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As we all know, the policy tools that made this possible had been developed by J.M.Keynes and William Beveridge, neither of whom defined themselves as Socialists. In Europe as a whole the major post war political tendencies were Communism (banned in West Germany), Socialism and Christian Democracy. But Christian Democracy was far from being a simple 'conservative' tendency. Its leading ideas had been developed prior to the war in a sometimes quite rough conflict with the conservatism of the church. A Christian trade unionism had developed capable of quite militant action and Christian Democrats had played a prominent role in the resistance movements against Naziism and Fascism. In the immediate post war atmosphere the church outside Spain and Portugal had to come to terms with its more 'left-wing' supporters. To quote a contemporary account:

'The contemporary Catholic left-wing, which finds its most fully developed expression in the "young theorists" of the MRP [the French Mouvement Republicain Populaire- PB], proposes a more radical solution of the social problem. Although they point to the inspiration of the "corporatist encyclicals" (Rerum Novarum and Quadragesimo Anno), they avoid the use of the term because of its authoritarian associations. They employ such language as the "organised profession," the "enterprise economy," the "work community." The corporatist idea of these young reformers involves a fundamental change in property ownership. The ultimate aim is to transform all larger enterprises into "work communities," in which labour would share in ownership and policy-making with the managers and technicians. The stockholder would become a mere creditor, entitled to interest on his investment, but not to policy control ... 

'This MRP program is viewed as a long-range plan to be achieved and perfected through experimentation, and dependent for its ultimate success on a general rise in educational and moral standards. It also presupposes the development of new types of public officials and technicians with a "taste for initiative, and a passion for progress." The public officials should act as "animators" and not as controllers of the professional councils. Essentially the success of the plan is to be dependent on the gradual transformation of human motivation, and the development of elites of administrators, workers, technicians, and of owners (of small and medium sized enterprises) all animated by faith and enthusiasm "which will open wide the gates of hope.'" 

'Similar "Christian Socialist" tendencies are to be observed in the Belgian, Dutch, German, and Italian Christian parties. These views have some popularity among the Catholic (and in Germany the Protestant) intellectual elites, and among the Catholic trade unionists. But only in France has this form of socialism become the explicit, official program of a nation-wide Christian party. In Germany there are at least three regional centres of Christian "social" ideas - in the Rhineland (in the Zentrumspartei), in Hesse (in the Arbeitsgemeinschaft fur Christentum und Sozialismus and the Frankfurter Hefte group), and in the CDU of Berlin and the Eastern Zone. The Zentrum approves socialisation of monopolistic and semi-monopolistic industries such as the mining, iron and steel industries. It also approves socialisation in industries in which "... the owners use the capitalistic form of enterprise as a means of exploiting their workers". The meaning of this criterion is unclear; in general, the Zentrum has avoided committing itself on the extent of socialisation. 

'It is quite clear, however, that its position is considerably to the left of the Christian Democratic Union in the Rhineland-Westphalian region. The CDU in this area, under the leadership of Konrad Adenauer, has taken a conservative-liberal position. There is no mention of corporatism in their proposals. Adenauer's program recommends a splitting up of some large industrial concentrations. The power of monopolistic enterprises is to be limited by giving a share in their control to government agencies, and the workers " ...without stifling the initiative of the entrepreneurs." This form of mixed control is specifically recommended for the coal and steel industries. At the same time Adenauer recommends that small and medium sized industries be fostered, and that legitimate private enterprise be protected from intervention. The CDU opposed the Social Democratic-Communist proposals for socialisation in the Ruhr-Rhineland region, while the Zentrum favoured them. There is, indeed, a left-wing group in the Rhineland CDU which is dissatisfied with Adenauer's leadership ...

'In Italy, a small Christian Social Party led by Elio Rosini has attacked the alleged conservatism of the dominant Democristiani, and favours extensive socialist reforms. Within the Christian Democratic Party itself Giovanni Gronchi leads a left-wing tendency which favours the ultimate elimination of the owning classes. His views are perhaps close to the humanist socialism of Saragat. The official position of the Democristiana is hardly an old style liberalism. It favours a form of planning which "will not stifle individual initiative." State ownership and intervention are favoured for the banking and heavy industry fields. At the same time the great majority of business enterprises are to remain free of bureaucratic state controls. De Gasperi promises agricultural reforms " reduce to the minimum the number of daily labourers and to train them into small holders." Co-operative forms of organisation are recommended in the agricultural regions ...

'The Vatican, the Italian hierarchy and Catholic Action, are not at this time pursuing a negativistic anti-Communist line. Their pressure appears to be in support of the "centre" in Italian politics, encouraging common action with the moderate socialists, favouring agrarian reforms, limiting the powers of large capital, and measures of economic planning." ... ' (1)

(1) Taken from Gabriel A. Almond: 'The Political Ideas of Christian Democracy', The Journal of Politics, Vol. 10, No. 4 (Nov., 1948), pp.756-760.

While in France, for example, the more leftwing MRP gave way to De Gaulle's Rassemblement du peuple français (2) and the more right wing Konrad Adenauer came to dominate the German Christian Democratic Union, both right and left had in common a suspicion not just of the Social Democratic emphasis on a centralised state but also of the individualism associated with Liberalism. The central common idea was co-operation at levels below the level of government, following the specifically Catholic doctrine of 'subsidiarity', (3) stressing the maximum possible independence within an 'organic' state of natural groupings - families, schools, local communities, industries etc - hence a form of decentralised collectivism and rooted dislike of both commercial competition and class conflict.

(2) De Gaulle came to power with the Union pour la Nouvelle République-Union Démocratique du Travail. The Union Démocratique du Travail represented the left wing of Gaullism with a traditional Christian Democratic emphasis on co-operation between capital and labour. My friend Henri Viaud, publisher of Albert Gleizes, who introduced me to the thinking of Nicholas Berdiaev, had been a militant in the UDT.

(3) Also given a Protestant form in the 'sphere sovereignty' of the Dutch theologian and political theorist, Abraham Kuyper.

The post-war consensus could also draw on the experience of the Roosevelt 'New Deal' in the US in the 1930s and, though we may be reluctant to admit it, the relative success of the inter-war Fascist economies which had also been concerned to bend industrial policy to serve the interests of the society as a whole, with a particular emphasis on the aim of full employment, combined with a loose approach to monetary discipline. I think, putting it very crudely, that Hitler's policy was to pay the German workforce with a fiat money (unsupported by gold) that could not be used internationally and to obtain necessary imports through a barter system whereby imports were traded directly against locally produced exports.