The protestant trade union movement (1)

First insertion on Heterodox Gazette Sam de Wolff: 10 july 2016

E.A. Bakkum is a blogger for the Sociaal Consultatiekantoor. He loves to reflect on the labour movement.

Several previous columns have studied the mission of the trade union movement. The present column elaborates on this, but with special attention to the morals. The protestant trade union movement is a promising object of analysis for the role of the moral factor. The development of Patrimonium into the CNV is described. Notably the liberal and communitarian views on the trade union movement can be compared with each other. The main text is illustrated with many fascinating examples from practice, which for convenience are presented as footnotes.

The experiences with the Manchester capitalism during the nineteenth century have shown, that the economy can only function well, when the factor labour can dispose of a collective promotion of interests. Thanks to the collective organization of the personnel, the distribution of power during the bargaining process about the terms of employment becomes more balanced1. Now the question is how the bargaining between the entrepreneurs and their personnel can best be institutionalized. Your columnist has analyzed this in three texts, where most attention is paid to the social-democratic trade union movement. It turns out that during the twentieth century the trade unions of the working class have at times functioned plainly poorly. In the Netherland the trade union movement even derails during the seventies of the last century, and causes am appreciable damage to the economic system.

Across the borders the situation is not better. Apparently the rise of the trade union leads to perverse incentives in the formation of the wages. In a system based on paid labour the wage formation is not merely determined by the productivity, but also by the distribution. In the Manchester capitalism the entrepreneurs can dictate the conditions to the factor labour2. And reversely during the seventies of the twentieth century the industries were exploited by the unions. It is somewhat perverse, that workers are not particularly concerned with the continuity of their enterprise. The union officials care even less. Thus a trade union can attract members by making excessively high wage demands. It can indeed be observed, that the biggest unions have a politically left-radical colour, and are under a social-democratic or even Leninist influence.

Sticker of CNV
Figure 1: Christelijk Nationaal
     Vakverbond (sticker)

It is desirable, that the promotion of interests of the workers takes more into account the future of the enterprise. This is a difficult task, because the personnel must not have an appreciable say in the strategy of the enterprise. This is the responsibility of the factor capital, because it evidently owns the enterprise and thus pre-eminently bears the risk. It is necessary to find a balance, that administers justice to the interests of all stakeholders. There are various manners to structure the organization institutionally. The Gazette has discussed several times the harmonious arrangement of the industries. When the workers are highy educated, then the works council (in short OR) is an excellent platform for participation. However, the organization at the branch (national) level is also required, in order to avoid the competition by means of wages.

The most familiar forms of branch organization are the trade union and corporatism. In two columns it is described that after the Second Worldwar the Netherlands establishes public branch corporations (in short PBO). In those texts it is concluded that the PBO is at most a moderate success. The entrepreneurs are unwilling, because politics would get too involved in the economy. And that is desastrous for the efficiency. During the seventies also the leading politicians begin to understand, that a rigid economic order will stifle the dynamics. These experiences disqualify the roman-red policy from the fifties. On the other hand, the protestants want to connect harmony with freedom. They were never enthusiastic about the roman-red corporatism, and prefer the private branch corporations. The problem is evidently, that without state-control the general interest is disregarded.

Thus one returns to the class-organization. The present column studies more then merely the organization theory of the trade union. The importance of the morals for the effective structure of the organizations is analyzed as well. For, it has just been stated that for instance the protestant christian church (in short PC) has its own ethics, which differs from the morals within the roman-catholic church (in short RK) and from the social-democratic class struggle. The trade union must try to spiritually elevate its members, in addition to promoting their material interests. Thus the added value of pastors such as clergy men to the organization can be studied. At present the relevance of the morals is disputed by the proponents of liberalism and communitarism. The national history can shed some light on this controversy.

Notably christian groups have attempted to invent institutions, that positively affect the industrial harmony. The present column is dedicated to the attempts, that the Dutch christians have made to create an effective branch corporation. Especially the RK Church is actually an impressive thinktank, which is also internally divided by ideological controversies. Your columnist focuses on the protestant Church, mainly because for him the roman-catholic literature is too extensive and difficult to survey.

About the theory of reciprocal groups

Preceding the analysis of the experiences with the protestant trade union movement, it is useful to recapitulate again the insights with respect to the reciprocal groups. The social-democratic ideologist Hendrik de Man divides such groups in two types. A church parish is an idea-community, because its members are bound by a shared conviction. A trade union is a fate-community, because the members are bound by a shared interest. Communitarists believe, that the formation of groups is commonly caused by morals. Conventions and rites are at least as important as the result. But liberals state, that usually the formation of groups is caused by shared interests. In the liberal model the decisions follow the existing relations of power. Typically liberal thinkers are the American sociologist J.S. Coleman, and the Dutch economist P. Frijters.

A group is reciprocal, when there is no hierarchy, so that all members are equal. Frijters yet points to the importance of the size of the group3. As long as the reciprocal group is small, the members know each other. They cooperate effectively, and feel a strong bonding. In large groups the personal contacts are lost, so that some anonimity occurs. Therefore institutions are established, which allows the members to connect. The bonding becomes abstract. Incidentally, the difference between communitarists and liberals is gradual. For instance, Frijters acknowledges that groups morals further the cohesion. And communitarists are aware, that there are also material advantages attached to the group membership, such as the mutual support in times of need.

Your columnist obtains an advance on the following arguments, by embracing the standpoint of the liberals, at least as far as the professional organization is concerned. Namely, ideas are volatile, and no two individuals have exactly the same morals. Therefore an idea-community can be maintained only, as long as her members are disciplined, centrally or by social control. Behaviour, which deviates from the collective morals, is punished, whereas conformity is rewarded. However, disciplin clashes with the human desire for freedom, with as the consequence that it alway generates an incentive to secede. That is hurtful for the trade union movement4.

The christian morals

One may wonder whether christian morals do exist. In principle they are contained in the Bible, the Holy Script. However, both arch-conservatives and revolutionary socialists have with some reason appealed to texts in the Bible. Therefore, according to roman-catholics the Holy Script as such is not decisive, but the interpretation and explanation, given by the priests, is. Nevertheless, the dominant current of the christian believers agrees about a number of principles. The Dutch sociologist Ed. van Cleeff has expressed these principles well5. There exists an objective truth6. When one acts in accordance with the truth, then one serves the social justice. It lies in the human nature to strive for justice. However, this ideal is never realized, so that the aim is an eternally lasting process.

From this it directly follows, that the social progress is a gradual process. The society herself generates the forces, that steer in the right direction. Therefore the development must be cumulative, that is to say, build on the existing order. All powers must be able to unfold, in a universal harmony. As far as the effectiveness allows it, power must be decentralized. The catholics call this subsidiarity, and the protestants call this the sovereignty in the personal circle. However, a large effort is required to gain insight into the absolute truth. Only an elite can truly become wise. The others must resign to the leading elite, although they do have the right to elect her. Yet freedom must be maximal. The elite must realize her plans by means of conviction and guidance, so that coercion becomes a rarity7.

The previous history

Photo of fragment plate Hout en Bouwbond CNV
Figure 2: Hout en bouwbond CNV
    fragment of plate

In a previous column it has been concluded, that halfway the nineteenth century the christians become increasingly dissatisfied about the liberal structure of society. Your columnist must still identify the precise reasons, but in any case it is clear that the christian leaders long for an order on a religious foundation. They start an elite-conscious movement against modernism, which is called the Réveil. The Réveil wants to stimulate charity by rich individuals, and thus is not a movement of civil rights or even an attempt to revive the Dutch Protestant Church (in short NHK). Even the protestant historians acknowledge, that during the nineteenth century the NHK was hardly anxious about the miserable situation of the workers and the proletariat. On the contrary, it preached passivity and resignation8.

The Réveil regrets the individualism, and wants to return to an organic society. Incidentally, this refers mainly to christian communities and less to the organization of interests. The foundation of the International (International working men's association) in 1864 indeed comes as a shock, because it contradicts everything that the Réveil stands for. Moreover, the message of the International turns out to appeal to the christian workers, despite its radical tone9. Somewhat willy-nilly the christian leaders begin to study the social question. Nevertheless, the first association of workers in the Netherlands has a modern (neutral) character, namely the General Dutch workers association (Algemeen Nederlands werklieden verbond, in short ANWV), which is founded in 1871. It advocates a moderate policy, similar to the then English trade union movement. Therefore it can count on the sympathy of the christian leaders.

Thus the bricklayer Klaas Kater, the later leader of the protestant workers movement, collaborates in 1872 and 1873 in the ANWV. He soon obtains a leading position. However, his sympathy quickly disappears, when groups of social-democrats join the ANWV. Their radical demands tear the ANWV apart. It is repugnant to Kater, that many within the ANWV reject any cooperation with the entrepreneurs. They want to wage the class-war, following the International10. Therefore Kater decides to leave the ANWV, which leads to odious reactions11. When in 1875 the AMWV wants to make propaganda for state schools, and thus attacks the special (christian) schools, the christian leaders see this policy as an infringement on the supposedly neutral character of the AMWV. This opens the door towards christian social associations.

The general christian social associations

In 1877 Kater founds the Dutch workers association Patrimonium, where he evidently needs the support of several congenial citizens. Within Patrimonium the Calvinist protestants dominate, which have an orthodox (strict) interpretation about their belief. Therefore, in 1896 also the Christian national workers union (in short Werkmansbond) is founded, where the protestant clergyman J.Th. de Visser is the driving force12. These associations want to further the general interest, and in particular the interest of the workers. They are called general, because everybody can become a member, irrespective of the social class. However, the employers can merely advise, and can not be elected in the board. Both associations quickly grow, and at the start of the twentieth century each have between 10.000 and 15.000 members.

It is clear that the general associations rely on the bonding force of the protestant morals. The conflict of interests must be solved by a mutual search of the objective truth. Especially Patrimonium often addresses petitions to the government. Besides, the christian solidarity is expressed by the formation of funds for pensions, for unemployment benefits, and for other support. One relies on the private initiative. But in spite of the expansion the general associations are not a success. Hardly any employers join them13. Many shopkeepers and artisans do join them, because they are attracted by the funds. Your columnist reads into this literature, that the funds have remained small, and merely at the local level. Attempts to form a central pension fund fail. The associations also engage in other activities, varying from libraries to house construction.

It is striking that for the moment the clergy men and theologians dominate in the formulation of the political demands. An important incident occurs in 1891, when Patrimonium has just started a lobby for including workers in the parliamentary group of the Anti revolutionaire partij (in short ARP). Then the ARP, led by the clergy man Abraham Kuyper, organizes a christian social congress, which deliberates about the principles of a social program. Here some contours are formulated, such as the right to strike. The spirit of the time stimulates the workers to organize themselves separately within the local sections of the associations. They found professional sections, together with their colleagues. The local character is a hallmark of the early labour movement. The social-democrats also organize in this manner.

The transition period 1890-1910

According as the number of professional sections within the general associations increases, the desire to merge them into national trade unions increases. Here the protestant clergy man A.S. (Syb) Talma is the stimulating force. National trade unions are essential for the furthering of interests, notably because they can oppose the competition on the wages. In 1901 Patrimonium decides to found the Christelijk arbeids secretariaat (in short CAS)14. The secretariat wants to give advice and support for the establishment of trade unions. The chairman of the CAS is J. Huizinga, a saddler and hairdresser. The establishment of the CAS is a landmark, because thus the professional organizations are disjoined from the general associations. Namely, the Werkmansbond rejects the CAS, as long as it is a part of Patrimonium15. Therefore in 1905 the CAS leaves Patrimonium, and becomes autonomous.

Photo of tea-spoon Talma Hoeve
Figure 3: Tea-spoon
     Talma Hoeve CNV

In the same year the protestant organizations convene a christian social conference, in order to deliberate about the establishment of the trade union movement. The combination with social-democratic organizations is rejected, because the class struggle is irreconcilable with the christian morals16. The image of society of both groups is different to such an extent, that it would unavoidably affect the practical trade union strategy. However, the inter-confessional organization (together with the RK workers) remains a viable option. This is an important standpoint, because, as said, the PC and RK morals differ as well. However, the protestants believe, that this is not necessarily an obstacle for promoting the practical interests of the workers. It is fascinating to see that here the liberal and communitarian approach compete for precedence. However, it is not easy to extract lessons for the future from these developments.

On the one hand, in the general associations the workers profit from the knowledge and means, that are contributed by the clergy men and other intellectuals and citizens. On the other hand, the bourgeoisie clearly fears, that the emancipation of the workers will lead to uncontrollable outbreaks of violence. Therefore many christian intellectuals keep advising the proletariat to acquiesce. Although the clergymen, that advise the general associations, sympathize with the organization of workers, they yet can not completely abandon the bourgeois repression. In 1902 the clergy man and professor Bavink creates unrest with his hypothesis, that the workers are compelled by the Bible to obey the authority of the entrepreneur. Talma tries to calm the feelings by means of a pamphlet, wherein he defends their freedom17.

This illustrates that apparently the shared christian morals are not able to eliminate the conflicts of interest. The protestant movement does suffer from intense conflicts of interest, which lead to wide gaps. It must yet be admitted, that the deliberations continue, and the search for a compromise as well. However, the debate is expressed in religious terms, which does not really simplify the reconciliation. Again and again protracted impasses occur. Therefore, in the general associations the promotion of interests of the workers hardly gets of the ground. Even the autonomous CAS is still dominated by the general associations and by the bourgeoisie. The general associations rightly fear a loss of members, because the workers will only join the trade unions in the independent CAS. That would hurt the goal of christianization.

The federations of trade unions CNV

In 1909 several christian trade unions decide to found the federation Christelijk nationaal vakverbond (in short CNV). The consulted literature does not clarify why they ignore the CAS. Perhaps the main reason is, that the initiative for the CNV is initiated by the inter-confessional union of textile workers Unitas. For, although the CAS did not reject inter-confessionalism, yet it has protestant roots. From the start, the CNV explicitly prefers the inter-confessional principle. Another reason may be, that the CAS was once established without the participation or consultation of the existing trade unions. The CAS top originates from the bourgeoisie18. In any case, the CAS disappears within a few years after the foundation of the CNV. The general associations react in an irritated manner. For, their role as the promotor of the interests of the factor labour has ended19.

In the beginning the CNV is mainly a federation of local sections. However, the federation handles the organization of the workers in an energetic manner. Notably, it invests in concentration (the merging of professional groups and of local sections) and in centralization (the construction of a hierarchy, which transfers the authority to decide to the national board). The organization changes from small reciprocal circles into a single large reciprocal circle (see the mentioned model of Frijters). The power shifts more and more to the various national union boards20. Those boards coordinate their policy in the CNV board. The number of members rises from about 7000 at the start to 20.000 in 1917, and to 117.000 in 1933. The CNV as a formula is clearly more attractive than the general associations. The large majority does no longer choose a double membership.

The friction between the CNV and the general associations becomes visible at the local level, in the municipalities. There the various local professional organizations often found a board alliance, in order to deliberate and promote the interests, that surpass the particular profession. Many protestant board alliances are a part of the general associations. After 1918 the CNV wants to annex the board alliances, but the general associations resist this attempt. In 1923 the CNV and the general associations try to get closer, by means of the establishment of the Committee for collaboration. Nevertheless, the conflict about the board alliances continues. Apparently the desire for sovereignty in the personal circle slows down the advance of the centralization. However, in 1929 the CNV has grown to such an extent, that it finally can incorporate the board alliances. In the mean time the number of board alliances has increased significantly.

The growth of the CNV is accompanied by a professionalization. The number of paid trade union officials grows in proportion with the number of members. The various organizations obtain their own offices. Front organizations emerge, such as the youth clubs, various support funds, and even a tuberculosis foundation (Draagt elkanders lasten). Now the RK organizations are forced by their church to leave the CNV. Therefore during the thirties the CNV is already de facto protestant21. Some people regret that the tie with the protestant entrepreneurs has been severed. For, christianity demands harmony and cooperation. Therefore in 1937 the Convent of christian social organizations is founded. Here the christian organizations of all kinds deliberate about the social program, including the association of the entrepreneurs and the CNV. However, the moral bond is apparently weak, because the Covent does not become very influential22.

After the Second Worldwar the industrialization leads to a further increase in the number of members of the CNV. At the same time the organization of the unions is expanded. The structure of the unions, which until then consisted merely of the A-line of the sections, is complemented with the B-line of the enterprises. In this phase the CNV as an organization is no longer different from the social-democratic federation NVV. The general associations did not survive the war, although henceforth Patrimonium still vegetates formally.

The roman-catholic trade union organizations

Photo of Unitas ashtray
Figure 4: Unitas ashtray

The failure of inter-confessionalism in the Netherlands is caused by the RK church. A short discussion of this aspect is instructive. Traditionally the various RK groups were organized within their own provincial, diocesan associations. But that does not yet hold for the workers. At the start of the twentieth century the RK church establishes also for them diocesan general associations. They are the RK equal of Patrimonium or the Werkmansbond. The existing local RK professional organizations organize within these associations. Besides, they sometimes form inter-confessional federations, such as in the board alliances or in Unitas. The diocesan associations at each level (local, provincial, and national) get spiritual advisors, in the form of a priest or curate.

The Pope wants to keep the professional organizations under the direct influence of the church hierarchy. That is irreconcilable with the inter-confessional structure. The Dutch bishops support the will of the Pope23. In 1906 they force the believers to unite in RK trade unions. For the moment, an exception is merely made for the existing inter-confessional trade unions. This decision leads to a number of clashes with the board of Unitas24. Finally, in 1912 the bishops forbid the membership of Unitas and even reading its magazine. This forces the RK believers to retreat in their own trade union movement25. In 1909 the RK Professional Bureau is founded, which must coordinate the RK trade unions at the national level.

In 1916 the bishops decide, that the members of the RK trade unions are obliged to join their diocesan association. This policy implies that in RK circles the double membership remains the norm, contrary to the PC circlues. In 1925 indeed a RK trade union federation is founded, namely the RK workers association (RK werklieden verbond, in short RKWV). Thus it seems that a federation on a strictly moral foundation is yet possible. However, the construction is clearly dictated, and that takes its toll, albeit only after a long time. For, in 1964 the RKWV (which then has been renamed into KAB) dissociates itself from the diocesan associations, and from their spiritual advisors. Shortly thereafter, during the seventies the KAB (which then has been renamed into NKV) starts to drift ideologically, and changes into a left-radical movement. Then the NKV merges with the NVV, and so excludes its former companion CNV.


The development of the christian trade union movement contains a wealth of information for those, who are fascinated by the controversy between liberalism and communitarism. The morals can both separate and unite. In any case Kater fails with his ideal to unite all classes in the same moral association. The theologists try to find the absolute truth, but that is a hopeless endeavour for social questions. Justice is a vague concept. The interests of the various classes are simply too diverse. Therefore the associations can not act in an energetic manner. Even the double membership and the Convent do not succeed. It turns out, that it is better, when each class (or even each branch) promotes its particular interests by means of its own organization. Next the various class organizations can negotiate with each other. The outcome is determined by a struggle for power.

The optimal size of the organization is apparently determined by her activities. The trade union movement is active in the economic domain, where centralization turns out to give the best results. It becomes a large reciprocal circle. The morals become abstract and fixed in institutions, and recede into the background. Incidentally, these institutions, such as the collective agreement (in short CAO), remain in a permanent change. It is understandable that at the end of the nineteenth century the christian organizations distance themselves from the social-democratic class struggle. But when the social-democracy integrates and grows into society, the moral differences become again reconcilable. In the modern trade union movement the liberal universalism seems more attractive than the communitarian pluralism.

  1. All benefit from a balanced distribution of power. C. Smeenk states on p.21 in the second volume of Christelijk-sociale beginselen (Uitgeverij van J.H. Kok NV, 1936) that the trade union movement ends the competition by means of wages. That stimulates the entrepreneurs to employ the most modern production techniques. On the other hand, the trade union movement has sometimes perverted this argument by increasing the wage demand to an absurd level.
    The career of Smeenk is strange and nowadays unthinkable. He starts his career as a reporter, in the period, when the pillars emerge, and the clergy men are ousted by the worldly intellectuals. For an impressive 30 years he is a member of parliament, for the ARP group. But that is not enough, because in the same period he is town councillor in Arnhem for 26 years, including 10 years as an alderman. In the same period he is also a member of the provincial parliament of Gelderland. At the age of 65 he again enters the municipal council, and remains there for another 17 years. In his spare time he is the chairman of Patrimonium. On the internet he is called a workaholic. That may be true, but yet it may be doubted that he has filled these function in an adequate manner. (back)
  2. In many places the factor labour leads a degrading existence, even to such an extent that its existence is threatened. For a succinct description of the many abuses see p.16 and further in the second volume of Christelijk-sociale beginselen. Smeenk mentions as a salient detail, that in the bookbinderies of the Bible association the girls are prostituted. England leads the way towards industrialization, so that already around 1850 the trade union movement emerges. Then it is still liberal and bourgeois minded. The Dutch christians have always seen it as the imitable example. But after roughly 1890 and especially after the First Worldwar the English trade unions also radicalize. In Berlin in 1874 40% of the protestant children was already without baptism (p.37). The church hardly supported the proletariat. (back)
  3. Frijters uses the word circles instead of groups. This reminds of the protestant expression of sovereignty in the personal circle. (back)
  4. In this connection Klaas Kater can be cited, the first leader of the protestant labour movement: "But I sincerely believe, and therefore I distrust Christian workers associations, that when we would christianize the whole world in our own way, we would spoil them more than improve them. I fear that for Christian associations the pedantry in our Holland, inhabited by tiny theologists, would increase enormously". See p.68 in De christelijk sociale beweging (1955, Christelijk Nationale Bibliotheek) by R. Hagoort. Kater prefers neutral trade unions. Unfortunately for him, precisely at that moment the hateful First Socialist International becomes influential. It begins to dominate in the neutral organizations, and blocks the moderate course. Kater must by necessity take refuge in the emerging christian organizations. (back)
  5. See his main work Sociale economische ordening (1947, Van Loghum Slaterus Uitgeversmaatschappij N.V.) by Ed. van Cleeff. His criteria are summarized succinctly on p.16. (back)
  6. The objective truth is required in order to judge. The belief in the objective observer is not restricted to religions. Also liberal thinkers such as Adam Smith, and in his wake among others the sociologist J.S. Coleman, believe that the objective observation is possible. Furthermore, socialists such as Jan Tinbergen rely on objective observations, which are evidently needed for central planning. This task is performed by various experts. Nevertheless, a previous column points out a difference. The modernists (liberals and socialists) believe that man is good by nature, whereas reversely according to the christians man is a sinful being. Thus in christianity the objective, eternal truth is an unrealizable ideal. See the main text. (back)
  7. People need each other, because all are an organ of the same body. The leaders must find their incentive in the service motive. The same idea is cherished by liberal thinkers. They are also advocates of strong morals, just like the believers, but they do not recognize themselves in the christian symbolism and mysticism. In the Netherlands the political party Groen Links belongs to this direction. See for instance Dick Pels or Femke Halsema. Your columnist has his doubts about the presence of the service motive. In any case it is not mentioned in the standard works about job motivation. (back)
  8. See for instance p.48 and further in the second volume of Christelijk-sociale beginselen, or p.46 in De christelijk sociale beweging by R. Hagoort. Nonetheless, the Réveil sees the belief as an instrument for the emancipation of the workers (Hagoort on p.54). It states that the Coalition-prohibition, which was introduced during the French occupation, is a serious mistake (p.59). The prohibition is indeed lifted again in 1872. It is interesting that Hagoort on p.23 calls the focusing on charity and philantropy unchristianly. According to him the christians must propagate the maintenance of justice. This evidently pre-supposes the presence of the objective truth. The consequence of this view is that the church must intervene in the social developments (p.26). This does not imply that the church must or wants to abolish the classes. For, each individual can unfold completely within his own class. The only requisite is that everyone gets the opportunity to realize his devine vocation. (back)
  9. Significant is for instance the second stanza of the CNV song De vrijheidsvaan (taken from the songbook from 1957): That banner be the sign in the struggle / of union- and christian duty. / Hang out! with honour in the crayon, / in face of the enemy. / We stand, whoever may fail or fall, / firm for justice and freedom. The enemy must be the sinful entrepreneur. Even more militant is the union song of the Dutch christian association of building workers (see p.9 in Saamgesnoerd door een band (2000, Drukkerij Zuidam & Zonen) by J.J. van Dijk and J. Slok): Come, unite comrades, / Christian mates, whoever you are. / Behave boldly and firmly, / Because a tough battle awaits us. / Come, and in unity let us strive / for a christian society. / Then from our premises is ousted / Mammons cruel rule. Here Mammon represents the exploiting capital. This matches the combativeness of the social-democracy, although now the enemy is sin and not capital as such. (back)
  10. The ANWV recognizes the class struggle as a social reality. So it does not address its desirability. This shows that the ANWV still searches for generally accepted principles. (back)
  11. The hate is surprisingly deep, and long lasting. Even at present the merits of Kater are sometimes belittled. Characteristic is the description by the social-democrat Jan Oudegeest in volume 1 of De geschiedenis der zelfstandige vakbeweging in Nederland (1926, Drukkerij Vooruitgang). On p.31: "It was Klaas Kater, who acted like a general of this [Calvinist] division: a bricklayer from Amsterdam with a subservient soul and little knowledge, but an intense belief in God; who did this job and due to the separation, caused by the action for the sacredness of Sunday, took the first measure for bringing about the fatal rupture in the rows of the Dutch labour movement". Oudegeest cites a contribution of Kater to a national inquiry about the labour conditions, where he refers to the abuses of the workers themselves, and adds (p.36): "These replies characterize the whole man in all his narrow-mindedness, subservience and contempt for workers". It is worth mentioning that Oudegeest also criticizes "the passiveness and bourgeois attitude of the ANWV" (p.51). It is surprising that Oudegeest, yet an intelligent man, is captured himself in the unsound and even destructive paradigma's of the first International. According to your columnist, Kater disposes of more insight (common sense) than Oudegeest. Incidentally, social-democratic leaders are rather often inclined to use abusive language. It seems that the movement attracts querulous people. On p.76 in De christelijk sociale beweging, Hagoort is not happy with the contribution of Kater to the inquiry. He adds, that the then Social-democratic union (in short SDB) refused any collaboration with the inquiry. (back)
  12. The actual cause for founding the Werkmansbond is the secession of the Calvinists from the NHK in 1886. It is preceded by the so-called doleance, wherein Abraham Kuyper plays a leading role. For decades, Kuyper was irritated by the tolerant attitude of the NHK. He sees this as the source of the apostacy in the Netherlands, and wants to stop this by means of a militant church with tough principles. Kuyper indeed succeeds in forging the Calvinist block into a coherent whole. However, the block fails to bring about the hoped christianization of society. On the contrary, it is directed inwardly, and merely aggravates the fragmentation and sectarism within the protestant population. This is a fascinating phenomenon for group theoreticians. Your columnist can yet imagine that religion will prosper from a fragmentation, because it is purely moral. However, it hurts the social organizations, which aim to promote the interests, such as the trade unions, political parties, support funds etcetera. Incidentally, the protestants and the Calvinists never completely separate. Thus many protestants remain members of the ARP of Kuyper and of Patrimonium. The well-knonw protestant clergy-man A.S. Talma also remains active within Patrimonium. On the other hand, the protestant clergy-man J.R. Slotemaker de Bruine has supported the Werkmansbond, and later the political party Christian historical union (in short CHU). (back)
  13. Still worse, in 1892 the entrepreneurs (at the time also called patrons) establish their own protestant association, named Boaz. Kater calls this a rupture. (back)
  14. In the previous column about the trade union movement it is stated, that the social-democratic NVV (founded in 1906) is the first federation. This could create the impression, that the christian organization is a reaction to the social-democracy. The present column shows that this idea is wrong. The developments are parallel. One could even call the establishment of Patrimonium ground-breaking. It is worth mentioning that already in 1893 the socialist National labour secretariat (in short NAS) is founded. The situations in the NAS are chaotic to such an extent, that it certainly does not further the emancipation of the workers. (back)
  15. The rupture of the NHK by the doleance ("erring") has inflicted deep wounds. The Calvinist chairman Huizinga of the CAS once called the protestant workers "half-baked christians". See p.109 in De strijd voor harmonie (1996, Stichting Beheer IISG) by A. Bornebroek. (back)
  16. The aversion is deep. Typical in this respect is the volume Het signaal van 1848 (1948, Vrij Nederland). This volume about the communist manifesto is edited by G.H. Slotemaker de Bruine, active in the Pacificist Socialist Party (in short PSP), and the son of CHU minister J.R. Slotemaker de Bruine. The volume contains a contribution by the Calvinist R. Hagoort, wherein he strongly regrets the publication of the manifesto. It has a disintegrating influence on society, because it demands the destruction of the bourgeoisie (p.46). This discourages the willingness of the workers to cooperate. Hagoort prefers the battle for justice (p.50). (back)
  17. See De vrijheid van de arbeidende stand (reprint in 1948, Uitgeverij Edeca). Talma stresses that the worker concludes a contract, which indeed makes him a subordinate, but not a subject. There is just a legal relation between otherwise free persons. Entrepreneurs simply coordinate the production factors. The reader may observe that here a philosophical controversy is disputed. When a relation of authority is absent, then trade union actions become conceivable. The majority of the protestant newspapers rejects the standpoint of Talma, because the idea of a free proletariat frightens them. Talma was a man with enlightened ideas, who however due to his clear views sometimes provoked unnecessary resistance within the bourgeoisie. It is worth mentioning, that his formation is partly affected by his first parish, where some families were still starving.
    Incidentally, everybody within the protestant pillar still agrees, that everybody must resign to the Will of Heaven. The father also has an almost unlimited authority within the family, and the state has a similar almost absolute authority with regard to his citizens. In this respect the peculiar view of Smeenk with regard to slavery in the antique Rome deserves mentioning (p.58 in the second volume of Christelijk-sociale beginselen): "The external relation [under slavery], founded in the existing laws, had to be obeyed. To act otherwise, would also be an injustice towards the masters, who in a legal manner had acquired the slaves". And again (p.62): "The spiritual freedom does not remove the natural inequality, which has been realized historically under the guidance of God (master and slave)". According to Smeenk, here resignation is the absolute duty. Your columnist can not follow this argument. In the same way, the underground resistance against the German occupier during 1940-1945 could also be condemned.
    In 1903 Talma must combat another clergy-man, J.C. Sikkel, who dissuades the entrepreneurs to bargain with the trade unions. Trade unions are not organic, that is to say, they are unnatural. He even states that they will lead "to the kingdom of the Anti-christ"! Sikkel believes that only the workers within the enterprise have the right to conclude a contract. He calls the emancipation of the workers, in combination with the christianization, the double emergency. Talma objects that due to sin the entrepreneurs have succumbed to egoism. Therefore the entrepreneurs and workers can not be organized within the same organ. See p.81 and further in De strijd voor harmonie. Sikkel finally reconsiders, and yet supports Talma. (back)
  18. One can not blame the citizens. It is striking that at the time the advisors and christian politicians are often theologists. The CAS has during its final years even a clergy-man as chairman, named H.C. Hogerzeil. The loyal reader may remember from a previous column that Kuyper still expects a future society on a Calvinist foundation. This implies that the church and its clergy-men must control the social developments. In fact this is a matter of power. Here the clergy-man can really only ask for authority by referring to God. Especially the working class is amenable to christian admonitions, due to its poor education. At the start of the twentieth century the paternalism starts to irritate. A citation from 1908, from Versveld, the chairman of the trade union Unitas: "The clergy-men must be the pastors of the high- and low-ranked. Their own authority must motivate them not to take part in the social-economic struggle". See p.92 in Onder eigen banier (1950, N.V. drukkerij Edeca) by H. Amelink. And Diemer of the christian union of bakers states: "Christians find the same starting point for the trade unions, basing everything on the principles of the Revelations, and it is wrong to apply conflicts of a religious nature to this social-economic domain". See p.103 there. Amelink himself yet adds (p.114): "The free, autonomous Christian trade union movement could not tolerate such a 'spiritual supervision'". Your columnist can imagine the irritation. The vocation of the clergy-man is at stake. On the other hand, one may wonder whether the church can survive, when it merely offers personal pastoral care and therapy. (back)
  19. The resistance of the general associations against the CNV is tough. Especially the Werkmansbond has an open attitude with regard to the establishment of its own protestant trade unions, for yet another decade. In 1920 it decides to found its own insurance for the unemployed for the protestant agricultural workers. However, this remains a marginal initiative. Patrimonium is somewhat more positive towards the CNV. Here the resistance is led by the section Groningen of Patrimonium, which still promotes its own professional organizations. It believes that the double membership is a necessity. In 1920 the Groningen section loses this battle. (back)
  20. Besides the necessity of a CAO wage, the concentration and centralization also make possible the formation of a central strike fund. At the time this is desirable, because during the first decades of the twentieth century enormous strikes still occur, which often last for half a year. Although the unions often lose these strikes, they yet impress the entrepreneurs. Thus the unions can enforce their acceptance by the entrepreneurs. (back)
  21. The battle over inter-confessionalism concentrates around the principles of the CNV. It states: "The federation accepts the christian principles and therefore rejects the class struggle". Opponents find this statement too weak. After the Second Worldwar it changes into: "The federation accepts the christian principles as contained in the Bible and therefore rejects both the class struggle and the paradigm of the totalitarian state". Incidentally, there was also discontent about the prayer, that was used by the inter-confessional organizations for opening their meetings. (back)
  22. On p.35 and further in Saamgesnoerd door een band a detailed account is given of a local labour conflict in 1912. This story gives an impression of the christian cooperation in the enterprise, where it is true that the conflicting groups provoke each other, but in the end respect each other's dignity. The christian entrepreneur does accept the trade union, in principle, but he states that the local union is too radical. He threatens to dismiss the local union board and to evict them from their houses. The the CNV official Diemer begins a mediation, and consults among others the local mayor and clergy-man (p.43). Reversely, the entrepreneur writes an open letter to the wives of the local union members. Finally, the entrepreneur yet makes an agreement with the local union. Henceforth the union refuses to enlist socialists. Incidentally, the casual workers (with a temporary contract) can not become a member of the local union. Only the permanent staff is represented. (back)
  23. Smeenk describes on p.41 and further in the second volume of Christelijk-sociale beginselen that some bishops of the RK church in Germany accept the inter-confessional federation. This is called the Cologne direction. The German example is an inspiration for Unitas. (back)
  24. The conflict is described well on p.78 and further in Onder eigen banier. It even includes some correspondence. Bornebroek also pays attention to the conflict at Unitas, on p.93 and further in De strijd voor harmonie. (back)
  25. Your columnist will not jduge the RK policy. However, in this case there is certainly coercion. Those, who break the interdiction by the bishops, lose important rights within the RK community. In the then society this implied a social isolation, which was unbearable, even for strong characters. Amelink yet mentions on p.88 of Onder eigen banier that the Unitas board assured the bishops that the union did not cause "mixed marriages"! In the PC church such drama's are less common, because it favours pluralism. There is always some place to shelter. The bishops sneer, that the protestantism is too fragmented. The attitude of the RK church is orthodox to such an extent, that it provides a fertile terrain for the analysis of communitarism. But it must be repeated, your columnist misses the RK knowledge. (back)