samedi 30 août 2008

Cooperatives, cartels, guilds, corporativism Catholic and Fascist

... and other collected fragments on guild socialism, distributism, fascism et c.

Last post, I spoke about the milk giants cartel in Sweden. As far as I've heard, or can remember, it originates in a series of dairy farmers' cooperatives.

These cooperatives fought dishonest retailors who simply watered milk down. This was how crooked free market capitalism was back when Chesterton was young. At least, that is what I heard. Be it noted that already in those times, the farmers were not selling their milk directly. Probably because the work was too hard.

They needed cartels to do so, and Sweden ended up with these four or five milk cartels. A real oligopoly.

But cartels can change too. The guilds, so bragged by both distributists and corporativists, originated as a kind of cartels, fighting against feudal overlordships over the towns, then constituting towns, and guaranteeing a level price thought of as just. The principle that each patron is an ex-empleyee (ex-journeyman) and each employee (including future patrons) an ex-apprentice, and the equal treatment of employees and apprentices involved considerable advantage to the apprentices that never went beyond employees. Dr Byrne has shown that even before the end of the Middle Ages, some guilds were already more cartels than level price justice.


In further response to Fantasia on a Theme of Hilaire Belloc by Dr Carol Byrne

The core of Belloc’s view was the primacy of revolutionary political action in the reconstruction of society, and his affinity with Rousseau’s theory of the General Will – to which individuals would have to give up their rights (redefined as “selfish” individualism) – indicates that Belloc’s view was characterized by profound totalitarian instincts. This is confirmed by his biographer who avers that, in Belloc’s world view, political power was “something to be seized…and centralized to the highest point of efficiency.”

So Carol is judging Belloc's political thought not by what she read in his own works - or not alone - but also (?) after works about him? The biography by R. Speaight? And also of "common knowledge" (as they say) on works by another writer (Rousseau) with whom he had "affinities"? The method is some kind of guilt-by-association.

Belloc and Chesterton, though not wishing autocratic take-overs in England, were not dead against everything autocratic. But they were against anything totalitarian. What is the difference? Autocracy means that one man for and by himself decides about the state, totalitarianism means a state which leaves nothing and nobody unaffected by its decisions.

Let us quote Chesterton on the theme he called THE RETURN OF CAESAR:

The Totalitarian State is now making a clean sweep of all our old notions of liberty, even more than the French Revolution made a clean sweep of all the old ideas of loyalty. It is the Church that excommunicates; but, in that very word, implies that a communion stands open for a restored communicant. It is the State that exterminates; it is the State that abolishes absolutely and altogether; whether it is the American State abolishing beer, or the Fascist State abolishing parties, or the Hitlerite State abolishing almost everything but itself.


Dollfuss died like a loyal and courageous man, asking forgiveness for his murderers; and the souls of the just are in the hands of God, however much their enemies (with that mark of mere mud that is stamped over all they do) take a pleasure in denying them the help of their religion. But Dollfuss dead, even more than Dollfuss living, is also a symbol of something of immense moment to mankind, which is practically never mentioned by our politicians or our papers.


Whether we call it the Empire, or the Old Germany or the culture of the Danube, what Austria meant and means is this. That it is normal for Europeans, even for Germans, to be civilised; that it is normal for Europeans, even for Germans, to be Christians; and, we must in historic honesty add, normal for them to be Catholics.

He meant no offence to the Orthodox Serbs, their villages were the nearest contemporary example of his distributist ideal. Catholic he used as opposite of Protestant, like in the essay WHY PROTESTANTS PROHIBIT:

Protestantism is in its nature prone to what may be called Prohibitionism. I do not mean prohibition of drink (though it happens to bea convenient comparison: that none ot the ten thousand tyrants of Mediterranean history would ever have dreamed of uprooting the vine since Pentheus was torn in pieces); I mean that the Protestant tends to prohibit, rather than to curtail or control. His theory of Prohibition is rooted in his theory of progress; which began with expectation of the Millennium; but has ended in similar expectations of the Superman.

Chesterton totalitarian? A man who respected Mussolini, admired Dollfuss and abhorred Hitler? A man who thought of "Protestant prohibitionism" as too totalitarian? Because he thought, after the restoration of small property in England to levels still seen in parts of Italy - like the olive fields of Olivetta - a restoration he thought of as having to be done mainly by personal striving of the dispossessed to become legal and legitimate owners of their work (workplace, machinery or tools, stock of raw material, et c), he thought corporativist regulations might be necessary to keep it small?

Belloc admired Napoleon. And Napoleon was a tyrant against some - like against Cadoudal and Le Duc d'Enghien, also against the king of my Swedish & Scanian forefathers, Gustav IV Adolf, by letting the Czar open war against him.


With all due respect to Il Duce ...

... I do not think the occasion is well chosen to go about killing every Communist in sight, as I saw on a page dedicated to him (I hope it was a joke).

I mean: when he did it, and only them who resisted, the Communists tended to be very violent. I mean, Rosa Luxemburg was not killed for founding a womens knitting cooperation or a trade union. She, Bela Kun, Trotskiy ... they were basically killing a lot of innocent people who owned more than they or happened to have more power. And the people with more property were not necessarily Bill Gates or such-like, they were often enough if very rich (by their standards, not Mr Gates') inheritors, and often enough, whether inheritors or not, small family enterprise owners, including farmers. And priests were usually not even rich, personnally. Killing Communists back then meant defending innocent people against an army of pillagers

Now the situation is somewhat different. Communists tend to be citizens, often poor citizens, often the kind of people Mussolini defended with his original blackshirts.


Was Robespierre a hippie?

Read this, for starters.

Furthermore, the foundation of modern leftist thought can be traced in an unbroken chain from Rousseau and Robespierre, who respectively led the thought and action of the French Revolution, to Mussolini, Hitler, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, the hippy movements of the sixties, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson.

Robespierre took the "popular will" part of Rousseau. Leninist Communism takes the part about (private, non-communal) property being theft and the foundation of war; not without retaking "popular will" part. But hippy movement is rather the "Emile" part of Rousseau, a k a free education, alas along with antidogmaticism, a k a Savoyard Vicar. Rousseau wrote many things, and many of them differ. Lumping all of them together because they hanker back to Rousseau is ... plain stupid. That includes classifying Robespierre as a Hippie.

A more pleasing thought: was St Ambrose of Milan a hippy? Most definietely NOT, since he was against long hair in men. (My excuse for it is poverty, and growing the beard too: when in 2004 I had a chance to cut the beard I insisted on cutting the hair too, indeed I shaved it to the skin.) And yet, his chapter thirty ("on doing good deeds") of book one of On Duties is much closer to hippie culture than to some of its late modern adversaries.

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