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Other Ideologies: Protestant Democracy

Nanwe

Designated VOLTer
Location
(B)XL, EU
Pronouns
he/him
Really interesting article, as always.

I've been thinking about the rise or absence of Christian (i.e. Catholic) Democratic parties in Europe, and I was thinking that Christan Democracy only was able to become strong where the socio-political power of the Catholic Church was neither too strong nor too weak. In Catholic countries like France (where Christian humanism began), after the Revolution, the social influence of the Church was limited and even moreso was its ability to influence politics. As a result, the ability of the Church and pious but socially-conscious Catholics to organise a mass political movement was limited - instead, Catholicism was quite tied to the right, and as a result, Catholics were channelled through more traditional liberal-national conservatism.

In Spain for instance, the Church despite the country's secularisation in the early 19th century recovered a tremendous deal of social and political influence beginning in the 1870-1880s and continuing and it became deeply associated with the right and conservative-authoritarian tendencies. Here, once more despite the emergence of small Christian democratic parties like the PSP in the 1920s, Catholic voters also went for the traditional conservative option.

So I think in order for Catholicism to become its own political vehicle it needed the right mix of factors, where Catholics were a socially influential group with the Church keeping its social influence within that group, but politically excluded. That was the case in both Italy and Germany (also the Netherlands). By being socially influential but not politically so, the Church and its politically-conscious members had incentives to behave like an opposition party rather than rally around a right-wing that shared in a degree of anticlericalism ( in Italy, where the liberal period is marked by both anticlerical right and left unlike Spain or France) or anti-Catholicism (Germany, NL).

TL;DR

When Catholicism has a limited socio-political relevance, it has incentives to operate through traditional political channels of the right (and left) as in France.

When it is socio-politically dominant, it will probably ally or be a core element of the conservative-national-Catholic alliance on the right, like in Spain.

Sweet spot: Socially influential but politically weak encourages it to organise itself.


N.B.: I was thinking too, it might have been interesting to look into the strength of the Catholic authoritarianism goals of the 1920s, Christian democracy only appears after the discredit of more authoritarian alternatives of Catholic political thought. I mean they were present already, but they were weaker and typically not favoured by the Church's hierarchy.
 

Francisco Cojuanco

Sometime traitor to his class
Location
Arizona
TL;DR

When Catholicism has a limited socio-political relevance, it has incentives to operate through traditional political channels of the right (and left) as in France.

When it is socio-politically dominant, it will probably ally or be a core element of the conservative-national-Catholic alliance on the right, like in Spain.

Sweet spot: Socially influential but politically weak encourages it to organise itself.
What about the MRP in postwar France? I guess in a way it arose mostly because the national-conservative option was discredited by the Vichy experience.
 

Francisco Cojuanco

Sometime traitor to his class
Location
Arizona
I've been thinking about this a bit more, and based on Nanwe's thesis, the lack of a Christian Democratic party in the US might fall into that. While the Church could and did dictate the lives of its members, especially in places like New England and South Texas, the fact that many of its members were marginalized due to American sectarianism, and the fact that eventually the Irish element took over the hierarchy until about the 1980s meant that the social influence of the Church beyond a few ethnic com,unities was limited even compared to, say, France. Which is probably why the Church mostly exhorted its members to influence politics in the major parties (mostly the Democrats) until the neoliberal turn of the latter.

And with the tanking of the influence of the hierarchy among Anglophone Catholics, you have a situation where nearly all of Anglophone opinion think the hierarchy is in the pay of their political opponents, which means that the influence of Christian Democracy might not find fertile ground in America anytime soon.
 
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