One day, Douglas, the founder of the Social Credit school, was asked what he expected the propagation of his doctrine to achieve. The great man answered as follows:
“I will tell you, generally, what we are striving for. We are trying to bring a new civilization into this world, something which extends far beyond the bounds of a change in the financial system. We are hoping, by various means that are chiefly financial, to enable the human community to step out of one type of civilization into another and the first requirement, as we see it, is that of absolute economic security.”
What will this new civilization be like? What will the conduct of men be in their relationships with one another? Will they be better than they are today? What will be the characteristics of this new Social Credit civilization in which, according to Douglas, men will be able to accede.
No one can give exact answers to such questions. Social Credit has never pretended to be blueprint for a particular way of life for anyone. It would emancipate man but it has no wish to dictate to him.
Or, as another Social Credit writer put it, Social Credit is not a panacea but liberation. A panacea is a universal cure for all physical or moral disease. Obviously panaceas are not reality; this is something like a utopia. Social Credit is not a panacea.
Under a Social Credit system, it will still be necessary to maintain production; there will be difficulties to surmount, diseases to be cured, sorrows to bear, studies to be pursued, evils to be fought and virtues to be acquired. Arrogant desires will have to be restrained, injustice will have to be addressed and charity practiced.
Why do we speak of a new civilization? Because the men, who will build and live in this new civilization, will be free from the perpetual anxieties about tomorrow, so long as the earth brings forth enough wheat to supply bread and other necessities of life to everyone.
Today, grain elevators are full to breaking point and farmers decry the ever-increasing surplus of wheat. Yet there are still many who go hungry. Under a Social Credit system, such a situation would be impossible. The supply of bread would be determined by the supply of wheat and not by money. There would be money equivalent to the supply of wheat necessary to make bread; that is to say, there would be both wheat to make bread and money with which to buy the bread. The same would be true for all the other goods and services that are available to meet the necessities and needs.
Our present civilization certainly abounds in material and cultural riches, and religion offers its spiritual wealth in abundance.
Yet our civilization is a civilization of men in bondage, of men subjected to conditions which make it difficult or impossible for them to share in these material and cultural treasures. Even the pursuit of the spiritual is hampered because a man absorbed in the battle for material necessities does not live in a climate favorable to the contemplation and acquisition of virtue.
Saint Thomas Aquinas, the great theologian, pointed out the necessity of a certain amount of material goods for the practice of virtue. This is not to say that the mere possession of wealth in itself renders a man virtuous. He must still work at the practice of virtue. However, the lack of this prerequisite, of necessary material conditions, creates an obstacle and it is the duty of the economic and social order to remove this obstacle.
The same holds true for culture. Earning a livelihood should not occupy a man so that he has no time for other human activities which are more important. But this invariably happens when a man is trapped by the anxiety about tomorrow.
We admit, then, that Douglas is right when he says that, in his mind, the first condition necessary for the foundation of a new and better civilization is “absolute economic security.”
“Absolute” — that is without condition. In other words, the guarantee of one’s daily bread because of the simple fact of having been born into a world that is able to give abundance to all.
Relatively few people enjoy such absolute security today. Even among the people who possess the means of making a living for their families, the majority are never sure that they will have these means tomorrow or in ten or twenty year’s time.
Yet, if our socio-economic system were well ordered and the acquisition of the goods and products of nature depended only upon the existence in sufficient quantities of such goods, then everyone in the world would be able to enjoy absolute economic security.
But when the reception of goods depends upon financial conditions which are not in accord with the existence of goods and needs, then absolute economic security is impossible. Security depends then upon fluctuating conditions over which the individual has no control; and any security is then degenerated into insecurity.
In physical reality, we have a basis for security but our financial system is the root of insecurity. And since finance is given priority over reality, it follows that insecurity prevails over security.
Hence the statement of Douglas regarding the emergence of a new civilization presupposes the application of certain measures, especially in the field of finance. And this is the specific goal of Social Credit’s financial propositions which Douglas himself formulated.
What will result?
— What effects would this absolute economic security have upon individuals?
— What implications would it have upon you personally?
Let us suppose that a sum of money (or capital) were invested in your name. You cannot withdraw the capital thus invested but it brings you an annual revenue to the end of your days, a revenue that is sufficient to permit you to live decently and comfortably. This would be absolute economic security for you. In what way would this affect your life?
One thing is certain: you would immediately lose any uncertainty about being able to provide for your needs. Would you continue to work for a salary? You might, if you liked the work and if the extra revenue permitted you to live a larger and fuller life. Perhaps you would choose to leave your occupation in search for another which, though less lucrative, would be more to your taste (for you now no longer live in the shadow of debt). Perhaps you might choose to work for yourself, profitably or otherwise, making your own choice regarding what type of work you want to do.
You are now financially speaking, a free man. Your neighbor also would enjoy this privilege, were he to benefit from absolute economic security. And so also would all citizens when, according to Social Credit principles, they are endowed with this absolute economic security.
It becomes apparent immediately that certain inevitable changes would take place spontaneously.
Since purchasing power would belong (for the most part) to the consumers, they would dictate what the producers would manufacture. The economy would belong to the consumer and in this way, regain its true function and goal.
Again, the relations between employer and employee would automatically take on a new aspect. There would no longer be any question of workers unions and syndicates fighting amongst themselves. Once assured of their daily bread, men would no longer have to submit to the imposition of disagreeable or intolerable conditions. The various groups of those employed in production would surely take new forms, associationism would gradually replace payment by salary.
When men are set free by economic security, arrogant dictators will no longer have the power to make them kneel and grovel. This is why those who wish to dominate over the world are so violently opposed to Social Credit.
— But will not some people abuse this new liberty?
Would you yourself abuse it? If you had the chance to acquire this freedom, would you wish to have it withdrawn for fear you might abuse it?
But let us admit for argument’s sake that some might misuse it. Is this a good reason for holding on to economic slavery, an economics that propagates extreme anxiety for the future, when economic security is possible?
Pope Pius XI noted that a certain level of ease and culture does not hinder but instead facilitates the exercise of virtue, providing one makes wise use of such benefits. He knows some will misuse them but nevertheless, he wishes that conditions of a well- constituted economic and social system would exist. (Encyclical letter Quadragesimo Anno.)
We have previously stated that, even under a system of absolute economic security, there would still be problems to be resolved. But they will no longer be problems of finance but only relate to the functions of man. There will be educational, civic, medical, moral and religious problems — as there are today. Are we afraid of them? Does anyone imagine that the influence of our existing financial system can replace or aid any educator or priest in any degree or help morality and religion in any way?
Should not a man be able to learn mastery over himself by some other means than that of the continuous fear of going hungry?
Why should it be necessary for this spirit of fear for the future be perpetuated through the conniving money masters, when our granaries are full to the point of bursting?
The present system is nothing but economic heresy — it is starvation in the presence of abundance. Social Credit would substitute for it a true orthodox economy, an economy of security for everyone — justified by the evidence of concrete, physical facts.