Christian Democracy in Western Europe, 1820-1953

Christian Democracy in Western Europe, 1820-1953

Christian Democracy in Western Europe, 1820-1953

Christian Democracy in Western Europe, 1820-1953

Excerpt

This book is a preliminary survey of one aspect of the social influence of the Christian Churches. It is not about their social message, in the sense of the principles of social action proclaimed by each Church as such and by its clergy on its behalf. Nor is it about the religious aims of Church organisations, like those of Catholic Action, which, though concerned with practical economic and social activities, are formally or in fact auxiliaries of the clergy. Its subject is Christian Democracy, the area in which lay men and women, inspired by their Christian faith, take independent responsibility for the running of political parties, trade unions, farmers' unions, and the like. Christian Action organisations, the direct auxiliaries of the clergy, are considered in so far as they too have activities parallel or allied to those of Christian Democracy.

The business reason (so to speak) for studying Christian Democracy is in my case that, as an economist responsible for the last four years for a Department of Industrial Relations, I wanted to find out more about some of the Christian Democratic economic and social organisations, especially the trade unions and employers' associations. These organisations have been particularly interested in workers' control in industry, and especially in the part to be played in it by the rank and file as apart from full-time union officials. They have tried to work out a balance between the centralisation and decentralisation of economic control, and this has led them among other things to pay special attention to the role of the organised industry. It seemed that these and other aspects of the Christian Democrats' industrial policy should contain lessons of general importance, and therefore I set out to write a specialised study covering that field.

For several reasons this original limited project expanded into a plan for a general survey. One, I must admit, was personal interest. I have been active for a good many years in various Catholic and inter-denominational groups, which have brought me a wide range of international contacts. I am a member of the International Union of Social Studies (Union of Malines), and have lectured at the Semaine Sociale de France and opened a discussion group at the Deutscher Katholikentag. I have found myself in various more or less official capacities at meetings of all kinds and degrees of publicity, from the Annual Congresses of the N.E.I. -- the Christian Democratic . . .

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