Europe One Hundred Years from Now: Towards Democratic Control of the Economy

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 09:00
Location: Seminarraum 5C G (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Gerard KESTER, retired, Netherlands
The core values liberte, egalite, fraternite were proclaimed in the 19th century but did not result in durable institutions that gave flesh and blood to these principles. When by the end of the 21st century Europe was 're-invented' in a second Enlightenment which led to the United States of Europe (see twin paper for RC 07) these values were re-examined and broadly debated. Also democratie was re-examined and now intrinsically linked to freedom, equality and solidarity, as an ideology on its own - replacing the 'invisible hand' of neoliberalism by the visible citizen, in an economy that was democratically controlled.

For long private ownership had been the foundation of the economy. This was engrained in national constitutions of EU member states as well as in the officious Constitution of the EU. This relationship between democracy and capitalism was now revised as democracy is incompatible with the full primacy of private ownership - especially in as much as it yields owner power over other people's life. Social ownership was the new perspective: wheras private ownership remained respected in the private domain - in the public domain the production of goods and services came under democratic control. 

The European Constitution was changed (in 2100) and stipulated the primacy of social ownership. It also elaborated principles of economic redistribution as well as direct and indirect forms of democratic control of the production process. Moreover, a generous welfare state ensured the realisation of equivalence and solidarity.

Ownership could still yield capital income to investing private owners but the running of the enterprise and the distribution of accumulated wealth were subject to democratic procedure. The concepts capitalism, communism, liberalism and socialism were thrown in the trash. Production relations were no longer a permanent conflict between capital and labour but a partnership of capital, labour and other stakeholders.