Articles on this blog are intended to introduce the reader to the nature and shortcomings of our financial system and ways to change it to free us from debt slavery
Lesson I - The Principles of Government
“SOCIAL CREDIT” means “the Credit of Society” - that is, the belief that human beings, working together in association, can gain for themselves the results they want to achieve.
Man is not a creature who can stand strongly when alone. In comparison with the rest of the animal kingdom, his body has few natural defences, either against the elements, or against his natural enemies. He cannot hunt his prey like the lion or the tiger. Physically he is a comparatively weak and late arrival in the order of living creatures.
Man, however, has become the most dominating of all living creatures on earth. This he has achieved through the power of association. Equipped with the gift of language, he is able to cooperate with his fellow men. Having discovered the secrets of reading and writing, the knowledge he has gained is not lost upon his death, he can acquire skill and learning from his fellow man who may have lived centuries before. He can add to this body of knowledge and pass a still greater heritage to those who come after him. By working with his fellow men, he has been able to secure protection for a group against common enemies. He has been able to devise and develop tools to aid him in his daily life – and borrow new skills and techniques from the inventions of others. He has been able to become a farmer instead of a nomadic hunter. He has learned to harness the forces of nature and bend them to his purpose. Every year sees new powers acquired by mankind – new abilities and new achievements to his credit. Every one of these comes from a single source. Man, by working in association with his fellow men, by building upon a heritage of culture laid down from the remotest past and still being added to today, has been able to become to a greater and greater degree the master of the Universe.
The Need for Government
Because of the great advantage that comes to men when they are able to cooperate with, and associate with their fellow men and have access to the store of knowledge and wealth accumulated in the past, societies of one sort or another have grown up in all parts of the globe.
The most fundamental and simple unit of human society is the family – a number of human beings linked by common ties of kindred. In time, the family expanded into the clan, and later still, groups of clans became associated in nations. The nation was a unit of peoples strong enough to give its members protection against their external enemies, and also secure to its members a particular territory. Each nation settled its own government, laws and customs, and protected its territory from invasion as well as it was able. At the present day, the territory of the world is divided into more than a hundred nations, and the whole of humankind is classified, with few exceptions, according to the nationality to which they belong.
As soon, however, as associations of human beings grew beyond the size of the family and clan, where natural parental authority could be expected to be adequate for the maintenance of law and order, then problems of government began. Primitive man had been so poor that his life was one of bare survival: his property was little more than his weapons, and his tent or cave. Once men were able, through the help they gave each other by working in association – through their “social credit” — to achieve for themselves an existence above bare survival, a new, important question arose. In what manner was this new wealth to be divided? What rights should each citizen have to the benefits that the community gave to all in common? What powers should the Government have over the person and property of individual citizens? The determination of these questions — and many different answers have been given to them in different lands and at different periods of history – form the most fundamental challenges of government. The allocation of rights of person and property among individuals, and the preserving of these rights against foreign invaders, have been from the earliest times, and still are, the most basic duties of government. By looking back, however, on the way in which organized government has come about, it is possible to obtain a guiding principle. The individual comes before the State – in time, and therefore in law. The State is the creation of people, and groups of people, who have banded together for mutual defence and mutual advantage, and it has no other purpose for its existence except to promote the benefit of those individual people who belong to it:
“Systems were made for men, and not men for systems, and the interest of man, which is self development, is above all systems, whether theological, political or economic.”(1)
It is perfectly true, of course, that by agreeing to live together in a society with his fellow men, a man agrees automatically to allow his neighbour certain rights and freedoms, which he in his turn expects to receive from the other members of the society to which he belongs. Society cannot continue in being unless this is the case, and it is, of course, the justification for Criminal Law. But basically it is turning the order of society upside down to say that the rights that the individual has come from the State. The reverse is true. The powers and the rights of Government come from the individuals who have set it up. It is not the individual who has only such rights as the State, by some “Bill of Rights” or other document, chooses to allow him. It is the State which only has such rights over the lives of its citizens as the people collectively have allowed it. As the great constitutional documents of our Common Law system – Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, the Act of Settlement, incorporated into Canadian Law by our Constitution Act – go to show, the right of the individual to control his government is one for which ordinary people have been forced to fight – and have fought – from generation to generation. It is following this tradition, that Social Credit has established as its most fundamental principle, that
I. “The individual is the most important factor in organized Society. His opportunity to choose and refuse, where it does not infringe upon the same freedom in others, must be protected by the laws of the land, and safeguarded by the administration of justice.”
The Duties of Government
It is very important indeed that this basic principle of Government – that it must recognize the fundamental freedoms of the individual – take its rightful place in the world today. In times past – indeed up to as little as fifty years or a century ago – there were still unclaimed and undeveloped lands in the world to which those who found the policies of their governments intolerable could flee. Canada, in fact, was one of those countries, and can number among her population many people and many ethnic groups – United Empire Loyalists, Ukrainians and other refugees from persecution in Russia or Eastern European countries, Doukhabors, and so on – who came to her shores for the sake of freedom from a government that would not recognize their wishes at home. There is very little space left in the world today, for those who are persecuted or cannot agree with the policies of the government of the territory in which they live, to establish what for many hundreds of years has been possible – a new nation, in a new area, under a new form of government. Governments today, in fact, are in a position to blackmail their citizens. No matter how they defy the citizen's rights: no matter how far their policies may be away from the true interests of those that they govern, it is increasingly difficult for the average citizen to escape from their powers – and this is true whether the means used to keep the citizen in his place is an Iron or a Bamboo curtain, or progressively stricter immigration laws between nations, and the growing scarcity of “free land” in the Western Hemisphere where immigrants may settle to homestead undisturbed and in peace.
It is quite true that the processes of democracy do allow citizens to elect their representatives to Parliament, and that laws are not passed, except upon a majority vote of these representatives. This, however, is not the whole solution to the question. Each individual citizen is in fact in a minority – a minority of one. Even assembled into groups of thinking people, he may still find himself so outnumbered as to have no voice in his own government. “Party Government”, unless restrained in some way, in fact means that the strongest political machine controls the government, and so can put itself in a position where it can plunder the property of minorities, through unfair tax laws or otherwise, in order to improve its standing with the majority interests that have backed it. Democracy of this type, in fact, can be nothing else than a license to the strongest to plunder the weakest – the very negation of the principles that led to the establishment of government in the first place. For democratic government to fulfill its true function it must, in carrying out the will of the majority, also respect the eternal laws of right and wrong, and the position of minorities. The second basic principle of good government – the second principle of Social Credit – therefore combines with the Left or Liberal view, that the will of the people to do what they want to do must prevail, a Right, or Conservative, view that this action must be controlled within the limits of what is morally right and physically possible:
II. The major function of democratic government in organized society is to give the people the results they want in the management of their public affairs, as far as these are physically possible and morally right.
Having set down these two basic principles of government, we must move to examine how these apply to the actual administration of Society.
There are three basic directions in which a profit comes to society as a whole, from the working of human beings in cooperation. In an unjust society, this profit is likely to be monopolized by those who control political power, for the welfare of the strong and the detriment of the weak. In a just society – one that is governing in accordance with the will of the people, natural justice and fundamental concepts of right and wrong, this profit is one that is shared fairly among the people as a whole.
The first profit is that which comes to labour – to the workers – because their efforts being greater results than would be the case were they living on their own outside of organized society. This profit is abused when one person becomes so much the master of the services of another that he can use them entirely to his own advantage. This is a condition of slavery. An abuse to a lesser degree may exist when, for instance, through corrupt union practices, workers are forced to pay an unjustified tribute to a third party before they are permitted to engage in employment.
The second profit is that which comes to those who hold rights over land and over the natural resources of the country. When first a group of people takes possession of some territory, it is held by all in common – no one has rights to any particular piece. Quickly, however, the need for a private place for each person to live and for private ownership of land for farming, makes it clear that it is better that these common rights be to some extent at least broken up. Instead of each person having a partial right to occupy all the land, each person is given a total right to occupy a part of the land, make exclusive use of it and work its natural resources. If each citizen has an equally valuable piece of land allotted to him, obviously he is not the loser. On the other hand – and this almost invariably tends to happen in time – if a small class of landholders gain monopoly rights to the greatest part of the land, and the remainder of the population can only live upon it upon satisfying their terms, a great injustice is done. In a just society, those who enjoy a privilege given them by the State, of exclusive control of land or other natural resources, and by so doing, exclude others from enjoyment of the rights that they possess, should make fair payment to the State for the privilege. This payment, in turn, should be applied for the advantage of those who have lost their rights of common use of the land, because of the monopoly granted to the landholder.
The third profit is that which comes to the issuer of money tokens used by Society, as a result of the fact that the members of this society are willing to use them in the process of exchange. Even though these tokens may be no more than scraps of paper, or debased metal, they may be exchanged for goods and services of real worth, so that the issuer of the money token makes a handsome profit. In a properly ordered society, all money tokens are issued by or on behalf of the State, and the profit from so doing comes to the general treasury. In many countries today, however, issue of new money has become a private affair, yielding an unfair profit out of a public resource – the public credit – to those who have obtained this power of issue. The way in which this has occurred, the results this has caused, and what is necessary to put the matter right, will be a major subject of study in future chapters. Suffice it to say at the present time, that the abuse of the power to create the nation's money supply is behind some of the most acute economic problems of the nations of the world at the present day.
We have in this chapter examined briefly the basic relationship that exists between the individual and the group, and the basic justification for government, and guidelines which good government should follow. We have also examined three areas – that of labour, of land and natural resources, and of the public credit – where it is the duty of a good administration to make sure that an advantage that belongs to Society as a whole is not captured for private profit by groups who obtain for themselves, under unjust laws, a privileged monopoly position.
Those who obtain a position of private advantage at the public expense are in the position of parasites on the body politic. The more healthy and thriving a society is, the greater the chance for such parasites to take hold. The more power that such parasites obtain for themselves, the weaker grows the society upon which they prey, until the point of absolute collapse is reached. The challenge is therefore squarely laid before all who believe that there is something worthwhile saving in our Canadian society – to understand what is wrong and what is necessary to put it right, and boldly to work for sound administration of their government, in their own interest, and that of their children and their fellow citizens.
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1. What are the chief sources of man's increasing power over Nature?
2. Are Governments necessary? Why?
3. What would you consider to be the most basic duties of government?
4. Do you believe that the rights of Government come from the individual, or that the rights of the individual come from the Government? Why?
5. What are the first two basic principles of Social Credit?
6. To what extent, and for what reasons, should democratic governments respect the wishes of minorities?
7. The Social Credit government of Alberta introduced a policy of leasing the right to work the Province's mineral resources to the highest bidder. Is this policy in the public interest? How does it compare with the handling of natural resources in other provinces and countries? Who gains? Who loses?
8. Suggest three ways by which a profit comes to society as a result of people working together. Try and think of instances in your own experience, where private interests have been able to profit by taking to themselves profit that belongs to Society as a whole. In each case, who gained and who lost?
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FOR FURTHER READING:
E.C. Manning: “The Social Credit Yardstick” (Alberta Social Credit League)
J.S. Mill: “On Liberty”
George, Henry: “Progress and Poverty (Books V – VII in particular)
Adams, Brooks: “The Law of Civilization and Decay”
C.H. Douglas: “Economic Democracy”
(1) C.H.Douglas: “Economic Democracy” page 6