C.H. Douglas Out of Print ...... Mondo Politico
Social Credit, by
Major Clifford Hugh Douglas

Part I: Philosophy



THE practical difference between the theory of rewards and punishments, and the modern scientific conception of cause and effect, can be simply stated. The latter works automatically, and the former does not. If I place my bare finger upon a red-hot bar, so far as science is aware, I shall be burnt, whether I am a saint or a pickpocket. That is the Modernist view. It is not so many hundred years ago since the Classical view held that I should only be burnt if I were a pickpocket or similar malefactor; and ordeal by fire was a ceremony conducted on this theory. It is alleged in select circles even yet, that it is possible to be so saintly, that fire loses its power over the human flesh. But a manufacturer of rolled steel rails, who laid out his factory on the assumption that it would be possible to hire enough saints to handle his white-hot product without apparatus other than saintliness, would undoubtedly experience labour trouble.

That is the point. It is not necessary to have a contempt, or to be lacking in a proper respect, for qualities in human beings which add to the grace, dignity and meaning of human existence, to be quite clear that those qualities are not in themselves at issue in regard to many of the economic and industrial problems which confront the world at this time.

No one would contend in so many words, that the efficiency of the modern factory or farm, considered as a producing mechanism, is seriously handicapped by the lack of moral qualities in those employed. It is a familiar suggestion, brought forward for the consumption of a mystified and uninformed public that, e.g. "Ca' Canny" methods, Trade Union rules, and idle workers, are responsible for trade depression, but only sentimentalists and middlemen out of touch with production, pay serious attention to the idea. Such practices may complicate the general question, and their existence does enable the real causes to be masked in a babel of recrimination. At the present time, however, there is not a manufacturer of any consequence who would not feel himself capable of obtaining almost any output required of him, provided that all restrictions of price and cost were removed; or to put the matter as shortly as possible, the difficulties with which the modern employer is confronted are not difficulties of production, they are difficulties in respect to the terms of the contract to which he himself, his employees and the purchasing public are all parties. If, therefore, a majority of persons so placed that they are in a position to impose their will on the remainder of the world, are determined to run the whole producing system of the world as a form of government, it is certainly not yet proven that they cannot do it. But it certainly is already clearly proven that they cannot, at one and the same time, make the producing and distributing systems a vehicle for the government of individuals by the imposition of rewards and punishments, which involves arbitrary restrictions on the distribution of the product, and at the same time be the most efficient and frictionless machine for the production and delivery of the maximum amount of goods and services with the minimum expenditure of time and labour on the part of those concerned in the operation. That is indisputable.

So far as this matter is ever discussed dispassionately, the argument is apt to proceed in a vicious circle. In the face of the patent and growing difficulty of finding employment in ordinary economic avocations for those who at present cannot live without it, it is claimed that the introduction of any method by which the unemployed could live, i.e. be "rewarded" without being employed, besides being immoral, "demoralises them," i.e. renders them unsuitable for subsequent employment. Disregarding for the moment the circular nature of this argument, it is curious to notice how generally it is accepted in the face of a good deal of evidence to the contrary, and little evidence in support of it. It is notorious that some of the most successful and useful members of the community during the times of stress between 1914 and 1919, were young men and women of whom nothing but the worst was prophesied during their idle years which immediately preceded the war. It is true, nevertheless, that it is difficult to induce persons who have once enjoyed the expanding influences of increased freedom of initiative, to return to long hours of mechanical drudgery, offering no prospect of improvement or release, and it is not unfair to say that numbers of employers of a somewhat narrow outlook have this fact at the back of their minds when they bewail the demoralising influences which have been brought to bear upon their employees during the last decade.

It is evident then that, before any solution to all these problems of world unrest can be put forward with any certainty of success, it is necessary to come to some understanding on matters of fact.

The primary fact on which to be clear is that we can produce at this moment, goods and services at a rate very considerably greater than the possible rate of consumption of the world, and this production and delivery of goods and services can, under favourable circumstances, be achieved by the employment of not more than 25 per cent of the available labour, working, let us say, seven hours a day. It is also a fact that the introduction of a horse-power-hour of energy into the productive process could, under favourable circumstances, displace at least ten man-hours. It is a fact that the amount of mechanical energy available for productive purposes is only a small fraction of what it could be. It seems, therefore, an unassailable deduction from these facts that for a given programme of production, the amount of man-hours required could be rapidly decreased, or conversely, the programme could be increased with the same man-hours of work, or any desired combination of these two could be arranged. But it is also a fact that, for a given programme, increased production per man-hour means decreased employment. It is also a fact, that never during the past few decades have we been free from an unemployment problem, and it is also a fact that never during the past fifty years has any industrial country been able to buy its own production with the wages, salaries, and dividends available for that purpose, and in consequence, all industrial countries have been forced to find export markets for their goods.

So that we are confronted with what seems to be a definite alternative. We can say, as we are saying up to the present time, that the wages, salaries, and dividends system, with its corollaries of the employment system, as at present understood, and the moral discipline which is interwoven with all those things, is our prime objective. Having decided that, we have decided that the industrial system with its banks, factories, and transportation systems, exists for a moral end, and does not exist for the reason which induces individuals to co-operate in it, i.e. their need for goods; and that moral end can only be achieved through the agency of the system and its prime constituent-employment. And the practical policy to be pursued is one which has been frequently pointed out from diverse sources, and which was the basis, or alleged basis, of the Russian Revolution. It is to make the man-hours necessary for a given programme of production equal to the man-hours of the whole population of the world, so that every one capable of any sort of work should, by some powerful organisation, be set working for eight or any other suitable number of hours a day. To achieve this end, the use of labour-saving machinery should be discouraged, all scientific effort should be removed from industry (as was at first done in Russia), and, in particular, modern tools, processes, and the application to industry of solar energy in its various forms should be vigorously suppressed. Failing an alternative, one should dig holes and fill them up again. All this is the logical outcome of the attitude, not merely of the orthodox employer (although he may not realise it), but of the orthodox socialist, and it ought to be clearly recognised. The world has not yet passed a deliberate verdict on the matter, and it ought to have the case and the evidence; and in the meantime the atmosphere of war and economic catastrophe in which the world is enveloped, should be accepted as a desirable means towards a high moral objective.

The other alternative, while recognising the necessity for discipline in the world, does not concern itself with that necessity in considering the modem productive process. It surveys the facts, finds an inherent incompatibility between the substitution of solar energy for human energy, on the one hand, and the retention of a financial and industrial system based on the assumption that work is the only claim to goods, on the other hand, and takes as its objective the delivery of goods, making the objective always subordinate to human individuality. It is not concerned with abstractions, such as justice. It has no comment to make on the fact that one man does twice as much work as another, except to enquire whether he likes doing it; or that one man wants twice as much goods as another, except to investigate the difficulties, if any, in giving them to him. It observes, or thinks it observes, that it has sufficient data to predict not only that such a policy would work, but that it is the only policy in sight which would work.

The vast majority of discussions which take place in regard to industrial problems are prevented from arriving at any conclusion from the fact that the disputants do not realise the premises on which their arguments are based, and in many cases use words (and "justice" is an example of such words) which beg the whole question at issue. It is not too much to say that one of the root ideas through which Christianity comes into conflict with the conceptions of the Old Testament and the ideals of the pre-Christian era, is in respect of this dethronement of abstractionism. That is the issue which is posed by the Doctrine of the Incarnation.