12127 - The ¿Christliche Ständestaat¿ in Austria as a model of authoritarian corporatism in societies under crises.

Europe’s 1930s and 1940s were overshadowed and dominated by Fascism and Nazism but also corporativist concepts of society and states and political thinking represented an element of or an alternative to fascist regimes per se; this makes the „Christliche Ständestaat“ in Austria (1933-1938) a paradigmatic case to study the hybridity of authoritarian rule.

Here and in other countries in South Western and Eastern Europe corporativism became allied with more or less violent, top-down dictatorships, opposing liberal democracy and socialist politics, and trying more or less to reconcile capitalism, traditionalist farmers’ and class-conscious workers’ interests in one Catholic universalist ideal. It became a rival or imitator of fascism proper in societies during phases of economic and social modernization and political mobilization. It can be considered as a phase phenomenon of harsh economic crises and phases of contradicting tendencies. Authoritarian dictatorships under the label of corporatism tried (unsuccessfully at that time) to achieve some kind of adaptive counter- and/or partial pro-mobilization.

Remarkably they had to deal with more dynamic societal/political forces working against them during the first two decades after World War I mainly in Europe but emerged in transformed modes in quite different geographic and historic contexts before and after World War II in South America. From a macro-historical perspective, authoritarian corporatism seems to represent an interesting example of transfer and entanglement of ideas and political practice and appears to have been an attempted “third way” out of societal situations seriously endangering the political dominance of explicitly Christian parties, conservative classes (landed owners and farmers) and (aristocratic) elites in traditional Catholic political cultures.

As the Austrian case demonstrates corporatist thinking could emerge from romantic and social Catholicism of the late 19th century and had never totally vanished from the programmatic ideas of most Christian Social parties in Europe. It was resurrected in the 1920s and received real boosts from Mussolini’s “Carta del Lavoro” (1927) and the papal encyclical “Quadragesimo Anno” in 1931.

In an accentuated Catholic manner, corporatism strongly influenced Austria under the rule of Dollfuss and Schuschnigg and Salazar’s Portugal, and fell on fertile ground in Spain. At the same time, it constituted – in addition to fascism – an important political current in Latin America, particularly in Vargas’ Brazil and Argentina before and under Perón. Even after its decline in the “old continent” corporativism flourished under quite different societal and political contexts and needs, in the so-called New World. This might raise the question if social partnership systems and consocial democracies (“neo-corporatism”) in post-World War II Europe were a continuation of authoritarian corporatism under conditions of long-lasting economic growth and democracy, and at the same time examples of learnings from history as well as lasting political heritages.

Palavras-chaves: Catholic social doctrine, authoritarianism, corporativism, ¿neo-corporatism¿, Austria,

Autores: Botz, Gerhard (Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Social Science History c/o University of Vienna, Austria / Österreich)


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