Question — Is Social Credit only a monetary system?
Social Credit is, above all, a conviction based on facts, and supported by principles. It is a philosophy of economic life. Social Credit reasons in terms of realities, not in terms of money. On the one hand, there are normal needs, which are a reality, and on the other hand, the possibility to produce and deliver the goods that answer these needs.
Another fact: life in society allows much more production than what could be achieved by the addition of all the activities of individuals living in isolation, without any relation with each other. The difference is an enrichment due to the fact of association, an increment that must benefit all the members of society.
Hence the conviction expressed by Social Credit, namely, because of the present abundance of production, a well-organized society can and must supply all of its members with the means to satisfy their economic needs, in the order of their urgency. In other words, there must be a certain level of economic security guaranteed to each person, with no condition but the very existence of this possibility.
The financial proposals set up by the Scottish engineer Clifford Hugh Douglas, and the modifications they imply in the present monetary system, are only means to achieve this end. By establishing what end must be achieved, and subjecting the means to this end, Social Credit agrees with the concept of a truly humane social organism that Pope Pius XI had in mind, when he wrote in his encyclical letter Quadragesimo Anno, in 1931:
“For then only will the economic and social organism be soundly established and attain its end, when it secures for all and each those goods which the wealth and resources of nature, technical achievement, and the social organization of economic affairs can give. These goods must be sufficient to supply all needs and an honest livelihood, and to uplift men to that higher level of prosperity and culture which, provided it be used with prudence, is not only no hindrance but is of singular help to virtue.”
The expression “all and each” was also taken up by Pope Pius XII in his Pentecost radio address on June 1, 1941:
“Every man indeed, as a reasonable gifted being, has, from nature, the fundamental right to make use of the material goods of the earth... Such an individual right cannot, by any means, be suppressed.”
These are principles which existed long before the above-mentioned Popes expressed them. They also existed long before Douglas conceived the Social Credit philosophy in 1917.
Douglas, however, added another factor to the right of every man to make use of the material goods of the earth. Pius XII said man has this right because he is a reasonable gifted being; this was true since the creation of the first human being. Douglas added another consideration: man of today's generation has this right because he has inherited all the discoveries, inventions, applications of science, new sources of energy, progress in the process of production, and all that has been passed on from past generations to ours.
This inheritance, which has not been “earned” by anyone of the present generation, is a community good that equally belongs to all. It is also the largest factor in today's production, without which neither the efforts of workers nor the financial figures of capitalists would be able to supply but a small percentage of today's huge production. It is a common inheritance, a real common capital, and therefore all the coheirs are entitled to a share of the fruits of this productive capital.
The income issued from a capital is called a dividend. The income issued from a social capital, of which all are coheirs, is called a social dividend. This is what is meant by the periodical dividend to all and each, one of the basic points of the social organism advocated by Social Credit.
When Pius XII stressed the fundamental right of every man to make use of the material goods of the earth, he added:
“It is reserved to human will and the juridical forms of the peoples to regulate, with more detail, the practical realization of that right.”
Will not, in today's world, the application of a periodical dividend to each individual realize this right in a concrete and efficacious way? Certainly in a much better way than the complexity of all the social security measures that imply a barbaric tax system, repeated inquiries and means tests, and an army of civil servants.
Is not the fact of giving each citizen, from the cradle to the grave, a statute of capitalist, entitling him or her to a periodical dividend on the economic and social plane, the best weapon to set against the socialist and communist propaganda?
Such an income, reaching individuals in the form of a dividend, will respect their dignity. Contrary to wages and salaries, it is not linked to bondage. It does not have the humiliating character of any aid or allowance which requires that one proves his poverty. It is the recognition of a birth right, inherent to the individual, the right to a share of the goods issued from the natural resources created by God, and the patrimony passed on by past generations.
This notion of patrimony from past generation, called by Douglas “cultural inheritance”, was also understood and expressed by another great mind — not an economist nor a sociologist by trade — but one of the most distinguished philosophers of the twentieth century, Jacques Maritain, who wrote in 1936 in his book Integral Humanism:
“We think that, in a system where a (more social) conception of property would be in force, this axiom ('nothing for nothing') would not be able to survive. Quite to the contrary, the law of usus communis would lead us to establish that, at least and foremost, what regards the basic material and spiritual needs of the human person, it is proper for people to get, for nothing, as many things as possible... The human person being served in his basic necessities is only, after all, the first condition of an economy which does not deserve to be called barbarous.
“The principles of such an economy would lead to a better understanding of the profound meaning and the essentially human roots of the idea of inheritance, in such a way that... all men, upon entering into the world, could effectively enjoy, in some way, the condition of being a heir of the preceding generations.”
Jacques Maritain also took up this idea several times in his book Principles of a Humanistic Economy, in 1944:
“Finally, it is this condition of coheirs of the efforts of all that makes it feasible that all must get, for nothing, as far as possible, a share in the elementary, material, and spiritual goods of human existence.”