The Universality of Corporate Principles

Updated: Jan 24

Biagi, B. (1933). The Universality of Corporate Principles. Italiaca: The American-Italian Monthly, (December), 3-4.

WITH justifiable insistence a lot is being said about the crisis of the modern State and of modern Society. Born, both of them, in the XVIII century, at the outbreak of War they had already reached the end of their cycle and during and after the world conflagration have rapidly advanced towards their supreme crisis. Italy, owing to the foresight of a Chief and the will of a Revolution, which made a bold and sudden bid, has been the first to emerge from this situation.

This priority is the outcome of the significance attached to the War by those sections of the population (a bold minority), who had wanted it. These considered the War a great revolutionary act meant to provide us with a new order, the outcome of an idea which was to dominate the political and economic field.

In the XVIII century there had been another crisis of a different State and society; the presumed solution of that crisis had been the liberty of the individual, the latter being considered a subject of Right directly related to the State.

The success of the industrial revolution-begun in the XVIII and continued incessantly into the XXIX century-sets fresh problems, such as the protection of workers on one hand and the counter protection of capitalists on the other. As an ensuing result we have the first attempt at Unionized Labour organization, followed by the owners’ attempt at defense.

The flood of Trade-Unionism joins the course of political life, determining a new status, which gradually grows up between the State and a National Society no more consisting of mere individuals but also of several other subjects.

A TRANSFORMATION of the State became necessary. During the XIX century alongside the individual, his family and territorial groups, new social groupings, subjects of Public Right, had formed themselves, to wit the syndical professional associations of Trade-Unions. No more could they be ignored nor could a detached policy of perfunctory nature meet their case. Organized Trade and Labour had become so important that it became a duty of the State of discipline, recognize, and insert them in the State itself, so as to acquire the necessary authority for dealing with the new forces, without at the same time taking over the responsibility of economic enterprise.

The following are the terms of the problem: to attribute to the State Sovereign power, to consider National Society in its historical continuity and elementary repartition into individual families and territorial, economical and social groups, keeping in mind the fact that the single individual is not directly related to the State, but only through the sum of individuals having the same interests; to use this solidarity of economic interests, which as often as not merge with social, political and ethical ones, as the basis of organic State reform, following which the State would enclose all these elements with the object of regulating them.

Here now is the same problem viewed from another particularly interesting point. During the XIX century, and more pronouncedly in the XX a distinct cleavage has been forming itself between political institutions and economic life. The former persisted on their course; parliaments could no more claim any adherence to the real life of the Nation. If in addition to this, we look beyond Italian frontiers, we can see even to-day what a chasm has been excavated between the social and economic life of various countries and their parliamentary institutions, which pay very little heed to the real needs of the State and Nation.

The Corporate State is not a purely economic State taking over economic enterprise; economic corporative policy and economic intervention policy are not one and the same. Only those who have not thoroughly grasped the new conception assert that the Corporate Order means intervention of the State in the economic field. We feel almost impelled to proclaim the contrary, because in a non-corporate State, which does not embody all the economic forces of the Nation, the most daring and vital of these, those which can impose themselves through wealth and number, will finally dominate from outside, distributing favours to one section or another, with privileges and monopolies as the issue.

When on the other hand we have a properly working Corporate Order, and the State, by means of corporate representatives, can obtain a complete picture of national interests, it is possible for it to practice an economic policy, which is the synthesis of all particular interests, ensuring at one time respect for private enterprise, and principally, for the activity of economic for, as long as they remain within the limits of collective interest and need.

ACCORDING to the Corporate conception, economic activity retains its area of independence. The economic policy of the State is not essentially one of intervention, because this is exceptional and complementary, and has to be general.

The task of the corporative organs is extremely interesting, especially because the Corporate Order, the State expects collaboration also in the economic field. The need for such collaboration is felt particularly nowadays, when, owing to intensified relations and traffic, to growing and all-absorbing social and economic problems, the State cannot obtain with sufficient clearness from either Parliament or public opinion (often distorted) a truthful and objective picture of national interest, which by means of their representatives only the professional and economic sections can provide.

We therefore reach the conclusion that the Corporation is not only expected to conciliate sometimes conflicting demands of Capital and Labour, but has also to be considered as totally representative of economic interests and as a means of providing the State with collaboration in the field of political economy. Such collaboration is really important and useful, be it purely of a consultative nature, or be it also deliberative within these limits which the Law, and therefore the State, attributes to the Corporation. This is the fundamental problem in the constitution of the Italian State.

For us, syndicalism considered outside the Corporation, and, essentially, as viewed with essentially, as viewed with non-corporative mentality and judgment, has no meaning. In this matter useful reference can be made to the conclusions which the Head of the Government drew in his speech when opening the National Council of Corporations April 21, 1930: “Syndicalism cannot be an end in itself; it exhausts itself either in Political Socialism or in the Fascist Corporation. Only within the Corporation can economic unity be achieved in its constituting elements of Capital, labour and Technicism; only through the corporation, i.e. through the collaboration of all forces intent on one end, can the livelihood of syndicalism be guaranteed. Therefore only through a rise in production, and therefore a rise in wealth, can the collective contracts guarantee improved conditions to the working classes. Without syndicalism the corporation is inconceivable, but without the corporation syndicalism itself, after a first phase, exhausts itself in action limited to details, having nothing to do with the productive process, thus reducing itself to mere spectator instead of actor, becoming static rather than dynamic.”

APPARENTLY in those words of the Duce can be found all those elements of judgment, which enable us to proclaim as universal the Corporate Order’s capacity of resolving the contradictions with which the modern State is struggling.

What do we intend by endowing syndicalism with a practical object, by interesting it in production and giving it a conscience? No more than its transformation into a practical and vigorous force in all States. In this sense, universality does not mean a meticulous and unimaginative copy of what we have put into practice: it man’s application of Mussolini’s formula as a solution to the impressive problem, which everywhere imperiously demands to be solved.

Juridical terms are, however, insufficient when dealing with problems of such magnitude. It must be kept in mind that if Fascism has been able to solve the problem of transforming the State, it is owing to its having accomplished a political revolution, to its having created a new climate, new surroundings; a new spirit, to its having fired a new faith and passion; because through the War and Revolution it has brought into existence an essentially revolutionary atmosphere, which has given meaning and vitality to those changes which had taken place in the national Life and Conscience.

Other countries can and will have to learn the lesson of our example, because the corporative principles really do possess a universal character, which can be summarized in the following elements, Firstly the Corporate Order solves the conflict between Capital and Labour. In what sense?

First of rights and duties; because it has placed them on the same level; because it has recognized the economic and professional groups; because it has created the single, compulsory syndicate, representing the whole of one section; because it has conferred on collective contracts the regulating power of labour relations, and, above all, because at the head of these relations it has placed the Labour Magistrate, i.e. the authority of the State, thus guaranteeing, as State, the aforementioned equality of rights and duties.

ANOTHER point of universal character is the fact that economic interests, in contrast with the liberal conception, are assured of representation. Often in parliamentary debate, patrons, gifted with oratory, would pass off as general interests those of a few individuals or of a single class.

In the Corporate Order all economic representations are duly constituted and the voice of every interest can reach the State. In the Corporate Order the industrial problem is placed alongside the agricultural one, and both of them adjoin that of distribution. Besides which all the many and various problems of the intermediate sections right down to those of consumers, find their expression, representation and protection, because the State recognizes and admits into it organism all economic and professional forces. The sovereignty of the State remains intact, because it is placed outside and above the single economic interests, while drawing power and energy from all of them.

Economic interest therefore becomes interest of the State only inasmuch as it is the interest of the whole complex of production which, according to Art, II of the Charter of Labour, “from the national point of view is unitary; unitary are its objects which can be resumed in the welfare of the individual and in the development of national capacity.”

The State therefore does not place itself on the slope of State Socialism; it doesn’t deny the possibilities of private enterprise; it simply says; “there are limits because there are social duties, because individual initiative must confer individual advantages, which instead of contrasting, shall harmonize with national welfare.”

Thus Fascist theory from economic becomes ethical and political: in a brief synthesis we discover the formula by which the Corporate State solves the problem, which the former century had left as a grim legacy to our XX.

***And the solution is of a universal character.***

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