The Louis Even Institute for Social Justice explains the cause of poverty amidst plenty and the solution of Economic Democracy
This is the text of the presentation that Mr. Philbert Bagilimana gave (prepared jointly with Mr. Alain Pilote) at the symposium in Cameroon in June, 2023, on behalf of the Louis Even Institute:
Firstly, we would like to thank Most Rev. Samuel Kleda, Archbishop of Douala; a special thank you to Father Dr. Clément Aboudi who is the representative of the Louis Even Institute in the ACERAC region. In closing, I would like to mention that Archbishop Samuel Kleda is a great friend of the Louis Even Institute, having come to Canada three times to follow our courses on economic democracy. We have also had the privilege of receiving several bishops who are members of ACERAC at our head office in Canada:
Most Rev. Joseph Atanga, S.J., Archbishop of Bertoua, President of the Cameroon Episcopal Conference;
Most Rev. Jean-Vincent Ondo Eyene, Bishop of Oyem Gabon here present;
Archbishop Basile Mve Engone of Libreville, Gabon;
Bishop Cyr-Nestor Yapaupa of the Central African Republic;
Bishop Mathieu Madega of Gabon.
We also had the great privilege of welcoming the rector of the University of Saint Jerome, His Majesty Emmanuel Pohowe, in 2012.
The Louis Even Institute for Social Justice was founded by Mr. Louis Even in Canada in 1935, with the aim of publicizing the economic reform of the Scottish engineer Clifford Hugh Douglas, known as economic democracy, which would guarantee economic security for every individual. The head office is in Rougemont, Quebec, Canada, a village that some of us know well.
The Institute is also known as the Pilgrims of St. Michael or the White Berets, and publishes five times a year a magazine called MICHAEL.
The Institute's aim is to achieve economic democracy by educating the people, since the power of the financiers comes from the people's ignorance of the creation of money in the form of debt by private banks.
There are enough resources on earth to feed everyone several times over, but it's the distribution that's lacking, as most people lack the purchasing power and monetary means to buy the necessities of life.
Whether a person lives in Africa or in Canada, they can do the same amount of manual work. The main reason for the difference in living standards between Western countries (Europe, Canada and the United States) and Africa is that Africans do not have access to the technological heritage of inventions which would enable them to produce more with less human labour.
And this access to new technologies is blocked for financial reasons. Give Africans these same resources, and they will astonish the whole world. On this subject, we like to repeat the words that Pope John Paul II addressed to the President of Nigeria on February 12, 1982, during his second visit to Africa:
"It is my conviction that all Africa, when allowed to take charge of its own affairs, without being subjected to interference and pressure from any outside powers or groups, will not only astound the rest of the world by its achievements, but will be able to share its wisdom, its sense of life, its reverence for God with other continents and nations, thus establishing that exchange and that partnership in mutual respect that is needed for the true progress of all humanity."
No one can remain indifferent to the problem of poverty and hunger in the world. Every day on the planet, more than 40,000 children die of hunger or illnesses that go untreated for lack of money. Worldwide, more than 1.7 billion people have to rummage through rubbish bins to find something to eat and stay alive. More than 100 million children around the world live on the streets, homeless, abandoned by their parents who can no longer support them.
According to Swiss sociologist Jean Ziegler, United Nation's (U.N.) Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food from 2000 to 2008, 100,000 people die from hunger daily throughout the world; 37,000 are children below age ten. A child dies of hunger every five seconds today. According to the World Food Report of the FA0 (Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N.), in 2008, the world's agricultural output could feed 12 billion people. The population at the time was 6.3 billion. There is enough food for everyone, yet thousands of children and adults die of hunger. Ziegler concluded: "The children who die of hunger are being murdered. This is the scandal of the century."
More than 5,000 deaths have been recorded on European migration routes since 2021; migration is caused by poverty and hunger, and these are deaths that we are able to count. Just imagine the people who lose their lives on inter-regional journeys or between neighbouring countries.
Human beings need a minimum of material goods to complete their short pilgrimage on earth, because while God created men and women with immortal souls, he also created them with material needs: food, clothing and shelter. But to be able to buy food, clothing and housing, human beings must have money to pay for them. Otherwise, the products will rot on the shelves, and the penniless person will starve.
In other words, money is the individual's right to live: without money, the individual will soon die. Those who have the power to create money— the bankers—literally control our lives, as Pope Pius XI rightly said in his encyclical letter Quadragesimo Anno in 1931:
"This power becomes particularly irresistible when exercised by those who, because they hold and control money, are able also to govern credit and determine its allotment, for that reason supplying, so to speak, the lifeblood to the entire economic body, and grasping, as it were, in their hands the very soul of production, so that no one dare breathe against their will."
A few lines later, the Pope added that "governments have fallen into the rank of slaves" and have "become the docile instruments" of the money powers.
The vice of the current financial system is that practically all the money in circulation is issued in the form of debt. Issuing paper money is a sovereign function of the State, but the commercial banks, by lending at interest loans that are accepted just as if they were paper money, have succeeded in putting every country in the world into debt.
In fact, the country with the most products, the United States of America, is also the country with the most debt. And this money created by the banks now forms the vast majority of the money in the countries, with paper money issued by central banks representing only a small percentage of the total (less than 5% in Canada and the United States).
The problem is that when the loans are repaid, the banks demand repayment of money that does not exist, hence the need to take out new loans and go further into debt. At the very beginning of his institute, Louis Even wrote a fable called "The Money Myth Exploded", which explains this process of money creation in the form of debt:
On the one hand, there are five castaways on an island, producing the various necessities of life; on the other, there is a banker who lends them money. To simplify our example, let's say there is a single borrower on behalf of the whole community, whom we'll call Paul.
Paul decides, on behalf of the community, to borrow enough money from the banker to keep the island's economy going, say $100 at 6% interest. At the end of the year, Paul has to pay back the 6% interest to the bank, i.e. $6. 100 minus $6 = $94, so there is still $94 in circulation on the island.
But the $100 debt remains. The $100 loan is therefore renewed, and another $6 must be paid at the end of the second year. 94 minus $6 leaves $88 in circulation. If Paul continues to pay $6 in interest every year, after 17 years there will be no money left on the island. But the $100 debt will remain, and the banker will be authorized to seize all the property of the island's inhabitants.
So, instead of paying the $6 interest each year, they decide to borrow the 6% interest from the bank to keep the $100 in circulation (increasing the debt to $106 the first year, and $106 plus 6% interest the second year, and so on); this only delays the problem, because after a few years, even all the money in circulation, which is still $100, is not enough to pay even the interest on the debt. The debt can never be repaid, not even in the first year.
Under the current system, we seem to have no choice but to go deeper into debt, or starve to death. This control of money by private interests is the greatest swindle of all time, and has led to disastrous consequences such as wars, economic crises, etc.
It was for this reason that Louis Even decided to propagate the doctrine of economic democracy, or Social Credit—a set of financial principles and proposals first enunciated by the Scottish engineer Clifford Hugh Douglas in 1918. The words "social credit" mean "social money" — money issued by society, as opposed to today's money which is "bank credit"— money issued by banks).
We prefer to use the words "economic democracy" to describe Douglas's solution, to avoid confusion with the Chinese social credit system, which is an instrument to control the population. Economic democracy would ensure that the economic and social organism effectively achieves its goal, which is to satisfy human needs, to ensure that goods, products and services meet human needs. And what enables human beings to have access to goods is money.
Economic democracy teaches that all men and women are co-heirs, co-owners of natural resources and progress, of the inventions of previous generations. This is essentially what Pope John Paul II wrote in 1981 in his Encyclical Laborem Exercens on human labour (n. 13):
"Through his work man enters into two inheritances: the inheritance of what is given to the whole of humanity in the resources of nature, and the inheritance of what others have already developed on the basis of those resources, primarily by developing technology, that is to say, by producing a whole collection of increasingly perfect instruments for work."
This is what Douglas calls cultural heritage — natural resources and progress — which are the two greatest factors of production, far more important than human labour or finance.
What economic democracy proposes is that money should be created without debt, to finance the country's needs. What it proposes is that everyone should really be a capitalis — not in the sense that Marxists give to the word capitalist, as being one who exploits the people, but in its original sense, that of owners of capital, as Pope St. John XXIII mentioned in his encyclical Mater et Magistra, paragraph 115:
"It is necessary to modify economic and social life so that the way is made easier for widespread private possession of such things as durable goods, homes, gardens, tools requisite for artisan enterprises and family-type farms, investments in enterprises of medium or large size."
The truth is that all the inhabitants of a country are shareholders in that country and co-owners of its natural wealth, a free gift from God, so each citizen would be entitled, as a shareholder in that country, to a dividend, part of the country's income.
Can anyone here explain to me why some people can monopolize the natural wealth created by God for free and leave others to starve (living near a cocoa field without knowing what chocolate tastes like). I know people who grow coffee, but after selling it as a raw material, they are unable to go and buy the finished product in the shop. The list could go on...
For this economic democracy to become a reality, we need real political democracy, i.e. for citizens to be able to obtain results from their elected representatives, so that the latter no longer give in to pressure from financiers, but instead serve the interests of the people. This will be achieved by educating the people, to form a public opinion powerful enough to ensure that the population is listened to by its elected representatives.
If certain countries such as Canada have the best social laws, such as old age security, child benefit, unemployment insurance, etc., this has not fallen from the sky; it is a society that has banked on education and has succeeded in understanding that corruption and social injustice do not move a society forward.
On my own behalf and on behalf of the Louis Even Institute, I extend my hand to you to follow in the footsteps of Louis Even by deepening the teachings of the doctrine of economic democracy, and more particularly I request the collaboration of ACERAC to set up a mechanism in the sub-region to educate the young and the young at heart about what social justice is. Thank you.