The Pilgrims of St. Michael promote an economic and social order that recognizes human needs and the physical capacity to meet them.
With this aim in mind, MICHAEL advances the financial principles known as Social Credit, or Economic Democracy, formulated by the engineer, economist and philosopher, Clifford Hugh Douglas,
To believe that Douglas’ teachings only advocate a reform of the financial system would be to minimize their significance. Reform is essential but it is only a means to an end. This end is the liberation of the individual whose economic security would be guaranteed, partly in recognition of each person’s claim to a share of the unearned increment of association.
The Human Person is a Free and Social Being
The human person is a free being who must enjoy the freedom to organize his life and pursue his destiny. A person has both free will and is responsible for his choices. Each individual’s freedom is only constrained by the fact that every person has an equal right to the exercise and enjoyment of their freedom.
As a social being, a person must contribute to the common good according to his abilities and his place in society. He must also benefit personally, in terms of his own development and enrichment, from the advantages of living in association.
Social Credit does not accept that the individual should be subjected to the dictatorship of finance. Financial dictatorships currently prevail in all civilized countries, including Christian nations who claim to honour the rights of their citizens.
According to Social Credit, the individual is not to be subjected to the tyranny of the state, as is the case in countries with totalitarian governments. Our western nations are gradually heading in a totalitarian direction under the pretext that the state must intervene to assist individuals struggling with financial problems. It would be preferred, and would be a sign of respect for the human person, if the citizenry were left free to manage their own responsibilities while the state solved its national economic problems.
Individuals must not be the “plaything” of finance, the state, any institution nor of any group. On the contrary, finance, governments, institutions and groups of any type have no legitimate right to exist unless the needs of the individual are served.
“At the height of the visible universe”
In economics as well as in politics, Social Credit principles acknowledge the primacy of each individual person, regardless of age, state, wealth, health or social rank.
Social Credit philosophy thus perfectly conforms to Christianity. In 1937, 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 Les semaines sociales (literally, Social Weeks), a French lay organization, 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 support the freedom of the human person. Obstacles to one’s full development must be removed. In economics and in politics, the human person is the measure of everything. All financial and other institutions, as well as governments, associations, industries, businesses, workplaces, shops, methods of production and distribution, political groups, trade unions and employers must be structured to enable the freedom of the individual person.
For the Enrichment of the Human Person
To remove the obstacles that prevent the economic and social liberation of the individual is not enough. The cultural, material and spiritual gains that are the fruits of life in society must also be at the disposal of the individual.
The Church is rightly ordered to the primacy of the individual person. She opens her vast spiritual treasury for all people and provides free gifts of infinite value, inviting each person to draw treasures without limit.
Civil society must also be at the service of each of its members. The huge capacity for production is primarily the fruit of life in association with one another and of progress. If people had lived in isolation we would not be enjoying the same capacity for production nor would the benefits of association have been passed down from generation to generation. This is an increment, an enrichment that surpasses any one individual’s efforts. The increment of association should benefit all individuals, whatever might be their status in relation to the system of production.
The implementation of Social Credit principles would realize the liberation and enrichment of the individual in the temporal order by ensuring a just distribution of modern production to all, employed or not, through the issuing of a periodic Dividend. The Dividend recognizes the individual co-heir’s rights to the fruits of progress and the increment gained by life in association. The personal efforts of people hired in production would continue to be rewarded through wages and salaries.
Additionally, in any production there is the portion not earned at all. These are God’s gifts of natural resources and raw materials, the forces of nature, etc. All individuals must benefit from these gifts and it is up to civil society to establish how this can be accomplished through its economic system:
“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 Sunday, June 1, 1941 radio address.
The Social Credit method would take into account the right of every human being to access earthly goods. Dividends to all, plus wages and producers’ profits, would comprise the total purchasing power for products and services. As progress decreased the share of human labor required in production, the Dividend would make up a larger share of total purchasing power.
Clearly, the individual does not have rights without responsibilities. In the community’s marketplace a flow of products and services must be maintained. Able-bodied individuals must be prepared to supply their work, according to their choices and skills, as long as was necessary to provide for a sufficient volume of production. This goodwill is not lacking in Canada, as hundreds of thousands are unemployed and the flow of products is ample.
At Least the Basic Needs
The Dividend should be sufficient to provide to each individual at least their basic needs in a country where goods and services are so abundant that the problem is not in production but in sales.
Besides, it is only when basic needs are satisfied that individuals can exercise their freedom of choice. Faced with a good that may be useful but non-essential, someone can choose whether to acquire the non-essential good or to do without. When a person lacks the bare necessities of life, however, he is obliged to comply with terms imposed upon him even if these terms do not respect free enterprise or have moral value.
The first benefit of today’s progress should be to free the individual from purely material concerns. If it does not, it is because the system of sharing and distributing wealth does not value the freedom of the individual and his fundamental economic rights.
Because of this deficiency, state control, or socialism, on the one hand, and the concentration of wealth and massive production facilities on the other, diminish and suffocate the individual rather than contribute to his development.
In a letter dated June 12, 1959, written at 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 indicates that there is much to be accomplished in order for the individual to hold the top position in the visible world in the realm of economics and politics and truly be the ‘measure of all things’, as advocated by Pope Pius XII. Social Credit would do much to fill this gap, not only because of its periodic Dividend issued to each citizen, but also by automatically financing production that is physically possible and thereby meeting the private and public needs of the population.
Let us add that despite today’s adverse financial and economic conditions, the Social Credit movement, led by MICHAEL, accomplishes its share of advancing the development of the individual through its apostolate work. Among our members we applaud personal responsibility, social duties and a spirit of initiative. v