|Louis Even said: “Social Credit was
a light on my path.”
The movement of the Pilgrims of St. Michael, through the MICHAEL Journal, seeks to promote an economic and social order that is more in keeping with human needs and the physical capacity to meet them.
With this aim in view, MICHAEL advocates the financial principles formulated by the engineer, economist and philosopher Clifford Hugh Douglas, known as Social Credit, or Economic Democracy.
But to see in Douglas’ teaching only a reform of the financial system would be to lessen its significance. Even though this reform is essential, it is only a means to an end. And this end is the liberation of the individual, with its economic security, guaranteed by the recognition of his claim on a share of the unearned increment of association.
As a free being, the human person must be able to exercise his freedom of choice in organizing his life and in the pursuit of his destiny, assuming himself the responsibility for the consequences of his choice. “Person” means freewill and responsibility. The normal limit of the exercise of freedom of choice of the individual is the respect of the same freedom for others.
As a social being, the human person must contribute to the common good according to his abilities and his place in society. He must also be able to benefit personally, for his own enrichment and development, from the advantages of living in association.
Social Credit refuses the subjection of the individual to the financial dictatorship, an evil that is prevailing in all civilized countries, even those who call themselves Christian and respectful of human rights.
Social Credit also refuses the subjection of the individual to the State, as it is the case in totalitarian countries — a subjection we are gradually heading for in our own countries under the pretext that the State must intervene to help individuals struggling with financial problems. The solution that shows respect to the human person would be to remove the basic causes of these financial problems and leave the person with his own responsibilities.
The human person must neither be the plaything of finance, of the State, of any institution nor of any group. On the contrary, finance, governments, institutions and groups of all kinds have no legitimate right to exist unless they serve the human person.
In economics as well as in politics, the Social Credit principles give primacy to the individual, the human person. individual. And the human person means every human being, regardless of age, state of wealth, health or rank in society.
In this, the philosophy underlying Social Credit is in perfect conformity with Christian philosophy. Pope Pius XI wrote in his encyclical letter Divini Redemptoris:
“The human person must be placed at the forefront of earthly realities.”
Similarly, Pius XII wrote in a letter to the President of the Social Week of France in 1946:
“Ultimately, everything must aim at liberating the human person, that God has placed at the height of the visible universe, making him the measure of everything, in economics as well as in politics.”
Everything must aim at freeing the human person, removing obstacles to his full blossoming. In economics as well as in politics, the human person must be the measure of everything: systems (financial as well as others), government, associations, industries, businesses, shops, methods of production and of distribution, political groups, trade unions or employers, absolutely everything.
To remove the obstacles that prevent the economic and social liberation of the human person is not enough, the cultural, material and spiritual increment that comes from the fact of living in society must also be put at the disposal of the human person.
In the spiritual order, the Church does it beautifully, opening his vast spiritual treasure for all people, providing free gifts of infinite value and inviting each person to draw from this treasure without limit.
In this regard, civil society must also put at the service of all its members today’s huge production capacity, which is mainly the fruit of life in aossociation, of progress that would have never taken place or been passed on from generation to generation, if people had lived in isolation. This is an increment, an enrichment that goes beyond any individual efforts, an increment of association, which should benefit all members, all individuals, whatever may be their condition in the economic system or status in relation to the productive system.
The implementation of the Social Credit principles realizes in a concrete way, in the temporal order, the liberation and enrichment of the human person, through the method it advocates for the distribution of modern production. While continuing to reward, through wages and salaries, the personal efforts of all those hired in production, a Social Credit system calls for the distribution to all — employed or not — of a periodic dividend that would recognize their right to the fruits of progress, the fruits of life in association; a right of co-members of society, of co-heirs.
Besides, in any production, there is a part unearned by any person, the part that is a gift of God: natural resources, raw materials, the forces of nature, etc. All human beings must, in some way, benefit from these free gifts. It is up to civil society to establish the way to do it, through an appropriate adjustment in the economic organization:
“Every man indeed, as a reason-gifted being, has, from nature, the fundamental right to make use of the material goods of the earth, though it is reserved to human will and the juridical forms of the peoples to regulate, with more detail, the practical realization of that right.” – Pope Pius XII, Pentecost radio-address of June 1, 1941.
The Social Credit method takes into account this right of every human being to have access to earthly goods. Dividends to all, plus wages or profits to producers, would make up the total purchasing power for products and services. As progress decreases the share of human labor required in production, the dividend is expected to make up a larger share of total purchasing power.
Obviously, the person does not have rights only, but also duties. In the economic order, the community market, that is to say, a flow of products and services, must be maintained. Able-bodied individuals must be prepared to provide their work, according to their choices and skills, as long as it is needed to supply production. This goodwill is not lacking in Canada, as hundreds of thousands people remain unemployed while the flow of products do not dry up.
The dividend to each individual should be sufficient to provide at least the basic needs, in a country where the production is so abundant that the problem is not to produce it, but to sell it.
Besides, it is only once people have satisfied their basic needs that they can truly exercise their freedom of choice. In front of a good that is useful but non essential, someone can choose between accomplishing the conditions to obtain it, or to do without it. But when a person lacks the bare necessities of life, he is obliged to comply with the conditions imposed upon him to get them, even if these conditions do not respect free enterprise, or its responsibility as regards the human or moral value of his work.
The first fruit of today’s progress should be to free the human person from purely material concerns. If it does not, it is because the financial method of sharing and distributing the wealth does not take account, in its standards, of the freedom of the human person and his fundamental economic rights.
Because of this deficiency, the use of State control, or socialism, on the one hand, and the concentration of wealth and huge productive plants, on the other hand, help to diminsh and suffocate the individual rather than contributing to his development.
In a letter dated June 12 1959, written upon the request of Pope John XXIII by his Secretary of State, Cardinal Tardini, addressed to the Social Week held in Grenoble, France, one reads:
“The area in which modern man can think by himself, act on his own, exercise his responsibilities, and enrich his personality is, in many cases, unduly restricted.”
This means that much remains to be done for the human person to be actually placed at the height of the visible universe, in economics and politics, and truly become the measure of all things. The application of the Social Credit principles would do much to fill this gap, not only by a periodic dividend to each citizen, but also by automatically financing all that is physically possible and answering the public or private needs of the population.
Let us add that the Social Credit Movement led by MICHAEL does its share, even under the adverse conditions of the current financial and economic system, for the development and blossoming of the human person — at least among its members, through the exercise of the spirit of initiative, personal responsibility and social duties in their apostolate work for the advent of a better world.