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

Part II: The Mechanism of the Classical Ideal



BEFORE returning to a consideration of the working of the financial mechanism, with a view to understanding the manner in which it is made subservient to a Classical rather than a Modern conception of Society, it may be useful to examine further ideas which are invoked to give support to the policy; and one of such ideas which is being worked hard at the present time is that of the necessity for economy.

To the ordinary individual at his wit's end to achieve the task of making a small income meet an expenditure which invariably threatens to exceed it, the necessity for such economy would seem obvious and unanswerable. To those who have followed the arguments adduced in the preceding pages, it will be clear that there is a good deal to be said after granting, readily, the fact that the money incomes of the population are reduced by taxation, unemployment and otherwise, to a point at which lavish spending is quite impossible. It is probable that at the present time there are 25 per cent more shops or goods-distributing centres in Great Britain than there were in 1914, and it certainly would be difficult to suggest that those shops are empty of goods. It is impossible to take up a daily newspaper without observing that the major portion of it is devoted either to the necessity of increasing trade, or to the discussion of subjects whose interest largely depends upon that necessity, and one of the simplest and most obvious questions which arises, is the enquiry as to how the shops are to be emptied of their goods and this all-important "Trade" is to be stimulated and expanded, if everyone is more economical; which would appear to mean that they are to spend less, and save more.

This idea of thrift, like that of economy, is an example of the perversion of an idea which has lost its original application. When the business of obtaining bed, board, and clothes did, in fact, necessitate the application to it of the major portion of the day, it was a sound and far-sighted policy to simplify these needs as far as possible, not because there is any inherent virtue in simplification per se (which is a common delusion), but because the setting free of the time of the general population for other aims was a valuable achievement. But the devastating rigidity of thought, which is a distinguishing characteristic of the Classical or "Moral" mind, fastened on this situation and crystallized it into a static virtue. Once a virtue, always a virtue. The fact that there is no physical limitation to the satisfaction of reasonable material requirements - that in fact there is no such thing in the modern world with the exception of Russia as a poor country in any sense other than that of a scarcity of tickets to operate satisfactorily as purchasing-power only serves to transfer this exhortation to be thrifty, from goods of which there is a surfeit, to money of which there is a scarcity. The situation is similar to that of a man provided with every form of food, and with coal, wood and matches with which to cook it, but who is accustomed to cook his food upon a paraffin stove, and is informed that there is only a pint of paraffin left, and that in consequence the most rigid economy of food must now and in the future be enforced. And the extraordinary part of it is that the world in general as represented by the man, seems unwilling to try the effect of either wood, coal, or any other fuel than the metaphorical paraffin; or even, if forced, to eat his food uncooked. It is hardly necessary to stress the attractions of this situation to the paraffin merchants.

Taking the situation as it is, and assuming an increasing capacity to produce and deliver goods per unit of time as tile consequence of scientific progress, it is not difficult to see where obedience to this parrot cry of economy must lead us. If it does, in fact, reduce or even stabilise our consumption of the goods produced, and the hours of work, and the number of commercial workers remains the same, then, not only is unemployment stabilised, but either a greater proportion of the production of these workers must year by year be exported, or in some way or other, more and more producing organisations must be built up and the problem complicated at compound interest. Since, under these conditions, every country would be an exporting country, and the exporting of goods to other planets is not at present practicable, it is not difficult to foresee that complications may arise. When in addition we see the purchasing-power of "savings" constantly filched by excessive prices and predatory taxation, the adjuration to "save more" seems to underrate even the meanest intelligence.

The word "economy" originally meant the management of the household, just as "thrift" originally meant progress in achieving a happier and therefore saner state of life, and in this sense it is clear enough that both words still have a definite and useful meaning. But so far from the financial economy and thrift, which is so constantly preached at the present day, representing either good management or sane progress, it is mathematically demonstrable that it can only result in unbalanced production and consequent catastrophe. The only object of production is consumption, whether that consumption takes the material form in which the word is commonly understood, or whether we extend its meaning to include the artistic gratification which is to be obtained from production carried out under suitable conditions. And so far as production either fails, or is in excess in respect to these demands, neither economy nor thrift, in any true sense of the word, can be involved.

A further example of the perversion and misuse of words, in order to obtain the defeat of the concrete embodiment of those words, is in regard to the common use of the word democracy, and its glorification as an end in itself. In so far as the word is used to suggest the detailed administration of public affairs by the majority, it is a pure fantasy, and not only never has existed but it would seem probable, could never in the nature of things exist. In any kind of world of which we have any conscious experience, it would be a nightmare. If ten men be selected at random, and problems of graded difficulty be submitted to them, it is possible that the very simplest problem will be solved by all of them, but a point will rapidly be reached at which a decreasing minority will have any grasp of the subject at issue. In so far as the matters submitted to their judgment are not matters of precedent (and progress consists in a constant departure from precedent) it is certain that the minority of our selected ten will tend to be right, and the majority will always be wrong. On matters of policy, however, in sharp contra-distinction to the methods by which that policy should be carried out, the majority may be trusted to be right, and the minority is very frequently wrong. To submit questions of fiscal procedure, of foreign affairs, and other cognate matters to the judgment of an electorate is merely to submit matters which are essentially technical to a community which is essentially non-technical. On the contrary, broad and even philosophical issues, such as, for instance, whether the aim of the industrial system is to produce employment, or whether it is to produce and distribute goods, are matters of policy, and it is noticeable that such matters are kept as far as possible from the purview and decision of the general public. In fact, the aim of political wire-pullers is to submit to the decision of the electorate, only alternative methods of embodying the same policy.

The domain of policy comprises the removal of executives if the results achieved are unsatisfactory. Although the general public has partially awakened, during the past few years, to the immense power exercised by the permanent and superior Government Services, it is probable that few persons who have not intimate experience of the workings of a great Government Department, understand how completely the Permanent Heads of those Departments are immune from public control. They are, in the first place, appointed under a system which ensures that they shall possess a habit of mind suitable for incorporation in the formal machine of government (and in passing it may be noted, that for success in this initial stage, a purely Classical education is almost essential). Once appointed, their promotion and success is subject to secret influences whose ramifications may be said to extend to the ends of the world. The ostensible, or "Political" head of a great Government Department, is a mere tool in the hands of the superior Permanent Officials (and this is pre-eminently so in the case of the Treasury). It is not a difficult matter for the Permanent Officials of a Government Department to obtain the removal of the Political Head of it, but it is a matter of practical impossibility for the Political Head to obtain the removal of one of his own Permanent Officials. As a result, "Democracy," of which we hear so much, is defeated at the source; and it is this brand of ineffective democracy, forming the best possible screen for the operation of forces which are invisible and are not subject to criticism, which we are so constantly exhorted to preserve.

It should be clear without reiteration that this condition of affairs can only exist to perfection as a result of collectivist psychology. The prime duty of a State servant is obedience - impersonality; a surrender of individual judgment to a policy not necessarily understood. As we have previously indicated, there is a great deal to be said for this arrangement in the practical world of affairs, provided that the sources from which the policy originally proceeds are such as will stand the light of the fullest publicity; but when, as is the case at present, the policy is derived from sources which shun publicity by every means in their power, unquestioning obedience, so far from becoming a public duty, becomes a public danger.