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

Part III: The Design of Economic Freedom



THERE are two hypotheses as to the method by which changes of so far reaching a character as those we have been discussing might come about, one of which may be described as the evolutionary method, and the second as the revolutionary. For my own part I am inclined to believe in the probability of a combination of the two.

The outstanding fact in regard to the existing situation in the world at the present time, is that it is unstable. No person whose outlook upon life extends even so far as the boundaries of his village, can fail to see that a change is not merely coming, but is in progress; and it requires only a moderately comprehensive perception of the forces which are active in every country of the world to-day, to realise that the change which is in progress must proceed to limits to which we can set no bounds.

That is to say, the break-up of the present financial and social system is certain. Nothing will stop it; "Back to 1914" is sheer dreaming; the continuation of taxation on the present scale, together with an unsolved employment problem, is fantastic; the only point at issue in this respect is the length of time which the break-up will take, and the tribulations we have to undergo while the breakup is in progress. But while recognising this, it is also necessary not to fall into the error which has its rise in Darwinism; that change is evolution, and evolution is ascent. It may be; but equally it may not be. That is where the necessity for the revolutionary element arises; using, of course, the word revolutionary in a constructive sense.

There will probably come well within the lives of the present generation, a period at which the blind forces of destruction will appear to be in the ascendant. It does not seem to me to be necessary that this should be so, but it does seem to be probable.

There is, at the moment, no party, group, or individual possessing at once the power, the knowledge, and the will, which would transmute the growing social unrest and resentment (now chiefly marshalled under the crudities of Socialism and Communism) into a constructive effort for the regeneration of Society. This being the case, we are merely witnesses to a succession of rear-guard actions on the part of the so-called Conservative elements in Society, elements which themselves seem incapable, or undesirous of genuine initiative; a process which can only result, like all rearguard actions, in a successive, if not successful, retreat on the part of the forces attacked. While this process is alone active, there seems to be no sound justification for optimism; but it is difficult to believe that the whole world is so bereft of sanity that a pause for reflection is too much to hope for, pending a final resignation to utter catastrophe.

When that pause occurs mankind will have reached one of those crises which no doubt have frequently been reached before, but which so far have failed to avert the fall of humanity back into an era of barbarism out of which new civilisations have slowly and painfully risen.

The position will be tremendous in its importance. A comparatively short period will probably serve to decide whether we are to master the mighty economic and social machine that we have created, or whether it is to master us; and during that period a small impetus from a body of men who know what to do and how to do it, may make the difference between yet one more retreat into the Dark Ages, or the emergence into the full light of a day of such splendour as we can at present only envisage dimly.

It is this necessity for the recognition of the psychological moment, and the fitting to that moment of appropriate action, which should be present in the minds of that small minority which is seized of the gravity of the present times. To have a clear understanding of the principles which underlie the problem is essential to those who may hope to play a part in its solution; it is even desirable that skeleton plans should be in existence to meet the situation as it can be seen to exist; but nothing can be more fatal to a successful issue than the premature publication of cut-and-dried arrangements which are likely to be out of date before their adoption can be secured. As the world is constituted to-day, effective action is only possible through certain centres of influence; that is to say, short of complete social anarchy as a preliminary to a new world, it is necessary to work through the arrangements which have grown up in the system with which we are all familiar.

While the evolutionary process depends most probably on the formula to which the present civilisation is working, and, given adherence to that formula, is independent of human psychology, it is fairly obvious that the effectiveness of "constructive revolution" does depend, to a large extent, on this latter factor alone. In other words, although we can float down the Rapids and over the Falls without any struggling either on our part or on the part of those with whom we come in contact, the possibility of avoiding that uncomfortable journey, if there remains a possibility, requires definite exertion. And if the cataract must be run, a safe arrival on the waters of the placid lake which may lie beyond, is surely conditional on some sort of expert navigation. If the present onerous taxation is continued into an era of rising prices, we shall not have long to wait.

There are certain factors operative in human psychology which it is possible to recognise as helpful or the reverse. During a visit to New York I saw considerable numbers of fervent men and women carrying sandwich-boards and collecting-boxes through the financial quarters in and around Wall Street, bearing on them the legend, "The Salvation Army is Father Knickerbocker's best friend." It is perhaps hardly necessary to explain that Father Knickerbocker is generally taken to represent the respectability of solid, or perhaps preferably, liquid capital. That is to say, it may be taken as a scientific statement of fact that one of the most dangerous opponents of a better, cleaner world, is the sentimental spirit which is entirely concerned with the beauties of a prospective Heaven, whether that Heaven is theological or moral. The head of the institution to which I have just referred, has recently elaborated the preceding statement by an intemperate attack on the "dole," basing his objection to it on the "demoralisation" of the recipient and not, of course, on the financial jugglery which accompanies it - an attitude entirely similar to that of the Puritan in his abolition of bear-baiting; not because it was cruel to the bear, but because it gave pleasure to the populace. The practical outcome of this Puritanism is always negative. In short, there is a type of sentiment which, under existing conditions, is able to attain great respectability, but which can, with very little difficulty, be identified with the formalism against which the Great Reformer of nineteen hundred years ago launched his most bitter invective; and wherever that is found, the prospect of effective assistance is not encouraging.

Again, it is only rarely that we find a response from those who have been "successful in business." On the whole, the most promising type of mind is either that which has always been free from financial anxiety and yet, at the same time, is familiar with the technique of the modern world, or, on the other hand, the worker, whether by hand or brain, whose incentive is very largely artistic in origin, in the ranks of whom may of course be included practically all persons of really scientific temperament. Most unfortunately this latter class is, of all the divisions of Society, that least equipped, either by temperament or organisation, to exercise effective pressure.

Since, however, most men are complex characters, it is probably true that an effective appeal can be made to a large majority if the appeal is made in the right way. It is my considered opinion that the right way with most people is to discountenance severely any discussion of the general advisability of such matters as we have been considering, and, as far as possible, to put the appeal in the form: "Suppose that you yourself were offered certain conditions, such as we suggest, under which to carry on your business or your own personal economic life, would you accept them?"

With a majority of persons there is (no doubt as the result of the collective hypnotism generally referred to as education) a tendency to uphold a social ideal from which their personal existence is a continuous effort to escape. That is to say, their social ideals and their social actions bear about the same relation to each other that the aspirations of the average individual in regard to an immediate translation to Paradise, as expressed on his occasional Sunday church-going, do to his wishes as expressed by his business activity during the week, and his concern at the onslaught of a cold in the head. If he can be kept on the more or less solid ground of his individual tastes, and the means which would enable him to achieve them, he is amenable to reason; let loose on social ideals, and we generally have something of about equal value to the theology of the Salvation Army - a thing which clearly has definite uses in connection with a given set of premises, but is not a hopeful source from which to look for a new direction of objective - is, in fact, frequently a vicious obstacle.

It hardly needs emphasis that a constant binding back of proposals for reform, to the moving events of the world, is of the utmost value; in fact, if it be possible to clarify the relation between the analysis of the financial system, the foci of discontent, and the logical remedy, with sufficient emphasis and over a sufficiently wide area, then the stage will be set for the greatest victory which the human individual has, within history, achieved over the forces which beset him to his fall.