May 26, 2009

A response to Vino

Vilno has kindly made the following two comments (see comments of my post) on my articles on Dutch Political history I just want to respond briefly here rather than have it buried in comments.

I entirely agree that this is probably true for other small and non English speaking countries "great men" Iganz Seipel is another example that comes to mind-though again I can't help thinking the problems he poses for secularisation theory also matter.

As for Vilno's bigger point I agree it was highly unlikely that there would be be no party of the Dutch Protestant right And at the same time as Vilno says its success was highly contingent However I want to underline how big a difference that "success" can be . AS I said in this post there was every chance that the anti-socialist ant-Catholic party would be very different-and much more like the one that was so successful in 1930's Germany- a party that could perhaps be said to be Protestant but so secular as to be hostile to the churches. Note the nearest thing to a more confessonal rightwing protestant party in Germany was much less confessional- and much less successful And the picture could of looked very different- indeed many secular conservatives and anti social democratic liberals had already started cooperating in late nineteenth century Netherlands- so much so that when Kryper burst onto the scene many conservatives dencoufring him as a bible bashing nuttier. The confessional structure of early 20th century Dutch- and its dominance by a religious majority was not inevitable it was created by politicians and coalition builder’s

The picture shows one of the Mighty Anti-Revolutionary Prime Ministers who followed in Keeper’s footsteps-in this case Hendrikus Coljin who as Dutch Prime Minister pursed such different policies from Germany in the 30's whether on Democracy, markets, the Gold Standard or Secularism.


Vino S said...

I would argue that the rise of the Nazis in Germany was due to the number of contingent factors.

Firstly, the feeling among the German Right that they had been 'stabbed in the back' in the war and that the coalition of Social-Democrats, Catholics and left-liberals in 1919 had betrayed Germany by signing the Versailles treaty which had a war guilt clause and reparations demands.

Secondly, the German Protestant 'throne-and-altar' right had not had to organise in pre-1914 Germany because real power still lay with the Kaiser. The SPD and the Catholic Zentrum organised because they were oppositional to Prussian-Junker-Protestant rule. The conservatives in the Protestant community didn't need to. As such, they formed very weak parties like the DNP, DNVP etc in 1920s Germany.

Thirdly, the charisma of Hitler and other key Nazis and the weakness of the leadership/key figures in the Protestant Right meant that these parties imploded when the Nazis started to rise in popularity.

In contrast, in the Netherlands, from what I understand, there had been a strong move to parliamentary govt post-1848. As such, the Protestant right was organising politically in 'democratic' parties. It did not rely on the throne to put them in ministerial power in the same way that their equivalents did in Willemine Germany. Also, of course, not having lost WW1 there wasn't the whole 'stab in the back myth'. And, furthermore, being a small country there is a limit to how strong imperialism could be. The power of German ethno-nationalism is a far bigger force than Dutch nationalism ever could be.

Vino S said...

So, to surmise, even if it had not been for Kruyper, I think a mainstream, centre-right conservative party would have developed in Holland and it would have got 30-35% support.

The difference is that there might have been more liberal/Catholic and Catholic/Labour coalitions than Protestant/Catholic coalitions if it had not been for Kruyper's coalition-building skills. The 1940s and 1950s Catholic-Labour governments would have emerged sooner.

Sulla said...

I definitely agree the fromer two are important-but the third I thik your essentially agree with me ie that charasmia and organisation coalition building ( the Nazis were a brilliant display of coalition building) etc matter

I think a Nationalist party was inevitable in the Germany of the early 1930's (and given Germans were at overseas) but I don't see why it was inevtiable it was so racially based, anti-semitic, secular , totalitarin etc.

I wouldn't exaggerate the differences between the Dutch and German rights pre Kyper, both are disoarganised, shade into the liberals, aristocratically led, Protestant , mostly non clerical and very linked to the crown. I agree being out of power made a difference but why does one being out of power lead to the Nazis and why one the ARP -you need exacly that "charisma" (or in my opinoin more improtant organisatioal skill) to explain that.

I think size matters but I wouldn't exaggerate it-your got some very militant nationalism in Hungary, Romania-even Norway.