Sosialidemokratian häviö kirkolle
1850 luvulta 1920-luvulle
Bibliotheca Historica n:o 32
ISBN: 951-710-085-X (painettu versio)
Hinta: 140 markkaa.
438 sivua, valokuvia.
A difficult Freedom
Social Democracy's Defeat to the Church
in the Finnish Cultural Struggle
The starting point of this thesis has been the observation that there is a striking conflict between the official goal, expressed in Party programs, and the political practice, expressed in law-making efforts of the Parliament and of the government, of the Finnish Social Democratic Party concerning its life stance policy.
According to the official programs concerned, the Finnish Social Democratic Party has always been in favour of the uncommitment of the State to any kind of world view or life stance and against the Finnish State Church system - including the compulsory confessional religious education for those children whose parents belong to the Finnish Evangelical-Lutheran Church. It is the Party's view that all children should have the possibility to choose for the subject of their moral education the school subject which is now called the "study of life stance" in Finland. It is neutral in its world view and life stance, but rich in its cultural content. The study program includes basic information on the different religions, as well as other life stances such as Humanism. It encourages the pupils to adopt or create life stances of their own. It does not strive to indoctrinate the pupils to any specific ready-made life stance.
The official goal of the life stance policy of the Finnish Social Democratic Party very closely resembles the goal of the International Humanist Movement. Already in the founding meeting of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) in 1952 in Amsterdam, the Humanists took a determined stand against all kinds of indoctrination. Professor Paul Kurtz, one of the leading figures of the Humanist movement during the last decades, has expressed this stand beautifully:
"In my view, education should be open-ended: the child should receive the best in cultural enrichment; he should be exposed to the wide world of ideas and develop an awareness of alternative ethical systems. If my children reject my beliefs, then I may grieve, but it is their free choice. The lives of my sons and daughters are as important to them as mine is to me." (Kurtz 1988, pg. 172)
In practice, however, it seems that the Finnish Social Democratic Party does not even try to implement the goal of its life stance policy. On the contrary, during the last ten to twenty years it has expressed its support to the State Church and its religion in many ways. In their campaign before the last Presidential elections, for instance, the Social Democrats used religion as a weapon for their own candidate and against his most dangerous rival. They stressed that their candidate, now the President of Finland, Mr. Martti Ahtisaari, was a better Christian. Mr. Ahtisaari presented himself in the election campaign, as well as in the office of the President of the Republic of Finland, as a good Christian and loyal to the State Church.
This conflict between the official goal and the practice in the Social Democratic life stance policy lead me - as an organized Humanist as well as an organized Social Democrat - to ask if this has been the case from the beginnings of Social Democracy in Finland. The famous Forssa program was adopted by the Finnish Social Democrats in 1903. In this program, several demands were made: the declaration of religion as a private matter, the separation of the Chuch from the State, the treating of life stance communities as ordinary civil organizations which independently take care of their own affairs, and the excluding of confessional religion teaching from schools.
The predecessor of the Social Democratic Party, the Finnish Labour Party, was founded in 1899 and already in 1903 it changed its name to the Social Democratic Party. Local bourgeoisie-led Labour associations had been founded in Finland since the beginning of the 1880's. In the second half of the next decade, their working members began to make their voices more clearly heard and, at the same time, they became more and more Social Democratic. Marxist Socialism had arrived in Finland.
The Finnish Social Democratic Party became the relatively strongest labour party in the world in the first unicameral Parliament elections in 1907, in which all Finnish citizens of age, including women, had the right to vote for the first time. The Social Democratic Party had 80 out of a total of 200 seats. In 1916 it had a majority with 103 seats. The civil war took place in 1918 and a crushing defeat was experienced by the leaders of the Social Democratic Party, who had made an attempt at a revolution according to the example of the Russian Bolsheviks.
However, already in the first general elections after the Civil War in 1919, the Social Democrats, under new leadership, had 80 seats. In the next general elections in 1922, in which the Communists participated for the first time, the Social Democrats had 53 seats and the Communists 27. In the 1924 elections, the Social Democrats had 60 seats and the Communists 18. In the elections of 1927, which were the last ones during the time which I refer to as the Finnish Cultural Struggle, the Social Democrats again had 60 seats and the Communists 20.
When examining the life stance policy of the Finnish Social Democratic Party at the beginning of the Century, you can find that they presented not only with the Forssa program, but also in other ways, a public challenge to the Finnish Evangelical-Lutheran State Church. This challenge belonged to a tradition which began long before the existence of Social Democracy in Finland and ended in the last half of the third decade of their existence. Finland had its own Cultural Struggle, as did Germany and France, even though in Finland it did not manifest itself as bitterly.
The Finnish Cultural Struggle lasted from the end of the 1850's to the end of the 1920's. It began with the challenge of the Liberals to the Finnish Evangelical-Lutheran State Church for the liberation of citizens from the patronage of the Church in their adoption and creation of a religious or other life stance. The Church began an ambitious mobilization in order to survive with minimal damage in the new social, cultural and political situation which had begun.
The foundation of the mobilization of the Church was the People's Church strategy with its theological justification and apologetic defense. They also strove to ensure their position politically. The strategy was to get the Church at least externally, in as many ways as possible, close to the individual. The Church had to radically compromise on its doctrinal clarity, on taking its teachings seriously and on the requiring of religious behavior. But the People's Church strategy proved very successful in the respect that it was able to retain the official status of Christianity as the life stance of the State and to retain its own life stance education in schools.
The Social Democrats renewed the challenge of the Liberals, but lost to the Church. The life stance political order which still exists in Finland today was created during the first decade of Finland's independence with the passing of certain laws.
The first and most important of these laws was the constitution of the Republic of Finland, which was adopted in 1919. In the constitution, the State left the relationship between State and Church as it was. In the Church Law it is legislated, that changes to the Church Law can be done only based on the proposals of the Church Assembly. The Finnish Government and Parliament have to accept or reject these proposals as such without making any changes to them.
The law of freedom of religion was passed in 1922 and it came into effect at the beginning of the next year. This made it possible to leave the Church without becoming a member of any other protestant or other religious community. But leaving the Church was not made easy. It was necessary to personally visit to the vicar of one's own parish and to discuss with him the reasons for leaving the Church.
The law concerning the foundations of the primary school system in Finland was passed in 1923. This law made the confessional teaching of religion an obligatory school subject for all pupils whose parents belong to the Church. The parents who do not belong to the Church have to particularly ask that their child be released from the teaching of religion.
In 1923 also the law concerning the University of Helsinki was passed. This law accepted the Faculty of Theology to the State University. So the Finnish State took on not only the education of the clergy but also the education of ideological fighters for one particular life stance.
In 1927 the Parliament passed a new law concerning its own operation. In this law it was legislated that the annual assembly of the Parliament was to be begun and ended with a Christian service.
In spite of the agitation of the Social Democrats, the number leaving the Church was very small. Less than one percent left the Church in 1923 which was the first year of the religious freedom and a little more than one percent until the end of the 1920's. Nowadays about 90 percent of the Finnish people still belong to the Evangelical-Lutheran Church.
The reasons for the defeat of the Social Democrats do not become apparent by referring solely to the strength of the Church or to the depletion of Liberalism. The power of the Church over its members was not so strong nor was Liberalism so depleted, that the defeat of the Social Democrats could be explained by these facts alone. Their defeat cannot be explained by referring to the special circumstances of Finland either, such as the Civil War, since the life stance political order in the other Nordic countries is approximately the same as in Finland, or even a bit more State Church oriented. The reasons are to be found also within the Social Democratic Party itself, from the insufficient life stance political conviction of its own members.
When peeling the Social Democratic mentality in order to find out the extent of their conviction, we see firstly that the life stance political challenge to the Church by the Social Democrats was publicly very visible during the whole time that Social Democracy took part in the Cultural Struggle. The challenge was anti-clerical, anti-Christian and generally against doctrinal religion, Naturalistic and demanding social freedom of life stance.
Naturalism, with its various different names, for instance Naturalistic Monism, Scientific Humanism and above all simply a modern world view, was the semi-official world view of the Social Democratic Party. The members of the Party were not demanded to have it, but it was hoped that they would develop in the direction of adopting it. Ernst Haeckel's and Wilhelm Ostwald's main works on a world view: Die Welträtsel and Monistiche Sonntagspredigten were translated into Finnish by two front-line Social Democratic politicians and journalists and were published by the Social Democratic publishing house in 1912 and in 1923.
The demand for social freedom of life stance publicly meant that the personal freedom of life stance, i.e. the right to resign from the Church and to join some other religious society or to refrain from joining any, was not enough but, in addition to this, the social circumstances should be changed so that the freedom of life stance of each individual could genuinely be realized. Religion should be declared a private matter. The Church had to be separated from the State and changed into an organization like other independent civil organizations. Religious expressions had to be removed from the operation of State bodies. Citizenship had to be separated from religiousness, which is why a mandatory civil marriage ceremony had to be prescribed. Above all, confessional religious education had to be removed from all State Schools and State assisted educational institutes and replaced with a non-confessional moral education.
The demand for a social freedom of life stance was also genuine in the sense that the Social Democrats did not attempt to put their own Naturalistic Monism in the place of doctrinal Christianity as the State world view. The State had to be neutral in its world view. Different world views and life stances should compete amongst themselves according to their own attractiveness and the strength of their representatives. Only in this way were the Social Democrats partial: this competition had to happen under scientifically and intellectually sophisticated cultural circumstances. The creation of these circumstances was the important role of the State. The success of a world view or life stance under these circumstances was the sign of its vitality.
If, however, secondly, we pose the question about the actual importance of the life stance policy to the Social Democrats, we come to a whole different conclusion than one would infer from their public challenge. Differing from the conferences of the unions of the Social Democratic women and the Social Democratic youths, where life stance political questions were constantly under active debate, the Social Democratic Party Congresses themselves did not have debates about issues concerning their life stance policy. In the year 1903, the Social Democratic life stance policy described above was accepted in the Party Congress with practically no debate - it was borrowed from the German Social Democratic party's Erfurt's program. This goal was renewed using slightly different terminology in the 1926 Party Congress and again practically without discussion. In the Congresses that took place between these two years, the subject was not even taken up.
In the 1906 Party Congress, which was the last one before the first Parliament elections and where, among other things, a wide ranging, detailed and "grand" electoral program was accepted, the matter was supposed to be discussed based on the introduction of two already named persons, one religious, the other free-thinking. The introductions, however, were not held, the discussion did not take place and in addition to all this, the goal of the Social Democratic life stance policy accepted three years previously was left out of the electoral program. This program remained the guideline for electoral struggles and Parliamentary work until the time after the Civil War.
The reason for this behavior has not been documented. In this thesis it has been referred to the fear that the open expression of the goal would have dispersed members and supporters. On the other hand it is to be remarked that the goal was taken up in local Labour Societies both before the Party Congress of 1903 and before the Party Congress of 1906 and that their number of members had multiplied between these two meetings. The goal was accepted as such in nearly all of these societies. In the meeting before the latter Congress, some societies would have liked to make the goal even stricter.
The Social Democratic Party's life stance policy was not discussed in the Party Congresses and it was also left out of their agitator training and the electoral campaigns of the Social Democrats. Because of their bourgeois adversaries it was not, however, completely left out of the electoral campaigns. The bourgeois parties accused the Social Democrats of being dishonest about their life stance policy and that they did not dare to present their true goal to the voters.
The Social Democrats did distribute anti-religious literature, newspapers and magazines to the general public. But when publicly confronted with the question of the goal of their life stance policy, they denied their anti-religiousness and, in so doing, lessened the actual importance of their life stance political aspirations. The Social Democrats were left as the political underdog regarding the life stance policy in election campaigns. They resorted again and again to accusing their adversaries of using the weapon of religion.
Social Democratic representatives had to practice the Social Democratic life stance policy in the Parliament without specific support for it in the elections. They did have various legislative goals, but only a few showed any serious personal interest towards issues of life stance policy. The same applied to the Parliament group. It also never had serious discussions amongst its members on issues regarding the Party's life stance policy.
If, thirdly, we try to find reasons for the fact that the life stance policy was not very important to the Social Democrats at the time, it is good to ask what position the independently created and adopted life stance of the individual, which is presupposed by the demand for the social freedom of life stance, had in the value hierarchy of the Social Democrats. The answer can be found by examining what position it had in the justification of the Social Democrats' social freedom of life stance.
By applying Ronald Dworkin's political classification of deep theories (Dworkin, pgs. 171-172) we may ask if a personal freedom and responsibility of life stance was the duty of the individual, the right of the individual or the goal of society. The answer is that it was certainly not the duty of the individual, even though the Party members were encouraged to rid themselves of the inherited and learned doctrinal Christianity. It was not the right either, even though Social Democrats undoubtedly felt that they were defending freedom of conscience. For them, a personal freedom and responsibility of life stance as a human right was not a sufficient argument. They needed, in addition to this, other arguments which buried this one.
The central arguments of the Social Democrats for the social freedom of life stance were, according to Dworkin's classification, goal-oriented. They were:
The anti-clerical argument: Social freedom of life stance would lower the prestige of the Church and the Clergy as allies of the bourgeoisie or even make them impartial in the class struggle.
The social and moral argument: Social freedom of life stance would give a stronger foundation to morality in society.
The secularist argument: Social freedom of life stance would give full respect to secular and earthly life.
The mental health argument: Social freedom of life stance would result in mentally healthy and balanced children, young people and adults, since they would be free of harmful religious teachings.
The life stance argument: Social freedom of life stance would create a more sophisticated society as regards the life stance of individuals, as different belief systems would compete on equal terms and as moral education in schools would become neutral in its life stance and culturally rich in its content.
The Church was better equipped to defend its position against the goal-oriented arguments of the Social Democrats than it would have been if the Social Democrats had made personal freedom and responsibility of life stance an inalienable human right and kept it in a central position in their arguments and when fighting for a social freedom of life stance. Against the goal-oriented arguments, the Church only needed to change its image, which it did, and the best edge of the Social Democrats' arguments was gone.
Fourthly, we must ask why a personal freedom and responsibility of life stance as a human right had such a weak position in the Social Democratic argumentation for the social freedom of life stance. Was a personal freedom and responsibility of life stance even theoretically possible in the light of the conceptions the Social Democrats had of man and of society? As an answer to this question we may first state that the individual was indeed a value in itself to the Social Democrats. There are no traces of the demeaning of the individual to a tool to be used by society, which was later done by the Leninist Communists, not even in the statements of those who fled to Russia after the Civil War and became Communists.
But, according to the Social Democrats, the individual was very dependent and tied to his or her position in society. The majority of the poor were in their inability regarded as almost irresponsible. A "historic mission" had been given to the active Social Democrats and to the Party leaders. The class struggle of the labouring class, led by the Social Democrats, would be used to achieve this mission. They were both as groups tied to their roles in the class struggle. The genuine striving for a society where each individual would have an independently created and adopted life stance was not possible for them.
In addition to this, the Social Democrats believed that the roots of religion were buried deep in human nature and that it would in any case take a long time before man would be able to completely free himself of his religious tendencies. The Western working classes had already largely freed themselves of doctrinal Christianity and its God, and were continuing to free themselves more and more.
In the future Socialist society there would probably not be any Christianity or other doctrinal religions. Of course they would not be in any way forbidden - they simply would no longer have any appeal. In the social circumstances in which Social Democracy thrives, religion does not. The Social Democrats thus did not think it necessary to struggle for the realization of freedom of life stance already in the bourgeois society. Its time would come after the Revolution and as the Socialist society was being built.
Fifth, we must ask about the state of the Social Democrats' own independence concerning world view. Had they been able to free themselves from the patronage of the Church and to achieve their ideal of a Naturalistic world view, as could be expected judging by the public challenge they had presented to the Church? This had not taken place. Social Democracy had not created any culture of the study of belief systems. On the contrary, the declaration of religion as a private matter had come to mean the keeping of one's world view to oneself. It had become a downright taboo in local labour associations.
The result was that there was no wide-spread denial from rituals held by the Church before 1923 even though pressure was put on members to do this. After 1923, the majority of the Social Democrats' political and literary elite remained members of the Church.
The most notable and also interesting of the exceptions is Väinö Tanner, a central leader of Finnish Social Democracy after the Civil War from the year 1918 to the autumn of 1944, when Finland signed the armistice with the Soviet Union. As one of the top leaders of the Finnish war effort, Tanner was put aside and - because the Soviet Union demanded it - was even imprisoned as a "war criminal". He was elected president of the Social Democratic Party in 1957 and again in 1960. He was president until 1963. He died in 1966.
Tanner was born in 1881 and was already elected to the first Parliament in 1907. A few years after this, he formed a marriage of conscience and later changed this to a civil marriage when the law allowed this in 1918. He resigned from the Church as soon as it became possible in 1923. His children were not baptized. His world view was that of a Naturalist, which is obvious from some of his funeral speeches to his comrades and from the 1960 and 1963 Party Congress opening speeches. He did, however, have a religious funeral, apparently since the State paid its respects to him and expenses were paid by the State. It was, therefore, at least a semi-official State occasion and in Finland there are no skills for secular festivities at that level to this day.
The lack of conviction of the Social Democrats towards the official goal of their life stance policy was not, therefore, very favourable for a successful Cultural Struggle against the Church, nor is it necessary to look for the reasons of the defeat of the Social Democrats further than the Party itself. Most Social Democrats did not achieve a Naturalistic world view.
Perhaps the moral education level of the majority of the Social Democrats or of people in general, was simply not sufficient for anything other than remaining in the Church. The exertions of the everyday life of the majority of the population had the tendency to draw the attention of the people towards something other than an intellectual and individualistic focusing towards Naturalism.
If the Social Democracy of the era of the Cultural Struggle is seen as the "symbiotic union" of the society's poor who suffered from a feeling of deprivation, we may say that for the people involved it was nearly impossible to internalize and adopt a Naturalistic world view. In the symbiotic world of Social Democracy, there was not only an archaic severity, but also a "millennial hope for the finding of a genuine connection and of the instant ending of pain". In this atmosphere of hope, a Naturalistic rationality, a seeking of the most reliable grounds for the fulfillment of this hope, did not make its home.
For those living in the Social Democratic symbiosis, it was obviously also very difficult to accept a world, where only men of flesh and blood like themselves made up their own meaning of life and where otherwise only the laws of nature ruled. In the depths of their souls, they needed a great objective purpose, the coming of Heaven on Earth.
They also wanted for their goal, the realization of Socialism, a greater certainty than what the hypotheticalness characteristic of scientific retrieval of information could provide. The majority of them had no means whatsoever of assessing the possibilities of the realization of Socialism from a scientific point of view. They merely believed.
The forsaking of moral authorities outside the individual, which is a part of Naturalism, and forcing upon the individual the responsibility for good and evil and right and wrong was simply too demanding for the members of the Social Democratic symbiosis. Good and right, in other words the success of their own class - and of themselves together with it - was a given. The responsibility of the individual consisted of how well he or she was able to step to the front line and turn the great wheel of progress.
Perhaps the Social Democratic elite confessed that religion and religiousness were so deeply rooted also in their own nature that they did not think it possible to rid themselves of religion and to accept the meaninglessness of the universe. They also could not control what happens to the human will in nearly unreachable places of the psyche.
The most important reason for the Social Democrats' "own intelligentsia's" not attaining Naturalism was perhaps the "social horror" caused by Naturalism. Social Democratic leader Minna Sillanpää used the term "holy horror" to describe the attitude of Doctor of Theology and Vicar Paavo Virkkunen towards a non-religious moral education.
Naturalism is against the interest of maintaining all kinds of relationships of prestige. It makes all societies and their goals questions of expediency from the viewpoint of the individual. This makes the individual an unreliable member of any society. Therefore the constant goal or, even at its most tolerant, the temptation of the leaders of all societies is to invent and develop "larger than life" purposes and goals. It is then the responsibility of the members of that society to commit to these goals and to struggle in order to achieve them. Appealing to some kind of sacredness very easily becomes a part of the justification.
Even though Marxist Naturalism did have the tendency to raise the consciousness of the Social Democrats regarding history, expediency and intellectual criticalness - as long as the object was bourgeois society and the Church as an integral part of it - Marxist Naturalism was not able to prevent Social Democracy itself from becoming both as an ideal and as a popular movement a larger than life matter, which did not permit it to be taken as a question of expediency and exposed to constant criticism. Its doctrine about the historic mission of the working classes and of Social Democracy as the movement which would realize this mission and the responsibilities which this entailed to the members and leaders, meant that Social Democracy gave up Naturalism. The genuine Naturalism of its members would have been a threat to Social Democracy itself.
Finnish Social Democrats thus did not attain a Naturalistic world view. But, in addition to this, they also did not get rid of the State Church they hated or its clergy or even the doctrinal Christianity which they were in contempt of. Even if they wanted to leave religion and the world view to be private matters, the Church did not do the same. According to its strategy of the "People's Church", it strove to be as close to the individual as possible with its message and actions. It got a permanent hold of the Social Democrats as well. In spite of all their anti-clericalness and anti-Christianity, almost all of them remained members of the Church. They did not, therefore, make religion a private matter.
One option for the Social Democrats would have been to keep religion as a feeling of humble devotion towards life and towards the fundamental mystery of existence. The Social Democrats never ridiculed this kind of religiousness. They could have tried, outside the Church, to create and develop their own individual life stances based on this kind of religiousness. But, instead, they remained members of the Evancelical-Lutheran state Church with its doctrines, rites and rituals.
We can attempt to explain the fact that most Social Democrats remained in the Church in many ways. They themselves did the same in 1923, when the number of Social Democrats resigning from the Church during that year seemed to remain quite small. As mentioned before, the law of freedom of religion itself attempted to make resigning difficult. It was necessary to go to speak to the Vicar of one's own parish to tell him about the resignation. Cemeteries were owned by the parishes and the parishes were left with the right to determine the price and location of the burial spot of those who had resigned from the Church. All this made resignation difficult.
The Church, right wing politicians and all those who had won the Civil War, tried to create social pressures for remaining in the Church. In the countryside this pressure and supervision was at a more personal level than in cities. As far as the Social Democratic elite, such as politicians and writers, are concerned, they perhaps simply felt that retaining the external religious uniformity was more beneficial for them. They did not merely give in to the pressure of the bourgeoisie.
The central argument of the bourgeoisie for the Church, for religion and for religious teaching in schools was, in the critical stages of the Cultural Struggle, their claimed great role as safe-keepers of the moral foundation of society. Perhaps at that time it also made an impression on the Social Democratic elite.
It was acceptable to criticize the Church and the clergy, but mass resignations from the Church would have been if not an assault towards God himself, which according to the old orthodox view would have been an unfavourable act by the whole nation in front of God, at least an act against the moral foundation of society. Even the fact that the Social Democratic elite remained in the Church was thus a question of giving support to a national religion which was more or less consciously felt.
The reason for the lack of vigour in driving the separation of Church and State and of removing religious teaching and also for the fact that front-line Social Democrats remained in the Church, was also the Social Democrats' cynicism towards the Church and towards their official world view. If even a small rise in support for the Party was to be achieved by the fact that the bourgeois parties could not, because of the Social Democrats' moderation, use the weapon of religion at will, then why give them reason to in vain. Also the fear of the great wealth of the Church going to the bourgeoisie perhaps worried the Social Democrats.
It is surprising that so many Social Democrats remained in the Church, when we take into consideration that the membership fee of the Church was then, as it is now, quite high, that anti-clericalness and anti-Christianity ruled the public challenge of the Social Democrats until the end of the Cultural Struggle and also that among those who remained in the Church were many of the Social Democratic elite who personally had been strongly and publicly anti-clerical and anti-Christian. Perhaps the best explanation for all this is by Sasu Punanen, a writer of political causeries of the era. According to this explanation, the Social Democrats remained in the Church "just in case". Perhaps the membership to the Church would be needed after death after all? According to this theory, the old view of life after death and of Heaven and the superstitious belief in the importance of membership in the Church in the beyond had remained in spite of all the Ingersolian enlightenment.
The difficulty of ridding oneself of Christianity was sometimes even confessed publicly. One young Social Democrat activist wrote, "If life be a battle, and if we must suffer over something, I would rather have suffered the things I did and fought the battles I fought because of the hellish Church and its cruel magic over some better and more useful cause than the Church. Many would wish the same." Social Democratic representative Aino Sommarberg said in her speech in Parliament that the religious teaching in school at that time was a crime towards children. "Perhaps not everyone has such great conflicts in religious questions, but I know from my own experience that it is extremely difficult later on to free oneself from the superstitious beliefs fed to one as a child, even if one notices their irrationality. It takes great effort, fumbling and many unhappy moments of despair. I would not wish more and more poor children to be left the same battles, the same despair as inheritance - or a boring indifference and hypocrisy, which religious teaching also leads to - and perhaps more often to the latter."
The simplest way of explaining the fact that the Social Democrats remained in the Church is referring to the ease of this solution. Doing it did not require doing anything new, just leaving things, mainly rites, as they were. The other choices, after the unattainability of Naturalism, mainly active religiousness, Theosophism or Tolstoism, would have required some new will and realization of this will. The Social Democrats rejected these options. For example even in the 1946 Party Congress, the leader of Christian social democrats Väinö Kivisalo said in his greeting, that Christians and Social Democrats had begun to approach one another - and in so doing, he separated them from one another. Most Social Democrats belonged to the Church but did not consider themselves to be Christians.
So what was left was a traditional doctrinal religion, which had completely changed during the Cultural Struggle in its religious content and its external demands. It seemed that it was all the same to the Church weather its member believed or not, what they believed in, whether they showed their belief in any way, as long as they remained members of the Church and paid their Church taxes.
The unattainability of Naturalism was the most profound reason for the defeat of Social Democracy. Social Democrats were unable to make a "new religion", as Taavi Taino, one central representative of Finnish Social Democracy in the first decades of this century, called it. He believed it would be born in the "great Cultural Struggle". The "ideal" of Naturalism reached the ideology of Social Democracy but not the Social Democratic mentality.
But the Social Democrats' official goal of social freedom of life stance did not presume Naturalism. In order to take it seriously, it would have been enough to take seriously the religion where one remained, or at least surrendered to by remaining a member of the Church, to have tried to clarify it and build one's own ethical life stance based on it.
But the Social Democrats did not achieve even that. They stayed on as part of the great halfhearted mass of the People's Church that, according to the definition of Arch Bishop Gustaf Johansson, were not believers but as members were subject to the religious influence of the Church.
As halfhearted members of the Church, the Social Democrats were left without any kind of internalized life stance of their own, based on a world view, which would have given birth in them to a will to fight against the State Church as well as against any monolithic ideology. This would have raised the right of each individual to an independently created and adopted life stance to a central position in their argumentation for their life stance political goal. The social freedom of life stance also reached the ideology of the Social Democrats, but not their mentality.
Whatever the reasons for the fact that the Social Democrats remained in the Church were, they did not have to be ashamed of remaining. Their own belief system gave them the justification. The Social Democratic ideology with its theory of development made it into a perfectly natural thing for an individual to possess a halfhearted world view.
According to the Social Democrats, the individual does not really have natural and social preconditions for independently forming his or her own life stance, but it does not matter. Development will lead to a desirable condition, where all is well or at least much better than in the present condition, even if an independently created and adopted life stance does not reign there either. The self-consciousness of a Social Democrat is not the same as a personal freedom and responsibility of life stance. It is rather a consciousness of the passage of history and of future progress and a personal orientation accordingly.
Security in the Social Democratic symbiosis during the class struggle and in the future Socialist society had central value in the Social Democratic mentality. It can be called freedom, but in that case freedom must be understood as freedom from toil, poverty and worries about livelihood and a freedom to take part in the class struggle as safely as possible. Freedom as freedom from the patronage of society and taking one's own life into ones own hands as a completely equal companion with the other members of society was left second in importance after security in the Social Democrats' value hierarchy. Security was undoubtedly seen to add to social freedom, but the best society was above all a collective system of safety and only secondly, if at all, a world made of fully responsible individuals, free from all patronage.
When the Social Democrats assessed the situation, it was their view that it was important to get all the poor people to participate in the Social Democratic labour movement, the Social Democratic symbiosis, to struggle for security together, to reach the light and the sun. This view determined which things were important and which less important. General suffrage brought to politics the logic of numbers. The Social Democratic Party too had to work to reach the marginal voters - and for those marginal voters the Church, the clergy and especially Christianity still meant something. An independently created life stance was left as a class ten question.
The challenge presented to the State Church by the Social Democrats in practice was not based on the passion of a personal freedom and responsibility of life stance nor even less to a personally felt Naturalism. It was based firstly on the belief in the existence of persons wishing for a personal freedom of religion or resignation from the Church, whose number the Social Democrats estimated to be far higher than it actually was. Secondly, it was based on the need to weaken the prestige of the clergy and of doctrinal Christianity in the consciousness of the electorate and at the same time to lessen the chances of the bourgeois parties to receive their votes. The Church and the clergy had placed themselves on the side of the bourgeoisie long before the birth of Social Democracy in Finland. The goal of the Social Democrats was to make them at least impartial in the social class struggle.
The Social Democrats did not work against the will of the working classes in their life stance policy. The official goal of this policy, the social freedom of life stance, was not a proper articulation of the collective needs of the workers, but rather an international Social Democratic ideal. But their practical life stance policy obviously perfectly matched the interests of the workers. Their supporters were not interested in anything more than what they did. And the Social Democratic Party did not have an interest in adding to this interest.
The defeat of Social Democracy to the Church seems to be permanent as far as the Cultural Struggle is concerned. Its original goal will undoubtedly be reached eventually, but the Social Democrats are hardly in this process the Church's challenger or the primus motor. Social democracy has not only left the members of society under patronage regarding life stance, but also socially, and it is difficult to believe that Social Democracy could ever rise to be a leading political force in the road to the liberation of the rank and file members of society from social patronage.