138. Trade corporations
The classic example of these mutual agreement associations that are endowed with publicly recognised legal rights and prerogatives, is that of corporations. They did so much good before the Revolution and might easily be restored in numerous professions. They could easily be adapted to our modern economic life, by taking the inspiration from this time-honoured practice but also from the experiences of the social Catholics at the end of the 19th century, or even from Marshal Pétain’s national Revolution. The spontaneous restoration of corporations was one of its most remarkable successes.
A corporation is an organisation of members of the same trade for the purpose of better fulfilling their specific service in society and, to that end, of maintaining their internal solidarity and defending their rights and privileges. They regulate their activities, impose demands of competence and of honesty, apportion work and limit competition, and develop mutual aid institutions. This can be done on the local or regional basis and, if necessary, at the national level.
The fundamental principle of this organisation, halfway between liberalism and collectivism, is that of personal property and of professional solidarity, whereby the centre of interest in economic life is transferred away from the sphere of things to the sphere of persons, away from the products and profits of work, the object manufactured, and the dividend, to the producers themselves, in accordance with the liberating formula, “ The profession unites, the product divides ” (Jean Paillard), and I would add, “ profits bring conflict ”. The corporation unites and reconciles men, rather than mobilising and transforming materials, resources and money, all the while guaranteeing the quality of the product or the service.
This permanent combination of both social and economic roles, far from injuring anyone’s acquired rights or their situation and authority – be they employers, shareholders or workers – will on the contrary liberate them. The employers will be liberated from the crushing employers’ federation, the shareholders from the monopolising financial intermediaries, and the workers from the agitation of the trade unions. As for the consumer, he finds a guarantee of competence, of quality and of fair price.
These corporations could reappear spontaneously in certain trades, the sovereign authority will support this rebirth and will take care that the institution does not sclerose itself.