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12128 - Johannes Messner: ¿organic democracy¿ as political framework of Austrian corporativism (1934 - 1938)

Johannes Messner (1891 − 1984), largely considered one of the founding fathers and leading theorists of the concept of “Organic Democracy”, developed the framework used by the organised, political sector of roman-catholicism in Austria to combat and oppose parliamentary democracy. The normative character of “organic democracy,” deeply ingrained in its very foundations corresponds with the categorical rejection of the egalitarian approach imminent in a representative parliamentary system. Messner’s idea of “Organic Democracy” is based on the interaction of various, autonomous, self-governing entities (“classes”, or “Stände”), that are formed taking into consideration the position of the respective Stand in its economic context. The Stände’s representative organs are elected, using a weighted or plural system to determine voting rights. Those representative organs in turn form the basis of the state-wide government. The normative goal of the political system is not formed by pluralist discourse but is shaped by the catholic church, designated as institution of “spiritual leadership” within Messners framework, who de facto defines the “greater good” and how to achieve it in the Austrian society. The role of citizens and citizenship is to be viewed analogous to the negation of political discourse - being a citizen in the Austrian Ständestaat meant subordination and obedience with respect to the Stände and, of course, the catholic church. This research paper aims to explore the political foundations of Messner’s “Organic Democracy”, it’s inner workings and continuities in postwar Austria.

Palavras-chaves: ¿Ständestaat¿, authoritarian regimes, Political theory, Austria, Johannes Messner

Autores: Kepplinger , Laura (Department of Philosophy of Science, Austria / Österreich)

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