Jacques de Kadt

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De Kadt, 4 April 1962

Jacques de Kadt (born 30 July 1897, in Oss - died 16 April 1988, in Santpoort) was a prominent and often controversial 20th Century Dutch political thinker, politician and man of letters. Born into a liberal Jewish family, he was the youngest son of a factory manager, Roelof de Kadt, and his wife Bertha Koppens. Author of numerous books and articles, his most important and influential work was, arguably, his remarkably prescient book Het fascisme en de nieuwe vrijheid (Fascism and the New Freedom) which was published in 1939, shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War.

Early career[edit]

De Kadt's early political career was shaped, in part, by the influence of Rosa Luxemburg. He joined the Dutch Communist Party, soon only to become disenchanted with it and, especially, with the political developments in the Soviet Union. In consequence, he left the Communist Party of Holland in 1924. He subsequently chronicled his embrace of, and break with, Communism in the first volume of his autobiography, Uit mijn communistentijd, published in Amsterdam in 1965 by his loyal publisher, G.A. van Oorschot. De Kadt developed into a trenchant and increasingly uncompromising critic of Stalinism, and articulated an independent line of socialist thought and political practice. This was expressed both in the content of his first major book, From Tsarism to Stalinism published in 1935 in Antwerp,and in his pivotal role in the formation of the Independent Socialist Party (Netherlands) (OSP). The book, which identified a continuity between the character of the Tsarist state and the Soviet political system under Stalin, contained an intimation of de Kadt's broader critique of twentieth century totalitarianism - a critique which was to define the nature of his subsequent political career.

Fascism[edit]

The 1930s marked a significant period in the maturation of de Kadt's thought.He published widely on the major political developments of the time as well as on cultural, literary and philosophical topics. His writings addressed not only the threat posed by Fascism and Stalinism but included a major study of Georges Sorel, and numerous articles on notable (and not so well known) political and literary figures. de Kadt was a prodigiously productive - if often acerbic and polemical - writer who, at his best, was a writer of great elegance and style. Bart Tromp, an editor of a posthumously published collection of essays, referred to him as 'an Orwell of Oss'.[1] De Kadt's analysis of Fascism, in what was arguably his finest book, was uncannily perceptive and prescient and stands to this day as one of the truly outstanding accounts.[2] In this book, de Kadt predicts the coming of the Second World War, the ultimate defeat of Fascism and the emergence of the United States of America and the Soviet Union as the dominant global powers. Beyond the predictively accurate analysis of Fascism and its limitations, the book contains a normative defence of 'western civilization' and its scientific underpinning - perhaps best expressed by Max Eastman's notion of 'affirmative scepticism'.[3] The book served as one source of inspiration for H.Floris Cohen's masterful 1994 historiographical exploration of the 'scientific revolution'.[4]

Parliamentary career[edit]

De Kadt was a Labour Party (Partij van de Arbeid) member of the Dutch parliament from 1948 to 1963. He served for many years as the party's principal spokesman on foreign affairs, though his outspoken stance on Indonesian independence (of which he was a vigorous early protagonist) and his sharp, unqualified, opposition to Stalinism and the Soviet system ruled him out as a contender for the Ministerial position that was held by Joseph Luns. De Kadt was a regular radio commentator during these years. His contribution to Dutch public life and service was recognized in 1959 when he was awarded a knighthood, becoming a Knight of the Order of the Netherlands Lion.

Bibliographical references[edit]

Havenaar, R. (1990) De tocht naar het onbekende - Het politieke denken van Jacques de Kadt

Pels, D. (1993) Het democratisch verschil. Jacques de Kadt en de nieuwe elite

Cohen, H. Floris (1994) The Scientific Revolution: A Historiographical Inquiry, Chicago, Chicago University Press

References[edit]

  1. ^ J. de Kadt, De deftigheid in het gedrang: Een keuze uit zijn verspreide geschriften, Amsterdam, van Oorschot, 1991 , p.7 ...
  2. ^ J. de Kadt, Het fascisme en de nieuwe vrijheid.
  3. ^ See H. Floris Cohen, The Scientific Revolution: A Historiographical Inquiry, 1994, Chicago, Chicago University Press, p.4
  4. ^ H. Floris Cohen, The Scientific Revolution: A Historiographical Inquiry, 1994, Chicago, Chicago University Press, p.4

External links[edit]