For those who are completely new to the Social Credit philosophy advocated by MICHAEL, two points must be immediately clarified: 1. Social Credit is by no means a form of Socialism; and 2. Social Credit is not a political party.
Because of the word social in the term "Social Credit", some people erroneously assume it to be a form of Socialism, and automatically reject it. On the contrary, Social Credit is the best way to fight Socialism and Communism, and to protect private property and individual freedom. A Dominican Father, who had studied the Social Credit proposals, even wrote: "And if you want neither Socialism nor Communism, bring Social Credit in array against them. It will be in your hands a powerful weapon with which to fight these enemies."
And in 1939, a Commission of nine theologians appointed by the Bishops of Quebec found that Social Credit was not tainted with Socialism nor Communism, and was worthy of close attention. In fact, Social Credit wants to make every member of society a real capitalist, a shareholder in the wealth of the country. If the expression "social" credit scares some people, Douglas's financial proposals can also be referred to under other names: public credit, economic democracy, or New Economics.
Not a political party
Concerning the issue of political parties, it is true that parties called "Social Credit" existed in the past, and that is why some people may be confused: a "Social Credit" party existed on the federal scene in Canada for a while, and was even in power in the Province of Alberta, Canada, from 1935 to 1971, and in the Province of British Columbia, from 1952 to 1991 (except for three years, from 1972 to 1975). None of these provincial parties applied Social Credit. (The very day he took office as premier in 1952, Bennett, the B.C. "Social Credit" leader even said that his party would do absolutely nothing to apply Social Credit principles. Actually, there was nothing even closely related to real Social Credit in this party or its platform; it should have been more accurately called "conservative".)
The fact is that there is no need for a so-called "Social Credit" party to have C. H. Douglas's Social Credit principles implemented. These principles can be applied by any political party presently in office, whatever its name — Liberal, Conservative, etc. Some people may have thought that promoting "Social Credit" parties was the better way to promote Social Credit, but C. H. Douglas and Louis Even thought exactly the opposite.
As Douglas and Louis Even pointed out, the creation of "Social Credit" parties was even a nuisance, and did nothing but to prevent the implementation of real Social Credit. For example, as soon as you use the words "Social Credit" to name a political party, you just close the minds of people of other parties to even study Social Credit, since they will consider it only as another party to be fought.
Real democracy means that elected representatives are sent to Parliament precisely to represent their constituents, and to express the will of their constituents. So the point is not to create new parties, and divide the people even more, but to unite the people around common objectives, and then to put pressure on the Government to implement these objectives. This method of pressure politics is the one advocated by the Michael Journal.
In a speech given to Social Crediters on March 7, 1936, Douglas said: "If you agree that the object of sending a set of men to Parliament is to get what you want, then why elect a special set of men, a special party at all? The men who are there should get you what you want — that is their business. It is not their business to say how it is to be got... How things are done is the responsibility of the expert."
On the same occasion, Douglas said that the idea that a Social Credit party should exist (in any country) was a "profound misconception". He even added: "If you elect a Social Credit party, supposing you could, I may say that I regard the election of a Social Credit party in this country as one of the greatest catastrophes that could happen... (It) would be to elect a set of amateurs to direct a set of very competent professionals. The professionals, I may tell you, would see that the amateurs got the blame for everything that was done." This is precisely what happened in Alberta in the 1930s. (Douglas wrote a very interesting book on that subject, entitled The Alberta Experiment, from which the following information is taken.)
The Alberta experiment
William Aberhart was a principal of Calgary High School, who commanded a province-wide audience every Sunday with his religious broadcasts. He came across a book on Social Credit and, being so carried away by this new light, he began to use his radio program to preach the "gospel" of Social Credit, and to mobilize support for it. Hundreds of study groups soon appeared across the province, and a majority of Albertans became in favour of Social Credit. The ruling party in Alberta at the time, the United Farmers, was also open to Social Credit, but said that it could only be applied nation-wide, and not provincially. Aberhart disagreed, and decided to present Social Credit candidates in the 1935 provincial election, and he captured 56 of the 63 seats in the provincial legislature. They were all new to politics, being a "set of amateurs", and were no match for the Financiers.
For example, when Aberhart took office, instead of listening to Douglas's advice, he went to Ottawa to seek financial assistance, and an economic adviser, Mr. Robert Magor, was given to him. This Mr. Magor had obviously only one objective in mind: to discredit Social Credit. Measures were adopted that were just the opposite of Social Credit, and that is what Douglas called "a policy of capitulation to orthodox finance... Almost every mistake of strategy which could be made in Alberta had been made."
It must also be mentioned that Aberhart, although sincere enough, had also little knowledge of Social Credit, and did not understand its technical basis, which led him, in an effort to simplify Douglas's ideas, to often distort them. In the following years, fifteen Social Credit bills were voted on by the Alberta Government, but vetoed by higher authorities (either disallowed by the Federal Government, or ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court).
One point of contention was obviously that money and banking was under federal jurisdiction, according to the Canadian Constitution. Douglas explained to Aberhart that Alberta could bypass this difficulty by making use of its own credit by establishing a provincial credit system, since the Constitution grants to the provinces the right to "raise loans upon the sole credit of the Province."
As Douglas wrote in The Social Crediter of September 11, 1948: "When Mr. Aberhart won his first electoral victory (in 1935), all he did was to recruit an army for a war (against the monopoly of credit). That war has never been fought."
Aberhart had learned from his mistakes during his first years in office, and was ready, after World War II, to take up the fight again, but he unfortunately died in May, 1943. His successor, Ernest Manning, soon made it clear that he was not prepared to take up that fight again, and finally declared, in 1947, that his government would no longer do anything to implement Social Credit in Alberta. (Incidentally, after retiring from politics, Ernest Manning became a director of a bank.)
So those who say that "Social Credit is that funny money scheme tried in Alberta, where it failed", are dead wrong. Social Credit did not fail in Alberta, for the simple reason that it was never tried: all the attempts to implement Social Credit policies were opposed and defeated by a centralized power. As Douglas said, if Social Credit was absurd and worthless as an effective answer to the Great Depression of the period, the best way to have this demonstrated would have been to permit the Government of Alberta to go ahead with a Social Credit policy. The credit monopolists feared that even a partial application of Social Credit would prove so successful that every effort had to be made to prevent this from taking place.
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The only effective way to have the Social Credit proposals implemented by governments is therefore not to promote so-called "social credit" parties, but to make Social Credit principles known to the population — by distributing our Michael leaflets, and, above all, to solicit subscriptions to our Michael Journal — in order to create a public pressure that will be strong enough to get the government — of any party — of our country to issue its own money, debt free, and to implement Douglas's Social Credit principles.
You, dear reader of MICHAEL, have a direct role to play in that: Social Credit ideas will gain ground as long as YOU take action and pass the message on. Try to find a new subscriber as early as today, and the implementation of Social Credit will get closer.
Alain Pilote has been the editor of the English edition of MICHAEL for several years. Twice a year we organize a week of study of the social doctrine of the Church and its application and Mr. Pilote is the instructor during these sessions.