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The Origins of the Social Credit Movement Founded by Louis Even

Written by Louis Even on Wednesday, 01 May 2019. Posted in Social Credit

Louis Even wrote the following article in 1964. He left it unsigned and referred to himself in the third person.

It was in the later months of 1934 that Louis Even read a book on Social Credit for the first time. He was working at Garden City Press, the printing shop of the Industrial and Educational Publishing Company, at Sainte-Anne-de-Belle-vue, near Montreal. The president of the company, J. J. Harpell, was more than a businessman. He wanted to promote the intellectual development and general knowledge of his employees. To this end, he established the ‘Study Circle of Gardenvale’ (Gardenvale was the name of the post office located in the same building as the printing shop.). During the winter months, the 120 or so employees met together every Friday night in the Town Hall for a lesson. Louis Even was the instructor.

From Electricity to Money

During the winter of 1934-35, the topic studied was electricity. A book on the topic written by Dr. W. L. Goodwin was translated into the French language by Louis Even the preceding summer, specifically for the winter study session.

Much was being said at that time about electric power being a monopoly and the monopoly’s relationship with the Royal Bank of Canada, then Canada’s largest bank. The study of this monopoly soon would lead to the discovery of the powerful monopoly of money and credit.

Mr. Harpell was already set on the track by the Honourable William Stevens Fielding, Minister of Finance in the Liberal government in Ottawa. Until he was active in government, Mr. Fielding had been the editor of the Journal of Commerce, printed at Garden City Press. Mr. Harpell and Mr. Fielding had a close relationship. One day, Mr. Fielding, then Minister of Finance, told Mr. Harpell: “If you want to know where the financial power resides in Canada, look towards the banks and the insurance companies.”

It was therefore decided, in the winter of 1934-35, that the course for the following winter would bear on the study of money and credit. Everyone set out to find a book on the topic, either an existing title or a manuscript that would be printed at Garden City Press.

Research

The call for a book was launched in The Instructor, the periodical published by the Study Circle during the winter months. Recommendations were made of books, pamphlets and a few manuscripts. Mr. Harpell looked at these selections and then passed them to Mr. Even for his evaluation.

J.J. Harpell and his printing shop in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue

Amongst the material for review was a manuscript written by Gerald Grattan McGeer, Mayor of Vancouver from 1935 to 1936, who wanted to remediate the effects of the Depression by launching a number of public work projects which the government would finance by creating money. The theory may have been generous, but surely a bit wild, as it placed too much significance on state ownership.

Nevertheless, The Conquest of Poverty, by G. G. McGeer was published by Garden City Press.

Another manuscript, less bulky than McGeer’s, Money — What is it? written by Mrs. A. I. Caldwell of Bristol, New Brunswick was submitted. She was the sister of the great fish exporter of St. John, N.B., Neil McLean (who was later appointed to the Senate). He was a man well-informed about the monetary system. The manuscript was selected as the text for the next winter’s Study Circle of Gardenvale. It was translated into French by Louis Even.

A book written by Sylvio Gesell was also submitted for consideration. Gesell’s ideas had a good number of followers in many countries. Gesell recommended a ‘taxed money’ designed to promote its circulation: The bearer, on the 1st and 15th of each month, affixed a stamp equal to 2 percent of the value to the reverse side of each banknote. Stamps would be purchased and banknotes would not be accepted for trade without an up-to-date stamp. After two years, there was no room to affix more stamps and the banknote would be taken out of circulation. The total of the stamps purchased would provide the government with the price of the banknote. The new banknote was thus already paid. Louis Even did not like the theory very much as the individual was incentivized to spend his money quickly in order not to see his money lose its value. Louis Even saw this concept as contrary to the freedom of choice of the individual.

A Stroke of Light

One day, the mail brought a simple 96-page pamphlet entitled From Debt to Prosperity, written by J. Crate Larkin, of Buffalo, New York. It was a summary of the monetary principles of Clifford Hugh Douglas. Louis Even read the book during his daily train commute between Montreal and Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue and was immediately convinced of its significance.

He recognized a group of principles which, when applied, would make a perfect monetary system; a system of finance flexible enough to answer all the situations of economics, capable of bending itself to the facts of economics, rather than dictating or contradicting their reality. The system respected the freedom of choice of individuals, served both the systems of production and consumption, and would meet the needs of society and economics.

Immediately, Louis Even thought to himself: “Everyone must be made aware of this!” From then on all his thoughts would be directed toward realizing this wish.

Two more books, more exhaustive than Larkin’s pamphlet, were also forwarded on the topic of Social Credit: Social Credit for Canada by W. A. Tutte, and Economic Nationalism by Maurice Colbourne. Later, Louis Even acquired other works by Douglas and other writers on the same topic, all written in the English language.

At the request of Louis Even, Mr. Harpell agreed to publish Larkin’s pamphlet, From Debt to Prosperity, in French. Larkin’s book was the beginning of French language publications on Social Credit, and Louis Even was the translator.

In 1959, the Movement held a congress in Allardville, New Brunswick, Canada. On that occasion, Mr. Even explained how he came across Social Credit:

“As far as I am concerned, every day of my life (and I am sure it will be the same for me on the other side of the veil as well) I will be blessing the good Lord for putting Social Credit upon my path in this life. I will always remember that fateful day in 1934 when I was riding on the train that was taking me from Montreal to my job in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue. I was privileged to read a 96-page pamphlet that explained Social Credit to me [J. Crate Larkin’s From Debt to Prosperity]. I was not looking for Social Credit on that particular day. However, I was looking for something that would put an end to the stupid financial crisis with which we were all struggling during that time.

“I had read many things that day besides having worked at my regular job. I was an instructor for the workers of our printing house. Every week we held a study session with the more than 100 workers. We had chosen for that particular day a session on the question of money and credit. Therefore, we were looking for accounts on the subject. I had read many manuscripts, a few small pamphlets and different books that had been sent to us. In all of these, I found that efforts were being advanced to improve the situation. But there were things that were ridiculous, and there were problems in all of them. They were saying that one could come to the help of the people but not without requiring something, such as that programs were put together, or that a dictatorship was installed, or that socialism was established.

“When I came upon Social Credit, I said: ‘This is fantastic!’ It hit me straight between the eyes like a thunderbolt, and I made up my mind immediately that I had just discovered a ‘truth’ on my path. The other books all had shadows in their overall portrayal of the problems with the financial system at that particular time. There were no grey areas in Social Credit’s overall picture of the exact problem with the financial system; a very great truth had fallen onto my path.

“After reading a few pages on Social Credit, even before I had completed the entire book, when I saw what Social Credit was all about, I said to myself: ‘This is so wonderful that all people have to come to know what Social Credit is. It came upon my path; it has to be put onto the path of all people.’ It is Providence who put Social Credit onto my path, and even though I was not very wealthy at that particular time in my life and I did not know how to go about making this great truth known to everyone, I had the desire to do so. I was practically vowing that I would start to make this great truth known to everyone as soon as possible. I kept working at my regular job, and I could only give time to the cause of Social Credit on weekends. Then one day, thanks to the initiative and support of Mrs. Gilberte Cote-Mercier, I was able to leave my regular job at the printing house [on Sept. 4, 1938] and become a full-time Pilgrim for the great Social Credit cause.”

During the winter of 1935-1936, all the employees at Garden City Press studied Douglas’ doctrine during the weekly courses on money and credit.

In 1936, Louis Even launched a project he had considered for a long time: the publication of a periodical which he would call Cahiers du Crédit Social (Social Credit Notebooks). The first issue was dated October 1936 and was published while Mr. Even was working at Garden City Press. He wrote in the evenings and toured the region on the weekends. By August 1939, a total of 16 issues were published.

Finally, in September, 1939, as Canada entered World War II, he started VERS DEMAIN (literally, Toward Tomorrow), which has been in continuous publication since that date. A periodical in English, now called MICHAEL, has been published since 1953.

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