From the treasure trove of Lux Occulta, another interesting vintage booklet in economic and social matters, “A Christian Alternative to Communism and Fascism”.
The book has his own little faults and read with today’s mentality, calls for administered prices and a minute description of the corporative structure do seem more than a bit naive. Still, the booklet makes a good job of explaining the basic idea of Catholic corporatism and whilst the preoccupation of separating it from Fascist corporatism – unjustly vilified and actually much more similar in his day-to-day reality to the model herein described than to the nazi-ish, totalitarian apparatus described – is evident and clearly due to the openly stated necessity of avoiding any identification with the Fascist experience, there is no denying that a lot of sound and easily doable ideas transpire from this little work.
The first is that the omnipresent State activity must be controlled if it is not to stifle the freedom of the citizen. These words were prophetic many decades ago but are tragically true today, after the advent of the “social state” (better said: socialist state) has created the idea that it be not only normal, but good that state nannyism should put its dirty nose in every activity of its citizens.
The second is the concept of subsidiarity: that the citizens should come together and create organisations meant to deal with those matters by which the citizens cannot adequately provide autonomously but do not want to leave to a pachydermic, bureaucratic, wasteful, invading State. Matters like wages, hours of work, regulation of competition, pension contribution, social care for the ill and disabled come to mind. This is a very modern concept, some aspects of which are highly developed and highly efficient in countries like Germany, and that should be given much bigger consideration today.
The third one (closely linked to the second) is the concept of proper corporativism: that such activities should be regulated by professional organisations similar to the guilds of old (and actually very similar to the corporazioni of Fascist memory), left free to regulate their own matters in a way able to make their industry at the same time competitive and worthwhile to work in. The bakers have different hours than the transport industry, but as they are all interested in the prosperity of their respective sector they will decide within their own professional guild how they want to have their own wages, working hours, pension, social security & Co. regulated, with a fair sharing of the burdens and profits making the industry attractive for both employers and employees and able to withstand the competition for skilled workforce aspiring to a decent wage and to a decent life.
All this – and this is the basic message – can be regulated and decided within the relevant guilds much more efficiently than through an all-pervasive State intervention imposing rules and obstacles (as the Italians beautifully say: lacci e lacciuoli) which are burdensome and counterproductive. If we think of Blighty, the recent proliferation of asphyxiating health and safety regulations and the even more recent tsunami of “equality” legislation are the best example of a self-serving, ever-expanding State apparatus only interested in creating jobs for their own protegees at the expense of the working – and risking – businesses of the country.
There is much to say for a wise, gradual delegation of powers to the professional organisations and to the local communities. When such systems are implemented, they tend to work well. The German health care system is broadly based on such principles and is infinitely more efficient and less expensive than the NHS Behemoth; so was the Italian health care system until the Sixties, when the cooperative-based, corporative health care system was replaced by a state monster of NHS inspiration. Professional bodies (say: for lawyers, chartered accountants & Co) have a good track record of being able to regulate themselves in a rather effective and efficient manner. Mutual help organisations like the Knights of Columbus in the United States show with what success individuals can organise themselves to provide for self-regulated social services. All this with a degree of efficiency and social justice unknown to Western European bureaucracies purely bent on creating consensus and job for potential voters who are, interestingly enough, never the ones who have to foot the bill.
There is a lot to say for this kind of Catholic corporatism. Not only from a moral and christian point of view, but also from a practical one. The reason that such a model is neglected is that – in this country as elsewhere – the citizens have been brainwashed into thinking that there is no alternative to a huge nosy aunt wanting to regulate your life and matters in the most minute details, allegedly for your good but in reality to procure jobs and favours for her own friends.