It cannot be said too often that the word republic is derived from res publica, which is Latin for general welfare, the public good or the common wealth. Consequently the principal aim of a republican government is to pursue public rather than private interests. Continue reading Lobbyism versus republicanism
This is the second part of our series on automation. In part 1 we discussed the social and economic consequences of automation. This post will discuss automation from a political perspective and will present a moral case for automation.
Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) is an interesting political philosopher. In this post we would like to share two quotes from The Human Condition. Continue reading Food for thought
Polybius (c.200 BC – c.118 BC) is one of the main theorists of what we currently call classical republicanism. His political thought is heavily influenced by Aristotle, though his contributions are important enough to give him separate consideration. Continue reading Polybius on forms of government
Often we hear the terms “high” and “low politics”, though the precise meaning of these terms heavily depends upon the person who use them. In this post I will propose, from a classical republican perspective, my own definitions. Continue reading High and low politics
For classical republicans the purpose of politics is to promote the public good (res publica) and classical republicans abhor the influence of private interest in politics. In particular the ability of more affluent citizens to use their wealth to control the political process is a great concern and is considered a treat to liberty.
Because of this we are in favour of strict regulation of campaign funding. It should be prevented that wealthy interests could influence elections and referendums in the way they like. Therefore we have several proposals to counteract this influence:
- Only natural persons, i.e. people of flesh and blood, could donate money to political campaigns;
- Foreigners should not allowed to donate to political causes (in order to guarantee national sovereignty);
- Anonymous donations should be banned, i.e. political movements should make public from whom they receive money;
- People should only be allowed to donate a fixed amount of money to political campaigns each year, regardless of income;
- There should be a spending limit per campaign on what each side is allowed to spend on advertisement and the like.
The first rule is necessary in order to prevent that wealthy citizens will circumvent rule 4 by creating multiple juristic persons. The third rule might sound controversial, since it might deter people from supporting “fringe” groups. But people who seek to influence the political process should be do so in public, so they can be held accountable.
As our regular readers and followers probably know, we want to found a neutral state. In foreign policy, neutrality is the policy of a state not to choose sides in an international conflict (and war in particular). Neutrality requires that a state is able to defend its own population and territory and does not depends on other countries for its defense. Continue reading On the military industry
The term corporatism is used refer to two totally different concepts:
1. A social theory about social-economic relations;
2. The influence of businesses in politics.
When we use corporatism on this site, we always refer to the first concept. The second concept is more accurately referred to as corporatocracy (= rule by businesses). On this second meaning we can be short: corporatocracy is incompatible with republicanism, as res publica means the general interest and hence a republican government furthers general interests. On contrast a corporatocracy furthers the private interests of certain businesses over the interests of the public at large.
Corporatism (in the first sense) is a more interesting concept. In order to understand this school of thought, we have to know that it was as a reaction to Marxism. According to Marxists there is an irreconcilable opposition between capitalists (= business owners) and workers: the latter are exploited by the former. They believe that the only way this conflict can be resolved is by a (violent) revolution during which the capitalists are expropriated.
With the horrors of the French revolution in mind, corporatism was developed, first by the Roman Catholic Church but later also adopted by secular groups. Corporatists reject the notion of a revolution to improve the conditions of workers, instead they promote regular negotiations between employers and workers (usually represented by their trade unions). For this purpose each sector of the economy is organized into corporations (hence the name). In each corporation representatives of employers and employees will meet at regular intervals to discuss various topics ranging from wage to number of holidays to workplace safety.
Since the agreements made in a corporation are binding to all people in that sector, there is for no need for minimum wage laws in such a system. For instance there is no legal minimum wage in Sweden. In that country over seventy percent of the labour force is member of a trade union, and minimum wages are set by collective bargaining.
There are several variants of corporatism, though all of them include employers and workers. The most common varieties promote tripartite corporation: with additionally representatives of the state. Here we have to distinguish between fascist  and democratic corporatism. In the former variety representatives of the fascist party were sitting besides employers and workers. Unsurprisingly, this was actually more a tool control the economy rather than an honest attempt to improve the conditions of workers.
Democratic corporatism is the combination of corporatism with parliamentary democracy, and was the norm in West-Europe in the decades after the second world war. In this variant representatives of a democratically elected government would meet with representatives of employers and workers.
The rationale of tripartite corporatism, and the democratic version in particular, is to ensure that sector interests would not infringe on public interests. The public interests would be defended by the government’s representatives.
One of the mistaken assumptions of Marxists is that only classes can have shared interest, but that capitalists and workers cannot have a shared interest. However, they ignore the importance of sectors. In reality capitalists and workers in a certain sector can have a common interests, which would put them in conflict with capitalists and workers in other sectors.
In early post-war Europe corporatism was essentially the social economic paradigm of christian-democrat and social democrat parties. The difference between social- and christian-democrats were primarily found in non-economic issues such as contraceptives, abortion, homosexuality and so on.
For further reading:
 We mean fascism in a historical sense, i.e. the movement of Benito Mussolini and the movements directly inspired by him during the same period. Unfortunately there is currently a tendency to call all authoritarian movements fascist with no regard of history.
Classical republicanism is build on a few basic concepts, on of these concepts is vita activa . Vita activa is Latin for active life, but what is active life in a classical republican sense? First of all for classical republicans an active citizen is someone who is active in the public domain. Second an active works together with others to further the common good (res publica).
For centuries small city states with only a few thousand citizens, have been the ideal of classical republicans. Because of its limited size, a city-state would allow all its citizens to participate in politics. In larger political structures ( such as nation states or empires) its more difficult for individual citizens to participate in the political system. We see that in larger political structures a shift from self-governance to bureaucracy.
Since a return to small city states seems to unlikely in the modern world , classical republicans face the question whether we have a way to pursue the vita activa even in larger political structures. We believe that there is a way.
Voluntary associations are essentially miniature republics. Voluntary associations differ from other organizations in that VAs are run by their members: the members of the association appoint its board and can dismiss them. Even more importantly, in most voluntary associations activities are organized by their members. Voluntary associations are established to serve a certain purpose. It is this purpose that unites the members, as they usually join the VA because the support this cause. For these reasons voluntary associations are a good occasion for people to pursue the vita activa, and really active citizens can be active in multiple associations.
Citizens who are active in public life, are essential for the survival of a free and democratic society. Private citizens with experience in voluntary associations form a counter-force against career bureaucrats. Also publicly active citizens will be more interested in public affairs. Apathy is lethal for any free and democratic society.
If we want to promote active citizenship, we should stimulate people to join voluntary associations. But that is easily said. The difficult question is how we can stimulate people to join VAs? It is important that people should be familiar with voluntary associations from a very young age. It seems to be a hard task to seduce children to join a VA.
In order to stimulate children to join voluntary associations we propose the introduction of sport vouchers. A substantial portion of all voluntary associations are sport clubs. Most people who join a sport club do that in first place because they want to practice some sport (it’s hard to play football or hockey alone), while being a member of a VA is only of secondary importance. That is, however, no big deal, because once they are a member, they might become more enthusiast about being in a VA.
How will sport vouchers work? The idea is that all children will be able to join a sport club, regardless of their parent’s ability to pay membership fees. Instead the government will pay the fees for youth members. Our system has two important features: first children will be free to decide which sport they will do and at which club, and secondly the government will pay the fees to the sport associations directly rather than to the parents. The latter rule is meant to prevent parents from embezzling this money. Consequently signing up your child for a sport club will be free. Important to ad, is in our proposal the government will not only cover youth membership fees, but also the purchase of personal equipment (hockey sticks, shoes, clothing and so on).
It is essential that children are free to choose the sport they like most, because coercion to do a particular sport will have an adverse effect. How would children now what sport they will like most? One suggestion is to organize regular “sport fairs” at which children can try different sports.
Due to our commitment to secularism, we propose that only secular sport clubs (i.e. clubs which are not based on a certain religion) can participate in this program. Also clubs which discriminate against certain groups of people, will be excluded from the program.
 Other concepts are self-government, mixed government, the separation of the public and private domain.
 Space settlements could, however, cause a revival of classic city states.
We want that cooperatives shall play a central role in the economy of space settlements. In this post an overview of entries on cooperatives on this site.
A Cooperative Economy – A general discussion of what cooperatives are and why we favour cooperatives.
A few words on Consumer Cooperatives – A more detailed discussion on consumer cooperatives.
Borrowing versus leasing – A further discussion on funding worker cooperatives.
A Calculation Example – A in-depth discussion of housing cooperatives and hire-purchase as an alternative for mortgage loans.
Banking reform – The proposal that only consumer cooperatives should be able to obtain bank licenses.
Some thoughts on prostitution – Discusses cooperative brothels as a possible measure against abuse in prostitution.
In Radio spectrum in space settlements there is a short note on that mobile phone operators should be required to be consumer cooperatives.