Christian-democratic views on the general interest

First insertion on Heterodox Gazette Sam de Wolff: 10 june 2017

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

For years the Gazette has studied the ideological currents in politics. Here the question is central, how the will op the citizens is translated into policy. This column analyzes the view of the christian-democracy since its emergence until roughly 1990. The attention is focused mainly on the protestant pillar. The two dominant parties ARP and CHU are discussed, as well as their successor the CDA. Special attention is paid to the ideas of the well-known leaders W. Banning and J. Zijlstra. The social support for the christian-democracy is also studied.

The Gazette is fascinated by constructive ways of state intervention in the economy. The state in the broad sense includes the whole population. In the narrow sense it is the political and administrative apparatus. And like any other group, the narrow state also has only a reason of existence, as long as it realizes its goals. Therefore the Gazette has always coupled the state policy to its target function. The choice of Sam de Wolff as its name giver is not a coincidende, because according to Sam de Wolff the active state is indispensable as the saver of the economy. A state intervention restricts the market parties, and therefore has the form of a formal institution1. Institutions base on cultural and political morals, which mark out the path of development. During the twentieth century three political currents are dominant: liberalism, socialism, and the christian-democracy2.

Liberalism has little meaning for the theory of the active state. It promotes minimal morals, where the state is mainly an observer. Those who reflect on the economically active state soon land in the rich literature of the socialist paradigm. No other political current is so outspoken about the goals of the state as socialism is. Therefore it will not surprise, that for many years the studies in the Gazette have elaborated on socialist theories and experiences. Notably the view on the general interest has been analyzed, as well as its derived goals. Although your columnist was definitely not lacking in good will, it must be concluded that the socialist paradigm is unsound, and therefore politically untenable3.

Next the attention logically shifts to the christian paradigm, which because of stewardship and servitude also gives room to state interventions. This paradigm also has been a source of meaning for large groups. Where socialism appeals to reason, Christianity demands obedience to the Devine Authority. The general interest is found in the Gospel. This approach is fairly successful. Continually, when socialism threatened to plunge society into anarchy, Christianity has brought stability. Your columnist starts his analysis with the assumption, that any policy, irrespective of its philosophy, tries to find the collective (sovereign) Will. Two years ago, this process has been formulated in the following manner.

The core problem of the political economy is the transformation of the individual needs of the citizens into a general interest. It is clear that for such a transformation an instrument is needed, namely the state. Suppose that the wishes, needs and interests of the individual citizens are represented by a general welfare function W. Furthermore, assume that the state is democratic, so that the people themselves form the sovereign power. Then the representatives appoint a government, which has the task to optimally further the welfare of the people. The government develops a policy, which serves the universal or general interest, and which can be represented by a target function U. Now the policy formation and execution can be presented as a symbolic process W → U. Five questions arise, which incidentally are mutually interwoven.

In this column the principles of christian politicians and political scientists will be analyzed with regard to these questions, and notably how they morally define the general interest. Recent developments, such as the multicultural drama, culminating in the movement of the politican Pim Fortuyn, will not be studied here. For the sake of convenience, your columnist limits his analysis to protestantism (in short PC), because the roman-catholic literature (in short RC) is too gigantic in size. Traditionally the christian-democracy is guided by Gods Will, because God is the sovereign. The only question is, how Gods Will is revealed to and in humankind.

Graph of persuasion and church-going
Figure 1: Persuasion and church-going

Those who appeal to Devine morals, must be made accountable. Four sources are conceivable, where PC parties can draw their morals: (1) the Bible, as the Devine Revelation; (2) the religious elite; (3) the national tradition; or (4) the population. One does not have to be a theologian to understand, that the first option drops out. The Bible is too vague. Even the Ten Commandments are hardly something to go by. Thus the other three options remain, which correspond to respectively paternalism, conservatism, and populism (in the sense of: popular). The present colum wants to analyze, how the christian-democracy positions itself, at least with respect to the economic policies. It is obvious that this is a gigantic task. Fortunately, in the previous columns the social analysis has already been done4. Here and there, even the standpoints of christian groups (politics, trade unions) have already been studied5.

A first attempt for an analysis is given in the column about the ideas of Abraham Kuyper and Jan Slotemaker de Bruine. There the PC image of man turns out to assume the inclination to sin, namely the individual breach of social norms. But there is also the universal grace, so that everybody is amenable to the collective will. The evolution of society leads to the emergence of bodies, which create a natural order. Such bodies are circles, which have the right to be internally sovereign. The various circles compete with each other for the truth, evidently within the boundaries, that are dictated by the collective will. Each circle must contribute to the love of one's neighbour, servitude and stewardship. People are free in mutual commitment. Thus the PC paradigm embraces pluralism.

It is clear that the PC paradigm is rather succinct. Nonetheless various consequences can be derived. Sin implies the indispensableness of the state, in order to correct blatant abuses. The state will usually simply reinforce the social development. This implies that the PC paradigm tends to be conservative. The demand for pluralism has a long tradition. During the nineteenth century the Dutch Protestant Church was a central administrative body, which did not have a theological function. This assured the freedom of the congregation, but hurt the cohesion. Therefore the PC politics has always been divided. At the beginning of the twentieth century, two parties dominate the PC politics, namely the Christelijk-Historische Unie (CHU) and the Anti-Revolutionaire Partij (ARP), in addition to a handful of splinter parties. The reader may understand, that such a pluralism can not lead to a collective will6.

The sovereignty in the personal circle is a plea for private initiative. Nevertheless, this is not liberalism. For, an essential hallmark of the early christian-democracy is that it prioritizes the morals (the value-rationality) above the instrumental rationality. The ideas of the Enlightenment are rejected. Therefore confessionalism (RC and PC) is related to communitarianism. The aim is a natural harmony, at least within the personal group. Individuals primarily live according to their morals, and less according to their interests. In communitarianism the internal coherence is accompanied by biases and stereotypes. However, confessionalism does not primarily derive the morals from the group itself, but from the Creation by God. And since the preaching of Jesus the grace of God also affects the infidels, that is to say, outsiders7.

Principles during the pillarization: ARP

The ARP has developed into a party, which rigorously wants to maintain the PC principles. Its founder, the theologian Kuyper, even did not hesitate to break in 1886 with the Protestant Reformed Church (in short PH), which he found too liberal. His adherents organized in 1891 in the Calvinist Church (in short PG). The figure 1 gives a clue, why Kuyper was so radical. The morals of the RC members had weakened. Whereas the PG church succeeded in stabilizing its supporters, during the twentieth century the PH church suffers from a continuous decline. Kuypers founds the ARP already in 1879. The name expresses, that the party rejects the French Revolution and its consequences. The PC supporters believe, that this revolution is a disturbing factor in the natural development. It hurts the social servitude, because it gives too much freedom to the individual. Kuyper confronts liberalism with a protestant doctrine, called the antithesis.

The formation of parties begins only in the fourth quarter of the nineteenth century. The direct cause is the school conflict: the PC leaders want that their supporters can send their children to congenial schools. But the liberal governments establish state schools, which in principle are morally neutral. The PC movement fears, that this will morally confuse their children, especially in heterogenous schools. It wants to make its view heard, also in parliament. Incidentally, the formation of parties also leads to resistance, because it is de facto the acknowledgement, that christianity no longer has the absolute rule. In this respect the ARP is rigorous, because already in 1905 the PG relinquishes the demand, that the state must support this church8. Kuyper wants a religiously neutral state, with free, mutually competing, churches. The RC and PH churches are less pluralistic in this regard (see further in this column).

It is remarkable that according to Kuyper the antithesis is merely temporary, since each citizen is amenable to the universal grace. Apparently he hopes, that the PG Church will completely rechristianize the Netherlands. During the Interbellum H. Colijn becomes the leader of the ARP. He feels allied to liberalism, so that the ARP actually plays down the importance of the antithesis9! This illustrates that the PC politics is rather whimsical on a left-right scale. Even within the ARP the collective will is absent with respect to this theme. This raises the question, what then do constitute the principles of the ARP. The book Christelijke politiek (in short Cp) gives an interesting summary of the views within the ARP10. The book Cp appears in 1958, precisely in the period when the ARP begins to modernize the paradigma of Kuyper.

The book explains, that the state can not be PC, because the world is broken by sin (Cp p.123). The state and the church must be separated, at least for now (p.71, 84). The state must protect all religious communities (p.127). On p.61 and further the necessity of existence of PC political parties is defended in exceptionally fierce terms11. Now the pillarization is also praised, because it organizes the faithful in a PC atmosphere. Incidentally, this standpoint is briefly contested during the first post-war years. At the time the religious Break-through is popular, in an attempt to again integrate all confessionals (PG, PH, RC) in society12. However, it fails. Even the deliberations about a merger of the ARP and CHU fails miserably. Nonetheless, it requires an effort to discover principles in the book Cp. The PG Church advocates justice and solidarity (44). And the society must be responsible, just and evangelically (200).

Graph of christian-democratic election results
Figure 2: Seats in parliament for the christian-
   democracy based on a total of 150 seats

The confessional values are eternal, but political principles are not (76). The ARP view on the sovereignty of the personal circle is fascinating. It boils down to the maintenance of the personal pillar. Namely, a good social assistance requires a moral spirit (197). The Church is personal, and therefore receives trust, notably of its own needy (215). Therefore religious organizations are eminently fit to provide relief (172). In the ideal situation these organizations are paid by the faithful themselves. However, the high taxes of the state squeeze the gifts to the church (134). Therefore it is reasonable to ask, that the state subsidizes the confessional organizations, and even the Church (134).

Furthermore, the view of the ARP on women is typical. Since a good upbringing of the children is essential, married women are not allowed to work (168). The state may even enforce in its personnel policy, that married female workers are kept out of its own bodies. The ARP applies its own rule, and until 1953 refuses women in its national electoral list. And only in 1963 a woman is placed on an eligible place on the list13. Furthermore, in the economic domain one may mention the limits to private property, which must lead to a good stewardship (210). And the wage must allow for a secure existence, also for large families (p.202 and further). Concerning defence, the ARP promotes a strong armament, because war is preferable to slavery (292, 301). Christianity recognizes that in a broken world the sword can not be missed (p.286 and further).

It is remarkable that otherwise hardly any issues of the ARP can be found. They commonly concern traditional habits, which the ARP wants to maintain14. The ARP refused to be led by group interests, because it wanted to be the bearer of universal principles (39). It wanted to serve God in agreement with his Will, which primarily requires a sense of duty (315). After the late sixties the ARP again moves to the left of the political spectrum, incidentally as well as the Katholieke Volkspartij (KVP), and therefore passes the CHU. Here the antithesis is actually revived, but now in the revolutionary version of Banning15.

The economic view of Jelle Zijlstra

De introduction of this column promises to give special attention to the economic policy. It has just been concluded, that the PC paradigm dislikes interventions by the state. But on the other hand, liberalism is rejected. Thus all options remain open. Therefore it is worthwhile to analyse the view of Jelle Zijlstra, who between 1952 and 1966 was leading in economic (and other) policies within the ARP. Here his book Economische orde en economische politiek (in short Eo) is consulted16. According to Zijlstra, the gospel, namely the Will of Jesus, must serve as the line of action in economic policies (Eo p.86). The leading principle is the love of one's neighbour. The love of one's neighbour is everything, which surpasses justice (p.95). The economic order is determined by the morals (56). Thus Zijlstra promotes employment, a fair distribution, and the emancipation of marginal groups (97).

It must be noted here, that Zijlstra assumes that Gods Will is unknowable, contrary to his predecessor Kuyper17. He reminds of the PG dilemma's. For instance, Kuyper sympathized with national protectionism in trade, because it furthers the innovation. On the other hand, Colijn propagated the free trade, because of the global brotherhood (p.88 and further)18. Zijlstra believes, that the standpoint must be determined on a case by case basis, so ad hoc. Apparently, at the time the ARP wants to give room to the economic evolution, as far as the christian responsibility allows.

This also becomes apparent from the economic view of Zijlstra. The free entrepreneurial production is most efficient (126). The personal responsibility towards God requires the protection of the freedom of enterprise (31). When the state wants to control markets, then he becomes too dominant (76). Zijlstra argues, that the state does have the means to generally (at the macro level) control the volume of investment (122). It is clear that he rejects the planned economy, but he accepts the then dominant Keynesianism. He does not promote the dogma of sovereignty.

Principles during the pillarization: CHU

The CHU is just as strange as the ARP, as a political party. Its founder is Alexander de Savornin Lohman, who for a long time was a congenial of Kuyper. But in 1892 the liberal government proposes to significantly increase the number of voters. Kuyper supports this proposal, because he wants to emancipate the lower classes. According to Lohman this is too ambitious and he rejects the idea out of fear for the tyranny of the masses. This leads to a split between both politicians, which becomes final in 1897. Others also leave Kuyper and his ARP. Finally, in 1908 the CHU is established. So although the CHU is a secession of the ARP, they are strikingly different in their principles. The paragraph summarizes the situation. Here the book Geschiedenis van de Christelijk-Historische Unie (in short GC) has been consulted19.

A striking hallmark of the CHU is, that it rejects the antithesis of the ARP. It does this on religious grounds, namely that God's Will becomes visible in history (GC p.89, 119). Therefore the historically grown modern order must not be rejected. For instance, the CHU explains both the Reformation and the kingdom of the House of Orange by the Will of God (p.124). The king is the Chief of the state, and therefore his government also has a Devine authority (p.32, 115, 154, 269). The consequence is, that the democracy (the parliament) can merely advise, and not decide (p.116, 154)! Therefore it is true that the CHU is dualistic, but in a peculiar way. It is God's Will, that the Dutch state becomes protestant, at least in the long run (p.74, 123, 164). The CHU presents itself as the pre-eminent popular party (90). The reader may agree, that the CHU gives a peculiar answer to the five questions in the introduction.

The idea of unity implies, that the CHU rejects the formation of moral pillars (p.53, 70, 82). It believes that the ARP tries to promote a neocalvinistic isolation (178). For the same reason, the CHU is quite anti-Pope, that is to say, it distances itself from the RC church, even more than the ARP does (78). Incidentally, then the PH Church herself is convinced, that she is the true popular church (36, 73). She is an administrative body, which is internally pluralistic (78). This also explains, why the CHU actually accepts state schools and public education (81, 118). The figure 1 naturally shows clearly, that the ambition to be a popular church was an illusory endeavour (73). The electoral adherents of the CHU were aware of this, and therefore did embrace the antithesis and the pillarization (126, 196)! There still emerges a PH pillar. But for instance the leaders of the christian trade union movement CNV is completely PG, and not PH (80).

Another hallmark of the CHU is its rejection of the political interpretation of the Bible. Therefore the CHU has been hesitant to formulate political programs (p.25, 63, 115, 119, 130, 261). Here she disagrees with the ARP, which has indeed derived God's Will (ordinances) from the Bible. The consequence was that the ARP had a better party organization than the CHU (62). The CHU propaganda was not very energizing. The CHU even rejected the desire to accumulate power, because all power must come from God's word (50). The CHU promotes an evolutionary (organic) development (37, 91). Its parliamentary group did not impose discipline, and allowed each member of parliament to vote according to his conscience (p.33, 42, 49). In fact it was merely a parliamentary "circle" (35).

The party organization of the CHU was simply an alliance of local electoral associations (p.14, 35, 127). It could evidently hardly influence its members of parliament, and did not feel the need (69). The members had complete trust in their parliamentary group (256) The parliamentary groups were composed centrally by the social elite, because the CHU respected the ruling order of God (51). Despite its popular ambitions it was actually a party of notabilities, somewhat comparable with the then party of conservative liberals (111). It recruited its rank-and-file mainly in the countryside (257). The industrial workers, who tried to emancipate, avoided the CHU (80). Indeed the PvdA obtains already in 1956 more support from voters with a PH persuasion than the CHU, whereas another part prefered the VVD (264).

The Break-through movement somewhat hurt the CHU. Precisely this movement of unity appeals to the PH mentality, which indeed longs for a synthesis. Many important CHU leaders switch to the newly formed PvdA (Lieftinck, Van Walsum, Van Rhijn, Scholten, etcetera) (220). But all in all this exodus did not really affect the electoral results of the CHU. During the same period the PH Church (at least her Synod) decides to henceforth become a speaking and confessing church (209, 266)20. Now the Synod explicitly rejects the pillarization, and in 1955 even distances itself from confessional parties such as the CHU21. But apparently this did not really hurt the CHU either. Incidentally, many clergymen criticized the standpoints of their Synod (267). The evaluation of this strange phenomenon is postponed until the end of the column.

Principles during the pillarization: Willem Banning

The protestant clergyman Willem Banning was a leading figure in the movement of religious socialists. This justifies attention for his ideas22. Your columnist mainly consults his early publications, because there his faith is formulated most clearly. It concerns Religieuze opbouw (in short Ro), De evangelische boodschap (Deb) and Inleiding tot de sociale ethiek (Se)23. It is obvious that Banning also embraces the Devine Will (see Ro p.128 and Deb p.19, 112 and 118). People need meaning, and can find it in their destination. Banning formulates several principles, which are supposed to have eternal value: a sense of truth, justice, the love of one's neighbour, solidarity and servitude (see for instance Deb p.64-65)24. He rejects utilitarianism, because it stimulates ego-centrism (Ro 177, and Deb 121, 141, and 151). Apparently he adheres to the antithesis, which states that ego-centrism is a sin.

Picture postcard of Workers community of the Woodbrookers
Figure 3: Workers community of the
   Woodbrookers (Bentveld)

The servitude, first of all to God, implies that the society as a whole is most important. People are formed by their mutual interactions. Meaning presupposes morals, which order society. The constitutional state has a higher right, such as the Law of God or human rights (Se 101, 110). The state orders the society, and must form its citizens accordingly (Se 108-109). Banning acknowledges that the truth can never be found. God's Will must be obeyed, but it remains a mystery (Deb 100, whereas Ro 141, 157, and 161 have the same vain). The search for the truth leads to social changes. Thus the individual realized his rebirth. Without God there is merely emptiness (Deb 138). The church propagates its morals, but must not intervene in politics (Deb 188). Here Banning probably refers to the Synod, because the clergymen themselves are sometimes not very restrained.

The Creation is a continuing process (Ro 96). The mysticism incites innovation (Ro 105). Banning is convinced, that soon the society will change structurally (Ro 164, Se 36). He calls capitalism an evil, because it leads to the concentration of economic power (Ro 165, Se 32). Therefore he promotes a socialism, which places man in the centre (the so-called personalism) (Deb 184, Ro 170, here and there in Se, such as p.28-29). Fascism and Leninism have made him suspicious of the masses (Vermassung), where the capricious mass-person emerges(Se 66 and further)25. In the legal order of labour the economy will be controled centrally (Se 14, 79). Banning, with his plea for structural changes, has conflicts with other clergymen, who prefer the evolution, and dislike state coercion. This fierce debate contrasts strangely with the call for individual humility.

Principles of the CDA

Your columnist believes to be an expert with regard to the principles of the social-democracy (PvdA, SPD). He is less familiar with the Christen-Democratisch Appèl (CDA). For the present paragraph the main source is Geloven in macht (in short Gim), which tries to identify the propelling power behind the CDA during its initial years26.The CDA does not follow God's Will, but it does derive inspiration from Christianity (Gim p.6, 32, 79). There remains an appreciation for the Gospel, and a need for norms and values (p.11). During the initial years the fundamental principles of the CDA are: public justice, shared responsibility, solidarity and stewardship (41, 151). The demand for solidarity is interesting. An economic intervention by the state is rejected, so that the CDA promotes a purely passive social security. This implies a redistribution of income, but excludes an active policy for the labour market (p.166, 173, 174, 183)27.

The shared responsibility is defended with the christian idea, that society has a self-regulating capacity (p.42; remember sovereignty as value). Therefore the CDA dislikes the big state (151). In this respect it is related to the radical centre. The party (as well as its electorat) prefers the continuation of social organizations, which have once been founded at the time of pillarization. This so-called middle field (civil society) is subsidized by the state in order to execute the public policies. It has been argued, that this middle field is a source of power in favour of the CDA. However, research does not find proof of this28. For, the persuasion of the organizations has become diffuse due to the rise of professionals and bureaucrats. Moreover, there has been a wave of mergers of organizations of different persuasion.

An opinion poll among cadre members has shown, that the convictions of the CDA cadres are congenial to those of the ARP, CHU and KVP29. The CDA is a true centre party (on a left-right scale), more than the merged parties themselves. The CDA electorat has also been analyzed30. It turns out that during the initial years the electorat mainly consists of church-goers and marginal believers (say, inactive church-members). Although the group of church-goers shrinks, they do loyally vote for the CDA. This forces the CDA to take into account the various religious dogma's in its political profile. It embraces traditional ideas, among others about marriage and family. Thus it places the individualization within the framework of the family (187).

The social support for the christian-democracy

After summarizing the christian morals as pluralism, it will now be studied how the social support for the christian-democracy has developed. Evidently this does not completely qualify the soundness of these morals, but it does give an indication. The figure 1 shows the percentages of the population, that have a christian persuasion. It is clear that traditionally the (reformed) protestants are in the majority. Whereas the calvinist persuasion is stable until the eighties of the twentieth century, the protestant persuasion suffers from a continuous decline. The decline of the RC persuasion begins in the seventies31. The reader may imagine how dramatic this relatively fast and continuous decline is for the whole church-organization, both materially, psychically and ethically.

However, the development of the persuasion gives an overly positive picture. For, a persuasion can be a learned habit, which in practice is neglected. Therefore the figure 1 also shows the percentage of the population, which at least monthly visits a church-service (since 1970). They are called churchy32. This is significantly less for the PH and RC than the percentage, which confesses to a persuasion. The difference between these two curves is formed by the so-called marginal believers. In the year 2015 the percentage of churchy people in the population is less than 5% for each church. The real backbone of the church is formed by those, that weekly visit the service. In 1980 this percentage was 3.5%, 5.1% and 9.4% of the population for respectively the PH, PG and RC. Ten years later these numbers have fallen to respectively 2.8%, 3.1% and 4.1% 33.

Graph of membership and density of the trade union movement
Figure 4: Membership and density (x30)
   of the trade union movement

At least as interesting as the persuasion is the number of seats of the christian-democracy in parliament. The figure 2 gives an oversight of this development, for the post-war years34. Initially the three persuasions (RC, PH, PG) are represented by respectively the KVP, the CHU, and the ARP. Incidentally, many PH believers voted ARP out of habit, because it was the oldest of the three parties. The figure 2 shows, that until 1967 the three parties succeed in stabilizing their number of seats. Together they even have a parliamentary majority. However, in 1967 especially the KVP collapses in a dramatic way, at least when considering the then expectations. This free fall continues in 1971. It is caused by apostasy, combined with a changing spirit of the time.

It has just been stated, that this tendency affects the christian morals. A consequence was, that the RC and PC became more willing to cooperate, notably in the political domain. In 1977 the ties are already so firm, that they participate in the election with a single christian-democratic party, namely the CDA. In 1981 the KVP, CHU and ARP are discontinued. However, this does not structurally end the decline. It can merely be slowed down temporarily, thanks to the exceptional talents of two christian politicians, Ruud Lubbers and Jan-Peter Balkenende. In 2017 the CDA represents merely 13% of all votes.

The decline affects all organizations in the christian pillars. For, these are front-organizations, strongly tied to their churches. Now your columnist analyzes one of those fronts, to complete the picture. The figure 4 shows the development of the trade union movement, for the post-war years35. Both the membership and the density (that is the percentage of union members relative to all wage workers) are shown. The federations of the RC and PC are called, respectively, the KAB (later the NKV) and the CNV. For comparison, the development of the socialist federation NVV is also shown. It is clear that during the sixties the membership of the NKV stagnates, whereas the other federations continue to grow.

During the seventies the three federations deliberate about the formation of a coordinating federation, the FNV, which must intensify the collaboration. In 1976 the CNV gives up the participation in the FNV. Now one would expect, that the NKV tries to collaborate with the CNV. However, the NKV has broken adrift from its ideological anchors, and besides comes in a state of shrinkage. Apparently the conclusion can be, that the decline of the RC pillar also becomes visible here. The NKV more or less throws itself in the merger with the NVV. Since then the FNV and CNV have managed to approximately stabilize their membership, with the exception of a dip during the severe recession around 1982. But the density shows, that since the seventies all federations decline, relatively. They do not grow in proportion with the number of workers.

The declining popularity of the trade union movement as a whole deserves a separate attention. There is growth until the late fifties. This is not a recovery from the war years, but the continuation of a long development. Namely, during the first half of the twentieth century the popularity of social alliances rises36. However, thereafter the trade union movement experiences a continuous decline (albeit with conjunctural fluctuations). This is exactly the social tendency, which the sociologist R. Putnam observes and describes in his book Bowling alone. He regrets this development, and calls it the decrease of social capital. This phenomenon occurs in various volunteer activities, and is ascribed to the individualization. In other words, the confessional pillars not only suffer from apostasy, but also from the change in the social cohesion.


In the introduction five questions have been posed, which help to analyze the christian formulation and execution of policy W → U. The remainder of the column has shown, that the christian-democracy performs reasonably, because it reinforces the natural development. It stimulates the trust as an institution, at least within the personal circle. Traditionally, the christian-democracy propagates, what nowadays is called social entrepreneurship. The private initiative must include the social services. Such initiatives must mainly come from a social elite. Incidentally, the christian-democracy shares this problem of exclusion with the secular ideology of the radical centre. Besides, the christian-democracy sympathizes with the aristo-democracy. Not the people are sovereign, but God is.

The policy is formulated by a combination of paternalism, conservatism and democracy. The Bible is a shared reference for all, but it does not choose between liberalism or socialism. It is curious that this can create obstacles for progress. Firstly, the antithesis and the self-chosen isolation are a rejection of the social evolution and of modernism. And secondly, the christian politics lacks any kind of economic target function, because it distrusts rationality. It simply wants servitude. The effectiveness is not appreciated as a separate leading value. In name of Christianity any politics can be defended, from the extreme left to the right37.

  1. At the time the Dutch economist J. Tinbergen uses the terms goals and instruments. (back)
  2. It is obvious that there are more, for instance Leninism and fascism. Although they have been popular during certain periods, it has become clear that they are unsound. (back)
  3. This can be perused in various previous columns of the Gazette. Already three years ago a first indication has been given, in the discussion of the sociological view on society. The trilogy about socialist thinkers also disappoints. And it turns out that the economic planning, yet a crown jewel of the socialists, functions poorly. Although the socialist leaders have made attempts to modernize it, in the form of the radical centre, they did not really succeed in taking their petrified rank-and-file with them. (back)
  4. Already four years ago the first attempt has been made to analyze society. It became obvious, that merely marxism is not satisfactory. A column of two years ago dives really deep in the political philosophy of the state. Since then subjects about politics and the trade union movement are regularly addressed. (back)
  5. Fairly recently, the column about Kuyper and Slotemaker de Bruine appeared. And two columns about the CNV have appeared. An old column about the public branch-corporations also addresses the KAB (RC). Not typically addressing Christianity, but yet relevant, is a column, which compares communitarianism and liberalism. (back)
  6. See p.56 and further in Van de pastorie naar het torentje (SDU Uitgeverij, 1991), edited by P. Luykx and J.A. Righart. There it is mentioned, that some protestant clergy-men confessed to socialism, and others even adhered to the ideas of Lenin. The most well-known among the socialist clergey-men is Willem Banning, who became active in the De blijde wereld movement. The view of Banning is discussed further on in this column. Nonetheless, the PC tolerance had its limits (and the RC bishops even fiercely combatted dissidents). For instance, in 1926 the Christelijk-democratische Unie (CDU) is founded. It was pacifist-socialist. In 1936 the Calvinist Synod stated that the politics of the CDU is irreconcilable with the Calvinist principles. See p.235-236 in part 1 of the standard work Geschiedenis van het socialisme in Nederland (1976, Het Wereldvenster) by H. de Vos. Such a judgement implies, that at least this Synod yet promulgates rules of conduct. Kuyper calls those rules God's ordinances.
    Your columnist does not presume to know the justification of religion. But at least it is clear, that the collective worship of the same book (Bible, or Koran) contributes to the social cohesion. That cohesion stimulates the mutual trust, and therefore increases the social activities. Therefore it is rational for a political party to support religious organizations. (back)
  7. This is also apparent from the impressive dedication, which the christian-democracy exhibits towards the unification of Europe. See chapter 12 in Geloven in macht (1993, Het Spinhuis), edited by K. van Kersbergen, P. Lucardie, and H.-M. ten Napel. Your columnist read this book already twenty years ago. Incidentally, the concrete preparations for this column have required more than half a year.
    Those who want to understand something about the political sentiment during the post-war period can listen to the texts of the then extremely popular cabaret performer Wim Kan. Cabaret displays something of the spirit of the time. Often, on New-Year's Eve an (adapted) performance of Kan was broadcasted by the stations, in the first years on radio, later on TV. Fragments can be found in the footnotes of several columns. Kan also makes fun of the religious morals. In 1962: "The lady announcers of the NCRV are already allowed to have an open collarette, well, that is to say, on the radio". And: "The VPRO, that is not a pillar, it is a stick. They experiment so much, they wonder: how can I, in Bussum, succeed in making the viewer go to bed early". And about the then dissident leaders: "We called the bishops, we called the churches. We like jokes, but within bounds. We sang together for TV the song of the offended verse two". In 1970 the morals are shifting: "The oecumenical ideas, what do they imply? Trying to do as much as possible water in each other's wine. Can a catholic use the pill, yes or no? This also ends in a compromise: yes, he can. Can believers travel by tram on sunday? Yes, but in the trailer, because it can not do anything about it". At the time the pill was still controversial in the RC Church. In 1960 Kan sings the song Lijmen Jan about the prime minister Jan de Quay and his christian-liberal cabinet (1959-1963): "It went so well, Jan. And what can be higher, that are the Toto [football lottery EB] prices, Jan. They must be higher, man. Ask [minister] Beerman, Jan, before he goes home then, whether his conscience can begin at fifty thousand". And: "New-year's Eve without Jan is a conditio sine de Quay non". The cabinet de Quay is followed by the christian-liberal cabinet Marijnen (1963-1965). Halfway it is replaced by the christian-socialist cabinet Cals (1965-1966). In 1966 the cabinet is overthrown in the night of Schmelzer (KVP), and replaced by the interim cabinet of Jelle Zijlstra. Shortly thereafter, on New-Year's Eve 1966, Kan mocks: "The cabinet Marijnen threw its cap down, Cals collected with it, and Zijlstra put it on". And on the melody of the song by Sinatra: ""Strebers in the night, the night of Schmelzer. The judgement passes. Cals fell in the gap of Father's own belief" and "KVP people believe the same, but they disagree about what they know for certain". And: "Did you see Cals fall in the morning? The sun came up and he went down". And: "Cals was a good speaker, funny without leaf. That has not happened since Adam. He swallowed the pill like a man. And therefore I had some fears, that he might never get a successor". About Zijlstra and his party ARP: "Zijlstra, the smartest boy of the class: dr. before his name and AR behind. This is unique in history, a prime minister who leaves the [ABN] bank in order to get money. His program is the increase of the decrease and delay of the increase". And: "These dark days, now that the AR is in the month". Much later, after the roaring seventies, in 1982 the interim cabinet Van Agt III ends. On New-Year's Eve Kan mocks: "Eugenie, his wife, has rescued him from being prime minister. This is called, with a strange word, eugenasia". At the time, euthanasia is controversial. Kan sings: "Please, come back, Van Agt. There is an empty throne for the lost son. It is so quiet in the house, it is Ajax without Cruijff". The cabinet Lubbers I begins (1982-1986), with Ruding as minister of finance. So: "This Ruding, how does he look like? A creature that you do not see each day, with those large prickly eyes, and snatch fingers. They have taken him from the [IMF] bank". New-Year's Eve 1982 is the last broadcast of Kan. (back)
  8. See p.163 in Van de pastorie naar het torentje. (back)
  9. See p.37 in Van de pastorie naar het torentje for the view of Kuyper, and p.181 for the view of Colijn. (back)
  10. See Christelijke politiek (1958, J.H. Kok N.V.) by I.A. Diepenhorst. Your columnist bought it on the yearly bazaar of the Marcus church in Utrecht. The reader may notice, that this column is based on field work! The Marcus church is originally protestant, but already in 1982 it merges with the Calvinists of the closed Immanuel church. Unfortunately, now the Marcus church is also destined to be closed, because the remaining church-goers are very old. (back)
  11. On p.62 in Christelijke politiek it is argued, that good and bad can not be united. On the same page the RC pillar is called a threat to the reformation. The Break-through merely contributes to the victory of neutrality. There is hostility between the source of truth and lies (p.63). The (non-PG) rest is erring (p.66). Unity and purity are required (p.68). (back)
  12. On p.309 and 314 in Christelijke politiek it is stated, that the Break-through discourages the PC politics. (back)
  13. See p.83 and 194 in Geloven in macht. (back)
  14. In Christelijke politiek mentioned are, among others: rejection of games of chance and lotteries (p.58, p.155 and further), discouragement of cremation (p.58, p.152 and further), maintenance of the sunday rest (p.58, 142 and further), referral to God in the Constitution (p.58, 137 and further), acceptance of the death penalty (p.58, 140 and further), and the suffrage for heads of the family (the house-man, p.71). (back)
  15. See p.50 and further in Geloven in macht. Here the radical views of party chairman Berghuis are mentioned. Congenials are the ideologically "converted" Bruins Slot, and later W. Aantjes. It is difficult to explain such a political change. Perhaps it is a reaction to the disappointment, that in the previous decade the public branch-corporations had failed. Many in the PG pillar had high hopes of the PBO, as the christian way to realize servitude. Undoubtedly, the rise of the New Left has also contributed to the radicalization. (back)
  16. See Economische orde en economische politiek (1956, H.E. Stenfert Kroese N.V.) by J. Zijlstra. In 1952 Zijlstra became minister of economic affairs for the ARP. He led the party between 1956 and 1963, as well as the interim cabinet in 1966-67. (back)
  17. See p.66 in Geschiedenis van de Christelijk-Historische Unie (2008, uitgeverij Boom) by M. ten Hooven and R. de Jong. Already in 1951 Zijstra distanced himself from the deterministic neocalvinism. On the same page it is stated, that also Diepenhorst rejected the knowability of God's Will de kenbaarheid van Gods Will (ordinances). (back)
  18. As an exception, the religious arguments are mentioned, by consulting the Bible. It is obvious that Kuyper refers to God's anger about the building of the tower in Babel. The Holy Order demands the separation of nations. Colijn argues, that all people originate from Adam and Eva. Besides, Jesus offers redemption for all humankind. (back)
  19. See Geschiedenis van de Christelijk-Historische Unie (2008, Uitgeverij Boom) by M. ten Hooven and R. de Jong. (back)
  20. Your columnist can not discover in Geschiedenis van de Christelijk-Historische Unie, why the Synod changes its approach, after centuries of silence. It is conceivable, that the Synod wants to act in order to stop the apostasy within her church. See the figure 1. Another motive may be the preceding period of fascism, which justifies an ethical revival. (back)
  21. Your columnist had not studied the motives of the Synod. Perhaps it did not want to be identified with the CHU, since many of its members voted for the PvdA and VVD. The Break-through may also have affected the Synod. On the other hand, the new approach may simply be a means of last resort, in desparation about its decline. Then it is believed, that the church would become more attractive by expressing popular slogans. This hypothesis could for instance explain the fact, that in 1962 the Synod demands the one-sided elimination of the western nuclear missiles, in the middle of the Cold War. See p.266 in Geschiedenis van de Christelijk-Historische Unie. (back)
  22. Banning was a member of the de socialist party SDAP. However, his main influence came from his participation in the christian-socialist magazine De Blijde Wereld (later called Tijd en taak) and in the worker's community of the Woodbrookers. The Woodbrookers as a group were not purely socialistic. They were inspired by the Quakers, who had an educational centre in the English Woodbrooke. The worker's community had its own conference hall in Bentveld. Your columnist has found this information on p.128 of part 1 of the standard work Geschiedenis van het socialisme in Nederland. It is worth mentioning that the religious cultural socialist Ed. van Cleeff was also active in the Woodbrookers. (back)
  23. See Religieuze opbouw (1934, Van Loghum Slaterus Uitgeversmaatschappij N.V.), De evangelische boodschap (1946, Van Gorcum & Comp. N.V.), and Inleiding tot de sociale ethiek (1949, Servire), all by W. Banning. The texts are somewhat mystical, and sometimes border on fanaticism. This is also expressed in the choice of words. A single example (Ro p.164): "When one is serious about religion, and discusses the meaning of the world and life and the vocation of the believers, then this includes an expectation of the future, which we can not miss. This is expressed most purely in the Christian idea of the Empire of God". In the first book (Ro) Banning sometimes cites the poems of the socialists Adama van Scheltema and Roland Holst - van der Schalk, incidentally just like your columnist did here and there in the Gazette. Perhaps he believed that the clash of cultures was the best way to compete with fascism and Leninism. In the last mentioned book Banning consciously moves the christian ethics into the background. It is revised and reprinted in 1967. (back)
  24. Banning also speaks about justice, charity, brotherly exchange and gentleness. These types of expressions return everywhere in his books. Your columnist prefers to summarize them in the modern terms rights, devotion, solidarity, and duty. Many of these properties are represented in the person of Jesus, who is the bearer of Christianity. (back)
  25. Even Zijlstra fears the mass man, on p.102 in Economische orde en economische politiek. A quarter of a century later the New Left would revive this critisism. Then, Herbert Marcuse, at the time a leading philosopher of the New Left, writes his book De een-dimensionale mens (1970, Uitgeverij Paul Brand). Your columnist was once fascinated by the arguments of Marcuse, but now believes that his fears are exaggerated. People are not one-dimensional, but they favour integration and differentiation, imitation and innovation. (back)
  26. For the sake of convenience, the reference is repeated: Geloven in macht (1993, Het Spinhuis), edited by K. van Kersbergen, P. Lucardie, and H.-M. ten Napel. Worth mentioning is, that recently two TV series have been made about the CDA in its initial years, namely De val van Aantjes (2013, EO) and Land van Lubbers (2016, AVRO/TROS). The CDA continues to fascinate the people. (back)
  27. In the previous column about the radical centre the American J. Huo states, that the christian-democracy prefers a passive solidarity, such as combatting unemployment by means of the early retirement of workers. At the time your columnist was surprised by this statement, but here it is confirmed. (back)
  28. See chapter 8 in Geloven in macht. (back)
  29. See chapter 6 in Geloven in macht. (back)
  30. See chapter 7 in Geloven in macht. (back)
  31. The data originate from the Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek (CBS). This development shows, that a disciplined organization stimulates durability and coherence. Conversely, organizations with weak ties can desintegrate quickly. (back)
  32. A more strict definition of churcy assumes minimally a weakly visit. For, the church expects of its believers, that (whenever possible) they weakly attend the service. It is obvious that this percentage is still much lower. (back)
  33. See the table 7.1 on p.121 in Geloven in macht. When the figure 1 is used to extrapolate these numbers to 2015, then one finds 1%, 1% and 2% for respectively the PH, PG and RC. (back)
  34. For the sake of convenience the numbers are based on 150 seats. In reality until 1959 only 100 seats were available. (back)
  35. The data originate from the book Voor de bevrijding van de arbeid (1986, SUN) by G. Harmsen and B. Reinalda, and the CBS report Vakbeweging en organisatiegraad vanwerknemers, in the fourth quarter of the Sociaal-economische trends from 2012. (back)
  36. It is apparent from the trend in the figure 1, that the RC between 1930 and 1960 still experiences growth. Explaining factors are among others the increasing social awareness, and the growth of leisure time. (back)
  37. Here the problem is, that nonetheless most clergy-men still propagate political views from the pulpit. Sometimes even recommendations for voting are given. In preceding footnotes the agitation by socialist clergy-men has already been mentioned. Many clergy-men support the christian-democratic parties. The expansion of the CHU in the year 1917 was even mainly the result of the efforts of PH clergy-men! See p.148 in Geschiedenis van de Christelijk-Historische Unie. And the electorat was regularly addressed by the PH Church. See p.76, 194 and 267 there. After the Second Worldwar even the PH Synod propagates political standpoints, and sometimes these are quite extreme.
    Your columnist believes that clergy-men must limit their activities to the exegesis (explanation) of the Bible ("According to the theology this book can recommend A, but also B"). Furthermore they must care for the mental health, that is to say, engage in therapeutical activities. Such a belief would be symbolic and with nuances. But your columnist can understand, that precisely the clergy-men do not see this as an attractive calling. Besides, it is conceivable, that the believers themselves appreciate paternalism. Look again at the apostasy of the relatively weakly tied protestants in the figure 1. (back)