The progress of corporatist ideas since the late nineteenth century and the advent of authoritarian “corporatist” regimes in the twentieth century have been strongly fostered by critiques of parliamentary and party government. To be sure, corporatist doctrines have not been unanimous in their assessment of universal suffrage, parliament, and competitive party systems. While on the one hand authors such as Spann (1934) proposed to abolish parliament, that “Schwatzbude,” and to replace it by a representation of “estates,” others merely proposed to redress the alleged shortcomings of parliamentary democracy by adding a system of corporate representation. For example, Catholic “Solidarists” (a school which has been important in the German-speaking countries), proposed a Chamber of Corporations which should supplement, but not substitute for, a parliament based on political parties (Mayer-Tasch, 1971:60). On the other hand, a socialist party leader, the “Austro-Marxist” theorist Bauer, under the influence of early Soviet experience as well as English “guild socialism,” pleaded for the improvement of merely “formal” or “political” democracy (i.e., bourgeois-dominated parliamentary government based on universal suffrage) by “functional democracy,” which demands that “the government in each single branch of its activity rests in continual understanding with the organized whole of the citizens, who, according to their profession or their plant, according to their social and economic function are immediately concerned by that particular branch of government activity” (Bauer, 1923: 187).
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- Liberal Corporatism and Party Government
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