1880-1950: MANAGEMENT, MIDDLE-CLASS, AND FARMERS' MOVEMENTS (II)
THE time-table of the rise of the movements covered in this chapter, against the general background outlined in the last, is not very different from that of the workers' movements. The foundations were laid in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. There was a general consolidation around the time of the First World War, and then a progressive build-up to a new consolidation, which took place from the end of the 'thirties till just after the Second World War. The results in most cases were less impressive than those of the workers' movements, but the shape of development was the same.
The farmers' movements go back to the eighteen-sixties, when rural credit co-operatives began to be founded in Germany by the Protestant William Raiffeisen. He quickly received strong support from the Catholic clergy of Rhineland-Westphalia, and by 1895 there were some 3,100 societies with 270,000 members, making loans at the rate of around £3,000,000 a year; say £10-12,000,000 at present prices. Farmers' unions also began to be founded in West Germany, about the same time as the credit co-operatives, notably by the Catholic Baron Schorlemer-Alst. These also grew rapidly and by 1903 had 250,000 members. The German example was widely followed. In Italy Fr. Cerrutti founded the first rural credit co-operative in 1880 near Venice. Friendly societies had already been spreading through the countryside, and now farmers' unions and a variety of other types of co-operative society -- insurance, purchasing, smallholders' -- also began to be founded. All this activity was co-ordinated, and largely inspired, by the Italian Catholics' general Congress Movement. By 1920 there were 2,116 rural credit societies and some 800 farmers' unions affiliated to the Italian Catholic Co-operative Union. In France a farmers' union movement grew up from the eighteen-eighties. Lay Catholics were largely responsible for it The clergy for their part took up on a big scale, beginning in 1890, Raiffeisen's idea of credit co-operatives; by 1898 it is estimated that there were some 425 of these in active existence.
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Publication information: Book title: Christian Democracy in Western Europe, 1820-1953. Contributors: Michael P. Fogarty - Author. Publisher: University of Notre Dame Press. Place of publication: Notre Dame, IN. Publication year: 1957. Page number: 245.
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