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

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Anyway, a corporative structure is the basic prerequisite for the solution of all social questions. Let’s take, for instance, the issue of credit: if centralization, the squandering of credit to fraudulent, unprofitable enterprises, if the choking and absorption of independence is to be ended, if credit arrangements are really supposed to assume a more democratic form, become “organized,” this can only happen in conjunction with a corporative organization. By way of the corporative organs, borrowed capital will spread to all parts of the social organism, and thus really fulfill a social mission.** Let’s look at another point: fraud and counterfeiting. Here, too, only peers in the same occupational category can effectively monitor each other. And it is they who have the greatest interest in doing so. You only have to provide them with organs of self-governance equipped with sweeping powers, and no doubt they will take care. These organs will oversee the business code of honor, and also re-awaken the appreciation of “honor” in the broadest sense: moral honor (“professional tribunal”). A corporative type of organization will also revive corporative moral standards and that is a wonderful gain.

We estimate the effects of corporative organization to be just as substantial in terms of politics. Not the “phrase,” not the party, but the real needs of life would come to the fore again. We would once again become conservative in our politics. The serious working person, trained in practical life, would once more get a chance to speak; our professional politicians would be paralyzed. Then we would be able to speak of freedom and self-governance, the tyranny of bureaucracy would be finished. Then we would have an effective counterweight against the tendencies toward political centralization and against the despotism of party and princely power. Then we would have gained guarantees for the expansion of state and municipal socialism. There is a whole range of production fields that should be assigned to the state, and even more so, to the municipality, both in the interest of production but especially in the interest of distribution – so that it benefits everyone. It is merely political reservations and the lack of suitable administrative organs that urge caution. Organized occupational classes would eliminate these difficulties.

The factually existing and continuously expanding socialistic method of production requires expression in the shape of laws, that is, a more or less socialistic legal system. The individualism prevailing to this day – liberalism – constitutes merely a hidden form of despotism; it satisfies neither the needs of the community nor the interests of production. Socialism will come anyway, either the absolute, Social Democratic one of the state, or the relative, conservative, and healthy one of the occupational classes: that is the solution of the social question.

** Something similar applies to the reorganization of care for the poor, the tax reform, and the insurance system, etc. [Original footnote]

Source: Franz Hitze, Die Quintessenz der sozialen Frage [The Quintessence of the Social Question]. Paderborn: Bonifacius-Druckerei, 1880, pp. 24-32.

Original German text reprinted in Hans Fenske, ed., Im Bismarckschen Reich: 1871-1890 [In the Bismarckian Reich: 1871-1890]. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1978, pp. 244-48.

Translation: Erwin Fink

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