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Friedrich Naumann, "What Does Christian-Social Mean?" (1894)

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I often have to answer the question: what shall we study in order to work in the manner you envisage? If this question is asked by someone who is willing to wager several years of his life on study – and his whole life on the result of that study – I basically give no other answer than "Marx and Christ." Some have criticized me for this and have said that I should list in the first place Roscher, Wagner, and Brentano. I will have the opportunity later to state how valuable the bourgeois national economy is to me, but here I would like to assert as an empirical proposition that it is difficult, starting from the bourgeois economic doctrine, to find the principled position that looks at everything in the spirit of Jesus, in the spirit of the poor brothers. After all, those who come to me with this question do not aspire to a purely academic economic doctrine; they are young men who wish to become practical Christian-socials. A Christian-social who does not want to become a professor, however, does not need to know every detail, but he must have experienced for himself something of what the linen weavers and the bricklayers experienced from us in their spirits. Moreover, I admit that the path is not entirely without danger. It cannot be ruled out that now and then a young friend is so beguiled by Marx that he loses sight of Christ. But wherever something is to be achieved, there is danger. He who calls out to the young men: “Close your eyes when you see Marx passing by!,” can raise perfectly nice people, but not men who are tough enough for the struggle that awaits us. After all, who is it that we wish to win over? Precisely the people who are already social-democratic today or will be so tomorrow. But how shall we do that if we have not ourselves experienced this very people and its newspapers, pamphlets, and meetings? [ . . . ]

We believe that the "social question," if it develops further, will split first of all into two great questions: the question of capital and the question of organization. On the question of organization, Social Democracy has achieved great things among industrial workers. In our eyes, too, the unions and the professional associations [Fachvereine] are valuable building blocks for the future. Moreover, the organizing power of Social Democracy does not seem by any means exhausted. We believe that it is capable of achieving the organization of commercial clerks [Handelsangestellte]. Whether it will be Social Democracy that organizes the rural folk, or whether this will be done initially by the anti-Semites, we don't know. Surely it is obvious that one cannot organize entire sections of the population permanently around the formula of anti-Semitism; still, one can imagine a mixture of conservative, Marxist, and anti-Semitic ideas, which for a longer period of time preoccupies a national group [Volksgruppe] that was previously sleeping under the conservative wing. What is certain is that the Christian-socials must pay the utmost attention to the organizational movement, no matter who is running it.

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