“Corporantia” is an ancient Latin word that refers to entities which form into a body. Like the word “intelligentia,” it can refer to a subset of society. For you and I to be corporantia would mean that we form into interdependent social bodies. Not all social organizations embrace interdependence, so being corporantia would amount to embracing certain political and/or economic systems. But which systems? Capitalism? Socialism? Democracy? Dictatorship? Are corporantia aligned with liberals? Are they aligned with conservatives? Are they aligned with the United States? Are they aligned with Microsoft?
The purpose of this article is to explicate the political and economic philosophy of corporantia. Many subsets of society are defined by comparison to founders−as examples, Americans are defined by comparison to the signers of the U.S. Constitution and Christians are defined by comparison to Christ and His apostles−but that is not the case for corporantia. The political and economic philosophy of corporantia has a range, much as “plants” include a range of species many of which have yet to be discovered. The first part of this article will examine multiple examples and consider what they have in common.
The second part of this article will contrast the political and economic philosophy of corporantia with well-known political and economic philosophies. If you are interested in social philosophies, then it is valuable to identify the best. Everyone should be interested in social philosophies because life lacks purpose if it does not support societies built around the right philosophies.
Examples of Corporantia
More than three examples of corporantia may be possible, but only three will be discussed here. The first goes by the name “family values.” The thinking here is that we were designed−whether divinely, through evolution, or both−for a world lacking social institutions larger than a family. In that world, the family was the employer, the school, the religion, and the government. People were so completely shackled to their biological families that they could not afford to discard any member. That set a limit on the level of within-family oppression that could be sustained. Thus, the members of a family were interdependent like the parts of a body.
Larger social institutions empower individuals to escape the forced-interdependence of families, so defense of family-values corporantia requires limiting or eliminating social institutions larger than a family. Family-values corporantia favor family businesses, home schooling, home churches, and limited government. Rather than call the politics and economy within a family “socialistic,” “capitalistic,” “democratic” or “dictatorial,” we might call it “informal.” In general, the ruling members of an interdependent family are not elected, and may teach discipline by temporarily withholding basic needs like food and shelter, but are practically forced to value all members.
The contrasting examples of corporantia discussed here both go by the name “science.” In these examples, interdependence is not forced, so it must be sold, and science provides the sales pitch. Instead of eliminating large institutions, science corporantia aim to reform them to handle large challenges like climate change and pandemic. They raise up a master institution of science to potentially intervene in all businesses, schools, religious groups, and governments the way an ecosystem manager intervenes in ecosystems.
Like families, the systems promoted by science corporantia would have some informality because the master institution would intervene only so far as the total system falls outside certain thresholds of social health. However, unlike families, this system needn’t cherish each individual member−science corporantia could discard some individuals much the way ecosystem managers discard invasive species. The power to do that could be frightening, except that the master institution, like medical doctors, is supposedly bound to objective methods of decision-making. Scientific authorities are not elected; they are supposedly selected on the basis of natural ability, measured objectively.
Science has not yet achieved the objectivity it is supposed to achieve−at least not in the social sciences. Even though science is well-known to advance from its fringe, mainstream science rejects the fringe without even testing it (and perhaps without understanding how to test it). Such undesirable politics of science can be traced to issues with credentialing, tenure, and peer-reviewed publication, activities theoretically unnecessary to science but which have proven necessary in practice.
Failure to launch objective science divides science corporantia into two types: 1) intrapreneurs who seek to reform science from within through education and discussion vs. 2) entrepreneurs who attempt to topple the institution of science from without by developing new technologies which will ultimately reshape science. For example, consider how the rise of the Internet has opened publishing to uncredentialed scientists.
These three examples of corporantia might seem at odds with each other, but they function more like back-up plans for each other. If education fails to establish an objective social science which properly regulates technology at a global level, then the world will be vulnerable to new technology. If the social science that results from new technology fails to be objective, then conflict will destroy all large social institutions, leaving us with the corporantia of families. Corporantia necessarily win in any case−the disagreement is only over how we get there.
The range of corporantia can be explicated also through contrast with major political and economic philosophies:
Contrast to Capitalism
The term “corporantia” reminds us of the word “corporation” which we associate with capitalism. However, family businesses and global authorities are stuck with the laborers they’ve got and therefore design jobs to meet their labor supply. In contrast, 80% of the jobs produced by capitalism may be for 20% of the laborers. Market leaders succeed in recruiting labor suited to the jobs their customers demand, but other companies must fill such jobs with workers less suited to them; meanwhile capitalism falsely writes-off many laborers as incompetent because not enough jobs are produced to match their talents. Especially because human labor can be replaced with automation, capitalism makes corporations more loyal to customers than to workers−quite the opposite of corporantia.
At first, this account might seem to mischaracterize capitalism−isn’t capitalism sensitive to supply as well as to demand? Capitalistic markets adjust to the supply of diverse skills, but do not adjust to the supply of diverse values. For example, laborer A might be inclined to show mercy, while laborer B might be inclined to enforce the rules. Rather than pay more for workers with rare values, capitalistic markets pressure laborers to exhibit whichever values are best compensated. Thus, in a capitalistic economy, many workers are “not themselves” at work.
Instead of organizing around customer demands, corporantia organize around their own natural functions. Rather than build a meritocracy that uses wealth as a proxy for merit, the corporantia aim to use actual merit, and this permits merit to have many dimensions. The apostle Paul referred to these dimension of merit in the “corpus” as “gifts of the spirit” but did not offer an objective process for identifying them. He faced little pressure to provide such a science because he wrote to a world of family businesses already accustomed to finding ways for each person to contribute. Organizational psychologists who structure management processes around the strengths of team members are only beginning to produce that science.
Contrast to Socialism
Corporantia of the family-values variety, in which everyone is guaranteed a seat at the dinner table, may remind us of socialism because socialism supposedly takes care of everyone. But is “socialism” really the most accurate way to characterize the dynamics of a family? The ideology of socialism is not merely that people are equal in the sense of being interdependent, but goes so far as to insist that people be given equal power. The power gaps between parents and children in a family generally exceed the class gaps that inspire socialism. We must conclude that the economics within a family are neither capitalistic nor socialistic.
Similarly, governance through science might sound like a step in the direction of socialism, but the gap between those who can do science and those who can’t is much larger than you might expect. The movement to democratize science is not proposing to settle questions like climate change via popular vote−power always remains unbalanced in science. The corporantia would allow each part of the body to fulfill its natural function, and that includes allowing scientific prodigies to advance the science of governance past what most people can understand.
Contrast to Democracy
Given that power is unequal among corporantia, we might assume corporantia oppose democracy. We often measure democracy in terms of equality: Do all races have equal vote? Do all genders have equal vote? However, equality might actually be anti-democratic; democracy officially means “governance by the people” and the people might prefer inequality. For example, the people sacrifice equality when they elect representatives rather than vote on each issue directly. They also sacrifice equality when they use an electoral system, rather than elect through popular vote.
The developments of robots and clones are disturbing partly because they expose the incoherence of equal-vote ideology. On the one hand, to withhold voting rights from robots and clones would seem to violate equality. On the other hand, to grant voting rights to robots and clones would also seem to violate equality, since mass-produced entities would easily out-vote everyone else. Logically, democracy must be unequal in some way.
It is possible that the kind of inequality the people want is the inequality of corporantia. Many people freely delegate medical decisions to their doctors and honor the wishes of their parents−these are classic examples of the inequality of corporantia. While we most often associate democracy with voting methods, democracy might also be seen in the scientific method so far as the right to propose hypotheses is available to all people. Likewise, democracy might be seen in delegation of power to parents so far as parental love is available to all people.
Democracy might currently align with corporantia, but there was likely a time when it did not, since the will of the people changes from age to age. If progress leads to increasing interdependence, then looking backwards points to a time when forming into a body wasn’t necessarily beneficial to its parts.
Contrast to Dictatorship
If not intrinsically democratic, are corporantia intrinsically dictatorial? We often measure dictatorship in terms of human rights violations, and corporantia might violate human rights freely. For example, family-style corporantia of apes, bees, machines, or aliens might have no special respect for humans. Even if a less-speciesist concept of rights were proposed, how dare we criticize corporantia for treating certain humans the way most humans treat cancer cells? Human rights organizations employ many nice people, but their ideology does not provide them with means to distinguish corporantia from dictatorships.
On the other hand, dictators might not like the limits corporantia place on subjective leadership. On the family values approach, there is a limit to the size of the institution a person can rule. On the science approach, rulers lose their power if they do not keep society within objective standards of social health. Corporantia produce oligarchy so far as corporantia fail−resulting in shades of timocracy, technocracy, or aristocracy−but all forms of government produce oligarchy so far as they fail. Corporantia are not particularly aligned with dictatorship.
Contrast to Anarchy
Since corporantia seek a balance among parts of the body, they are at odds with any political party that aligns with a single part. In that sense, the corporantia would seem to align with the Transpartisan movement. However, the Transpartisan movement does not attempt merely to bridge the gap between different kinds of people but also between the institutions that have already formed around those kinds of people. The Transpartisan movement treats existing parties and forms of governance with respect. In contrast, the size limits of family-values corporantia or the crucible of scientific testing would destroy existing parties as we know them.
One take-way of this article is that corporantia bring a worldview that exposes irreparable flaws in existing major political and economic philosophies. This puts corporantia at odds with current power-holders and authorities (including academics) and suggests that corporantia find their natural ally in anarchists. However, an alliance with anarchists would be unstable, because the corporantia do ultimately seek order−they are about forming into a body, not about dissolving it.
The commitment of corporantia to natural order aligns it with theocracy at the point where major religions overlap. As examples, all major religions honor family and objective truth (i.e. science). Separation of church and state is valuable to keep the state from favoring one religion over another, but not where religions overlap. Most states already support science−corporantia could evolve through the swelling of this theological aspect of government. However the philosophy of the corporantia to not favor any particular religion, so it is not theocratic in the common sense.
Contrast to Identity Politics
When trying to identify who would benefit most from the success of corporantia, one might consider who is most hurt by its absence. The absence of corporantia results in evaluativism which is most damaging to people labelled “mentally ill” for being unable to hide their values. This might seem to suggest a natural alliance with the neurodiversity movement, but the neurodiversity movement serves these people at a different level. Rather than aim to reform government and business, the neurodiversity movement functions more like a relief group−funneling resources to victims long before any progress is made at understanding and repairing the root issues behind their suffering.
One might also consider who would supply the tools the corporantia would need. Here, the version of corporantia matters: Social technology companies and organizational psychologists clearly have something to gain from the success of science corporantia. Likewise, companies that sell tools for family-owned businesses, home schools, and home churches clearly have something to gain from the success of family-values corporantia.
The political and economic philosophy of the corporantia is no more new or vague than family, so why is it not typically offered-up as an alternative to such philosophies as capitalism, socialism, democracy, oligarchy, and anarchy? Perhaps it is because these other philosophies aim to optimize coordination among independent entities, while the corporantia reject that challenge as misguided, insisting that interdependence is better than independence.
If the cells of our body were to engage in debates about whether our body should be capitalistic or socialistic, democratic or dictatorial, we would tell our cells that their rhetoric is hollow because they happen to be interdependent and do not get to choose the nature of that interdependence. We would criticize those cells for failing to realize that the best each can hope to be is a mere part of something greater than itself. The corporantia might similarly dismiss all debates of political and economic philosophy.
On the other hand, political and economic philosophy needn’t assume that we are independent. It could aim to optimize coordination at the level of families and teams, regardless of whether members are interdependent or not. This would divide social philosophy into two branches, the major dispute between these branches being over whether it is better for members to be independent or interdependent. The philosophies of capitalism, socialism, democracy, and oligarchy would fit in the former branch, and the philosophies of corporantia would fit in the latter branch.
For life to have purpose, it must support societies built around the right philosophies. It is horrifying to witness the internal collapse of one’s society, to see that capitalism, socialism, democracy and oligarchy do not work, because this unsettles our sense of purpose. The purpose of this article is to constructively explicate the other branch of social philosophy so that corporantia can form around it and restore our sense of purpose.