centuries people where interested in creating absolutely perfect state where
everyone is happy and satisfied, free and equal. They were writing books,
pamphlets, articles about utopia and each of them were different from each
other. The idea of ideal state is more relevant nowadays due to economic and
research paper I am going to discuss Bergonia, which is the first attempt of
creating utopian state online. The creator Joseph Charles Cometti visualizes every aspect of the state, which is considered to be
Bergonia is an imaginary country with geographical location and history.
We can find any kind of information about this country which is connected with
people, religion, economy, social life, government, ecology, etc. Bergonia is
Utopian type of country with decentralized democratic socialism.
In the paper
I will discuss sustainability of democratic socialism and decentralized economy
and how state can survive without market driven economy, without income tax.
discuss 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 within
a market socialist or decentralized socialist planned economy.
Democratic socialists hold that
capitalism is inherently incompatible with the democratic values of liberty,
equality, and solidarity and that these ideals can only be achieved with the
realization of a socialist society. Democratic socialism can be supportive of either revolutionary or reformist politics to establish socialism. Democratic
socialists believe that both the economy and society should be run democratically—to
fulfill public needs, not to make profits for a small part of citizens. To
achieve a more just society, many structures of our government and economy must
be radically transformed through greater economic and social democracy so that
ordinary citizens can participate in the many decisions that affect their
We must mention that there are
different approaches towards democratic socialism but nowadays it became very
popular in USA and supporters of Democratic Socialism are members of Senate and
Congress and people find idea of Socialism quite appealing, but we must not
think about Soviet understanding of Socialism which is more connected with
Marxian Socialism and always associated with destruction and non-democratic
attempt is to show you state with decentralized democratic socialism economy in
theory and discuss pros and cons with already realized ideas of socialism.
structure of government of Bergonia is complicated and is designed to diffuse
power. 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 the
executive power is divided.There is no strict separation of powers, that has positive sides but in
practice separation of powers has more advantages. Although the various organs
of government each have well-defined powers, they often are allowed– and
required– to blend their authorities.
The national government consists of a unicameral Congress,
a President who
chairs a powerful Executive Council that supervises a Prime
Minister and the various ministries. Some of the
leaders of Congress sit on the Executive Council. The president of
Bergonia does not have the power which USA president has, except in the sphere
of foreign relations.
We should mention that Bergonians prefer local government. They want the
national government to protect the nation, establish and regulate the basic
monetary, financial, transportation and energy systems, protect environment,
and assist state and local governments, but fundamental lawmaking power resides with the 31 states. Of
course the complexities of industrialized society often require national
action, but Bergonians keep power devolved to the states and to local
Bergonias Socialist economy is consists
cooperatives, federated into large enterprises and syndicates, selected
infrastructure monopolies, “federated planning” with open markets in
Decentralization as everything on the
earth has two sides: It can
help the organization grow overall, it encourages accountability and
transparency, leads us to innovation and flexibility. On the other hand it is
not efficient at pursuing high-level government goals due to the
non-concentration of decision-making power, Centralization saves money because
it avoids duplication within the administration. For decentralized economy it
is not easy and fast to implement political
policies when decision-making power is not concentrated.
It has to
create equality and consistency across regions since, in theory decisions
are taken considering the welfare of the whole country and not of a part of it. There is overlapping of authority and hence it may lead
to conflict between top level and lower level management which is not a good
outcome for any state because coordination at all levels is at the core when it
comes successful running of a state.
It may be possible that people to
whom work is delegated may not be competent enough to take such important
decisions which in turn can put state into danger of losing its credibility and
profitability. Especially when there are worker owned and managed cooperatives.
Workers can manage situation at the very beginning of the state, after
revolution, when society needs time to develop and realize new ideas, but after
the first phase it in not profitable for state to give decision making power in
There are three basic types of
economic enterprises in Bergonia :
This economy consists of hundreds of thousands of independent
worker-owned and worker-managed cooperatives(also referred to in law as
Large enterprises are structured federations of
functional, 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 or
a manufacturer of a massively complex and socially/politically important
commodity. The peculiarities of Bergonian tax policy make it convenient
to monopolize these economic activities that are taxed– primarily what they
call “energy transactions.” This economy also consists of a
large number of shopkeepers, professionals and craftsmen. In a decentralized economy, the policy
regulation is localized within production units instead of being done by the
state or bureaucracy. It can be seen as democracy from below where production
units are controlled socially by the workers and not by a Soviet style central
authority. Decentralized economies are more socialist by nature than
Marxist-Leninist style of economies as they actually give power to the workers
and not to a vanguard party representing the working class.
As Cooperatives have
less capital incentives, finance can
become an issue for them. They can face difficulties in receiving loans from
financial institutions, such as banks, which is why the cooperative business
model may only work better for a business with a lower start-up cost, but in
the case of Bergonia Banks and financial institutions have no issue to finance
With centralization of power, decision-makers can quickly
respond to issues as they emerge, but under a cooperative model, all owners
would weigh in on the decision-making process, which will take more time. In
cases 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.
ownership is rejected as a proxy for the commons and if ownership in
worker-controlled enterprises is in the hands of the workers, then these groups
of workers essentially become their own capitalists. They have ownership
rights, mobilize their own finances, and control and reinvest “their” surplus
for their own advantage.
We can look
at Argentina’s 2001 economic crisis. The workers took over bankrupted and
closed factories, needed the clear ensuring of property rights to avoid being
denied financing and credit to purchase components and supplies in advance of
sales. State satisfied this demand, but only if that the workplaces become
co-ops, that meant workers inherited the debts of the factories and were also
responsible for their losses. The most of the workers balked at such an
arrangement. They wanted a role in managing the workplaces, but argued the
state should legally take them over, finance their renewal, and link them
together in a plan across workplaces. Those demands were generally defeated.
Workers ended up with co-operatives and were triply undermined as competitors
within capitalism: they started with facilities capitalists had left
undercapitalized and uncompetitive; they were in debt and they had to put their
own savings into the facilities or accept lower wages to address the issues of
debt and new investment.
The case of
Argentina clears doubt on the notion that having more worker-controlled
workplaces or co-ops readily translates into an increasingly egalitarian social
order. If there is no an alternative
institutional mechanism for coordinating productive activities, competitive
markets transform differences in assets, skills, local advantages, and product
valuation into inequalities between workers and communities. The negative
impact of such inequalities on social solidarity was evident in the former
Yugoslavia, where was implemented full market socialism. The incorrect
distribution of historic and geographic advantages meant that inequalities
across firms were also expressed regionally.
workers who have failed to find jobs back into the competitive market, or
offering workers just entering the workforce a chance to be in a competition with those already established,
sounds like solutions offered by the libertarian right. It also ignores the
fact that the one place with such a program — Italy — has unemployment rates
double those of the USA.
There is another model that appears, to
give better solution of the problem.Working-class ownership is the Quebec
Solidarity Fund (QSF) — one of the examples of “real utopias”. The QSF is outstanding
in that the state helps workers to invest in a “solidarity fund” and places
ownership and investment decisions not in the hands of dispersed workers or
sub-groups of workers but in a larger collectivity — in this case, a central
union body. But putting labor leaders in charge does not in itself guarantee a
better politics. Indeed, the QSF was originally designed to deviate populist
attention from radical demands like control of private financial institutions —
not to democratize the economy.
There is more
ambitious project that slowly collectivizes property without directly limiting
capital’s power. The Meidner Plan in Sweden is a useful and quite obvious
Plan was designed by the LO (Sweden’s labor central) in the 1970s, that
proposes an annual levy on profits that would then be converted into shares and
placed in a central fund controlled by unions. The funds could be
democratically allocated to regional and sector development and, majority
ownership of the nation’s productive assets would shift from private owners to
the Swedish working class. But the issue of time turned out to be a serious
problem: throughout the transition, the Swedish economy would remain dependent
on the same private corporations the plan wanted to expropriate. Warning that
they would instinctively hold back long-term investment if their property
rights were threatened, and arguing that efficiency, stability, and even living
standards would suffer irremediable
if the transfer of ownership took place, corporations mobilized aggressively
against the Meidner Plan.
There is a formal equality in co-ops and it doesn’t
necessarily mean that everyone participates equally, as in elected democracy,
bureaucracies and elites readily thwart the promise of equal voting rights.
Additionally, over 90 percent of co-ops are consumer co-ops, meaning the main
owners aren’t the people who work there. And we have to take into considerations that even
in worker–owned cooperatives, membership and employment don’t always coincide.
co-ops once were the most important part of radical political movements, but
now they are now largely integrated into the capitalist order. They may lead
for particular changes, but they no longer mobilize alongside those fighting
Bergonian revolutionary doctrine holds as a statement of
principle that governmental and
economic bureaucracy should always impose as little a burden on the individual
as possible– in order to lessen the common citizen’s hassles.
This is in keeping with the utilitarian
perspective common in Berg policy-making, which is to consider the immediate effect of a policy on
the happiness of the people. Therefore every economic enterprise must pay a payroll tax. It is
the equivalent of a tax on the “workers share” of the collective enterprise’s income. It is
not a “withholding” from individual pay, so no part of the payroll
tax is in anyway chargeable to individual workers, since no individual ever
become liable for taxes. Instead it is seen as a tax on the collective’s net income, before the workers pay
themselves. The payroll deductions are calculated with a simple flat
percentage of the net amount the workers pay to themselves.
No income taxes, except on the
self-employed. Thus, except for
the self-employed, individuals do not pay income taxes at all– it
is too much bother and hassle. Bu when we are speaking about the state which
claims that is has liberty and equality for everyone how democratic is this for
self-employed people to pay for everything what is free in Bergonia (such as
education, healthcare). People also
pay no personal property taxes for their personal possessions, including automobiles,
campers & boats.
Tax collections account for the bulk
of every state’s revenue, which is needed to invest in and repair
infrastructure, maintain public services such as police and fire departments,
and pay other government employees — to list but a few examples. Without an
income tax, these states often need to find another source of revenue. Bergonia
takes income taxes from self-employed workers and part of revenue from big
corporations, in theory it is sufficient for the state but in practice it
states currently don’t have an income tax: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South
Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming.
Some say that
states with no income tax become bases for growth. They’re better at creating
jobs and keeping young, educated workers from moving to other states. Others,
however, are not so sure.
income tax will boost take-home pay for everyone. It’ll make the state more
attractive than other states, establishing new businesses, creating jobs and attracts
Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy points out, that states with no
income tax haven’t really created more jobs than others. Texas, which is at the
center of America’s oil industry, has certainly outperformed the national
average in job creation as energy prices surged over the past decade. But job
growth trailed population growth in the other eight no-income-tax states,
according to a 2013 ITEP report.
obvious that decentralized democratic socialism and decentralized economy is
not solution for economic and social problems. For some time that may help to
develop some parts of economy but at the end it causes more problems. And here
we may have a question if people are aware of dangers and negative sides of
democratic socialism why do they speak, write and create utopias with this
idea. Why socialism is so appealing for XXI century people. It is easy to be
fascinated with the ideas of equality, freedom, liberty, welfare system, but
not only socialism can bring it to us. Cometti created the state on this
principle not to praise the idea of socialism, but to make us think how we can
use different model in order to restore and develop our states, especially it
mostly goes to USA, which was and still is seen as the leading country in every
aspect. He knew all the negative sides of the democratic socialism and still
gave us puzzles to think how to live better not only for ourselves.
ideal state, to promote protection of human rights, equality, freedom is the
work which takes centuries to deal with. Thomas Moore in “Utopia”, James
Harrington in “The Commonwealth of
Oceana” tried to show us what can be done and also things that can’t be
realized. That is why they are called utopias.
Bergonia is not even created in order to solve
something. It even makes socialists ideas more uncertain. But also depicts America which can be said is
already socialist country, not only because millions of socialists and is
curious as we know America as the capitalistic state. Cometti saw this
beforehand and with the example of Bergonia gave us modified USA.
The state which just takes care in itself and
does not have global understanding of issues can’t last long. Mankind suffered
a lot under totalitarian, undemocratic and non-human regimes and people are
trying to find shelter in liberal ideas, but sustainability of them is not
enough to base society on them. Very important is to pay attention to the human
nature which may be said is genetically bounded with status, and status can be
maintained with money. There is no way that all mankind will ever have the same
ideas and be in an agreement. Utopian state is impossible because its economic
cost is higher than it can gather. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley which
presents humanity that has reached its pinnacle, but in that pinnacle comes
something that is a dystopia to the few who cannot content themselves with the
status quo and its stagnation.
Socialism is not sustainable not only just because the error in itself but the
reason is the human itself, who can’t live in the state without any chance to
develop his/her conditions, human is not made to freeze in one phase. Each of
us need aim which leads us to create something wonderful and outstanding and
without competition we can’t accomplish it.