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

Part I: Philosophy



THE consequences of the exaltation of the group over the individual have often been pointed out in various forms of words, as well as having been demonstrated sufficiently in such countries as Russia and Germany, but it would be unduly optimistic to say that they are generally recognised or understood. And the reason for this is not far to seek. It is possible so to twist the meaning of words, that policies which result in conditions which are progressively obnoxious to the majority of persons affected by them, can yet obtain a considerable amount of support, by an appeal to high-sounding words such as democracy, justice, and equality. The emotion to which appeal is made, is that which was invoked to justify witch-burning. The point which is so hard to make clear to the masses affected, is that a group is an entity which has a life of its own; it is the body corporate of an "interest," not of the myriad interests of the human units composing it, and the surrender of volition to a group means, quite inevitably, a surrender of the very things for which in most instances the individual is struggling. Yet this body cannot be kicked, nor can the group-soul be saved, save in the persons of the individuals who lend themselves to its purposes. Even the leaders of a group are only leaders so long as they serve the interests of the group, and to that extent are as much slaves of it, as the humblest member of the rank and file; a fact which it is well to bear in mind when attributing to captains of industry qualities which belong rather to their office than to the individuals themselves. It is, of course, true that "head" or supervising slaves are generally strong supporters of slavery as an institution.

And yet it is patent that the modern world can only be operated through a liberal use of the group idea. If we are to have great co-operative undertakings, by which alone, so far as we are aware, mankind can be freed from the necessity of devoting the major portion of his day to the acquisition of sufficient food, clothing, and shelter from the weather, there must be a submission by those concerned in such enterprises to a given policy, for instance, of production. This is, of course, common sense, and a matter of common observation, and to the extent that there is a legitimate relation between the group interest thus formed, and the personal interests, is sound in every way. But there are two qualifications which can be made in respect of this submission. The first of these is, in plain English, bound up with the length of time per day or per year during which the submission is necessary, and it has already been observed that the free play of modern science and organisation would, under certain circumstances, tend to reduce this to a small minimum within a short time. The second qualification is involved in the phrase "freedom of association."

At the present time such a thing can hardly be said to exist outside the realms of sport. If I join a cricket club and find that I do not like the game, or the methods governing the conduct of the club itself, I am usually free to resign without further penalty than attaches to the loss of association, and the consequent facilities for playing cricket. But if I enter a profession or business and find that I do not like it, or the methods under which it is conducted, it is true that I am free to resign, but the penalty attached to resignation greatly exceeds the mere deprivation of association and the facilities to exercise the profession or business - it includes economic catastrophe for myself and my family. In other words, I come up against the doctrine of rewards and punishments in an acute form, since it is absurd to suggest that if I resign, the necessary work previously done by me will remain undone. It will not, if it is tolerable work and done under tolerable conditions. An average consequence is that I do not either resign from, or criticise actively, my associations of this nature. In passing, it may be noticed that only recently has the absurdity of the "right to strike," as exercised under current financial methods, dawned upon the Labour Party and its constituents. Where one party to a controversy can only obtain the means of subsistence by "working" while the other party can continue, if not indefinitely, for a long time, by drawing cheques on institutions which, if necessary, can create their own deposits, the right to refrain from working merely amounts to a right to commit suicide. The decline of the practice of Hara-Kiri in Japan, as a means of inflicting injury on an adversary, would tend to show that suicide is losing its terrors for the onlooker.

There is probably more nonsense spoken and written around the words freedom and liberty, than in regard to any other two words in the English language. As a result of this, we have been treated to a dissertation by Signor Mussolini, suggesting that liberty is an outworn and discredited word. Signor Mussolini is mistaken. Liberty will come into its own, although it is quite possible that two groups which appear to be enemies of it and have much in common, including quite possibly, a similar origin, i.e. Bolshevism and Fascism, may be necessary to clear the minds of the public of much of the misconception which surrounds the idea, by demonstrating what it is not.

Liberty is really a simple thing, although difficult to come by. It consists in freedom to choose or refuse one thing at a time. It is undeniable that every action has consequences. But by no means all the consequences of actions, as committed in everyday life, are necessary consequences. If I drive a motor-car at forty miles an hour on an open road, it is an artificial consequence if I am fined for exceeding the speed limit, though a natural consequence that I arrive at my destination quicker than if I drove at twenty miles an hour. If I pick up a red-hot bar, it is not necessary that I should be burnt. I can wear asbestos gloves. It is the hedging round of actions with conditions or "laws" of various descriptions so as to produce an artificial or undesired train of consequences, which constitutes an infringement of liberty, and in a large number of cases, just as it is the Law which makes the Crime, it is stupidity which conceives the law.

If I say that, being a golfer, I wish to play golf all day, seven days a week, I am in effect demanding freedom from certain limitations which are normally imposed on me, such as the earning of a living, not to mention other social duties. Now the abstract criticism which is nearly always urged in connection with a hypothetical case of this sort is, that if everyone played golf all day seven days a week, the world would come to a standstill for want of the necessaries of life. But this line of approach is both fallacious and useless. The useful line of approach is to consider how many people if free to do it, want to do this thing to this extent, and what effect that number would have on the production programme. And the possibility of an increase in the real liberty of the subject depends not (as is so unceasingly proclaimed by the upholders of things as they are) in a continual compromise between individual rights, but in a continual attempt to remove limitations which are non-automatic, that is to say, do not proceed from what we call the laws of nature. It must be confessed that a consideration of our machinery for putting regulations on the statute book, does not lead to any great optimism at the moment in this regard.

It is in the method of attack on its problems, that modern inductive science offers such a striking lesson to politics and legislation; in recognising the existence of certain forces in the universe which have real validity, and that in consequence its triumphs must be achieved by ascertaining the nature of these forces and, taking them as they are, employing and combining them to achieve the desired result. But the whole of our modem civilisation is hedged in, distorted, and confused by a number of limitations which have no validity other than that which we choose to give them. Let anyone who may doubt this statement, and its profound significance, take up a daily paper and consider the suggestions of correspondents and leader-writers in regard to any situation which may at the moment be engaging attention. Has there been a motor accident? Then a new law must be passed imposing fresh restrictions on the use of motor-cars. Has there been a strike in the East End? Laws should be passed to make striking illegal. The joint phenomena of several millions of unemployed and under-employed, capable of road building, and willing to work, and the fact that 95 per cent of the motorcar accidents which occur are traceable to avoidable congestion of traffic and out-of-date roads, is apt to be the very last thing which is pointed out in relation to the first-mentioned problem; and the fact that the actual amount of goods which would be bought by the extra money necessary to keep the East End strikers at work, is trivial in comparison with the quantity available, is never even mentioned in regard to the second.

It should not be, but probably is, necessary, at this point, to observe that it would be fantastic and impracticable to destroy the whole fabric of legalism at one blow. There is a great deal of work to be done in deciding the nature and relation of physical and psychological limitations before anything so drastic is possible. But it is possible to recognise and to work towards the objective; and, moreover, it is urgent. Especially in America, legalism is becoming an obsession. Yet non-automatic laws rest upon a very insecure foundation. When we see, as we do, statements in leading European and American journals to the effect that civilisation is tottering, it may be inferred without much difficulty that it is this fabric of non-automatic rules and regulations which seems to the writers to be in danger. The laws which govern the combination of oxygen and hydrogen, or the rate of acceleration of a stone dropped over a cliff, are never seriously endangered by any of the events to which so much importance is attached in Wall Street and Lombard Street.

This being so, the picture presented to the mind of any thoughtful observer must be that of a bridge which has been reared through the agency of scaffolding and false-work. Its completion has been delayed and its lines obscured by the failure to remove the structure which has enabled it to be built, but which is no longer necessary. The people of the world are clamouring for admission and many of them are supported by the false-work. The problem is to get the false-work away without precipitating into a catastrophe the swarming multitudes who regard it as the real structure. Unfortunately, a number of the foremen working on the bridge seem themselves unable or unwilling to distinguish the structure from the scaffolding.