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Why the Bakers Bake No Bread *

New Amsterdam bakers have gone on strike. The Governor has set the price of bread and the quality for the price. It is difficult to understand exactly why the bakers are baking no bread, but it must be one of two reasons: 1) There is not enough profit in making bread at the prices the Governor has set, or 2) the Bakers are asserting their right under the Bakers Guild to negotiate a better formula for setting those prices. The strike goes on for two weeks until the Governor raises the price by 10%. Free market baking will not take precedence until 1801 when New York bakers will strike for the right to charge whatever the market will bear. [1]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
OK... this issue is more complicated than it seems. In the Dutch Old World system, bread was an essential, and bakers felt a duty to produce it for the community just as producing water and electricity for the community is an essential in the modern day. In fulfilling their duty as bakers they felt that the government owed them some commercial protection, locking out competitors and providing a reasonable profit. But the variable cost of grain and the unreliable money supply (essentially beaver pelts) made New World regulation nearly impossible so the bakers went on strike. They seemed to be striking for better regulation... not for free market prices. Oh no! Not that! In the modern day, I bake my own bread from scratch once a week. I'm not the best baker in the world, but no baker's strike (or trucker's strike or grocer's strike) would stop me from making what I need. I have developed skills over the years and I practice those skills just in case. And frankly, I like fresh baked bread.

'Our Lord of the Attic': Hiding Religion in Plain Sight

Jan Hartman has purchased a three-story residence in the city of Amsterdam and sets about to renovate the building. It was erected in 1629 and maintains the normal style of the Dutch residential architecture. It is not that old. One wonders what might need renovating, but what is happening inside this unremarkable building is a miracle in hiding the forbidden in plain sight. In the attic of this residence is being built a beautiful church named "Our Lord of the Attic". In Calvinist Amsterdam, Catholic worship is forbidden. Signs are everywhere warning residents to comply with the law, but it is an open secret that Catholics reside in Amsterdam and that they find ways to worship such as this small church tucked in the attic. More than 20 of these hidden churches will be built in Amsterdam and more in surrounding cities. [2]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
It seems to me that these hidden churches could not have existed without the tacit approval of the local authorities. Certainly Jewish communities existed in Amsterdam, including a very important philosopher named Benedito de Espinosa, otherwise known as Spinoza. The German philosopher, Hegel, said, "You are either a Spinozist or not a philosopher at all." In 1661, Spinoza was almost 30 years old, giving philosophy lessons and supporting himself by grinding lenses. He was expelled from the Jewish community for heretical ideas but expelled might be too harsh a term. No one was talking to him. I've read some of his work. I found it tedious, but perhaps I don't have enough background to understand it. In any case, many people such as the Jews and Catholics were allowed in the Netherlands as long as they didn't make a spectral of themselves. Amsterdam was considered tolerant. What a world. [3] [4] [5]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1661, Wikipedia.

See Also


* The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
  1. Middleton, Simon (April 2001). "How It Came that the Bakers Bake No Bread: A Struggle for Trade Privileges in Seventeenth-Century New Amsterdam". William and Mary Quarterly (Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture) 58 (2): 347-372. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2674189. Retrieved 12 August 2015. "The administrative principles introduced in the last years of Dutch rule remained in effect until the bakers' strike in 1801: In a campaign that would have dismayed their predecessors, New York's bakers demanded an end to the regulation of baking and the freedom to charge whatever the market would bear for their bread.". 
  2. Benjamin J. Kaplan (October 2002). "Fictions of Privacy: House Chapels and the Spatial Accommodation of Religious Dissent in Early Modern Europe". The American Historical Review (Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Historical Association) 107 (4): 1031-1064. http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/532663. Retrieved October 13, 2015. 
  3. Baruch Spinoza: Expulsion from the Jewish_community - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 14 October 2015. “He spent a brief time in or near the village of Ouderkerk aan de Amstel, but returned soon afterwards to Amsterdam and lived there quietly for several years, giving private philosophy lessons and grinding lenses, before leaving the city in 1660 or 1661.”
  4. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 14 October 2015.
  5. Russell Shorto. Amsterdam: A History of the World’s Most Liberal City. Doubleday. 0385534574. ISBN 9780385534574. “Amsterdam was unusual in the brazenness with which its municipal leaders paid lip service to the commands of higher authority to punish dissent and continued to tolerate a wide variety of nonstandard behaviors in its streets—including behaviors that directly challenged the authority of church and monarchy.” 

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