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Social Credit: Neither Socialism, Nor a Political Party

Written by Alain Pilote on Friday, 01 March 1996. Posted in In This Age of Plenty (book)

In this age of plenty - Introduction

Not Socialism

New students to the Social Credit philosophy should be forewarned: Social Credit is not a form of socialism. Social Credit is not a political party.

Because of the word social in Social Credit, some people take it for granted that it must be a form of socialism and therefore reject it firsthand. On the contrary, Social Credit is the best way to fight socialism and communism while protecting private property and individual freedom. A Dominican Father who studied the Social Credit proposals, went so far as to write: “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 or communism and was worthy of close attention. In fact, Social Credit wants every member of society to become a true capitalist, a shareholder in the wealth of the country. If the “social” in Social Credit worries some people, Douglas’s financial proposals can also be referred to by other names: Public Credit, Economic Democracy, or New Economics.

Not a political Party

As concerns political parties, it is true that parties called Social Credit have existed in the past and this explains why some people may be confused: a Social Credit party existed on the federal scene in Canada for some years, another took power in the Province of Alberta from 1935 to 1971 and another in the Province of British Columbia from 1952 to 1991 except for three years, from 1972 to 1975. Neither one of these provincial parties applied Social Credit. The very day he took office as premier, in 1952, Bennett, B.C.'s Social Credit leader, declared that his party would do absolutely nothing to apply Social Credit principles. There was actually nothing even closely related to real Social Credit in this party or its platform; it might have been more accurately called “conservative”.

The fact is, 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 a better way to promote Social Credit, but C. H. Douglas and Louis Even thought exactly the opposite.

As they pointed out, the creation of Social Credit parties was even a nuisance, and did nothing but prevent the implementation of real Social Credit. For as soon as you use the words Social Credit to name a political party, you have closed the minds of people of other parties, preventing them 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 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... 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 the principal of a 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 insisted that it could only be applied nationwide and not provincially. Aberhart disagreed and decided to present Social Credit candidates in the 1935 provincial election. He captured 56 of the 63 seats in the provincial legislature. They were all new to politics, being a “set of amateurs” and 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. Upon his return, he was given an economic adviser, Mr. Robert Magor, who had obviously only one objective in mind: to discredit Social Credit. Measures were adopted that were just the opposite of Social Credit, what Douglas called “a policy of capitulation to orthodox finance... Almost every mistake of strategy which could be made in Alberta had been made.” William Aberhart was the principal of a 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 insisted that it could only be applied nationwide and not provincially. Aberhart disagreed and decided to present Social Credit candidates in the 1935 provincial election. He captured 56 of the 63 seats in the provincial legislature. They were all new to politics, being a “set of amateurs” and no match for the Financiers.

It must also be mentioned that Aberhart, although sincere enough, had also little knowledge of Social Credit. He did not understand its technical basis. This often led him, in an effort to simplify Douglas‘s ideas, to distort them. In the following years, fifteen Social Credit bills were voted on by the Alberta Government, but they were all vetoed by higher authorities. They were either disallowed by the Federal Government or ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

The main point of contention was that money and banking is 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 of 1943. His successor, Ernest Manning, soon made it clear that he was not prepared to take up that fight 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 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, the best way to have this demonstrated would have been to allow the Government of Alberta to go ahead with a Social Credit policy. The credit monopolists feared that even a partial implementation of Social Credit would prove so successful that every effort had to be made to prevent this from taking place.

We firmly believe that the Social Credit principles, once implemented, would be a very efficient way to eliminate poverty. For the first time in history, absolute economic security, without restrictive conditions, would be guaranteed to each and every individual. So, dear reader, go ahead and study the following pages. You will find them most enlightening. Our hope is that this study will lead you to take action in making the Social Credit solution known to your fellow countrymen. Let us create a public pressure strong enough to get our governments to issue their own money, debt free, and to implement Douglas’s Social Credit principles.

The editors

Rougemont, March 1, 1996


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About the Author

Alain Pilote

Alain Pilote

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.