Christian-democratic views on the general interest (2)

First insertion on Heterodox Gazette Sam de Wolff: 17 june 2017

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

In this column the present-day christian-democracy is studied. As a reminder the political philosophy of the state is summarized again. It is compared with the evolutionary institutionalism, which is now also applied in economics. Then the hallmarks of christian politics until the formation of the CDA are sketched. Against this background the ideas of five christian writers are discussed, namely H.M. de Lange, C. Huijsen, A. Rouvoet, J.P. Balkenende, and S. Buma. An evaluation concludes the column.


Political philosophy

Soon after the foundation of the Heterodox Gazette, discussions about the political democracy obtained a prominent place. For, the economic markets are embedded in the social system, and therefore they depend for their functioning on the political system. The citizens will aim to arrange their society in such a manner, that the general well-being W is maximal. Unfortunately this optimum can not be realized in a natural way. In 1651 the philosopher Thomas Hobbes concluded, that in the natural state there is a war of all against all. The state and its monopoly of violence are indispensable for maintaining the order. In other words, the state dictates its own order to society1. It can be summarized in a target function U. Therefore the state executes the transformation W → U.

Figure of communication flows in pluralism
Figure 1: Communication flows in
   U(k) = target function; L(k) = leader k;
   W = choice function of voters

In the democratic state the conflicts of interest are restricted by the Constitution. The parliament decides about legislation, based on majorities. Since more than a century, parliament is divided in coherent groups, which are supported by political parties in their programmatic activities. These parties can be viewed as circles k of citizens, which unite around shared morals U(k). According to the group theory such circles are most effective, when they delegate their power to a leader L(k). During the periodical elections the leaders compete for the approval of the electorat. The outcome of the elections defines the framework, which guides the leaders in their attempts to form a temporary coalition which together will support the government. The government determines the political policies during the time, when it is in power. This democratical process can be modelled as a control circle with feedback. See the figure 1.

Apparently there is a continuous tension between the participation of the citizens and the delegation of power to their leaders. The liberal fundamental rights guarantee a number of liberties to the citizens. Besides, there are social fundamental rights, which introduce a certain social equality, so that all citizens can indeed use their freedom. In this model the parliament is the link between participation and delegation. It depends for the supply of its information on the signals from society. This raises several akward questions. For instance, which democratic form must be given to the weighing of group interests? And which policy is developed for furthering the personal autonomy? In other words, are the citizens made sufficiently capable to express their will? To what extent does the state try to control its citizens by means of social formation?

Evolutionary institutionalism

The combination of participation and delegation implies, that there does not exist a fixed central Will. The historical development of society follows a certain path. This is especially clear in political systems, which order and regulate society by means of a democratic feedback. Therefore the Gazette has recently paid attention to the evolutionary institutionalism. This assumes a psychological model, where each circle adopts a mental model. Together the circles form a cognitive structure. Informal institutions guarantee, that the social behaviour is somewhat predictable. They lower the transaction costs, which must be paid by citizens in their mutual exchange. The figure 1 shows, that the informal institutions are tested in a cyclical process, and are therefore subjected to a permanent process of learning. There is innovation, which is spread by imitation.

Nevertheless, the informal institutions do not suffice, notably in the modern mass societies. There are so many different circles, that the society is pluralistic. Due to the decreasing cohesion the attractiveness of opportunist behaviour rises. Therefore the modern society needs all kinds of formal institutions. Together they form the central state of Hobbes. These are often simply the recording of informal institutions, because these have proved to dispose of an appreciable social support. Thanks to the laws of the state each circle can enforce the obedience to contracts. The path-dependent institutions are the result of a struggle for power, aimed at furthering partial interests. However, in a democracy one may hope, that they nevertheless improve the social effectiveness. Then the function U is sound.

Like Hobbes already concluded, the process of making political decisions by no means is harmonious. The psychology proves, that the circles have many biases and stereotypes about each other. They are inevitable, because the capacity of the human brain to process information is limited. Unfortunately, in unfavourable conditions they can stimulate hostile behaviour. Nonetheless, at least in the west a political system develops, modernism, which is fairly successful in curbing hostility. The sociology characterizes modernism by individualization, differentiation, flexibilization, rationalization, and domestication2. These are tendencies, which reduce the need for coercion and violence. Nevertheless, also modernism has sometimes established wrong formal institutions.

A striking postwar example is the attempt of the Dutch state to impose the public branch corporations (in short PBO) to society. Although there was from the start much resistance against this formal institution, the state only gave up this ambition after several decades! The failure of the PBO has certainly contributed to the social confusion, which was so omnipresent in the Netherlands after the early sixties. The PBO idea was a shared mental model of the then roman-catholics and social-democrats. It was mainly designed at the central level, so a top-down innovation, although the collective agreement (CAO) was a (modest) predecessor, which emerged fairly naturally from the economic practice. It turns out that the PBO unnecessarily limits the individualization, differentiation and flexibilization. Apparently the circles can indeed sometimes cherish an unsound mental model


When the administrative system is subdivided in the state, the market, and the social circles, then three ideologies can be derived: conservatism, liberalism and the social-democracy3. For years, the Gazette studies the mental model of the social-democracy. It propagates in essence three institutions, namely the socialization of property, the economic planning, and the collective control of investments. During the twentieth century the experiences have shown, that these three institutions are unsound, at least in the rigorous form, which the social-democracy promotes.

It is bad, that the social-democracy incites the citizens towards hostility against the leaders of the industries. Originally, this unrealistic stereotype had the form of the class struggle. The citizens must eliminate the existing order during a revolutionary process. This historical breach of course contradicts the insights of the evolutionary institutionalism4. Although the paradigm of the class struggle is untenable, the social-democracy could never truly shake it off. During the seventies Nieuw Links revived it, under the name of polarization. During the nineties there was a return to realism. But in the course of the new millenium the social-democracy again became radicalized5. Therefore your columnist has now shifted his attention.


Since more than a year the Gazette also studies the christian-democracy, which is an important representative of conservatism. Other than the social-democracy, the christian-democracy does trust the ruling informal and formal institutions. It is the hallmark of the christian-democracy, that she traditionally accepts the church as the leader of morals (say, the shared mental model). God's Will determines the form of the target function. In other words, God is the sovereign, and not the people. Finally, the christian elite reconciles with the democracy, but she wants to maintain a certain aristocracy. The competition for the truth with respect to God's Will remains in the hands of the churches. In roman-catholicism the Pope is even the wordly representative of Jesus. The conservatism emerges from the view, that God's Will becomes visible in history.

Photo of comic strip by Peter van Straaten
Figure 2: Lubbers, Steenkamp and Van Agt
   De kruistocht van Dries de Betonne
   by Peter van Straaten (1981, fragment)

This view of life implies, that the christian-democracy is more interested in morals (the value-rationality) than in effectiveness (instrumental rationality). Materialism is distrusted. It is convinced, that finally the whole population will be converted to the christian truth (christianization). The roman-catholics and the Calvinists have translated this ambition in the establishment of a cohesive personal circle, a so-called pillar, in order to organize their mission in a powerful manner. However, a previous column has shown, that in the course of the twentieth century christianity loses its supporters. The mission had no chance, and then the pillar became an inner directed circle. The ties with the external world were weak. Therefore the pillars were bad in innovation. The feedback is stifled.

The decline of christianity shows, that its morals are insufficiently appealing. The christian anthropolgy (insight in human nature) misses accuracy6. Namely, it rejects individualism and rationalization. Although the christian-democracy has a better mental model than the social-democracy, yet its rejection of modernism was a dead end. The maintenance of the pastoral leadership of the church is irreconcilable with individualism. The neglect of the instrumental rationality weakens the social performance. The pillarization is in conflict with differentiation. In retrospect the complacency, with which the pillars embraced isolation, is astonishing. The pillars have probably been artificially maintained for too long. Then internally a huge pressure to change builds up. This era illustrates again, that institutions can degenerate into obstacles.

Only in the late fifties do the pillars reluctantly acknowledge their failure, so that they become more open for other ideas. Partly, the churches themselves are the driving force in the shifting of their institutional path. In this way, during the sixties the roman-catholics (in short RC) and protestants (PC) can quickly reconcile. Their elite introduces a new theology, which attaches more importance to the social action than to the profession of faith. The churches become wordly. This new message is actively propagated by the christian media7. In 1966 the protestants and the Calvinists start the "Together on our way" deliberations. This undermines the diversity in confessional politics. Next politics perforce begins to reduce the gospel to a source of inspiration, without engagement. Incidentally, the confusion among the religous elite again leads to the alienation of her traditional rank-and-file.

In the Netherlands the adaptation of the christian-democratic model approximately coincides with the foundation of the Christen-Democratisch Appèl (in short CDA), in 19778. The idea of the Devine sovereignty is abandoned. During the preparations of the CDA the answer-philosopy is developed. It requires, that the CDA gives an "answer" to the Gospel9. Those who want to become active in the CDA, must accept the Gospel as line of action, but do not need to adhere to it. Thus God is no longer the undisputed sovereign. The core principles of the young CDA are the shared responsibility, justice, solidarity and stewardship. Here the past of the christian-democracy can be recognized: conservatism, paternalism, moralism, personalism and a moderate internationalism. Within the oecumenical movement especially the RC Church traditionally has the ambition to be a global religion, more than the PC Church.

In the beginning the ideological innovation is successful, because the establishment of the CDA indeed slows down the decline of confessional politics. However, the innovation is now a continuous process, which finally does not end the losses10. Therefore it is worth studying the accommodation of the requirements of modern times in the renewed principles. Now a fascinating question is how the modern christian political scientists and authors view the democratic ideas, and notably how they want to morally define the general interest. Your columnist limits his analysis to the political thinkers of the protestant religion, because he is most familiar with it. Besides, that restriction makes the quantity of relevant publications less immense. Five political authors are presented, namely H.M. de Lange, C. Huijsen, A. Rouvoet, J.P. Balkenende, and S. Buma11.

Harry de Lange

In the mentioned list of authors, De Lange and Huijsen illustrate, that believers can be found in the whole political spectrum. Namely, De Lange is a socialist and Huijsen is a social liberal. They are discussed here in order to clarify the flexibility in confessional thought. The ideas of De Lange are taken from his book De gestalte van een verantwoordelijke maatschappij (in short GVM)12. Although De Lage himself is a protestant, his book analyzes the views of the global oecumenical movement, as it is expressed by the World Council of Churches. Since the twenties of the twentieth century this Council (and its predecessors) publishes a report each decade, wherein an evaluation is given of the social order. Incidentally, since the sixties the Council concentrates its activities more on the Third World than on the west.

Of old the churches believe, that the society is ordered as a result of a natural development, under the supervision of God. Therefore the religion does not interfere with collectives, which implies that religion is purely personal. The liberalism of the nineteenth century reinforces this attitude. However, in the course of the century the socialist movement argues with an increasing force, that alternative orders are conceivable. Therefore the churches lose supporters, especially among the industrial proletariat, and they try to combat this by proposing their own ideas with regard to a christian order. Thus the theologists begin energetically to study worldly affairs, such as the concrete order of the economy13. The World Council of Churches even forms many commissions, where theologists and scientists together develop the theory of the christian order (see p.25 in GVM). De Lange is one of these scientists.

System builders must dispose of their own anthropology (GVM p.242). Christians find their anthropology in the Bible, which is the revelation of God. God has made his son Jesus the example of mankind (p.57). Therefore the christian anthropology is based mainly on Jesus and his love of his neighbours (58). Unfortunately the love of self has the result, that man again and again succumbs to sin (p.63 and further, 245). The pastoral direction to faith is necessary in order to combat the human imperfection. Sin results in a social system, which itself has become unsound (88). The World Council of Churches complains, that the present society creates too many obstacles for the experience of faith (that is to say, for the individual unfolding within the personal group) (GVM p.28, p.66 and further, p.90). Individuals become confused, and lose their meaning of life (236, 241).

The Council notably rejects in all of its reports the prevailing materialism, which degenerates into commerce and the desire for profit. The reports see the solition in the mutual or social responsibility (GVM p.41, 235, 241). This is pre-eminently a christian norm, and a hallmark of God's Kingdom. The people must form and educate each other. Here the state has its own responsibility, and must develop a policy of culture (238). Such a policy equips the people with social responsibility (92). See the core questions at the beginning of this column. That is to say, the churches and their members must actively press politics to realize a christian order. This is indeed a striking anthropology: the population as a majority has an unsound attitude, and she must be reborn by the intervention of the church!

De Lange even argues, that the churches and their members must identify the errors in the economic system (92)! He does not shrink from political propaganda, and wants to realize the responsibility with socialist principles. He naturally believes, that the christians must promote the social security (49, 120). He is an energetic advocate of the mixed economy (78). With a reference to the American economist J.K. Galbraith he wants to spend more money on the public sector (p.104 and further)14. Furthermore, he wants to further reduce the inequality of the income distribution (109). And he maintains that the state must create employment (125). Thus De Lange indeed defines the christian variant of the transformation W→U, on the understanding that he equates it with social-democratic policies!

Coos Huijsen

The politician Coos Huijsen was mainly important as a party ideologist. His career is striking. During the seventies he is active in the youth movement of the CHU, and next enters parliament for that party. However, then he switches to the PvdA, where he is mainly active as a publicist. For the present paragraph his book De PvdA en het Von Münchhausen syndroom (in short VMS)15 is consulted. Huijsen tries to be the successor of the christian PvdA ideologist W. Banning. Just like at the time the CHU, Huijsen is not interested in political programs (p.17, 134 in VMS). The PvdA must derive her profile from a persuasion, and from morals (p.47, 138). According to Huijsen the essential values are: justice, freedom, responsibility, solidarity and respect (p.49, 61, 76). Personal initiative and assertiveness are indispensable (33, 58).

Photo of main hall in Bentveld huis
Figure 3: Main hall of Woodbrookers in Bentveld
   Conference resort of the Worker's community

The core of Huijsen's philosophy is his dislike of the so-called mass man. The society becomes larger and larger, because this leads to gains in economic efficiency. Huijsen calls this the idea of utility (utilitarianism). However, in this way the individuals become anonymous (36). Huijsen believes, that they can not process the complexity and information (38). That alienates them, because man can only develop personal morals in small circles16. The idea of utility leads to consumerism and commerce (14, 37), where the mass media dictate the individual consumption (69). Thus Huijsen is ambivalent with regard to progress (16). He believes, that small-scale formation of groups is more important than advantages of scale (109). Now Huijsen even becomes sceptical towards growth, and wants to slow down consumption (62, 64). In this respect he as a predecessor of the female politician Femke Halsema17.

It is curious that Huijsen prefers a political system with two large blocks, namely progressives and conservatives. Apparently here the large scale is not a problem. Just like Banning, he embraces the postwar Breakthrough. The progressives want to make society more humane by stimulating personalism. The meaning must come mainly from religion, arts and the sciences (30,70). Here Huijsen recommends to limit the state interventions (42, 59), because they do not fit with assertiveness and mutual resposibility. The state is merely a stimulus and regulator (86). In that sense the philosophy agrees well with the former CHU, the radical centre, or social liberalism.

According to your columnist the view of Huijsen is problematic. He formulates a system of values, but does not support it with a credible anthropology. This gives his image of man the appearance of an imposed dictate, which evidently conflicts with the also recommended assertiveness. Notably, the citizen must give up his freedom as a consumer, in exchange for a culture policy. The criticism of the idea of utility has lost cogency, since nowadays this idea is popular in psychology and sociology. See the rational choice paradigm. Besides, nowadays there are good alternatives for the speculative morals of Huijsen. For instance, the social psychology tests models of behaviour with experiments, and thus offers a proven image of man18.

André Rouvoet

The politician André Rouvoet was the party leader of the Calvinist Christen-Unie (in short CU), which was established in 2000 by the merger of the tiny parties GPV and RPF. His view is interesting, because the CU is less wordly than the CDA. Your columnist consults the book Het hart van de zaak (in short Hz)19, which clearly expresses the ambivalence of the christian-democracy with regard to the modern state. The CU wants to serve the Kingdom of God. This includes the universal ethics of truth, an ethical pluralism, tolerance, the natural rights, and the protection of life (Hz p.46 and further). The truth in the Bible is absolute, and has an above-individual objectivity (p.72 and further). There is freedom in responsibility. Justice and stewardship are more important than effectiveness (183). Charity and the love of one's neighbour go deeper than solidarity, because they include servitude and sacrifice (102)20.

Now Rouvoet analyzes the transformation W→U. He rejects the ideas of the Enlightenment, which make the truth relative, and which open the door to the dictature of the majority (p.46 and further, 206). The present-day citizens are not very assertive, because they react impulsively (p.125 and further). Therefore Rouvoet rejects the direct democracy (114), and prefers a strong moral leadership, which builds trust and unites (125, 143)21. Politicians must testify. Such leaders point the way, and have authority. When a new category of leaders appears, then the social responsibility can be given back to the church, the enterprise and the family (20-21, 180). The formation occurs within the family, the school and the church (97). The state must step back. The citizens must pay for their consumption of services, so that the taxes can be reduced (23). Here and there in the book Rouvoet complains about the addiction to subsidies22.

At first sight this plea agrees with the social-democratic movement of the radical centre, which attaches value to the together-efficiency. However, whereas the radical centre expects an increased effectiveness from private initiative, as well as personal emancipation, Rouvoet hopes that it will stimulate the discussion about morals. He wants to prevent, just like de Lange, that individuals stray spiritually in anonymity. But his remedy bears a resemblance to the Calvinist dogma of Abraham Kuijper, and it may be argued, that this is by now truly made obsolete as a result of better insights.

Jan Peter Balkenende

The present paragraph is based on the book Anders en beter (in short Ab) by J.P. Balkenende23. After the neutral left-liberal cabinets Purple I and II, Balkenende advocates a return of morals in the state policies (Ab p.16, 52, 116, 120). Morals are indispensable for the maintenance of the constitutional state and its constitution (Ab p.60, 121). Balkenende propagates the CDA morals, and tries to translate these in a political policy. He stresses, that the individual freedom (autonomy) must go with responsibility (duties). The love of one's neighbour and solidarity in communities have their own value (p.69, 118). Therefore he believes, that the policy of the state must aim at households, and not at individual independence (26, 70).

Photo of caricature by Opland (Volkskrant)
Figure 4: Andriessen, Kruisinga and Aantjes
   Caricature by Opland
   (1977, fragment Volkskrant)

Furthermore, Balkenende refers to the principle of spread responsibility. He wants to make the civil society (community, "social mid-field") more important, at the cost of the market and the state. This proposal implies that the social order must change (104). The aim is to stimulate the personal responsibility and the private initiative (27, 106). This is the now well-known sovereignty in the personal circle (57), but Balkenende prefers the term "social entrepreneurship". It must be accompanied by regulations, so that the financing by the state can be diminished. The costs of social enterprises must be paid by their clients, for instance by means of appropriate contributions (90, 96, 107). Such enterprises can be active in the traditional policy domains, such as insurances, housing, care, broadcasting, and education (27, 57).

Proposals such as collective morals and social entrepreneurship remind of communitarianism. Balkenende himself acknowledges this (Ab p.25). The secular morals of the CDA indeed remind of the I & We model of the communitarianist A. Etzioni. In Anders en beter no connection is made with christianity24. Elsewhere he does attempt this, and makes ambivalent statements. In 2000 Balkenende states, that the consumerism and materialism are not well reconcilable with serving God. He embraces the Rhineland model, which is built on christian-social principles. He rejects the Anglo-saxon model, which aims at making profits. The churches remain necessary as a valuable source of collective morals25. Nonetheless, Balkenende does value competitive entrepreneurship. For instance, he describes innovation as the mentality to strive for excellence and gains26.

Sybrand Buma

At the moment, the politician Sybrand Buma is the CDA leader, and therefore his view is also interesting. Your columnist consults his book Tegen het cynisme27 (in short Thc). Buma does not share the strongly evangelically inspired conviction of previous generations. He sees the belief simply as the conscience of a higher reality (Thc p.113). The love of one's neighbour is a life style of unselfishness (p.101). Buma states, that nowadays the individual rights begin to dominate the duties (p.74, 157, 196). The welfare state furthers egocentrism, undermines the responsibility, and stifles the personal initiative (p.146-147)28. This abuse is partly caused by the New Left, which has propagated the relativity of culture (203, 211). Therefore Buma wants to promote bonding morals, which bring back trust in society. Citizens must feel mutually responsible.

Therefore it is necessary to give more room to the social circles, at the cost of the individual or the state (78, 145). The family is essential, because the core values are transfered by formation in the personal circle (73). For the same reason, family enterprises often feel socially responsible (81)29. The churches also remain indispensable (71). The CDA translates this into the spread responsibility. Just like Rouvoet, Buma does not demand effectiveness of the social circles. On the contrary, the state has rattled on in this respect (216). Buma wants to further the tradition and morals at the cost of individualism and competition (223). Autonomy is not possible without harmony. The reader may observe, that the CDA ideology has not really changed since Balkenende.


The christian-democracy does not have a sound anthropology (image of man), but nevertheless it has the pretence to solely know the truth. The hallmark is the reference to the love of one's neighbour, which is rather a simplification of human nature. Sin is combatted by means of super-natural commandments (value-rationality), which go beyond merely the human rights. The individualization is distrusted, as far as it leads to the idea of utility and hedonism (instrumental rationality). This would be sinful. Since the christian morals must be imposed on the people as a dictate, the christian-democracy is inclined to be paternalistic. It wants pastoral leaders. This is true even now, although by now the Kingdom and Will of God are abandoned as leading goals. In this secular form the christian-democracy represents communitarianism.

The christian-democracy pleads in favour of autonomous social circles, since there the love of one's neighbour must be realized. That is to say, it promotes the maintenance of institutions, especially those that lead to reciprocity and duties. Such institutions have a value in itself, and therefore do not need to be effective. Effectiveness is not a leading value. In fact, materialism and competition represent the undesirable idea of utility. Apparently confessionalism is not particularly alert with regard to social stagnation, as incidentally became already clear during the European Middle Ages. The autonomous circles are commonly established by the social elite, which in this way can expand her power. So although the christian-democracy presents a more sound view than the social-democracy (which has become stuck in class thinking), it still gives feelings of discomfort.

  1. A succinct description of these ideas can be found in chapter 6 of Ontwikkeling van het democratisch denken (1987, Bres B.V.) by L.J. Giebels. Your columnist read this book already 22 years ago. Recently the return to the war of all against all became again painfully visible in, among others, Irak, Libya and Syria. According to Hobbes any order is better than a pure anarchy, even the dictature. Nowadays systems are preferably analyzed in terms of networks or circles. The omnipotence of the state is relative. In this way the state itself is embedded in society. There is feedback. See the remainder of this column. (back)
  2. See Paradoxen van modernisering (1993, Dick Coutinho BV) by H. van der Loo and W. van Reijen. Your columnist read this book 23 years ago. (back)
  3. See Politische Ökonomie des Sozialstaats (2009, Verlag Westfälisches Dampfboot) by H. Ganßmann. (back)
  4. Apparently the evolutionary institutionalism is anti-revolutionary. It would be interesting to know what it thinks about the shock therapy, which after 1992 was applied during the change of system in the former Leninist states in Eastern Europe. Perhaps the Gazette will once dedicate a column to this theme. (back)
  5. One may consider the present social-democracy in the Netherlands, England and France. A striking example is the book Makke schapen (2012, Uitgeverij Bert Bakker) by P. Kalma. Kalma plainly promotes the return to polarization! It is true that this book was not a commercial success, but it probably did yet influence many Dutch social-democrats. (back)
  6. The theologist W. Banning stresses on p.8 and further in Inleiding tot de sociale ethiek (1949, Servire) the necessity to reconcile religion with the sociological and anthropological knowledge. In principle the person of Jesus morally dictates the christian anhropology. Your columnist notes, that here mysticism gets much room. For instance, Jesus says: "Do not believe, that I have come to bring peace on earth; I did not come to bring peace bu the sword. (...) Those who love father or mother above me, is not worthy of me" (Matthew 10:34, 37). And also, in the illustrious Sermon of the Mountain: "Bless those who curse you and pray for those who attack you. When someone slaps you on the cheek, offer also the other" (Luke 6:28, 29). One wonders why justice and reciprocity are abandoned here. Is this a recommendation of the strategy tit-for-tat in the repeated game of the prisoners (prisoner's dilemma)? (back)
  7. See p.277 and p.293 in Geschiedenis van de Christelijk-Historische Unie (2008, uitgeverij Boom) by M. ten Hooven and R. de Jong. Apparently, for the RC Church the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) is a radical change of course. It is disconcerting to read how various deeply rooted values are abandoned. It also illustrates how the institutions can survive their purpose, due to rigidity. A true revolution emerges. The long period of hidden decay has demoralized the religious elite. Apparently the priests can no longer bear the unavoidable shrinking of their own parish, and now they decide to "flee forwards". Various front organizations go their own way in an attempt to survive. Everywhere there is the feeling, that the spirit of the time is irreversible (p.299). On p.33 and p.176 in Geloven in macht the then atmosphere in the confessional parties is called an identity crisis. (back)
  8. Your columnist is not an expert with regard to this complicated religious convergence, because it is not really his thing. A succinct description can be found in chapter 2 of Geloven in macht (1993, Het Spinhuis), edited by K. van Kersbergen, P. Lucardie and H.-M. ten Napel. This book suffers somewhat from the clear left-wing bias of a part of the authors. Somewhat more comprehensive is chapter 12 in Geschiedenis van de Christelijk-Historische Unie. (back)
  9. See p.302 in Geschiedenis van de Christelijk-Historische Unie. On p.305 it is mentioned, that there is even a discussion, whether the Old Testament of the Bible can still serve as the line of action for the CDA. See also p.40 in Geloven in macht. Your columnist misses the insight to explain this theological debate. Some searching on the internet makes one suspect, that the testaments have different target groups, namely merely the Jewish people and the global population. This aspect is addressed in the book Galatians of the New Testament. A single citation (3:24-26): "Thus, the law [OT] was our teacher until Christ, so that we would be justified by faith; but when faith has come [NT], then we are no longer under the teacher. Because you are all children of God by the faith in Jesus Christ". (back)
  10. This is an awkward point. In chapter 1 of Geloven in macht it is suggested, that the christian-democracy is ideologically obsolete. In chapter 4 it is stated, that the CDA is ideologically a catch-all party. That is to say, it would consciously choose the wide middle classes as its target group. Moreover, the existence of the CDA is now strongly determined by the charisma of its party leader (p.251). On the other hand, on p.321 of Geschiedenis van de Christelijk-Historische Unie it is stated, that the CDA has stabilized itself. Incidentally, in Germany the christian-democratic combination CDU/CSU maintains itself seemingly without effort. But since the publication of the CHU book the CDA electorat has more than halved again. (back)
  11. The political cabaret gives a feeling of the social sentiment during a certain era. In 1973 the popular cabaret performer Wim Kan mocks in his New-Year's Eve performance the RC Church, which is confused: "A bishop such as Gijsen has arrived at the wrong moment. When we must choose between the monorail and metro, then he says: horse-tramway. On the first day when he was bishop, he stood before his bed, and says: let's get this mitre off! [in Dutch this also means maid EB] In twenty years there will be just two catholics, Gijsen and his wife". In the same year the cabinet Biesheuvel has just fallen, and this eliminates the old guard of confessional politicians. Kan jokes: "Schmelzer has said, that in his youth he had to choose between music and politics. I thought: well ... Now he is with Unilever, where he does the prewash". Two new political stars are Andriessen (KVP) and Aantjes (ARP). Kan tells: "I saw someone in his car turning left with his traffic indicator to the right. I thought, that must be Andriessen. And indeed he was it, but Aantjes was at the steering wheel". And about Aantjes: "He has such weird metaphors. The hot affair of the abortion must be put up in the refrigerator. Then you can throw away your refrigerator!" About Andriessen: "He does not want to say much. It is impossible to understand. I miss the subtitles with his comments. And he is so cautious. He is just like a snail in a winding". In the CHU, Kruisinga is the successor of party leader Tilanus. Kan says: "He is a strict man. He does not want to go to sea with the ARP or with the KVP. But he does swim in the sea, despite the pollution. He says, that is no problem, as long as [ik er tot mijn kruis in ga; I go just up to my crotch]". And about the elections of 1973: "Votes have gone from the KVP to the VVD. From the Good Lord to the young gentleman [Wiegel]". In the new cabinet Lubbers is a newcomer: "He has Economical affais, he manages the electricity. Our king of electricity".
    After the sixties the cabaret performer Seth Gaaikema gradually takes over the New-year's Eve performances from Wim Kan. He prefers sketches of the atmosphere in stead of humour. In 1977 he mocks: "Life is quite simple really, nude is left and God is right". And: "Seven pillars [radio stations] search for souls - softly nagging about meaning - VPRO wants red banners - EO, if possible, no homosexuals - and the rest is in between". In 1982 about Van Agt: "Sire Dries, Sire Dries. I will maintain myself, that was his device". About Lubbers: "Although we do not have Dries, yet there is a crisis, with Ruud who in predicting catastrophes precise is". In 1984: "Listen to the language of this Lubbers. These are not words, but marsh gas blubbers, with words avoiding the cruise missiles. Why does he not simply say: they will yet be placed". And: "Ruud can talk nicely, but I crash into the wall. He discusses my unemployment during his overtime". In 1985: "And Onno Ruding [minister of finance]. Onno, wherever you start, at the beginning or the end, it always begins with a zero". In 1986 about the RPF [tiny Calvinist party]: "A beach for naked people is allowed, but only with black stockings". In 1990: "Never tipple with Lubbers, you always lose it. Those who tipple with Lubbers at the table, sorry, they get punished".
    During the seventies the cabaret performer Freek de Jonge is an icon of assertiveness, due to his clownish and confronting attitude. He is popular, especially in left-wing circles, and often performs on the VPRO (which in a sense is just, because his father is a clergy-man!). In 2003 he analyzes egoism in politics: "A CDA member is a christian egoist, who on sunday may want to exchange the magazine of the homeless for a hymn-book. A CU member says: man is an egoist, because God has created man conformable to his image, and those who have the heavens above them are not homeless. The SGP member is an egoist with a wife, and his definition of a homeless person is a woman without kitchen". According to De Jonge, premier Balkenende has said: "I get irritated by people who on ten o'clock in the evening do not dare to get in the tram". And De Jonge agrees with him. He shouts: "These people are so agonizing. I believe that subsidized jobs must be created for driving these people into the trams". In his performance of 2006 De Jonge jokes: The Evangelical Radio station jumps in [with advice for formation]: Do not curse! Try to solve it with a beating". And: "This Rouvoet, he still believes that God has created the world in six days. When you believe this, you should be pricking paper in the park". And: "CDA voters are just like smokers. They know that it is bad for them, but yet they do it. Balkenende should really have a warning on him: bad for your potency". (back)
  12. See De gestalte van een verantwoordelijke maatschappij (1966, W. ten Have N.V.) by H.M. de Lange. Your columnist bought this book at the yearly bazaar of the Marcus church. Unfortunately, at the end of 2007 this church will be closed. De Lange has first worked for decades at the Centraal Planbureau. Next he was the director of various academic institutes. During the period of the postwar Breakthrough he became a member of the PvdA, and subsequently remained active within that party. This book shows, that De Lange as a socialist wants to give an important role to the state. He supports the standpoint of his former boss Jan Tinbergen, who advocates planning at the macro-level. At the time this policy is at the top of its popularity. Shortly thereafter the poor results of such planning will diminish enthusiasm.
    Incidentally, De Lange is not the most left-wing among the church-goers. For, during the sixties the PPR secedes from the KVP, and subsequently tries to pass the PvdA on the left side. Eventually this party will be absorbed in Groen Links. (back)
  13. There have naturally always been incidental theologists, who did scientific research. And originally wordly scientists include God in their theories. During the nineteenth century science advances so swiftly, that the church must become more "professional". The collaboration with scientists becomes more intense, which is for instance apparent in the foundation in 1880 of the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. (back)
  14. See The affluent society (1999, Penguin Books) by J.K. Galbraith. This author is indeed authoritative, and at the time his book was a classic. Nevertheless, his ideas are controversial, notably because social-democrats wanted to realize his plea for public expenditures in an extreme and rigorous manner. See for instance the policy of the cabinet Den Uyl. (back)
  15. See De PvdA en het Von Münchhausen syndroom (1990, Uitgeverij J.H. Gottmer/H.J.W. Becht bv) by C. Huijsen. Your columnist read this book in 2003, the year when he joined the PvdA. The book was bought at the radical bookshop De rooie rat in Utrecht, which went bankrupt in 2015 (although Utrecht is yet a "leftwing" town). The same bookshop and author supplied Nog is links niet verloren (1982, De Haan). In this book the contours are already sketched of the view, which is presented in De PvdA en het Von Münchhausen syndroom. However, in 1982 Huijsen has not yet distanced himself from the PvdA as an action party, so that Nog is links niet verloren is a bit unstable. For instance, on p.76 he approves of the illegal "squatting" of houses, because the state would have built insufficient dwellings. On p.77 he defends the hypothesis: "Amsterdam is a town with a youth, which has an intuitive feeling for the national and international concerns", but on p.79: "The youth is emotionally underfed". And on p.81: "Is it a wonder that the existing rule of law has become the embodiment of lack of meaning [for the youth]?" This type of arguments undermines his plea for morals.
    In the book Geschiedenis van de Christelijk-Historische Unie (2008, uitgeverij Boom) by M. ten Hooven and R. de Jong it is described how Huijsen as the chairman of the CHJO (youth organization) tries to innovate the CHU organization. Besides, this book describes his activities as the chairman of the CHU section in Delft. At the time Huijsen propagates a rigorous change within the CHU, undoubtedly because he was aware of its obsoleteness. His attempts were not successful. Therefore your columnist does not exclude, that in this manner Huijsen has actually accelerated the decline of the CHU. In 1977 Huijsen switches to the PvdA. There he is, among others, the editor of the party magazine. Moreover, he becomes the chairman of the worker's community of the Woodbrookers. At the time this community already has a languishing existence. In 1995 it is absorbed in De Rode Hoed in Amsterdam, which is actually a liquidation. (back)
  16. Nowadays it is said, that individuals must develop a mental model, heuristics and routines, in order to keep their own environment manageable. This theme is studied in behavioural economics. (back)
  17. The ideas of Huijsen are difficult to place in any category of social movement. His rejection of the political program and his preference for persuasion remind of the CHU. However, the emphasis on assertiveness clashes with the paternalism of the CHU, and is apparently copied from the New Left. The rejection of materialism is a mixture of the CHU view and the ecological movement of the seventies. (back)
  18. These notes deserve some elaboration. It turns out that assertiveness conflicts with respect. It is even said, that respect does not go with clashing opinions. The growth scepticism ignores, that people do become happier as a result of rising wealth. And the idea of utility has become more realistic, since the theory of utility itself takes into account norms such as reciprocity and justice. It does deserve mentioning, that according to some, utilitarianism within the sociology is an "economic imperialism". (back)
  19. See Het hart van de zaak (2006, Uitgeverij Bert Bakker) by A. Rouvoet. Your columnist read this book ten years ago, in order to understand the position of the CU in the cabinet Balkenende IV. The first texts of this volume date from the time, when Rouvoet was active in the RPF. This party was on the right of the political spectrum. It is difficult to place the CU in the spectrum, at least for your columnist, but she has undeniably shifted to the left. (back)
  20. The presently organized solidarity is called an organic solidarity by the sociologist Durkheim. Rouvoet wants to make her mechanic, that is to say, based on personal obligations. (back)
  21. Thus Rouvoet is hostile towards D66, the party which eminently represents the ideas of the Enlightenment. At the time this aspect was a surprise for your columnist, who himself was once a member of D66. Rouvoet is sympathetic towards the view of the CHU. (back)
  22. This view agrees with those of I.A. Diepenhorst. But on p.135 in Het hart van de zaak Rouvoet complains, that the subsidies for the christian youth organizations are reduced! Here the ambiguity can be observed, which is also striking in the work of Diepenhorst. (back)
  23. See Anders en beter (2002, Uitgeverij Aspekt) by J.P. Balkenende. The CDA politician Balkenende was premier from 2003 until 2010. Balkenende is a Calvinist, just like Jelle Zijlstra, and begins his career in science. Therefore Anders en beter makes many concrete proposals for policy innovations. Your columnist analyzes mainly the paragraphs about morals. If time permits, the Gazette will discuss more in detail the concrete policies of the Purple cabinets and its critics. (back)
  24. Worth mentioning is also, that Balkenende in Anders en beter prefers collective agreements in stead of labour laws (Ab p.119). Furthermore, Balkenende is conservative with regard to medical-ethical matters, but this is less relevant for the present column. (back)
  25. See De morele dimensie in de 21e eeuw en de verantwoordelijkheid van de kerk in the volume Grasduinen in de nieuwe economie (2002, Uitgeverij De Vuurbaak), edited by H.P. Koning. The citations can be found on p.134, 136 and 138. This text of 9 pages naturally can not describe all of Balkenende's idea. Nor is this the ambition of your columnist. (back)
  26. See p.105 in Aan de kiezer (2006, Uitgeverij Bert Bakker) by J.P. Balkenende. Although this books is easy to read, its contents is tattle. On p.118 he again stresses the importance of the churches for the moral debate. (back)
  27. See Tegen het cynisme (2016, Uitgeverij Prometheus) by S. van Haersma Buma. Buma has a pleasant and appealing style of writing. (back)
  28. Here the view of Balkenende can be recognized. It sounds dramatic, but yet has some scientific basis. For instance, the economist Graafland points to the crowding out of a sense of duty. (back)
  29. This argument of Buma is purely moral. The book The economics of business enterprise (2002, Edgar Elgar Publishing, Inc.) by M. Ricketts suggests rational arguments. See paragraph 4.5 there. In family enterprises the leader is often a collective, so that the management is less burdensome for the individual. Moreover, the leaders will trust each other. The management will not deceive its shareholders, when these are family. A logical argument against family enterprises is, that the management is recruited from a limited group of people, which often will not excell by their talents. (back)