by HFH Reuvers


After the invention of the steam engine, the industrial revolution got started, beginning in Engeland. This meant that little enterprises where all people knew each other disappeared to be replaced with large factories where a man or woman or child wasn't worth more than his working power. In a time when the slavery of the American negroes gradually went out of use and became prohibited, the new slavery of urban proletariat came into being. The uneducated worker couldn't abstain from alcohol and was an easy prey for the big industrialist who needed only one out of ten applicants.
That's why socialism originated. It told the workers their employers were capitalists who were unjustly exerting monopoly over the means of production. The only way they could defend themselves was by strike. And to be able to strike they thought they needed the socialistic trade unions.

The Catholic Church reacted by founding Christian trade unions. The pope had pleaded in his encyclical Rerum Novarum that employers and employees should in each branch of trade cooperate in concord, with Saint Joseph as their joint patron. But in practice this led to corporative states in which dictators with defective visions were directing the diverse branches of trade without a strong parliament.
Nevertheless, in the twentieth century there has been much progress in the field of labour conditions. In western Europe, an emancipation took place of all levels and parts of society, whilst the strict segregation of denominations gradually disappeared. Furthermore, there came an extended safety net of social provisions. Despite two world wars, prosperity is at a high level there. And the relation with the Third World became in general much better.
The United States of north America played a leading part in the victory over colonialism, nazism and communism. Americans are often enthusiastic Christians who think God allotted them a special task in history. Alas, America is also at the top in the fields of speculation with money and pollution of our environment.