Four Articles From
The Social Future
The International Economy and
The Threefold Social Order
The contradiction that has
gradually developed between the self-imposed tasks of nation-states and the
tendencies of economic life is one of the most significant facts of recent
history. The nation-states have sought to draw the regulation of economic
life within their boundaries into the sphere of their responsibilities.
Persons, or groups of persons, who administer economic life seek support
for their activities in the power of the state. One state confronts the
other not only as a separate cultural and political realm, but also
as a bearer of the economic interests at work within the region.
ideology would like not only to continue these national efforts, but
to devlop them to the extreme. Using the present national framework,
it would like to change private capitalism into a cooperative through
socialization of the means of production. Industries within the national
framework would be combined into economic organisms wherein methodical
production would be organized according to existing needs and wherein
the distribution of the products among the people living in the nation
would be managed.
developments in economics conflict with this endeavor, however. Economic
life tends to evolve into a uniform world economy without considering
the given national boundaries. Humanity as a whole is striving to become
one single economic community. The nations' positions are such that
those living within them are bound together through interests that conflict
to a large degree with the economic relationships ready to unfold. Economic
life is striving to grow beyond the national structures that evolved
under historical conditions that definitely did not conform to the economic
interests in all cases.
The catastrophe of World War I has revealed the disparity between
national structures and the interests of world economy. A large part
of the war's causes must be sought in the fact that the nations exploited
the economy to augment their power, or in the fact that people involved
in economic pursuits sought to promote their own economic interests
by means of politics. Individual economies served to disrupt a world
economy striving for unity. The various nations sought to turn the economic
gains that should have remained within the economy to political advantage.
the national states, cultural and political interests become entangled
with those of the economy. Within the national boundaries that have
arisen historically, cultural, political and economic interests will
not necessarily coincide. If humanity is to take serious steps toward
realizing its justified demands for spiritual freedom, political democracy
and a social economy, one must not think for a minute that the administrations
of the cultural and political spheres would be able to regulate economic
life as well. For all cultural and political relationships on an international
level would have to adapt themselves slavishly to the conditions of
an economy whose coercive nature would influence their development.
Marxist socialism easily avoids such criticisms. Its exponents argue
that cultural attainments and political provisions are ideological constructs
founded upon economic realities. Marxists believe, therefore, that they
need not worry for now about the organization of the cultural and political
domains. They want to create closed economic systems on a grand
scale, and believe that within these systems cultural and political
conditions will arise that will permit international relations to start
up on their own once the economic systems begin doing business with
each other. This socialist approach recognizes a truth, yet it is a
one-sided truth. In the existing states—so the Marxist discovered
— branches of production are administered, products are managed,
and both administration and management are combined with a form of government
that denies cultural freedom and is politically far from ideal. He concludes
from this that henceforth the social organism need only produce more
and administer more production lines. Because he believes that out of
all this the cultural and legal-political spheres originate “by
themselves,” the Marxist overlooks one thing: to the extent that
one takes the government of people out of economic administration, precisely
to that extent must another form of government be found.
of a threefold articulation of the social organism makes provision for
that which Marxist socialism ignores. It takes seriously the ideal of
an administration of economic life that is based solely upon economic
perspectives. Yet it also allows one to recognize that the spiritual
needs and political demands of humanity have to be articulated into
separate administrations. This permits cultural and legal relationships
on an international level to become independent of economic life, which
must pursue its own path.
that stem from one sphere of life will thus be balanced through another
sphere. Nations or alliances that are in economic conflict drag the
cultural and legal interests into the conflict if they are unitary states
whose governments combine the administrations of cultural, legal and
economic concerns. However, in a social organism where each of these
three spheres has a separate administration, economic interests will,
for example, have a balancing effect on opposing cultural interests.
southeastern corner of Europe, where the catastrophe of the World
War started, one could observe the effect of the merger imposed by the
unitary nation-states on the three areas of life. In general, the cultural
contrast between Germanicism and Slavism was at the root of the conflict.
This was aggravated by a political element in the sphere of rights.
In Turkey, the democratically-minded Young Turks replaced the old reactionary
government. As a result of this political realignment, Bosnia and Herzegovnia
were annexed by Austria, which did not want merely to stand by while
the Turkish democracy drew the inhabitants of these lands to its parliamentary
system (even though legally both areas belonged to Turkey — despite
Austria's occupation going back to the Congress of Berlin). The third
element in the conflict related to Austria's economic ambitions.
Austria intended to build a railroad from Sarajevo to Mitrovitza in
order to establish a profitable trade connection with the Aegean Sea.
These three elements, then, were important factors leading to war.
If railroads were constructed only on economic grounds, they could not
contribute to the conflicts that exist between nations.
see in the negotiations over the Baghdad problem also how cultural and
political interests prevailed against economic factors. The economic
advantages of such a railroad could have been viewed entirely from the
perspective of world economy if the negotiations would have involved
only economic administrations whose decisions could not be influenced
by other, national interests.
can be made, of course, that in earlier times conflicts also arose between
nations through such conflation of economic interests with cultural
and political ones. However, this objection should not be raised against
the idea of the threefold social order. For this idea is an expression
of modern consciousness, for which such catastrophes are unbearable,
whereas in earlier ages humanity reacted to them differently. The people
of those times who, unlike today's men and women, did not aspire to
cultural freedom, democracy, political and social economy, could not
even consider such a social organism that alone takes these aspirations
seriously. Just as they instinctively regarded their own social organism
as adequate, so they also accepted the international conflicts arising
from them as a natural necessity.
of national economies into a unified world economy cannot become a reality
unless the economy is separated from cultural life on the one hand and
from political and legal life on the other. There are some who are generally
sympathetic to the idea of a threefold social order because they understand
its justification in the light of present and future needs. Nevertheless,
these same people are keeping their distance because they feel that
one single state could not even begin to set the wheels in motion toward
its realization. They believe the other nations, which have kept their
unitary character, would take drastic economic measures to make life
impossible for the threefold organism. Such an objection is justified
against the development of a state in the Marxist sense, but it is not
valid where it concerns the idea of a threefold social order. An
economic super-cooperative forced into the framework of a present-day
national government could not develop economically profitable relations
with the private capitalist economies of foreign countries. When centrally
administered, economic operations are hampered in their free unfolding,
which is required in relationships with foreign countries. Free initiative
and speed, so important for decision-making within such relationships,
can only be attained when commerce between industry and foreign
markets (as well as commerce between foreign industry and domestic markets)
is direct and handled solely by those immediately involved. Emphasizing
these points, the opponents of centrally controlled economic super-cooperatives
are always in the right, even if advocates of the super-systems are
willing to grant far-reaching independence to their manager. In practice,
for instance, the procurement of raw materials (a process that should
involve many managing authorities) would result in business procedures
that might not fit with the way in which the demands of foreign countries
must be satisfied. Similar difficulties would arise when ordering raw
materials from abroad.
social organism would place economic life on its own foundation. Marxist
socialism designates the state as the economic organization. The threefold
social order frees economic life from the bonds of the state. Therefore,
it can consider only those measures that evolve naturally from within
the economy itself. However, the economy withers if it is built upon
a centrally-oriented administration because regulations and tasks necessary
for production must be based on free initiative. This free initiative
does not preclude production within the social organism corresponding
to consumer needs through socially justified prices, as I have indicated
in my previous article. The preservation of free initiative in management
is possible only if the leadership is not yolked to a central administration,
but rather is permitted to combine into associations. The result of
this is that a central administration does not control management operations;
management retains full freedom, and the social orientation of the economic
body is based upon agreements between independent management operations.
A management responsible for export will be able to act completely out
of its own free initiative in its commercial dealings with foreign countries;
and domestically it will maintain relations with those associations
that will help the most with the supply of raw materials and the like,
to satisfy foreign demands. The same will be possible for import management.
be necessary, however, that in trade with foreign countries no products
will be imported whose production costs or purchase price will impair
the population's life style. Nor should relationships with foreign countries
cause domestic production branches to be destroyed because the lower
cost of foreign products makes continuation of domestic production unprofitable.
Yet all this can be effectively prevented through a system of associations.
Should a firm or a trading corporation conduct its business to the detriment
of domestic production, they could be prevented from doing so by those
respective associations from which they cannot exclude themselves without
making their working situation impossible.
can arise, however, that the cost is too high for certain products that
must be purchased from abroad for various reasons. Faced with such a
necessity, one will need to consider what I wrote in my book,
Toward Social Renewal:
“An administration that occupies itself solely
with economic processes will be able to bring about adjustments that
show themselves within these economic processes to be necessary. Suppose,
for instance, a business concern were not in a position to pay its investors
the interest on the savings of their labor, then — if it
is a business that is nevertheless recognized as meeting a need —
it will be possible to arrange for other industrial concerns to make
up the deficiency by the voluntary agreement of everyone concerned.”
In the same way, the excessive cost of a foreign good can be offset
through subsidies from concerns whose earnings surpass the need of its
to all such preventative steps that a threefold social organism can
take to counteract the damage it sustains through commerce with
states averse to the threefold idea, it may become necessary to resort
to additional measures that are similar to the principle of tariff.
It is easy to see that autonomy of economic life dictates different
premises for such measures than those needed when treatment of import
and export depends upon majority rule within groups of people united
by common political and cultural interests. Economic organizations that
combine their efforts for practical reasons have as their goal a price
structuring that has a social effect; such endeavors could never arise
out of individual groups' desire for profit. That is why the economic
life of threefold social organisms strives toward the ideal of free
trade. Within a unified world economy, free trade offers the best way
of guaranteeing that production in separate parts of the world is neither
too expensive nor too cheap. A social body with independent economic
management that is not surrounded by threefold organisms will,
of course, be forced to protect certain branches of production from
economically unfeasible price reduction by raising tariffs. The management
of these tariffs will then be entrusted to associations for the public's
can be overcome in the manner indicated, an isolated threefold social
organism will present itself to foreign countries as a comprehensive
economic structure whose internal organization will be of no consequence
for commerce with non-articulated states, since this commerce is not
based on the internal structure, but rather on the free initiative of
those engaged. On the other hand, the individual nation's progress toward
establishing a threefold order will be highly exemplary for other states.
The effect will make itself felt not only morally, through the social
character of the way of life the inhabitants of the threefold organism
enjoy, but also through the awakening of purely economic interests.
These will arise because the threefold social order will prove to be
markedly less profitable for the non-articulated states when they retain
their unitary character than it would were they to adopt the threefold
order themselves. In this way, then, a threefold social order could
be instrumental in clearing away obstacles to a unified world economy.
Through its structure, based on free associations, the threefold organism
can prevent damage to itself as a single economic body. Through organizing
its labor force rationally to make certain products attractive to foreign
countries, the threefold organism can assure that the disturbances it
causes among unitary states will not lead to boycott of its economy.
An oasis within the area it shares with the national economies, the
threefold nation will prove that the changeover to threefolding indeed
represents economic progress and, in general, a step forward for humanity.
Today it is stressed on many sides, and rightly so, that the salvation
of the world economy has to come from a heightened will to work, a will
that has been diminished by the war. Anyone who understands human nature
knows that this commitment to work can only come when people are convinced
that in the future their work will be done under social conditions that
guarantee them a dignified human existence.
that the old social system can lead to an even better way of life is
crumbling on all sides. And, within certain areas, the disaster of the
World War has shattered this belief completely. The idea of the threefold
social order will exert a compelling influence in the direction indicated
here. It will create an impetus toward work through the vistas it opens
up into humanity's social future. To disseminate this idea in a way
that can be received with understanding, and that will put to rest the
misgivings of its opponents, seems to be an essential part of the task
confronting contemporary social thinking.