My home town was a village called Boxtel, with a long standing modern capitalist industry. Once Boxtel was at a rail cross road, of the main railway going South from Utrecht en from Breda going West towards Germany. Once it had important maintenance facilities for trains. Not a long time ago, one of the oldest industrial shopfloors in the Netherlands (if not Europe) featuring cast iron pillars was demolished. It dated from 1750 or so. My grandfather from mothers side was a metal worker, he made kettles. He was a Donders, a rather well known family in the region, with a history dating back to the 14th century. Professor Frans Donders, the opthalmist, and father Peerke Donders, an almost catholic saint are from this family. I was named after my other grandfather who was a cigar maker in Boxtel, to this day an important industry there. His nickname was "Rode Albert", (Red Albert). He took part in the struggle of the workers for better circumstances and was voted into the municipal council to represent them. For that he had to buy real leather shoes, instead of the wooden shoes everyone wore; this is probably remembered so clearly because it must have been a severe cut in the family budget. Despite his nickname he was not a socialist. (At later times his adversaries would have called him a "communist", but that name was not even invented then.) He died in 1916, one year before the revolution in Russia. It was vehemently confirmed in pamphlets that he was a good catholic. That probably was true, propagandistic lies would do no good in such a small village, if they ever do. There is no indication, at least not in the pamphlets I have, of hope for a better and more righteous future. There is no indication of socialist education altogether. They are just direct reactions to injustice inflicted upon them. On the other hand, I do have his traditional catholic "bidprentje": a small card catholics distribute at funerals, with some prayers and sometimes a characteristic or photograph of the deceased. His only contains prayers.
Well, times have changed. I am a Socialist, I vehemently deny any involvement with the catholic church, or any church, and nobody is coming after me. The Socialistische Partij tries to combine the good elements of socialist tradition with modern insights. I was very pleased, that the "Socialistische Partij" won a seat in the municipal council in Boxtel in 1976 Knowing about the history of the place, ancient and recent, I was much less surprised than others were. In 1994 the few seats in scattered places were grown to approximately a hundred and fifty all over the country. And in 2000 we have 5 seats in the parlement (Tweede kamer), much sooner than I expected in 1990.
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