bush Administration and many large corporations, such as Halliburton?, which are offered contracts no other company can even bid for.

John Ralston Saul? argues that most Western societies are best described as corporatist states, run by a small elite of professional and interest groups, that exclude political participation from the citizenry.

Critics of capitalism often argue that any form of capitalism would eventually devolve into corporatism, due to the concentration of wealth in fewer and fewer hands.

A permutation of this term is corporate globalism."
Corporatism(external link)

Although rulers have probably operated according to the principles of corporatism from time immemorial it was only in the early twentieth century that regimes began to identify themselves as corporatist. The table below gives some of those explicitly corporatist regimes.


<p><center><table border=10 cellspacing=10 cellpadding=15>

<th colspan=4>Corporatist Regimes of the Early Twentieth Century <br>(http://www.applet-magic.com/corporatism.htm)</th>

<tr><td>System Name</td><td>Country</td><td>Period</td><td>Leader</td></tr>

<tr><td>National Corporatism</td><td>Italy</td><td>1922-1945</td><td>Benito Mussolini</td></tr>

<tr><td>Country, Religion, Monarchy</td><td>Spain</td><td>1923-1930</td><td>Miguel Primo de Rivera</td></tr>

<tr><td>National Socialism</td><td>Germany</td><td>1933-1945</td><td>Adolph Hitler</td></tr>

<tr><td>National Syndicalism</td><td>Spain</td><td>1936-1973</td><td>Francisco Franco</td></tr>

<tr><td>New State</td><td>Portugal</td><td>1932-1968</td><td>Antonio Salazar</td></tr>

<tr><td>New State</td><td>Brazil</td><td>1933-1945</td><td>Getulio Vargas</td></tr>

<tr><td>New Deal</td><td>United States</td><td>1933-1945</td><td>Franklin Roosevelt</td></tr>

<tr><td>Justice Party</td><td>Argentina</td><td>1943-1955</td><td>Juan Peron</td></tr>

<tr><td></td><td></td><td></td><td></td></tr>

</table></center>

Under federal or other loosely centralized forms of government, a region or province may have a regime? that pursues corporatist goals or has such an agenda, though without the power to implement such an agenda fully, it will be harder to express such desires. Some regimes that are generally regarded as being corporatist in this sense include the Harris regime? in Ontario, which is a unique example in Canadian history of a regime unconcerned with accusations of cronyism or conflict of interest.

Sources and Resources:
The Economic System of Corporatism(external link)

Corporatism(external link)


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