C.H. Douglas Out of Print ...... Mondo Politico
Social Credit, by
Major Clifford Hugh Douglas
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Part III: The Design of Economic Freedom

CHAPTER I

"In Europe we know that an age is dying. Here in America it would be easy to miss the signs of coming change, but I have little doubt that it will come. A realisation of the aimlessness of life lived to labour and to die, having achieved nothing but avoided starvation, and of the birth of children, also doomed to the weary treadmill, had seized the minds of millions. " - SIR AUCKLAND GEDDES.

 

CHAPTER I

THE STRATEGY OF REFORM

IN considering the design, either of a mechanism or of an undertaking, it is first of all necessary to have a specific and well-defined objective, and, after that, a knowledge not only of the methods by which that objective can be obtained, but also of the nature and treatment of the forces which will be involved, the materials available, and their reaction to those forces.

The decision of objectives is the domain of policy. The decision of methods is technics, and the carrying out of those methods is technique. With the latter two the general public can have nothing to do, and therefore the submission of detailed schemes to the consideration of the public is a mistake where it is possible to avoid that course. It is a sound proceeding to submit a proposal to make a railway between A and B to the public as such; but to submit the engineering details of construction to the same general criticism would be absurd.

We have seen in the preceding pages that there is a definite policy in operation in the world at the present time, and that policy is being supported from sources which seem superficially antagonistic. This policy, for want of a better term, can be described as the "Moral" or Classical policy; its mechanism is the mechanism of rewards and punishments; and its inevitable corollary is limitatation - inhibition.

Denunciation of this policy in the abstract is beside the point; while natural, it is an attitude of mind not very dangerous to the system criticised. The point on which it is necessary to concentrate is that, whether or not this system has been the best method by which humanity could be brought to the point which it has now reached, a state of affairs has arisen out of it which is not merely intolerable in the abstract, but which in fact the modern man and woman will not tolerate. A policy which the majority of individuals concerned will not tolerate is a bad policy from a practical point of view. If it be objected that there is, in fact, no other policy operative in the world to-day, the only short answer which can be made is "Look at the world today"

The classical ideal is an imposed ideal. It is authoritarian, However hopeless at the moment may seem the alternative, there will, I believe, be nothing but strife and distress in the world until an imposed policy is replaced by an agreed policy.

It has already been suggested that the chief aim of persons who may be regarded as executives of the Classical Policy is to avoid as far as possible any discussion on the policy itself and to direct public attention to a profitless wrangle in regard to methods. In Great Britain, Conservatives advocate the raising of prices by means of tariffs; Liberals advocate the lowering of purchasing-power by means of increased Death Duties and Insurance Schemes; Labour, the strangulation of individual initiative by means of nationalisation or a Capital Levy. The choice offered to the free and enlightened elector is between being hanged, boiled in oil, or being shot. In the United States every effort is made to rivet the attention of the public on tariffs or Prohibition, while crisis succeeds crisis, and the mortgagee grips the land with ever greater tenacity.

In this world it is action which counts. The only sense in which the phrase "Right is stronger than Might" is anything but pernicious nonsense is that, in the last event, might depends on the actions of individuals, and if it is possible to affect the actions of individuals by something which we call "Right," "Might" and "Right" may eventually be found on the same side.

Now, we never get mass action out of altruism. Altruism is an occasional characteristic of individuals, never of mobs. It is part of the miasma of propaganda with which the world is flooded at the present time to pretend that such mass action as the entrance of Great Britain or America or France or any other nation into the Great War proceeded from altruistic motives. It is perhaps hardly necessary to stress the point that this was not so, but it is not without practical use to consider the methods by which mass action was attained.

Passing over the causes which induced, for instance, Great Britain as a nation to declare war against Germany, because very few persons would accuse nations of altruism, the first result of that declaration was an order to Regular Troops to proceed overseas. No altruism entered into the obedience to this order; mutiny would have been punishable by death. It is not unfair to say that the original means by which this Regular Force was enrolled was by the offer of a stable economic future, combined with an interesting career.

Subsequent to the departure of the regular army, volunteers were called for. Amongst these volunteers were most unquestionably numbers of people actuated by great devotion to patriotic ideals. But it would be erroneous and misleading to say that these were in anything but a small minority. Love of excitement, pressure of public opinion, hopes of glory and advancement, fear of invasion, and by no means least, the very attractive financial terms which were offered, all played their part. The Derby Scheme by which the population was divided into categories was a remarkable example of enlisting a majority to coerce successive minorities. When finally these failed, the residue, by this time reduced to impotence, were compelled by conscription and by stark threats of punishment to join those who had been captured by more ingenious methods.

There was an exact parallel to this method of procedure in the proposal put forward in 1922 by the Labour Party, for a Capital Levy on fortunes over 5000. The minority is first penalised; and the majority is subsequently to be enslaved in successive batches.

As a result of the consideration of the care with which the financial and legal organisation of the world has been perfected and has entrenched itself, it seems difficult to avoid the conclusion that when the milder methods, and the ability to manipulate public opinion, no longer function, the mask will be thrown aside and stark compulsion will be ruthlessly invoked. That is already happening in portions of the Middle West of America, where strikes are indistinguishable from minor military engagements; and much the same phenomena are observable in Germany. The "castor oil" methods of the Italian Fascisti were similar. The British Government representative on the Board of our only aeroplane company is, by a curious coincidence, the President of the Bankers' Institute. All this is important in considering the emphasis to be laid upon such questions as to whether the attainment of reform by political, that is to say, Parliamentary methods, or whether some variant of the "Direct Action" principle is the only possible path to effective change. There need be very little doubt that the forces of the State could all be applied to enforce a Capital Levy or the nationalisation of mines. Would those forces function to enforce a modification of the powers of banks and the methods by which the credit system is operated? The derisory results obtained in regard to the very modest efforts to interfere with the price system during 1917-1918 lead one to doubt it.

Assuming for the moment, however, the comforting assumption that the will of the people, as expressed by their votes, must prevail, there is no doubt that the defeat of the power of political caucuses to draw up the agenda of an election is the immediate objective. The exact method by which to attain this end is immaterial so long as it is attained. The invalidation of an election, if less than 50 per cent of the electorate voted on the issues submitted to them, would be as good a method as any other. The recognition of the danger to the Hidden Government which is contained in some such procedure is no doubt responsible for the proposal (and in, certain areas, the Law) constituting abstention from voting a penal offence.

It would then be necessary to obtain a straight vote on major questions of policy. This does not seem to present insuperable obstacles. There seems to be no fundamental reason why an election should not be held on an issue as "Do you want employment, or do you want goods?" From this point, however, progress would appear difficult. The power of appointing members of committees - in short, the power of patronage - is a jealously guarded asset. Short of holding an interminable series of elections, both on personnel and terms of reference, it is difficult to see how any effective check could be exercised over a determined and organised obstruction and misdirection of public attention such as is certain to be exercised by the interests attacked.

This superficial examination of the situation may be sufficient to indicate the unsuitability of Parliamentary machinery as an agency with which to deal with the issues involved. Let us, therefore, return to the springs of action in individuals. There is, doubtless, a certain small number of individuals whose interests are indissolubly wedded to the present economic and social system. The essence of their attachment to it is the fact that it places them in positions of enormous, if frequently hidden, power, and this power, far more than any material reward, is the object of their concern. These individuals are not amenable to any argument other than force majeure.

Now it is quite incontestable that the power of money is by far the greatest power which is wielded by this small minority of persons. The power to reward and punish, which is the power that they prize, is almost solely due to the fact that most people in the world want money, and most people in the world cannot get it, except eventually by the acquiescence of those in executive control of the Financial System. By this power of money, this small minority can obtain the assistance of the majority, and thus retain the determinant of force.

Taking the situation as a whole, therefore, it seems indisputable that sooner or later this monopoly of money power has to be attacked; that for reasons already explained, it is not being attacked now, and that taxation, so far from attacking it, enormously strengthens and consolidates its power; that until it is attacked, and successfully attacked, it can, by bribes under various disguises, always retain a majority. By the aid of this majority it can defeat an antagonistic minority, quite irrespective of whether that minority is "right" or otherwise, and the only method by which the minority can ensure that right is might, is by obtaining the control of those inducements which do, in fact, ensure mass action. This means, I think, that if we regard the distribution of money power to all individuals, in opposition in the present tendency to concentrate it in group-organisations, as the first aim of economic freedom, we are driven to a somewhat hackneyed conclusion - that the means and the end are in this case identical. We can only defeat money power with money power.

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