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THE DOUGLAS LEGACY
by Dr. Geoffrey Dobbs
The following is based upon the notes prepared by the author for his address to the Melbourne Douglas Centenary Dinner. We have included a number of cross-headings:
It is indeed a pleasure and a privilege to be present on this very special occasion, when we celebrate the centenary of the birth of the man to whom we all owe so much. Perhaps the occasion justifies a little retrospection.
My mind goes back to another dinner, given by the Social Credit Secretariat in London in 1937 - - no less than 42 years ago at which the principal guest was the Rt. Hon. Walter Nash, then Finance Minister of New Zealand. Elderly people, reminiscing, are expected to say: "Those were the days!" and indeed they were, in a sense. We were still glowing with the euphoria of the first Social Credit Government in Alberta, which at the time was still trying to implement some of Douglas's advice with the help of L. D. Byrne on the spot, but was being blocked by the Federal Government. We hoped that New Zealand, a Sovereign State, would be the next to turn to Douglas, and could not be over-ruled in that way. At home in Britain, the Electoral Campaign for National Dividends was rolling ahead, the newly started local objective campaigns were sensationally successful, and we had the economists on the run, with simply no reply to our criticisms, not to mention the ridicule and fun we were poking at 'orthodox' economics.
We could scarcely be blamed for thinking that we were 'on to a good thing,' that everything was going our way, that we should all end up, loaded with years and honours the great pioneers who won the people their national dividends -- to quote the poet Wordsworth:
"Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, But to be young was very heaven!"
That, however, was written about the French Revolution --a false dawn if ever there was one -- and the following year 1938, we had to grow up! At least I had to, and it was a painful process, facing the reality that the world was not going our way at all, but the opposite way. Some people never did grow up but have continued to this day pursuing the illusion of a successful mass movement, sweeping them to political power in defiance of the control of money and the media. Others, more sensibly, got off the bandwagon when the band stopped playing. But those who stuck to Douglas despite the disappointment of their early hopes, discovered in time that they were indeed 'on to a good thing' in an altogether deeper, wider, more important sense than they had at first thought.
A NEW DARK AGE
We had plenty of warning, even forty years ago, that if we did not defeat the policy of the Money Power within a few years, we should enter another Dark Age, and it is quite evident that we have now entered it. The culture in which we live is no longer a Christian culture. The Christian principles on which most of us were brought up are no longer tacitly accepted by Society as a whole, as they used to be however imperfectly; and the young, for the most part, are not being brought up as Christians. The light of Christianity now shines from many points, but does not visibly diffuse through the whole of Society.
But to return to Douglas the late Hugh Gaitskell the Oxford economist and Leader of the Labour Party referred to him "as a religious rather than a scientific reformer." The first part, obviously intended as a jeer, was truer than he knew, for the greatest gift we owe to Douglas is that, for many of us, he re-integrated the Christian religion with 'the warp and woof of the Universe' and made it real for us again. But the second part was a typical example of ludicrous impertinence! On what grounds can an economist an expert on wild and woolly abstractions incorporating an imaginary entity called 'money', criticise an engineer as 'unscientific', especially one who drew up the electrical specifications for the automatic Post Office Tube, a pioneer achievement still running sixty years later? Indeed, on the same page Gaitskell referred contemptuously to "some vague notion of capacity or potentiality" (for production) thus revealing his childish ignorance of the degree of precision with which a production engineer can and must estimate the productive capacity of his works. But as I have found myself, economists cannot even grasp the concept of 'real credit.' Nothing which does not incorporate bankers' ink marks has any reality to them.
DOUGLAS THE SCIENTIST
In dealing with someone as mentally large as Douglas, people naturally, tended to view him from a point of view of their own specialism; and as I was one of the relatively few scientists to follow him, I naturally found it easy to appreciate the scientific nature of his approach. This many people never grasped. If there was one thing that used to irritate Douglas it was to be regarded either as a Great Leader, issuing edicts, or a sort of Moses, bringing down the immutable Laws of Economics and Politics from Heaven, inscribed for ever upon tablets of stone. In fact his approach was similar to that of the very few first-rate scientists I have encountered, that is, mentally flexible and experimental, never satisfied with theory alone, without testing it in practice wherever possible, and adjusting his ideas to the facts, not twisting the facts to fit his ideas, which is all too common even in science, and standard practice in politics and economics. So Douglas was always moving on from one idea, one experiment, one adjustment of the mind nearer to reality, to the next, trailing the rest of us behind him like the tail of a comet. Such an approach in the rigidly polarised field of political economy was unprecedented, and scarcely understood, even now.
Just consider a string of headlines, since now is not the time for more: "The Delusion of Super-production",(1918!) The A + B Time-Lag, the Real Price, the National Dividend, the Mining Scheme, the Scheme for Scotland, the Labour Party, and then, Why was all this blocked and boycotted? Why was an obvious defect not rectified? Was it, as represented, that he was technically wrong or was it the 'will to power'? No good merely broadcasting more words. The only thing was to go and find out; get around the world; meet some of the bankers and other 'top people' who had the power to put things right. This soon confirmed directly that it was a matter of ends, not means: of the 'will to power' as a long-term policy, not of technical potentiality.
Hence the swing over to 'politics' and a fresh
series of initiatives: the nature of 'democracy,' results and methods,
freedom to choose one thing at a time, organisation as a tangent
to the circle of policy, the Electoral Campaign, policy, administration
and sanctions, the Alberta Experiment, the question of scale, resources
and morale, policy as an expression of philosophy, Local Objectives,
the negative aspect of democracy, contracting out the voters' policy,
the place of the expert and the Civil Service of Policy.
THE POWER OF LOVE
At every step forward, some dropped out or were left behind, and some indeed are still stuck at various stages: the economic, the political, or the exposure of the long-term policy of evil in the world. Concerning this last, the truth which liberates and gives hope is the exposure of the fact that we are up against the will of men and not the inevitable nature of things, or Fate, or the Doom pronounced by an Omnipotent Jehovah. But there is a dangerous fascination for some about the machinations of the will-to-power, which at the least diverts the energies, at the worst, corrupts the will-to-freedom. The answer to darkness is not 'Down with Darkness!' but light. The answer to social corruption and discredit is not 'fighting' them, but social credit; although I know that sometimes, we have to enter the arena, and that it is good for morale, and by no means unenjoyable, to select an objective within our resources, and show others how to win it. And the answer to hate is not to hate, hate, or haters, which merely adds to the total of hate in the world, but as we all know, the answer is called 'love' which we believe to be the most formidable force in the universe, rightly used. And we have to learn how to use it, and study the precise nature, strategy and tactics of 'spiritual warfare' (so-called). I am not of course denying that there is a certain polarity, an opposition between good and evil, between God and Devil, but it is not a primary polarity, but quite secondary. The Devil is not God, even upside down. Those who think so flatter him inordinately. The phrase Douglas quoted: Daemon est Deus inversus, merely shows us that the Devil's will and purpose are an inversion of God's a useful practical rule. An analogy nearer home is that of the eternal conflict between Man and Louse. I am not saying that it may not demand our attention from time to time; all I am saying is that we should not spend too much time in mental and spiritual scratching! There are more important things to do!
Douglas was always trying to get other people to use their brains and initiative, not to leave all the thinking to him and this was especially so towards the end of his life. The experiment, which became known as 'The Light Horse' from which emerged the idea of the open and responsible vote, was a case in point, though it needed Douglas, in the end to bring it to that point. But it was a stimulating experience for all who took part.
It is now 27 years since Douglas left us to carry on developing what he started. Since then the exposure of the worldwide policy which opposes us has received much reinforcement from outside the Social Credit Movement; sometimes. I think, to a degree, which causes despair rather than determination. Now slavery is maintained as much by the slaves as the slave-masters, and it is fear and despair, which enslaves them. It is among the slaves that we live, not the masters; and what we have to give is first of all understanding, which gives substance to things hoped for and evidence of things not seen (which is the definition of faith) and that leads to a realistic-hope and activity, which can give satisfaction and happiness now. And it is this free, willing, faithful co-operation with others which is the expression of the invincible power called 'love.' and the basis of all real civilisation and of what we call 'the social credit.'
ONE OF THE MOST VITAL SEEDS
I started by saying that when I was young we thought we were 'on to a good thing,' an exciting new Movement in economics and politics of the mid-Twentieth Century. That Movement is now 60 years old. Already we are 'compassed about with a cloud of witnesses,' and we can now see that we are involved in an adventure vastly greater than we thought, of which those 60 years are only a beginning. What Douglas bequeathed to us is indeed no static laws engraved upon stone, but a living, growing, dynamic thing, which it is our task to nurture and spread and develop. It opens up the most thrilling opportunities for initiative in both thought and expression and practical action; and though we must remember with humility that it is only a small portion of reality, it is assuredly one of the most vital seeds, committed to our care, which will grow through this dark period into the next great Age of Christendom.
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