Forcenturies people where interested in creating absolutely perfect state whereeveryone is happy and satisfied, free and equal. They were writing books,pamphlets, articles about utopia and each of them were different from eachother.
The idea of ideal state is more relevant nowadays due to economic andsocial problems.In myresearch paper I am going to discuss Bergonia, which is the first attempt ofcreating utopian state online. The creator Joseph Charles Cometti visualizes every aspect of the state, which is considered to beideal. Bergonia is an imaginary country with geographical location and history.We can find any kind of information about this country which is connected withpeople, religion, economy, social life, government, ecology, etc.
Bergonia isUtopian type of country with decentralized democratic socialism.In the paperI will discuss sustainability of democratic socialism and decentralized economyand how state can survive without market driven economy, without income tax.Before wediscuss Bergonia, we have to understand what is democratic socialism. It is a political ideology that advocates political democracy alongside social ownership of the means of production with an emphasis on self-management or democratic management of economic institutions withina market socialist or decentralized socialist planned economy. Democratic socialists hold thatcapitalism is inherently incompatible with the democratic values of liberty,equality, and solidarity and that these ideals can only be achieved with therealization of a socialist society.
Democratic socialism can be supportive of either revolutionary or reformist politics to establish socialism. Democraticsocialists believe that both the economy and society should be run democratically—tofulfill public needs, not to make profits for a small part of citizens. Toachieve a more just society, many structures of our government and economy mustbe radically transformed through greater economic and social democracy so thatordinary citizens can participate in the many decisions that affect theirlives.We must mention that there aredifferent approaches towards democratic socialism but nowadays it became verypopular in USA and supporters of Democratic Socialism are members of Senate andCongress and people find idea of Socialism quite appealing, but we must notthink about Soviet understanding of Socialism which is more connected withMarxian Socialism and always associated with destruction and non-democraticvalues. Myattempt is to show you state with decentralized democratic socialism economy intheory and discuss pros and cons with already realized ideas of socialism. Constitutionalstructure of government of Bergonia is complicated and is designed to diffusepower. The more Bergonians see of the U.S.
Presidency, the more they know they don’t want a single powerful head.In Bergonia the legislative branch is supreme, and theexecutive power is divided.There is no strict separation of powers, that has positive sides but inpractice separation of powers has more advantages. Although the various organsof government each have well-defined powers, they often are allowed– andrequired– to blend their authorities.
The national government consists of a unicameral Congress,a President whochairs a powerful Executive Council that supervises a PrimeMinister and the various ministries. Some of theleaders of Congress sit on the Executive Council. The president ofBergonia does not have the power which USA president has, except in the sphereof foreign relations. We should mention that Bergonians prefer local government. They want thenational government to protect the nation, establish and regulate the basicmonetary, financial, transportation and energy systems, protect environment,and assist state and local governments, but fundamental lawmaking power resides with the 31 states. Ofcourse the complexities of industrialized society often require nationalaction, but Bergonians keep power devolved to the states and to localgovernment. Bergonias Socialist economy is consistsof worker-ownedcooperatives, federated into large enterprises and syndicates, selectedinfrastructure monopolies, “federated planning” with open markets inretail sectors.
Decentralization as everything on theearth has two sides: It canhelp the organization grow overall, it encourages accountability andtransparency, leads us to innovation and flexibility. On the other hand it isnot efficient at pursuing high-level government goals due to thenon-concentration of decision-making power, Centralization saves money becauseit avoids duplication within the administration. For decentralized economy itis not easy and fast to implement politicalreforms andpolicies when decision-making power is not concentrated.It has tocreate equality and consistency across regions since, in theory decisionsare taken considering the welfare of the whole country and not of a part of it. There is overlapping of authority and hence it may leadto conflict between top level and lower level management which is not a goodoutcome for any state because coordination at all levels is at the core when itcomes successful running of a state.It may be possible that people towhom work is delegated may not be competent enough to take such importantdecisions which in turn can put state into danger of losing its credibility andprofitability. Especially when there are worker owned and managed cooperatives.
Workers can manage situation at the very beginning of the state, afterrevolution, when society needs time to develop and realize new ideas, but afterthe first phase it in not profitable for state to give decision making power inthis sector.There are three basic types ofeconomic enterprises in Bergonia : This economy consists of hundreds of thousands of independentworker-owned and worker-managed cooperatives(also referred to in law as”corporations”). Large enterprises are structured federations offunctional, self managing cooperatives. Nearly all the manufacturing,distribution and wholesale sectors are organized on this cooperative model.There are a few big monopolistic corporations,charted by Congress, each one either handling a crucial area of the economy ora manufacturer of a massively complex and socially/politically importantcommodity.
The peculiarities of Bergonian tax policy make it convenientto monopolize these economic activities that are taxed– primarily what theycall “energy transactions.” This economy also consists of alarge number of shopkeepers, professionals and craftsmen. In a decentralizedeconomy, the policy regulation is localized within production units instead ofbeing done by the state or bureaucracy. It can be seen as democracy from belowwhere production units are controlled socially by the workers and not by aSoviet style central authority. Decentralized economies are more socialist bynature than Marxist-Leninist style of economies as they actually give power tothe workers and not to a vanguard party representing the working class.
As Cooperatives have less capital incentives, finance canbecome an issue for them. Cooperatives can face difficulties in receiving loansfrom financial institutions, such as banks, which is why the cooperativebusiness model may only work better for a business with a lower start-up cost.With centralization of power, decision-makers can quicklyrespond to issues as they emerge, but under a cooperative model, all ownerswould weigh in on the decision-making process, which will take more time.
Incases where decisions must be made fast, cooperatives might not be effective.It is also reluctant to borrow on terms that exceed their going interest rates.If stateownership is rejected as a proxy for the commons and if ownership inworker-controlled enterprises is in the hands of the workers, then these groupsof workers essentially become their own capitalists.
They have ownershiprights, mobilize their own finances, and control and reinvest “their” surplusfor their own advantage. Thesignificance of having legally authorized property rights was driven home inthe aftermath of Argentina’s 2001 economic crisis. While workers took overshuttered factories, they needed the clear collateral of property rights toavoid being denied financing and credit to purchase components and supplies inadvance of sales. State gave into this demand, but only on the condition thatthe workplaces become co-ops, meaning workers inherited the debts of the”recuperated” factories and were also responsible for their losses. The mostmilitant workers balked at such an arrangement.
They wanted a role in managingthe workplaces, but argued the state should legally take them over, financetheir renewal, and link them together in a plan across workplaces. Thosedemands were generally defeated. Workers ended up with co-operatives and weretriply undermined as competitors within capitalism: they started withfacilities capitalists had left undercapitalized and uncompetitive; they were indebt and they had to put their own savings into the facilities or accept lowerwages to address the issues of debt and new investment.The case ofArgentina clears doubt on the notion that having more worker-controlledworkplaces or co-ops readily translates into an increasingly egalitarian socialorder. Without an alternative institutional mechanism for coordinatingproductive activities, competitive markets transform differences in assets,skills, local advantages, and product valuation into inequalities betweenworkers and communities.
The negative impact of such inequalities on socialsolidarity was evident in the former Yugoslavia, which had implemented fullmarket socialism. The incorrect distribution of historic and geographicadvantages meant that inequalities across firms were also expressed regionally.Sendingworkers who have failed to find jobs back into the competitive market, oroffering workers just entering the workforce a chance to compete with thosealready established, sounds a lot like solutions offered by the libertarianright. And it ignores the fact that the one place with such a program — Italy —has unemployment rates double those of the USA. Onemodel that appears, to better address the problem of fragmented working-classownership is the Quebec Solidarity Fund (QSF) — one of the examples of “realutopias”.The QSF isdistinct in that the state subsidizes workers to invest in a “solidarity fund”and places ownership and investment decisions not in the hands of dispersedworkers or sub-groups of workers but in a larger collectivity — in this case, acentral union body. While they believe that the QSF doesn’t challengecapitalism, it can contribute to the larger project of doing so.
This is notfully true. Putting labor leaders in charge does not in itself guarantee abetter politics. Indeed, the QSF was originally designed to divert populistattention from radical demands like control of private financial institutions —not to democratize the economy.
Moreambitious proposals that slowly collectivize property without directly limitingcapital’s power are even more likely to come up against serious barriers. TheMeidner Plan in Sweden is a useful and quite obvious illustration.The MeidnerPlan was designed by the LO (Sweden’s labor central) in the 1970s, thatproposes an annual levy on profits that would then be converted into shares andplaced in a central fund controlled by unions (which at the time representedover 80 percent of workers). The funds could be democratically allocated toregional and sector development and, over time, majority ownership of thenation’s productive assets would shift from private owners to the Swedishworking class. But the issue of time turned out to be a serious problem:throughout the transition, the Swedish economy would remain dependent on thesame private corporations the plan wanted to expropriate.
Warning that they wouldinstinctively hold back long-term investment if their property rights werethreatened, and arguing that efficiency, stability, and even living standardswould suffer irremediable damage ifthe transfer of ownership took place, corporations mobilized aggressivelyagainst the Meidner Plan.Formalequality in co-ops doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone participates equally,as in elected democracy, bureaucracies and elites (and indifference) readilythwart the promise of equal voting rights. Additionally, over 90 percent ofco-ops are consumer co-ops, meaning the main owners aren’t the people who workthere. Even in worker–owned cooperatives, membership and employment don’talways coincide.To conclude,co-ops, once an integral part of radical political movements, are now largelyintegrated into the capitalist order. They may lobby for particular changes,but they no longer mobilize alongside those fighting capitalism.Bergonian revolutionary doctrine holds as a statement ofprinciple that governmental andeconomic bureaucracy should always impose as little a burden on the individualas possible– in order to lessen the common citizen’s hassles. This is in keeping with the utilitarianperspective common in Berg policy-making, which is to consider the immediate effect of a policy onthe happiness of the people.
Therefore every economic enterprise must pay a payroll tax. It isthe equivalent of a tax on the “workers share” of the collective enterprise’s income. It isnot a “withholding” from individual pay, so no part of the payrolltax is in anyway chargeable to individual workers, since no individual everbecome liable for taxes.
Instead it is seen as a tax on the collective’s net income, before the workers paythemselves. The payroll deductions are calculated with a simple flatpercentage of the net amount the workers pay to themselves. No income taxes, except on theself-employed. Thus, except forthe self-employed, individuals do not pay income taxes at all– itis too much bother and hassle. Bu when we are speaking about the state whichclaims that is has liberty and equality for everyone how democratic is this forself-employed people to pay for everything what is free in Bergonia (such aseducation, healthcare). People alsopay no personal property taxes for their personal possessions, including automobiles,campers & boats.
Tax collections account for the bulkof every state’s revenue, which is needed to invest in and repairinfrastructure, maintain public services such as police and fire departments,and pay other government employees — to list but a few examples. Without anincome tax, these states often need to find another source of revenue.Seven U.
S.states currently don’t have an income tax: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, SouthDakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming. The mainbenefit, proponents say, is that states with no income tax become a beacon forgrowth. They’re better at creating jobs and keeping a core of young, educatedworkers from moving to other states. Others, however, are not so sure.They’redriven by the same line of thinking: Cutting the income tax will boosttake-home pay for everyone.
It’ll make the state more attractive than itsneighbors, drawing new businesses, creating jobs and sparking an influx oftalented workers.A variety ofeconomic policy groups have pushed back over the past few years, raisingquestions about whether any of those claims are true.TheInstitute on Taxation and Economic Policy points out, that states with noincome tax haven’t really created more jobs than others. Texas, which is at thecenter of America’s oil industry, has certainly outperformed the nationalaverage in job creation as energy prices surged over the past decade. But jobgrowth trailed population growth in the other eight no-income-tax states,according to a 2013 ITEP report.
It isobvious that decentralized democratic socialism and decentralized economy isnot solution for economic and social problems. For some time that may help todevelop some parts of economy but at the end it causes more problems. And herewe may have a question if people are aware of dangers and negative sides ofdemocratic socialism why do they speak, write and create utopias with thisidea.
Why socialism is so appealing for XXI century people. It is easy to befascinated with the ideas of equality, freedom, liberty, welfare system, butnot only socialism can bring it to us. Cometti created the state on thisprinciple not to praise the idea of socialism, but to make us think how we canuse different model in order to restore and develop our states, especially itmostly goes to USA, which was and still is seen as the leading country in everyaspect. He knew all the negative sides of the democratic socialism and stillgave us puzzles to think how to live better not only for ourselves.To createideal state, to promote protection of human rights, equality, freedom is thework which takes centuries to deal with. Thomas Moore in “Utopia”, JamesHarrington in “The Commonwealth ofOceana” tried to show us what can be done and also things that can’t berealized. That is why they are called utopias.
Bergonia is not even created in order to solvesomething. It even makes socialists ideas more uncertain. But also depicts America which can be said isalready socialist country, not only because millions of socialists and iscurious as we know America as the capitalistic state.
Cometti saw thisbeforehand and with the example of Bergonia gave us modified USA. The state which just takes care in itself anddoes not have global understanding of issues can’t last long. Mankind suffereda lot under totalitarian, undemocratic and non-human regimes and people aretrying to find shelter in liberal ideas, but sustainability of them is notenough to base society on them.DemocraticSocialism is not sustainable not only just because the error in itself but thereason is the human itself, who can’t live in the state without any chance todevelop his/her conditions, human is not made to freeze in one phase. Each ofus need aim which leads us to create something wonderful and outstanding andwithout competition we can’t accomplish it.