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This chapter reconstructs the philosophy of history on which the Christian Democratic ideology is predicated through a discussion of the role this ideological tradition has assigned to the critique of materialism and other related concepts such as naturalism, immanentism, gnosticism and atheism. Reference to these concepts is pervasive in Christian Democratic discourse. In the opening speech he gave as Secretary of the Italian PPI, at its first national congress in 1919, for instance, Luigi Sturzo asserted that the newly founded organization’s purpose was to “participate in the public life of the nation … in order to contrast the materialism and laicism in which contemporary society has become soaked, and of which it has already experienced the consequences in the catastrophic war that just ended” (Sturzo 1919b, 83).
This chapter is devoted to an exposition of the way in which the Christian Democratic ideology has historically conceived – and proposed to structure – the relationship between politics and religion. The analysis will proceed through a reconstruction of the meaning assigned to the concept of religious ‘inspiration’ of politics in this intellectual and political tradition.
To conclude, I provide here an overview of the answers proposed to the three main questions that have driven the analyses conducted in this book: What is Christian Democracy? What successive uses has this political ideology been put to over the course of the past few decades? And what are the prospects for its continued political relevance in the future?
Christian Democratic actors and thinkers have been at the forefront of many of the twentieth century's key political battles - from the construction of the international human rights regime, through the process of European integration and the creation of postwar welfare regimes, to Latin American development policies during the Cold War. Yet their core ideas remain largely unknown, especially in the English-speaking world. Combining conceptual and historical approaches, Carlo Invernizzi Accetti traces the development of this ideology in the thought and writings of some of its key intellectual and political exponents, from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day. In so doing he sheds light on a number of important contemporary issues, from the question of the appropriate place of religion in presumptively 'secular' liberal-democratic regimes, to the normative resources available for building a political response to the recent rise of far-right populism.
This chapter addresses the question of the persistent normative value of the Christian Democratic ideology. Having established in Chapters 7–9 that Christian Democracy is not necessarily in the process of disappearing as a partisan phenomenon, and also that it remains a useful category to describe distinctive features of both the EU and USA, I now move on to examine whether this is to be considered a ‘good’ thing, or rather a problem we should seek to overcome.
This chapter is devoted to an exposition of Christian Democracy’s tenets in the field of political economy through an analysis of the meaning this ideological tradition has historically assigned to the concept of social capitalism and other related concepts such as social market economy, solidarism and third way between capitalism and socialism. The fact that an ideology that claims to be based on Christian values has anything distinctive to say about the socioeconomic domain may initially appear surprising. On further reflection, however, this proves to be an essential component of the Christian Democratic ideology as a whole, for at least two reasons.
This chapter examines the Christian Democratic conception of the state through a discussion of the meaning that this ideological tradition has historically attached to the concept of subsidiarity. Broadly understood as a principle of distribution of state power through its devolution both downwards to local and regional public authorities and upwards to international organizations, this principle is at the heart of all Christian Democratic political programs and manifestoes.
This chapter examines the specific conception of political subjectivity on which the Christian Democratic ideology is predicated and the vision of democracy that follows from it. As we will see, Christian Democracy is predicated on a particular interpretation of the category of the “people,” which is distinct at once from the liberal, the republican and the populist ones that dominate contemporary political discourse and theory. From it there follows a distinctive conception of democracy, which also diverges in several significant respects from those corresponding to such labels.
This book is a study of the political ideology of Christian Democracy, a set of principles and values that has, on the one hand, been extremely influential in the history of Western democratic regimes, but, on the other hand, remains severely understudied, especially when compared with its main ideological rivals: socialism, liberalism and conservatism. I begin by substantiating these two claims.
This chapter explores the basic metaphysical premises on which the Christian Democratic ideology is based, focusing in particular on its conception of human nature. It does so through an engagement with the meaning this ideological tradition has historically assigned to the concept of the human “person.”
This chapter tests the main empirical hypothesis introduced at the end of Chapter 7. If it is true that the most significant mode of persistence of the Christian Democratic ideology in the contemporary political landscape is not as a partisan phenomenon, but rather as a feature of established institutional frameworks and political cultures in regimes where it previously held a dominant political position, then many of its distinctive features should still be visible in these institutional frameworks and political cultures. To see whether this is indeed the case, I will focus on one such regime in particular: the EU.
This chapter examines the Christian Democratic ideology’s trajectory of diffusion and implantation outside its primary context of origin, focusing in particular on the two American continents. Most of the analysis will concentrate on the experience of Latin American Christian Democracy, since this is where Christian Democratic ideas and principles have had the greatest historical impact. As I already mentioned in the Introduction, in fact, almost all Latin American countries have had some sort of Christian Democratic party compete in national elections, and in several – notably in Chile, Mexico and Venezuela – these parties also succeeded in rising to power, even though Latin American Christian Democracy never acquired the degree of political hegemony it exercised in Europe during the second postwar period. In the final section of the chapter, I will also briefly consider the question of why no comparable Christian Democratic party or movement ever developed in the United States. This will offer the opportunity to examine the historical relevance of Christian Democratic ideas and principles to this context too, and to shed further light on some of this ideology’s distinctive features.
Having delineated the core constitutive elements of the Christian Democratic ideology in Part I of the book, Part II examines its historical instantiations and prospects for the future. Thus, whereas in the first part the approach was largely synchronic, here we look at the Christian Democratic ideology from a more diachronic perspective. This will also allow for greater attention to the internal heterogeneity of the various manifestations of the Christian Democratic ideology over time, which is something that had previously been somewhat obscured by the intention of reconstructing this ideology’s conceptual unity. I begin by discussing Christian Democracy’s historical trajectory in its primary context of origin, that is, continental Europe, focusing in particular on three national experiences: those of Italian, German and French Christian Democratic parties. The ensuing chapters broaden the focus, discussing the European Union as a whole, Latin America and the question of Christian Democracy’s lingering normative potential.