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Corporatism: A Daring Dream, Part II

It was my original plan to publish a three-part series of essays on corporatism. Unfortunately illness set back that plan initially, and so I was planning to make two parts. That plan is coming to fruition in some ways, but even this is going to be a little different to expectations all the same. This second part of Corporatism: A Daring Dream is partly going to serve as a bookend to Part I, and partly as an introduction to a new project of mine, which I will elaborate upon in some later post. Though bedbound with influenza for most of the past week, the recovery period has allowed for some fruitful thinking and serious productive planning, and I am pleased to share its results on the Almanack. So as not to delay things further, let us now get to the point of this latest article:

Corporatism is a many-headed theory, and not to lie to the reader, theories are something which the author has a penchant for collecting. The reason why it seems natural to gravitate towards a variety of Tory corporatism is simply due to a.) the failings of modern capitalism (which one could argue, is not a form of capitalism at all) and b.) the inadequacies of other forms of corporatism when compared with the Tory version, particularly when it comes to economic forms of corporatism. I have seen some radical traditionalists offer some rather far-fetched solutions to modernity using TC, not least including one who argued for a return to a rural economic structure based on labourers organised around a central manor house, with a community of these manor-communes combining in a sort of feudal parliament. A Romantic image, and certainly inspired by TC, but perhaps a little difficult to bring about in today’s world. Unfortunately, being bound by some degree of realism, it has proved difficult to buy fully into the supremacy of theory over practice. It may well be lovely to live in a traditional manor-commune, but unless the general populace is re-educated en masse, dramatically reduced in size and many modern conurbations forcibly restricted, I cannot see such a system, however, appealing, coming to fruition.

Capitalism is nevertheless accelerating towards a singularity. The radical left realise this, and appeal to traditional or quasi-traditional socialist structures to remedy it. We know of course, that this is foolish. Replace a ‘big boss’ with a ‘big worker syndicate’ and you won’t end up with a situation which works a whole lot more efficiently than the first time around. In fact, as syndicates descend into in-fighting, especially as worker-strongman figures begin to compete for positions at the head of the union, one swiftly reaches a point where the original single-headed corporation model worked a great deal more efficiently than the socialist one. Nevertheless, the single-head option raises obvious moral problems, as a simple observation of contemporary irresponsibilities or simply nonchalance in banking, finance and industry, will prove. One cannot realistically have a ‘woke’ moral sense, and approve the present economic system with the judgement “it’s the best of all possible options.” That is manifestly untrue.

The main reason why we have been unable to break out of the present dualist paradigm, caught between neo-Keynesian economics and neo-Marxist economics, with the two seen as dichotomous traditions, is precisely because of Marxist intellectual dominance itself. An article in Jacobin magazine earlier this week stated that any leftist response to the right:

“…must deploy the legacy of reason within Marxism’s own commitments to dialectical logic and human freedom. But we cannot limit ourselves to composing philosophical polemics or debunking Peterson’s many scientific and historical errors. The fight against reaction does not start in the liberal editorial office but in organizing concrete struggle.”

Clearly he means some form of academic leftism, something itself entrenched in contemporary culture, and indeed it is from this spring that Marxism’s modern success has sprung. The Marxist dialectic is a rather infamous perversion of Hegel’s equally infamous favourite philosophical technique, and in the context of contemporary critical theory, has been used extensively for the deconstruction of capitalist ‘modes’, or effectively any kind of traditional standpoint you can think of, and has led to almost everything social justice from LGBT liberation to feminist theory, even to contemporary economic neglect, one could argue. This is coupled with a posse of “concrete strugglers”, to paraphrase the above article, or, leftist press-gangs, bitterly intimidating the foes of Marxism into silence. This violent rhetoric//violent action combination is not so surprising if one considers the character of Karl Marx himself, but I shall leave the task of explaining that to others for now. But despite its inherent violence, Marxist theory is trussed up in the cosmetics of compassion. Of course, to say that a Marxist has genuine compassion is the moral equivalent of calling Stalin a sweetie, but many Marxists might even go so far as to say that themselves, so the problematic moral questions of modernity that we face are hardly surprising.

We need a new theory of state which breaks from contemporary conservative handwaving about preserving the best of what we already have, and Marxist polemic against the last vestiges of traditional thinking. Tory corporatism is all very well, but working towards it—that is to say, a society structured around hierarchy, tradition and respect—requires a new paradigm. This was what my time in bed, ill, was spent working out. As it turns out, the groundwork for this new paradigm has already been laid down for us. There are plenty of theorists both in history and in our own contemporary Western societies who have deconstructed leftism. In fact, if you dig hard enough, you will find that there is very little leftism left to deconstruct—go dig hard then, and you will find no leftism at all. This is what struck me—it is all very well left-bashing, or defending traditionalism from the prejudiced enslavement of contemporary Marxism, but truly, that is easier than you might think, and we need something to fill the void.

That then, is this new project of mine. A Theory of State. Traditional conservative paradigms have served us well, but they must be distilled into a new formula for a new Zeitgeist. I’m not talking about the Alt-Right or NRx, or any traditionalist-leaning product of postmodernism, however intrepid their members might be—no, real philosophy is required before anything like that. It is time to play the Marxists properly at their own game. More news very soon.

This post was originally published by the author on his personal blog: https://occidentalalmanack.wordpress.com/2018/02/10/corporatism-a-daring-dream-part-ii/

About Alex Illingworth

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Alex Illingworth lives in Oxford where he pursues studies in philosophy and theology, having previously studied Classics. He has written extensively on conservatism, and on British politics, and is a co-founder of the conservative blog aimed at students: The Burkean. His debut book in political philosophy "Political Justice" is a forthcoming publication with Arktos Media.

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