Industry’s Forgotten Factor
by Alec Porter, with Jens Wilhelmsen, Maarten de Pous and Miles Paine
Alec Porter was born and grew up in Ireland. He studied agriculture and worked for Peter Howard on his farm in Suffolk for five years. He then took part in MRA's programme for industry in Britain, Holland, France, America and India.
IN 1936, Frank Buchman, faced with the consequences of the world economic depression, was concerned how to reach the workers and industry more effectively in Britain. He invited Bill Jaeger to work with him and to start in East London, an area of much poverty, hardship and unrest, where three million workers struggled to make a living.
Jaeger came from a worker’s family and while a student in London had already made many friends in East London. Now, with his studies completed, he felt the invitation was a confirmation of his own sense of calling to take the ideas of the Oxford Group (the first name given to Buchman’s work) to the workers of the world and to the industrial life of nations. East London was the cradle of the British Labour Movement. Labour pioneers like Ben Tillett and Tod Sloan were friends of Buchman and strongly supported his work. It is hard to imagine it now, but East London then had 7,000 factory chimneys as well as the main docks for the Port of London.
Within two years, the Oxford Group was almost a household word as Jaeger and the team he enlisted had a series of public meetings of 700 to 1,000 all over the area. So it was a natural venue for Buchman to launch his world-wide campaign for Moral Re-Armament there in 1938. 3,000 overflowed the East Ham Town Hall. Twenty-six mayors and chairmen of local councils attended.
Jaeger chaired the meeting. Buchman in the course of this launching meeting said, “Only a new spirit in men can bring a new spirit in industry. Industry can be the pioneer of a new order. When Labour, Management and Capital become partners under God’s guidance, then industry takes its true place in national life. New men, new homes, new industry, new nations, a new world.” Frank Buchman always based his work on the premise that if people can be changed, situations in the world can be changed also. He spoke of making the wealth and work of the world available for all and the exploitation of none. And the first play dramatising his ideas, The Forgotten Factor, was also on industry - and used around the world.
In the 1920s and 1930s, Buchman spent much time in Britain, so it followed that the first evidence of applying his ideas was in British industry – as the reader will see from certain people’s experiences. And as his message spread, so did the applications in industry; in Norway, Denmark, France, Germany, and Italy; in USA, Canada, Latin America and Australia. Those who read other chapters in this book will find yet more references to changes in industrial situations.
In the 1930s, through the Oxford Group, a number of employers whose lives and attitudes were changed had a significant impact on British and world industry in the following decades.
What is morally right can be economically viable
Farrar Vickers was managing director of Vickers Oils in Leeds, a family business which manufactured specialist oils for the textile and marine industries. In 1933, the change in his student son, John, challenged him to change his whole life; he had a clear thought to go into the factory as if for the first time with his eyes open. What he saw shocked him. There were no washing facilities although the workers were working with dirty greases all day. There was no canteen. There was no sick pay and little or no pension. Such conditions in industry were the norm in those days.
In an experiment of faith he began to change these things. He persuaded the shareholders to give some of their capital to set up a fund to benefit the employees and their dependants. During the depression he took in extra staff to implement these changes.
Five years later, the leader of one of the hunger marches, a Marxist economics lecturer, spent a day visiting the company. He said to Vickers, “You have done more voluntarily than extreme governments could have compelled you to do.” From then on over the next sixty years Farrar and his son John, who succeeded him, proved that what was morally right could be economically viable.
In the Borders of Scotland, where wool was the main industry, Stuart Sanderson ran a family owned woollen mill. When the market for the cloth they manufactured collapsed he and his wife decided to stock the cloth and keep their employees at work. To be able to do this they sold their big house and moved into a cottage on the mill property. Years later when World War II started, the cloth was needed.
“Try being honest with the men like you have been with me”
John Nowell was the managing director of the Camden Tannery in the north of England and President of his national association; when a strike situation occurred he talked it over with his wife, with whom he was building a new family life. His wife said to him “Why don't you try being honest with the men like you have been with me?” He did so putting all his cards on the table and inviting the union shop stewards to do the same and find together what was right. This led to setting up a works council which became the mainstay of discipline in the plant and a forum where ideas could be discussed. The trade union district organiser said, “Here is a clear example for the rest of industry. Every one of my 4,000 members has benefited from what I learned at the Tannery.”
When those employers, Vickers, Sanderson and Nowell, took part in an industrial session in Scotland workers from the Clydeside shipyards and other industries came to meet them. This was the first time they met capitalists and management with new motives and new ideas. It gave them a new vision for industry and their part in changing it away from the old class attitudes. In 1939 Buchman invited some of them to join him in launching MRA in New York, Washington and California. These included Duncan Corcoran and Adam McLean, whose mother contributed the money she had saved for his father's gravestone to help with the cost; other families sacrificed too by letting their wage earners go.
In America after the launching of MRA in the Hollywood Bowl, California where 30,000 were present McLean and Blyth Ramsay were making their way to Canada when war was declared. They were advised by consular officials to continue their work in the US as their best contribution to the allied war effort. They took the chance to meet union leaders at the Boeing aircraft factory in Seattle, who then introduced them to Dale Reed, the President of the union at the Lockheed plant in California.
Lockheed were building the P38 fighter plane. The workforce there during the war grew from 6,000 to 80,000 as they took on manufacturing the Flying Fortress. Reed studied the MRA handbook You can defend America. He put it to senior management to give a copy to each worker. They distributed 40,000 copies through the plant. Following this meeting with Reed, Lockheed recognised the union for the first time.
Sustaining a nation’s war production
Later Reed sent a message to Washington DC. “There are planes on fighting fronts today that would not have been there but for the enthusiasm and unselfish leadership the MRA workers have brought into the ranks of labour.”
Also during World War 2 a new play, The Forgotten Factor, based on recent experiences in industry, written by Alan Thornhill formerly an Oxford don, was so dynamic and real that it had a profound effect on those who saw it. Bill Schaffer, the leader of the 17,000 workers at Cramps shipyard in Philadelphia and his wife nicknamed ‘Dynamite’, had agreed to divorce. Schaffer told Bill Jaeger, who had become a close friend, that his problems were “slow horses and fast women”. He then admitted this to his wife. Her first reaction was to hit him but then she smiled and accepted his apology. Their marriage was completely remade. Schaffer then followed Jaeger’s example and built a team to work with him and a new spirit came into the shipyard. Birch Taylor, vice-president of the company, said, “I regard the work of these Britishers and their American colleagues as a mainstay of the nation's war production drive”.
When The Forgotten Factor was shown in Philadelphia about a year before he became president, Harry Truman made this statement, “We need this spirit in industry, we need it in the nation. For if America doesn't catch this spirit, we will be lucky to win the war and certain to lose the peace. With it there is no limit to what we can do for America and America for the rest of the world.”
Duncan Corcoran and Bill Jaeger met Philip Murray, the President of the Congress of Industrial Organisations, the main industrial trade union confederation in America, a craggy Scot and pioneer of the CIO. When the revue You can defend America was shown at the steelworkers’ national convention, he spoke after the performance, “It exemplifies the spirit and the kind of unity for which America is looking.”
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“Give me coal…and I will give you a foreign policy”
In April 1946, Buchman with 110 of those who worked with him in America set sail for Europe arriving first in Britain. Britain had many problems - one third of the dwellings had been destroyed or damaged, industrial plant run down, in debt to the tune of billions and as the Soviet Union's stance became clear, the need to maintain one and a half million in the armed services. Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin was saying to the miners, “Give me 30 million tons of coal for export and I will give you a foreign policy”. But the Minister of Fuel and Power, Manny Shinwell, warned Parliament, “The existing position contains the element of industrial disaster”.
Buchman consulted two full-time workers who had worked in the mines during the war years. It was clear that The Forgotten Factor would be ideal. The play was staged in London. Miners came to see it from several coalfields. The four miners from Doncaster area convinced their fellow miners to invite the play to Yorkshire. Two thousand connected with the coal industry saw it.
The very next week, one of the largest pits reported production had risen from 10,000 to 16,000 tons. The manager known as the 'the pocket battleship' and regarded as a dictator by the men had apologised to the miners. He said that the play had made him look at his work quite differently. Five years later - without extra men or new machinery - production was running at 21,000 tons a week.
Over the next two years, the play toured the coalfields and industrial areas, with the cast and those travelling with the play invited to stay in the homes of the local people. Invitations were received from 150 collieries and over 70,000 saw the play in the mining areas.
Ending acrimony and bitterness
By 1948, the mines in Britain had been nationalised. This certainly made a great difference but often the management and union leaders remained the same with the same attitudes of bitterness and mistrust. Disillusion often set in. Hugh Gaitskell, the new Minister of Fuel and Power, said that the National Coal Board had two tasks, a technical one and a psychological one: “They had to achieve immense changes in the pits and they had to change completely the spirit of those working in the industry.” It was in the second sphere that Moral Re-Armament made its impact on the coal industry. In the valleys of South Wales in six weeks 35,000 saw the play. Tom Beecham was the National Coal Board Production Officer in the area, which included the Rhondda Valley, the scene of some of the bitterest memories of coal mining. He wrote, “The Forgotten Factor has had a great effect on our relationships, which is showing itself in the negotiations between the Board and the Union. The great problem is to get co-operation at pit level and this is doing it. There is not the acrimony and bitterness there was.”
Horace Holmes MP, Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Minister of Fuel and Power, speaking at the MRA Assembly at Caux said, “It is more than 47 years since I went into the pits as a boy. Over thirty years I spent underground. For many years I took a great part in the trade union movement, and from 1902 to 1945 I helped shape the materialistic, Marxist approach to industry. I helped shape the hatred that sprang up between management and men… Now I am in a position where I can see things in a different light. It has been a great joy for me to help spread MRA into the hearts and lives of people. I have seen great changes take place in the Midlands, in my own Yorkshire, in Scotland and Wales. I have seen management approach their problems with a different attitude, and because of that I have seen better production as far as coal is concerned.”
On a personal note, I was in South Wales for some weeks with the company of The Forgotten Factor. At the end of the run Frank Buchman came to Cardiff on his way to Caux, Switzerland for the MRA World Conference. Many from the coal industry came to meet him. He invited them to come to Caux. “Come and see,” he said. Over sixty miners and steel workers with their wives made the journey to Caux. I stayed on in the valleys with others for the next months getting to know the miners and their families and staying in their homes. I then went to Caux for the 1949 conference.
I did a bunk!
However, after a month at Caux I did a bunk! I caught the night train to London without telling anyone I was leaving - not even my brother, Bill. The truth was I was not prepared to give my life to the total revolution I saw at Caux and to find my part in it. I did not take the opportunity to tell Bill, nor any friends, of the inner struggle I was experiencing. However during a sleepless night on the train I realised I could not give up the new life I had found through MRA and I could not run away from God and his calling. So I was glad to meet up with friends in London and give God a chance to sort out my life and make a new start. As I have found many times through my life when I am prepared to get honest and make a new start with God, a whole new life opens up.
It was in London I met up again with Eric Turpin whom I knew as a fellow student in Dublin, where we had met MRA. After university he worked as an industrial chemist in Belfast. While attending a performance of the MRA musical The Good Road he had the clear thought, “You are not doing the maximum to remake the world. And you are not in the place you can do it”. Now in London, Eric was setting out to see what could be done to bring a new spirit to the docks. He invited me to work with him.
Strike followed strike through the years
When the European Recovery Programme, or Marshall Plan, was initiated by America to underpin the economic recovery of Western Europe, it was rejected by the Soviet Union, its regime also compelling the countries of Eastern Europe to reject it. Czechoslovakia had wanted to accept American aid. A rash of strikes across Western Europe was an attempt to negate its recovery. A strike in France was estimated to have cost half the aid for France that year. Perhaps the most damaging was the Beaverbrae strike in the Port of London, which spread to other ports and tied them up for weeks in the summer of 1949. It was said to have cost Britain £217 million, the equivalent of Marshall Aid for that year. The communist-led Canadian Seaman's Union was in dispute with their Canadian employers but they waited until the ship, the Beaverbrae, tied up in London to call the strike. The seamen walked off. The ship was declared 'black' by the smaller dockers' union. The dockers stopped work and were suspended. Fellow dockers then struck supporting them. An unofficial strike committee was formed to spread the strike nationally. Even when the strike was over, this committee continued meeting for the next decade or more to foment grievances into strikes in the ports. The union and the government tried to control them but to no avail. Even a court action did not succeed; strike followed strike through the years.
In the following months, with the help of others including Bill Jaeger and Duncan Corcoran, we got to know the official and unofficial leaders of the dockers. They came to the public meetings where they heard and met speakers like the employers Farrar Vickers, John Nowell and Stuart Sanderson, as well as Bert Allen, chairman of the engineering union in Birmingham, and miners from Britain and from the Ruhr. Some went to Caux. Dockers also came from ports in Holland and Germany. In this global setting the dockers appreciated that they were entrusted with economic lifelines of nations.
Dan Hurley, the union official, who declared the Beaverbrae 'black' wrote Buchman after getting home from Caux: “My outlook has certainly adapted an entirely new aspect, and how much easier it has become to see the other fellow's point of view and not to be forever prepared to ram home the very aggressive doctrine which has been part of my policy for such a long time. I shall always recall you in your room resting after a very hard day‘s work. What a strain it must be teaching mankind an ideology, which by a great many like myself is approached with a good deal of suspicion, and yet with all that amount of strain that we fools impose upon you, you are able to look the most serene person I ever met.”
The longest war ever fought - the class war
Tom Keep was president of the National Amalgamated Dockers and Stevedores Union and for more than twenty years a communist. He worked on a coal wharf in the Port of London. He noticed quite a change in his manager, who invited him to attend a MRA meeting of employers and businessmen at The Royal Empire Society in the centre of London - not a venue normally attended by London dockers! The following week, Keep spoke at a meeting with miners in the Rhondda Valley: “I have seen employers change and workers change. This can bring to an end the longest war that has ever been fought - the class war.”
In 1959, Joe Hancock - a well known Trotskyite militant in the Port of Liverpool, was writing and selling the Trotskyite paper of that time. However these militant activities concealed an intense search for a deeper meaning to life. Through some other workers in the Port he came to know Moral Re-Armament. As he and his wife tried it out together they found a new family life. Previously at times of disagreement and tension a number of alarm clocks suffered from being hurled across the bedroom!
‘The Industrial Pioneer’
Hancock and his friends decided to produce a new monthly paper, The Waterfront Pioneer to give everyone in the port a constructive angle on the news and the issues affecting them. It was sold at the dock gates not only in the Port of Liverpool but in London and Glasgow too. Workers then in other industries asked Hancock to broaden its coverage to include their industries and to carry international news. It became The Industrial Pioneer. It continued for over forty years, produced by volunteers. It went to hundreds of workers in the major industries, to their union officials and management and to Parliament. There were readers in over fifty countries.
In the Port of Bristol, the dockers had formed an unofficial strike committee after the visit of some of the London committee. Jack Carroll was chairman. Another docker, Albert McGrath’s life had been radically changed through meeting MRA and going to Caux. At his invitation Carroll with two other committee members saw a play William Wilberforce MP, written by Alan Thornhill, the author of The Forgotten Factor. Carroll was fascinated to see what one dedicated man could achieve in his lifetime.
The following weekend I drove him to London for a MRA industrial meeting where he met Les Dennison, chairman of the building workers in Coventry. Dennison had been an active communist for 22 years. His story of change convinced Carroll to make an experiment himself. Next morning he got up early, made a pot of tea, poured some for himself and the dog as well! He then sat down and wrote down the thoughts that came to him, “See employers and union officials today.” He obeyed his thought and established a working relationship with the employers and union officials in the Port of Bristol. The strike committee ceased to function. His fellow dockers noticed the change in Carroll and to provoke him one day when he walked into the port canteen they stood and sang, When the saints come marching in. This did not stop him - he took news of his new revolution to ports in India and Australia.
For years the dockers of Australia were led by communists. Jim Beggs, an ordinary wharfie was fed up with all the disputes, strikes and lost hours of work. Meeting MRA through conversations with his next-door neighbour, like Jack Carroll he made the experiment of listening. He had the thought to take back the clock, which he had stolen, from a car he had been loading. The employer was astounded and his fellow wharfies nicknamed him ‘Daylight saving’ because ‘he turned the clock back’. Jim then decided to take responsibility in the union. In the course of time he was elected president of the union for the Port of Melbourne and later National President. Exporters testified the difference his leadership made.
Historic changes in the French textile industry
Maurice Mercier, a veteran communist, was leader of the French textile workers and a leader in the French Resistance. After the war he left the communist party when he saw the Resistance degenerate into petty squabbles for personal advancement whereas he longed that the spirit of self-sacrifice of the Resistance could be maintained to rebuild France. He broke with the communist led Confédération Générale du Travail (CGT) Union and formed the free trade union, Force Ouvrière (FO). He had the vision and conviction to speak for all the French textile workers even though they were not members of his union. At Caux in 1949 he observed that 'employers of most countries transported into this atmosphere, were reconsidering their original outdated points of view and were more easily becoming conscious of their responsibilities as men and as employers.'
Mercier said this conference at Caux and a subsequent meeting with Buchman brought a new perspective: “Class war today means one half of humanity against the other half and possessing a powerful arsenal of destruction…not one cry of hatred, not one hour of work lost, not one drop of blood shed-that is the revolution to which Moral Re-Armament calls bosses and workers.”
His concern now was to prepare the workers in the textile industry-probably nearly a million at that time- for this new approach. Throughout the north of France, in the textile towns around Lille, he organised mass meetings with MRA speakers including management and union representatives from other countries.
On February 1, 1951, textile managers and workers signed a national agreement. 600,000 workers were immediately given wage increases and guaranteed a share in the benefits of increased productivity. It was the first such agreement in France. On Mercier’s initiative that year, eighty textile factory delegations made up of employers, workers and staff attended the conference at Caux.
In 1955, textile employers and unions - except the CGT - signed an agreement, which was the foundation stone of a policy of co-operation for the next twenty years. It guaranteed textile workers a retirement pension and partial unemployment benefit. It was not until 1968 that employers at national level in other industries were obliged to grant the same level of benefits as textile workers had been given voluntarily.
Robert Carmichael, president of the European Jute Employers' Federation was one of the employers who worked closely with Mercier in those years. He won the confidence of the jute growers in India and Bangladesh and succeeded in negotiating fairer prices for them.
“If capitalists can change we do not need to eliminate them”
In the early 1930's, the president of the American Federation of Labour was Samuel Gompers. When asked what was his philosophy for the trade unions he replied with one word, “More.” Politicians often adopt the same idea when campaigning for votes in elections. Then we wonder why there is so little idealism or self-sacrifice in today's society. Now national leaders in the West are saying that military measures are not enough to meet the threat of terrorism. We need ideas, ideals and values that we live by. We need an ideology that cures the causes of hate to answer the one based on hate, which fires the terrorist. In the years of the Cold War this is what sincere committed communists found in Moral Re-Armament. They found a positive alternative to class war - “If capitalists can change we do not need to eliminate them,” they said and added, “Greed and selfishness are not a monopoly of employers and the rich”.
William Penn expressed the heart of this ideology that the world must find if we are to survive the impact of materialism, globalisation and terrorism, “Men must choose to be governed by God or they condemn themselves to be ruled by tyrants”.
Speaking of economic change Buchman talked of the full dimension of change - “economic, social, national and international change all issuing from personal change.” He also put it in these words, “There is enough in the world for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed. If everyone cares enough and everyone shares enough, then everyone will have enough”.
Frank Buchman in the Ruhr
In post-war Germany, Hans Boeckler, a Marxist socialist was head of the newly formed trade union federation. Some historians consider his part in creating the new Germany second only to Adenauer’s. At Caux he met Buchman. They became friends. Boeckler made a carefully weighed statement for Buchman to use, which contains these sentences:
“If men are to be free from the old and outmoded, it can only happen as they set themselves new goals and place humanity and moral values in the forefront. When men change, the structure of society changes, and when the structure of society changes, men change. Both go together and both are necessary. The goal for which Moral Re-Armament strives to reach is the same as that for which I am fighting as a trade unionist.”
In 1950 Moral Re-Armament was asked to hold a conference by Chancellor Adenauer and a number of prominent Germans. Frank Buchman, in a speech that was broadcast to East Germany as well as the west said, “Marxists are finding a new thinking in a day of crisis. The class struggle is being superseded. Management and labour are beginning to live the positive alternative to class war. Is change for all the one basis of unity for all? Can Marxists be changed? Can they have this new thinking? Can Marxists pave the way for a greater ideology? Why not? They have always been open to new things. They have been forerunners. They will go to prison for their belief. They will die for their belief. Why should they not be the ones to live for this superior thinking?”
Seated on the platform with Buchman were industrialists and miners’ leaders who exemplified what he was saying. Now follows an extract from the autobiography of Jens Wilhelmsen, a Norwegian, who was one of a number of young people from former occupied countries who dedicated years of their lives to building a new Germany.
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Jens Wilhelmsen narrates:
“The January sky was as black as the coal a few thousand metres below me. It was raining buckets. I was making my way towards Königsberger Strasse 13, narrowly missing puddles the size of lakes, as the street lights were out. I had a suitcase containing most of my worldly possessions, and in my head a mixture of anxiety and expectancy at the thought of spending the coming week in the home of one of the Ruhr's veteran communists.
“The location was the mining town of Moers in 1949. I felt poorly prepared for the introduction to a well-trained Marxist, despite my recent philosophy course at Oslo University. I was told that my host had been a communist for 26 years, three years longer than my lifespan so far. He had managed to live by his convictions under Hitler's dictatorship, when non-conformists risked being sent to concentration camps and likely death. Now he had been elected Works Council Chairman for Pit No. 4 of the Rheinpreussen Company, and a member of the Executive Committee of the Communist Party of North-Rhine Westphalia.
“I finally reached my destination and hit the bicycle bell mounted on the front door. The silhouette of a large shape became visible against the interior light, apparently my hostess. She seemed none too pleased to see me. I found out later on that her daughter had insisted on me staying there, as she was keen to improve her English.
“I was in Moers as part of a theatrical group of some fifty people, performing the MRA play The Forgotten Factor. We had been invited by Rheinpreussen, but since guest houses and bed-and-breakfast establishments largely were in ruins, the company had asked their employees to put up the performers in their private homes. This is how I came to lodge with Max and Grethe Bladeck and their daughter Isolde.
“Their simple dwelling consisted of three rooms, and the sole source of heating was the coal stove in the kitchen. The stove was Grethe's pride and joy and she kept it gleaming from constant polishing. I was given the sofa in the front parlour to sleep on. Unfortunately, the heat from the kitchen stove never penetrated into this room. The family spent most of their free time in the kitchen. This is where Max would greet me with a cup of tea on my return late at night after each performance. Like most Germans, he appreciated a good discussion. I tried to sow a few seeds of' doubt in his Marxist garden. Why are workers not allowed to strike in East Germany, I would ask him, and how could he justify the increasing build-up of nuclear armament in the Soviet Union? Would not fighting the class war inevitably end up as a nuclear war between a communist East and a capitalist West?
You must stop preaching
“After several evenings’ discussion I resigned myself to defeat; I was talking to deaf ears. If anything my questioning seemed to strengthen Max's determination to defend what he already believed. I learned a lesson about the impotence of being just anti something. One morning I had a very clear thought, “You must stop preaching to Max about all that is wrong with the cause he has given his life to. Instead be honest how difficult you find it to live true to your ideology.” I gave Max two simple examples: I would strongly condemn dishonesty in politics, but I would lie to my own family when convenient; I was passionate about maintaining world peace, but found it difficult to overcome my bitterness against the Germans as a nation.
“For the first time Max did not argue back. Hesitatingly at first, he started telling me about his own doubts and difficulties, on a personal level and concerning relations within the party ranks; that evening formed the base for a long lasting friendship. Our ideological views were still poles apart, but a mutual respect and trust had begun to grow.
“The play caused an outrage. The communists accused MRA of supporting capitalism. A meeting was called at a pub called ‘Heier’. About fifty of Moers’ union leaders and political activists attended. MRA was also invited to send representation. Max should lead the meeting.
“The cigarette smoke made it difficult to distinguish the features of people present, and the beer did not make the discussion any less passionate. After a couple of hours, Max stood up to conclude the meeting. “Comrades,” he shouted, “If we consider capitalism the thesis and communism the anti-thesis, could MRA possibly be the synthesis?” A bomb exploding could not have shaken the gathering more.
“From that moment the Communist Party had it in for Max, but his standing among the miners was strong. His one weakness (his Achilles’ heel) was over-indulgence of alcohol, and he was again the worse for wear at a party for retired miners. The next day the communist newspaper Neue Volkszeitung ran the following headline, “Union leader offends female colleague”. The article claimed that Max had made a suggestion of a sexual nature to the woman on the homeward bus journey.
“Max was heart-broken. He immediately penned a letter to Buchman asking for all links to be severed, as he had betrayed the MRA cause. Some days later Max received a telegram with the following message: “Man-like it is to fall in sin; Fiend-like it is to dwell therein; Christ-like it is from sin to rise. The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. I have faith in the New Max” - Frank Buchman.
“Max did not have a religious faith but thanks to the telegram he had received he decided not to give up. In 1950, he visited Sweden, Norway and Denmark together with five fellow Germans. One of them was a Christian-Democratic member of Parliament, one a director of a mining company, one a Social-Democratic government official and two were miners like Max and previous members of the Communist Party. They freely admitted to Germany's guilt and on several occasions asked forgiveness on behalf of their nation, including when they met with Norwegian Prime Minister Gerhardsen, who had survived a German concentration camp.
“Max became a builder of bridges between nations. In the years following he travelled widely in Europe, America and Asia, putting his experience and change to good use. One night on a sleeper in India he woke up abruptly to see a vision of his mother, appearing as if still alive. This experience opened the dimension of faith and eternity for him.”
By 1950, the percentage of communist representation in the works committees in the Ruhr had dropped from 72% to 25% and it kept falling. The Neue Zürcher Zeitung wrote in 1959, “The Ruhr, instead of being the apple of discord in Europe, has become the growing point of international agreement… without the Ruhr, there can be no Common Market and no far reaching plan for European integration.”
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Frits Philips and the Caux Round Table
Maarten de Pous from Holland has been closely involved with a move which stemmed from Holland. He recounts an initiative for world industry:
“Frits Philips, who was president of world-wide Philips Electronics from 1961-1971, and later chairman of the Supervisory Council, had been associated with Frank Buchman's work since 1934 through to his death. It clearly was a source of inspiration in his life. He had been actively involved in the Caux Industrial Conferences since 1974.
“Philips took great pride in the fact that he was related to Karl Marx. The mother of Karl Marx was the sister-in-law of Frits Philips's great-grandfather. Marx had worked on Das Kapital in the home of Frits' grandfather in Zaltbommel, a town not far from Eindhoven. Frits Philips believed that the sense of social concern of his father and his uncle - the founders of the firm - was developed out of their discussions with Karl Marx. Philips also made a remarkable stand during World War II when Holland was occupied by German forces. He managed to balance keeping the factories open while keeping production to a minimum so as not to help the German war effort. It ended in his being detained in prison for some time in 1943. He was awarded the Yad Vashem medal by Israel in 1995 for his work in saving Jews in Holland during the war years.
“In 1985 there appeared an article in the leading newspaper of the Netherlands, NRC-Handelsblad, with the headline, ‘Japan's false smile’. It was about the danger that Japanese trade practices might ruin and destroy the European electronics industry, by selling products below the market value.
“Frits Philips, already 80 years old and holding no official position in the company, was really concerned about this development. He feared it could lead to trade wars and possibly worse. Believing something should be done, he wrote to some friends in Japan, jointly signed by Olivier Giscard d'Estaing, then vice-president of Insead, the French management school in Fontainebleau. They proposed a meeting in the summer of 1986 of a small group of senior industrial leaders from Japan, Europe and the US at Mountain House in Caux, Switzerland, where he knew they would find an atmosphere of spirit of trust and understanding, allowing honest and open discussions.
“Among the people coming from Japan were Ryuzaburo Kaku, president of Canon, Toshihiko Yamashita, former president of Matsushita Electronics and Toshiaki Ogasawara, publisher of the Japan Times. Other senior people came from America and different European countries, about thirty in total.
Japanese felt unfairly blamed - and changed
“The Japanese had been told about the beauty of Caux and the friendly and peaceful atmosphere, but already during the first meeting things did not go as planned. The Americans and Europeans began to accuse the Japanese of unfair trade practices. The Japanese were getting more and more annoyed. By the end of the first session the Japanese were ready to go home. A few people from the three groups agreed that during the following sessions the Japanese would have the first chance to speak. The atmosphere changed, the Europeans and Americans began to admit that there were areas where they could begin changing some of their economic policies. At the end of the two days they had decided to continue the discussions during the coming years, and search for ways of bringing about changes in policies and practices. Thus the Caux Round Table was born. The CRT began to meet once a year in Caux and in between in different other parts of the world.
“During the following years the Japanese CRT participants made some suggestions to Prime Minister Nakasone as to how Japan could enlarge its internal market, reduce the national debt and open the Japanese market to foreign products. And in 1990 they published an article entitled, Proposals for the Renewal of Japan, the core of which was that Japan should change from trying to catch up with the West (which it had done anyway) to participating in a global effort of wealth creation for everyone.
“American CRT-members arranged meetings with economic policy makers in the US, like David Rockefeller and Martin Feldstein. And in Brussels meetings took place with the vice-president of the European Commission, Martin Bangemann, and others. The American Minnesota Principles were expanded for global application, creating the Caux Round Table Principles for Business. The introduction to the CRT Principles says that business is uniquely placed to contribute to bettering the social and economic condition of people with business leaders putting their own house in order first.”
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Initiatives in Indian industry since 1970
Miles Paine, who was a factory manager in India for many years, writes after revisiting India in 2007, “Asia Plateau, the Indian centre for IofC/MRA in Panchgani, was completed in the early 1970s, when certain areas in India were experiencing a massive expansion of industry. Pune, the nearest large town to Panchgani, was one of the fastest growing.
“Yet industrial unrest was also growing. Skilled labour was in short supply and union leaders were quick to demand increased wages and improved working conditions generally. Some managements rejected negotiation and industrial conflict resulted.
“In 1973 a request arrived from the chairman of a textile firm asking if his 5,000 employees could be trained in Moral Re-Armament at the Centre. It was decided at Asia Plateau to prepare a six day course and a programme entitled, Creative Leadership for Industry and National Development was offered with a charge of Rs.500 per delegate (about £10), which company managements were quite prepared to pay, more than covering the running costs of the course at that time. Included in the course were subjects such as Motivation and leadership in industry, Productivity with participation and without exploitation, Confrontation or co-operation and Sound homes, teamwork in industry, a united nation. A faculty for each course was drawn from those with experience in helping people to find change and included trade union leaders, senior executives, company directors and shop floor workers, who used their own practical experience of real situations.
“Panchgani was already well-known as a pleasant holiday resort, about two hours by road from Pune. Management found no difficulty in selecting workers and managerial staff willing to participate, including some of the most difficult union members. Word soon spread in industrial circles as to the effectiveness in changing attitudes of those attending the courses. By the mid-1970s, over twenty well-known companies were listed as participating in the programme. And it was not just management and labour relationships that were transformed. One manager spoke of his surprise that in the ambience created in these seminars, shop floor workers came out with creative ideas for running of the factory, which they never expected from them.
Open honesty is contagious
“It was unusual at that time for wives to attend courses with their husbands but encouragement for such joint participation was given. The course was broadly centred around human relationships and with this in mind a certain amount of practical help at the Centre was included - washing up after meals and laying tables beforehand, for example. Many workers were not accustomed to engage in domestic help in their own homes but because of the general spirit at the Centre gladly joined in such activity and were surprised to find management doing likewise.
“Those who had come with their wives found the open honesty among those running the courses contagious and a number reported on their return that the whole atmosphere in their own homes had been transformed. And the companies benefited also. The industrial climate in Pune began to change and those wishing to establish new enterprises were keen to select Pune as preferred location.
“Over time the courses were adapted for a much wider range of participants - even the armed forces now regularly send groups of army chaplains of all denominations. At the heart of all these programmes remains the message of the need for a transforming experience in the life of each individual. One of the colleges of Pune University now regularly sends its students taking their Business Management courses.”
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Today, we still live in a world where industry is not meeting the needs of all. The divisions caused by greed, hate and fear are preventing that happening. Frank Buchman has pointed the way for humanity to overcome these obstacles. The forgotten factor is that God has a plan and we can all have a part in it. God at work in the human heart is the most powerful force for change in the world today - change for all is the one basis of unity for all. Before a God-led unity empty hands can be filled with work, empty stomachs with food and empty hearts with ideas that really satisfy.
Bill Jordan, then general secretary of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) representing 125 million workers in 143 countries and territories, concluded a speech in Caux by saying, “Whatever ideology or direction the world chooses to take, it must not lose its values, its standards. Although there is a difficult road ahead, not even the colossal forces of globalisation are a match for the collective power of individuals to defend social values and justice. That power, that strength, is in the heart and hand of every person we meet. Let's use it. Let's change the world!”