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Franz Hitze, The Quintessence of the Social Question (1880)

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In order to make this reorganization possible, it is above all essential to create “organs” from which this reorganization can proceed or with which it can associate. Here, the best and most plausible means would seem to be a corporative interest group. This proposal, too, is not very new; yet we emphasize not so much the interest group’s political importance, but rather the socioeconomic significance it could and should have for the future in the course of its further development.

There are justified corporative interests, but these also have to find expression in the law. This results in a corporative law code. The law is supposed to be established through the participation of everyone involved. That is a stipulation of natural law, and our – democratic – times also recognize this participatory requirement. Thus, any corporative legislation also requires corporative representation to create this law. So in the process the individual members of the individual estates would have to elect deputies, commissions in the municipality, province, and country in order to discuss their corporative interests and shape them into legislation, whether in the “economics chamber” or in the political chamber. We leave it open whether this corporative representation should operate side by side with today’s political chambers or whether the existing ones ought to be transformed into corporative ones.* The main point is this: once more we would have “representatives of the people,” as they live and breathe and work; we would have suitable organs for the creation of corporative legislation that would protect against the outside, vis-à-vis the other estates, and also against the inside, i.e., against malicious, egotistical cronies. These organs would increasingly establish their activity firmly in the public trust, at the top and the bottom of society, and would soon be given both legal jurisdiction and powers of administration. They would also have to be vested with sweeping powers for joint economic reforms. In short, an impulse would have to be created for a movement whose ultimate destination we could not foresee.

Large-scale industry in particular requires the structure and legal protection of this organization most urgently. The “anarchy of production” can only be eliminated by means of an overarching and radical – authoritative – organization. Ordering production in a way necessitated by societal needs: this constitutes an absolute demand that society and the state should insist on at all costs; but so should the individual producer, who after all risks his neck in the process. There is no better proof of the unpractical, blind, doctrinarian stance of the “educated bourgeoisie” than the fact that they have learned nothing and done nothing in this respect. The ever-increasing crises, however, will manage to “drum the dialectics into their heads.”

*The corporative electoral system seems to us to be the only proper mediation between the census and the democratic voting systems. “Equality of the occupational groups” is the democratic element; “only within and for the occupational group” is the conservative, truly social element. The current electoral systems result in the rule of “class” – of the bourgeoisie or the proletariat. Societal differences and opposites will always make themselves felt in politics, too. Why not recognize that openly and factor it into the equation? The struggle of interests exists; you can ignore but not eliminate it. Why not fight openly and above board? Why not create legitimate organs for reconciling interests? Struggle is life; but the struggle itself is not yet a calamity. But it has to be fought on a legitimate basis; the central authority has to be strong enough to keep it within bounds. Thus the central power (“monarchy”) can only win, because everyone involved is interested in its preservation. None of the occupational groups desires a conflict leading to a coup d’état – with the exception perhaps of the proletariat. A “party” is quite prepared for an all-out battle, because it is dominated by personal views and interests; an “estate” – or even less likely, the majority of estates – is not, because in them the individual assumes secondary importance, personal ambition and passions are kept in check by the estates. [Original footnote]

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