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What Is Social Credit ?

on Saturday, 01 August 1959. Posted in Social Credit

(The substance of an address given by Muriel Stewart to the members of De Nederlandsche Cooperative Girocrediet Ring, in Den Haag, 4th June, 1947, as reported in the paper "Social Credit")

It is a means to an end. The end is a way of life; and the means are certain reforms in the financial system. It is, in other words, a philosophy with a policy.

I would like to say something about this way of life to which Social Creditors look, because if you do not know what we are aiming at you cannot very well understand the purpose of the financial reforms we propose. Unless you can appreciate what the end is, you cannot appraise the means to that end.

Now if there were six Social Creditors here and you asked each one of them to give you his idea of a Social Credit society, each one would probably give you an answer which varied considerably in its detail. But there would be general agreement on certain principles.

In a Social Credit society the financial system would serve the interests of men, (I include women and children in that word, but it is shorter to use the word "men.")

At present the financial system does not, generally speaking, serve the interests of men, But it should be a convenient method of bookkeeping; and it should reflect reality and not govern reality.

You may agree with that opinion — I hope you do. That is, however, rather a vague statement and does not take us very far into the sort of society Social Creditors wish to see made possible.

In order that finance should serve our needs, Social Creditors hold the view that there should be as nearly as possible a perfect balance between the prices of goods and services which are or can be provided and the amount of money available to buy those goods and services.

I hope that sounds quite sensible for what, indeed, should money be except such a convenience? What, indeed is the purpose of production if we cannot buy that which is produced?

But that, you will say, does not tell us very much more about a Social Credit society. And you will be quite right, for a society is composed of individuals; and even if over the whole community we obtain a perfect balance between total prices and total spending-power — thus, in theory, enabling the community to buy all it produces it does not by any means follow that each individual would be adequately provided for.

Let us therefore look more closely at the individual in a Social Credit society for you and I are, I hope, all agreed that the structure of society is built for the benefit of the individual, and that the individual does not live in order to serve the structure.

So that we may understand the individual's position in a modern community we must, I think, look back into the past. We, in this generation may not be more gifted, or more ready to work hard, or more able than past generations. But we have this advantage over our ancestors we have inherited from them a vast store of inventions, of knowledge, of skill, and of organization.

Think how amazingly different life was made when the wheel was invented; when men found out how to use various metals to serve their needs; when men began to use steampower; when men increased their knowledge of machine power; and when men learnt the secrets of solar power.

We live now in an Age of Power. Social Creditors think of the Age of Power as one which provides mechanical slaves. These slaves may reside in electric power stations which make our homes lighter, warmer, pleasanter and cleaner to live in; the slaves may reside in a printing press which helps us to enrich our lives by enabling us to read of men, of ideas, of history, of science; or the slaves may reside in a locomotive which enables us to travel, to see new people, new things, new places.

And Social Creditors assert — and this is a very important part of Social Credit — that everyone, by reason of being born into this world, is entitled to a share in what the mechanical slaves produce. Or, in other words, that everyone is entitled to a share in the product of the cultural inheritance which former generations have left behind.

Now, in a modern community which uses money because of its convenience, it follows, I think, that the shares in the product of this cultural inheritance can most easily and most satisfactorily be made available to everyone in the form of MONEY. For with money you also get the power of choice, and that is important.

And so, Social Creditors say that every citizen should have what we term a NATIONAL DIVIDEND in money; in addition to any money earned. This is not "money for nothing." It is money which reflects — as money ought to the real facts: that is, money which gives the inheritors a power to claim their inheritance.

In connection with the National Dividend, it must also be remembered that in a modern community, where mechanical slaves are ready to do so much of the necessary work for us, there must perforce be men whose labour is for that very reason no longer required. And it is right that this human labour should not be required, so that men may have added leisure in which to expand and develop their personalities and to enjoy a happier and a richer life.

In this same connection, there are old people who should be enabled to enjoy their days in comfort and security; there are children and people otherwise unable to work; all of them — old, young, ill, able-bodied — are joint heirs and as such are entitled to a National Dividend..

Social Creditors do not share the view commonly held by Socialists that goods should only belong to those who work to make them. For those who work to make them use this inherited wealth of knowledge, skill and organization: they are thereby able to make many more goods, and we hold that this increase rightly belongs to everyone, whether or not every one is producing goods. You will see from this idea of the National Dividend that Social Creditors are not intent on providing full employment which we think will be neither necessary, possible nor desirable in some few years time.

We are more concerned with full enjoyment than full employment — for why indeed is the earth so rich, nature so prolific, and man so inventive and adaptable, if not to enable him to enjoy his life here in this world?

The National Dividend is, then, one of the Social Credit proposals. But there are two more.

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Now we all know that the banking system creates money and at present nobody else can create money. But industry is the source from which, either directly or indirectly, we all obtain our money.

I do not stop to prove either of these facts money is created by the banking system: money comes to us through industry.

According to the Social Credit analysis of the working of the present system, industry never pays out, nor can it, enough money to enable people to buy its total product. Social Creditors have held this view for over 25 years and we now find that orthodox opinion is coming round to this view. Orthodox authorities now suggest that there is not an automatic balance in our economic system.

Social Creditors say that, in order to achieve this balance — to which I referred earlier in more detail — this balance between prices of goods and services on the one hand, and purchasing-power on the other, retail prices to the consumer should be reduced.

The difference between the retail price paid by the consumer and that charged by the retailer should be made up to the retailer from new money created and issued for that purpose by the State.

You will note that I said the retail price should be reduced. The new money coming into existence to re-imburse the retailer would therefore only be used when the retail sale was made. To put the matter in another way, the new money would help the consumer (who receives an insufficient amount of money from industry) to pay to industry its total costs. The new money, would therefore merely fill an already existing gap and could not be inflationary.

The adjustment to make purchasing-power equal prices is known as the PRICE DISCOUNT and it is the second Social Credit proposal.

The third Social Credit proposal may be quite briefly stated. There should be a NATIONAL CREDIT OFFICE, which body would assess as nearly as possible the amount of new money needed to fill up this gap between purchasing power and prices, and would then authorise the creation and issue of that money as and when required.

Those, in short, are the three main Social Credit proposals — (1) the National Credit Office; (2) the Price Discount; and (3) the National Dividend.

I would like to add that Social Creditors do not imagine for one moment that the adoption of these three proposals will lead us immediately or eventually to heaven on earth. And heaven on earth might be rather boring anyway. Far from it. What we do say is that, unless the financial system accurately reflects reality instead of subordinating reality to it, we cannot hope to achieve a state of society in which everyone may have, first of all, the necessities of life; secondly, amenities of life; and thirdly, the power to exercise his choice — AND IF YOU WILL THINK IT OVER, IT IS THIS LAST — THE POWER OF CHOICE — IN WHICH LIES TRUE FREEDOM.

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