Christian socialism

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As a Christian socialism designate its representatives socio-political concepts that a market economy after the from the Christianity derived principles of solidarity and subsidiarity want to make. You thereby distance yourself from communism , Marxism and social democracy .

19th century

The Berlin Protestant pastor Heinrich Alt described the entire Christian mission in an essay in 1844 as “Christian socialism”. Johann Hinrich Wichern adopted this view by establishing and conceiving the Inner Mission as “Christian Socialism” in deliberate opposition to early socialism . For Wichern, the term expressed a “higher unity” in which the “forces of the saving love of Christ” should unite all areas of church and society. By this he meant a re- Christianization of society and a softening of social contradictions through more material protection of the lower classes of the population without social reforms .

Heinrich Merz, Rudolf Todt and Adolf Stoecker took up Wichern's term and the concept associated with it. They understood it more to mean the political participation of the churches and Christians in the establishment of a welfare state by the rulers of the existing German Empire . To this end, Stoecker founded his Christian Social Party in 1878 , which he positioned as anti-Semitic and against social democracy. On the Catholic side, the theologian Wilhelm Hohoff developed the idea of ​​Christian socialism in conflict with Karl Marx and August Bebel .

In order to distance themselves from this anti-social-democratic and anti-Marxist position, the Swiss theologians Hermann Kutter and Leonhard Ragaz described the affirmation of social democracy as a sign of the coming Kingdom of God from 1906 not as Christian but as religious socialism .

1900 to 1945

The Catholic theologian and economist Heinrich Pesch took up the term in 1918 after the First World War as a demand for the future economy . He emphasized that this concept had already been formulated as Catholic social teaching before the war .

Theodor Brauer , a representative of the Catholic Workers' Movement in the Weimar Republic , strictly refused in 1920 to designate its goals as "Christian socialism": Christianity and socialism are incompatible, only an either / or is possible between them. Therefore, the term only creates misunderstandings. One tries to co-opt socialism for Christianity because the good thing about socialism (the solidarity principle) comes from Christianity.

Pope Pius XI In 1931, in his social encyclical Quadragesimo anno , he rejected the terms: “Religious socialism, Christian socialism are contradictions in themselves; it is impossible to be a good Catholic and a real socialist at the same time. ”Catholics who continued to strive for a rapprochement between Christianity and socialism, such as New Germany , Quickborn and parts of the Jesuits , therefore chose other names for it. Alfred Delp called his concept, based on Catholic social teaching, "personal socialism".

Since 1945

After the Second World War , various East and West German groups sought to found a new party that was supposed to combine Christian and socialist, but not Marxist, ideas. The Cologne Guiding Principles of June 1945 demanded as their programmatic goal a “true Christian socialism that has nothing in common with false collectivist objectives that fundamentally contradict the essence of man”. They wanted to establish the new party as a workers' party in competition with the SPD .

In 1946, the Dominicans Laurentius Siemer and Eberhard Welty committed themselves to a “Christian socialism” in their magazine The New Order , which, instead of the principle of supply and demand , had to focus on meeting the basic needs of all citizens. Jakob Kaiser tried to include this term in the CDU 's first program . The "Zone Committee" of the CDU rejected the inclusion of the term on June 28, 1946 as "misleading". The representative of the Catholic social doctrine, Oswald von Nell-Breuning , warned that the term would create “misunderstandings and errors”. What was meant was an unclear demarcation from planned economy ideas and the SPD's program. This, for its part, had already at that time claimed the concept of socialism for extensive demands for socialization and participation .

The CDU's Ahlen program designed by Jakob Kaiser in 1947 still contained demands for socialization, but no longer the term “Christian socialism”. This was the result of a dispute in the direction of the CDU: By September 1945, union-related CDU representatives had initially implemented the term in preliminary drafts for a CDU program. Konrad Adenauer , on the other hand, strictly rejected the term, equating it at party conferences with Marxism, tutelage by the Allied zone administrations and the economy of shortages and warned that its use would scare off four times as many potential CDU supporters as it would attract. The word combination is just a misleading synonym for social intentions of Christians. He achieved that the terms “Christian socialism” and “Socialism out of Christian responsibility” were dropped from October 1945 in further draft programs of the CDU.

In the run-up to the founding of the party in 1946, the founders of the CSU also discussed the term “Christian socialism” intensively. Most of them rejected it as unsuitable for appropriately distinguishing the party goals of the CSU from those of the SPD.


Historical works

  • Martin von Nathusius: What is Christian Socialism? Guiding points of view for Protestant pastors and those who want to become one. 2nd edition, Reuther & Reichard, 1896.
  • Heinrich Pesch: Not communist, but Christian socialism! The economy of the future. (Ed .: German Center Party , pamphlets, issue 4) Germania Aktien-Gesellschaft, 1918.
  • Alfred Neumann: Friedrich Naumann's Christian socialism with introductory considerations on Naumann's role in the social movement. G. Hermann, 1926.

Research since 1945

  • Ingwer Paulsen: Christian socialism and state social policy in Germany. Klett, Stuttgart 1955 (and other editions).
  • Bernd Uhl : The idea of ​​Christian socialism in Germany 1945-1947 (= contributions to science and politics. Vol. 11). 1975, ISBN 3-7758-0872-8 (also Diss. University of Freiburg 1973).
  • Christian socialism of the Catholic Church in Germany since 1863. Literature Agency Danowski, 2008.

Individual evidence

  1. Klaus Kreppel : Christian Socialism . In: Historical-Critical Dictionary of Marxism (HKWM) 2, 1995, columns 495–501.
  2. Article Socialism II.3: Christian Socialism. In: Theologische Realenzyklopädie Volume 31: Compulsory continuation - language / language knowledge. Walter de Gruyter, 2000, ISBN 3-11-016657-7 , p. 548 f.
  3. Helga Grebing , Walter Euchner, F.-J. Stegmann, Peter Langhorst: History of social ideas in Germany: Socialism - Catholic social teaching - Protestant social ethics. A manual. Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, 2005, ISBN 3-531-14752-8 , p. 720
  4. Helga Grebing, Walter Euchner, F.-J. Stegmann, Peter Langhorst: History of social ideas in Germany: Socialism - Catholic social teaching - Protestant social ethics. A manual. 2005, p. 722
  5. ^ Franz B. Schulte, Roman Pencil SJ, Sr. Ansgaris Edler, Marie-Luise Endter: Alfred Delp: Program and model for today. Lit Verlag, 2007, ISBN 3-8258-0205-1 , p. 143
  6. Helga Grebing, Walter Euchner, F.-J. Stegmann, Peter Langhorst: History of social ideas in Germany: Socialism - Catholic social teaching - Protestant social ethics. A manual. 2005, p. 777
  7. Helga Grebing, Walter Euchner, F.-J. Stegmann, Peter Langhorst: History of social ideas in Germany: Socialism - Catholic social teaching - Protestant social ethics. A manual. 2005, p. 785 f.
  8. Georg Stötzel, Martin Wengeler: Controversial terms: history of public language use in the Federal Republic of Germany. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 1994, ISBN 3-11-014106-X , p. 37 f.
  9. Thomas Schlemmer , Alf Mintzel, Barbara Fait (eds.): The CSU 1945–1948. 3 volumes. Oldenbourg, Munich 1993, ISBN 3-486-55982-6 , p 309, p 541 547