Science of the Social Credit Measured in Terms of Human Satisfaction
Christian based service movement warning about threats to rights and freedom irrespective of the label, Science of the Social Credit Measured in Terms of Human Satisfaction

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing"
Edmund Burke

Science of the Social Credit Measured in Terms of Human Satisfaction

April 2006

Revisiting Ruskin, Conclusion

Fish will not live where the water is too clear. But if there is duckweed or something, the fish will hide under its shadow and thrive. Thus, the people will live in tranquility if certain matters are a bit overlooked or left unheard. -Yamamoto, Hagakure

The goal of true political economy, according to Ruskin, is to produce "as many as possible full-breathed, bright-eyed, and happy-hearted human creatures." This corresponds to Anthony Cooney's definition of social credit: "the power of humans (in association) to produce the result intended, measured in terms of their satisfaction."[1]
Ruskin's definition of money seemed to waver a little between a claim to goods and command over labor. Further careful study of Munera Pulveris has convinced me that in this work Ruskin defines money first and foremost as a claim-ticket to goods. It is only in virtue of that that it functions, secondarily, as a claim on labor.[2]

Labor is "the suffering in effort." It is that which requires compensation. It is, in fact, the exact opposite of life. (By the same token, cost, "the quantity of labour necessary to obtain [a thing]," is the exact opposite of value, "the life-giving power of anything.") In consequence of being a ticket to things of life-giving power, money induces men [3] to undertake life-consuming labor.

That some men are richer than others and can direct their labor is, Ruskin believes, natural. Whether it be good or bad in a particular case depends on where their riches came from and to what effect they direct labor. However, this part of Ruskin's argument suffers from the fact that he does not know that money is born in a bank, as loans to production. He therefore does not take the step of saying that some men being richer than others and directing their labor is good if it is Society (via a bank compelled to act as a social agent) that makes them rich by entrusting them with the wherewithal of production, having selected them as able to direct labor to the best effect.[4]
In Munera Pulveris Ruskin only says that it is good if men of this stamp are rich. He calls this quality "mastership," just as Douglas speaks of an "aristocracy of producers." However, in his monthly "Letters to the Workmen and Labourers of Great Britain," Fors Clavigera (Nail-Wielding Fortune, 1871-77) he says:

[Materials and tools] must be provided by the government, for all persons, in the necessary quantities. . . . All these raw materials, with the tools for working them, must be provided by the government, at first, free of cost to the labourer, the value of them being returned to them as the first-fruits of his toil; and no pawnbrokers or usurers may be allowed to live by lending sea to fisherman, air to fowlers, land to farmers, crooks to shepherds, or bellows to smiths. (3.248) [5]

This is a new banking. This prescription will be satisfied if and when the bank (which is the font of money, which directs labor, which is the very definition of government), acting as a social agent, allocates the national store among production associations. By "production associations" I mean associations of laborers and master-laborers.
Ruskin's concept of the national store in Munera Pulveris is that workers "bring" the product of their labors to the store, [6] receiving money in exchange. The masters [7] can increase the store (and deliver back, on presentation of the money, a greater quantity of goods than they received), just maintain it (and deliver the same), or diminish it (and deliver less).
I find this confused, however, because worker and master-worker are both part of production and both together increase, maintain, or decrease the store. Also, while Ruskin elsewhere distinguishes between capital and consumer goods, here he does not; but he should, because the increase that will in fact return the worker more than he put in (pay a dividend) is an increase in consumer goods.
So let's rewrite Ruskin's scenario. Society, via a bank, allocates the national store among production associations, which may increase, just maintain, or diminish its life-giving power. Assuming pay is just (i.e., goods of life-giving power equal to the life that is used up in labor), [8] then increase in the life-giving power of the store (i.e., greater efficiency of production) means the store can pay a dividend.
Ultimately, it is the bank, in its delegated power of money creation, that directs labor and thus constitutes, for good or for ill, a government by Ruskin's definition. The call for true government set to the true work that annihilates taxation would be realized if and when the bank is compelled to act as a social agent. Ruskin asks why "a body of men, already confessedly capable of managing matters both military and divine, [9] should not be permitted, or even requested, at need, to provide in some wise for sustenance" (App. IV).
In Fors Clavigera, Ruskin reveals the national store as an opposite to the national debt:

. . . that instead of a common poverty, or national debt, which every poor person in the nation is taxed annual to fulfil his part of, there should be a common wealth, or national reverse of debt, consisting of pleasant things, which every poor person in the nation should be summoned to receive his dole of, annually. (1.92) [9]
. . . That is the nature of a National Debt. In order to understand that of a National Store, my readers must first consider what any store whatever, serviceable to human beings, consists of. A store properly means a collection of useful things. . . . The possession of such a store by the nation would signify, that there were no taxes to pay; that everybody had clothes enough, and some stuff laid by for next year; that everybody had food enough, and plenty of salted pork, pickled walnuts, potted shrimps, or other conserves, in the cupboard; that everybody had jewels enough, and some of the biggest laid by, in treasuries and museums; and, of persons caring for such things, that everybody had as many books and pictures as they could read or look at; with quantities of the highest quality besides, in easily accessible public libraries and galleries. (3.237)

This distinction between national debt and national store parallels that Ruskin made in Unto This Last between mercantile economy and true political economy, or that Douglas makes between mere financial credit and real credit.
The social bank will be responsible for the increase of the national store and maintenance of its quality and price:

The government [i.e., the bank] will attend to the increase of store of animal food - not mummy food, in tins, but living, on land and sea; keeping under strictest overseership its breeders of cattle, and fisherman, and having always at its command such supply of animal food as may enable it to secure absolute consistency of price in the main markets. . . . Of all articles of general consumption, the government will furnish its own priced standard; any man will be allowed to sell what he can produce above that standard, at what price he can get for it; but all goods below the government standard will be marked and priced as of such inferior quality; - and all bad food, cloth, or other articles of service, destroyed. (3.51)

We get further insight into Ruskin's vision of a social bank in his proposal to the workers of Sheffield to take Venice as their model, elect a doge as purveyor-general, and form a commissariat:

Knowing how many mouths you have to feed, you know how much food is wanted daily. To get that quantity of good; and to distribute it without letting middlemen steal the half of it, is the first great duty of civic authority in villages, of ducal authority in cities and provinces, and of kingly authority in kingdoms.
Now for the organization of your commissariat, there are two laws to be carried into effect. . . . The first is that, till all the mouths in the Sheffield district are fed, no food must be sold to strangers. Make all the ground in your district as productive as possible, both in cattle and vegetables; and see that such meat and vegetables be distributed swiftly to those who most need them, and eaten fresh. Not a mouthful of anything is to be sold across the border, while any one is hungry within it.
Then the second law is, that as long as any one remains unfed, or barebacked, the wages fund must be in common. When every man, woman, and child is fed and clothed, the saving men may begin to lay by money, if they like; but while there is hunger and cold among you, there must be absolutely no purse-feeding, nor coin-wrapping. You have so many bellies to fill; - so much wages fund (besides the eatable produce of the district) to do it with. Every man must bring all he earns to the common stock.
"What! and the industrious feed the idle?"
Assuredly, my friends; and the more assuredly, because under that condition you will presently come to regard their idleness as a social offense, and deal with it as such. (3.367f.)

So accustomed are we to hunger, nakedness, and homelessness in our midst that we regard it as normal, whereas Ruskin regards it as entirely abnormal - an emergency, to be resolved quickly. How long would such conditions be tolerated in a city if Ruskin's prescription was the rule?
If it is hard to visualize a bank involved in such gross considerations as feeding and clothing people, consider Charles Ferguson's description of German banking prior to World War I:

In Berlin you go into a great bank like the Deutsche Bank and if you say: I think I can make two blades of grass grow where one grew before; I think I can raise the standard of living or make bread cheaper in the Empire - you will get a hearing. . . . It was indeed an institution like a university, employing hundreds of chemists, agricultural experts, engineers to see what there might be in your proposition that by any means might make life more livable in the Empire.[10]

In 1874, while Ruskin was still writing his "Letters to the Workmen and Labourers of Great Britain," Robert Dale Owen, son of progressive textile industrialist Robert Owen, published his autobiography, Threading My Way. In the course of it, Owen presents in stark outline the very problem that would later come to obsess a young engineer, C. H. Douglas - a passage to which Ruskin specifically called attention in one of the Letters.

My father felt that there was then - as there is now - one of the great problems of the age still to be solved. . . . It connects itself with the unexampled increase of productive power, which human beings in civilized life have acquired in little more than a single century, and with the momentous question whether this vast gift of labour-saving inventions is to result in mitigation of the toil and melioration of the condition of the millions who have acquired it.[11]

At the present time, says Owen, machines in the British textile industry do a quantity of work that would have required six hundred million adults a century ago:

Thus, in the aid of the manual labour of seven and a-half millions of human workmen, Great Britain may be said to have imported, from the vast regions of invention, six hundred millions of powerful and passive slaves. . . . These unwearying and inanimate slaves outnumber the human labourers who direct their operations as eighty to one. What is the result of this importation?
If we shut our closet doors and refuse to take the answer from the state of things as it actually exists, we shall probably say that inestimable aid, thus sent down from Heaven as it were, to stand by and assist man in his severest toils, must have rendered him easy in his circumstances, rich in all the necessaries and comforts of life, a master instead of a slave, a being with leisure for enjoyment and improvement, a free-man delivered from the original curse which declared that in the sweat of his brow should man eat bread all the days of his life. But if, rejecting mere inference, we step out among the realities around us, with eyes open and sympathies awake, we shall see, throughout the Old World, the new servants, competing with those they might be made to serve. . . .
Thus the problem loomed upon [my father]. We may imagine his reflections. Why, as the world advances in knowledge and power, do the prospects and the comforts of the mass of mankind darken and decline? . . . Why must mechanical inventions - inevitable even if they were mischievous, and in themselves a rich blessing as surely as they are inevitable - stand in array against the labourer, instead of toiling by his side?
Momentous questions these! My father pondered them day and night. If he had tersely stated the gist of his reflections, - which he was not always able to do, - they might have assumed such form as this: Will any man, who stands on his reputation for sanity, affirm that the necessary result of over-production is famine? that because labour produces more than even luxury can waste, labour shall not have bread to eat? If we can imagine a point in the progress of improvement at which all the necessaries and comforts of life shall be produced without human labour, are we to suppose, that the human labourer, when that point is reached, is to be dismissed by his masters from their employment, to be told that he is now a useless incumbrance, which they cannot afford to hire?[12]

No more than Owen did Ruskin see this problem through to a solution. This was left to Douglas. Ruskin, frankly, had a prejudice against machinery and machine-made goods. Ruskin did see very clearly the tragedy of human effort - the tragic waste of human life in production of useless things and even noxious things. He saw clearly that the elimination of this waste would result in less toil. What work was needed he wanted to see spread out among all classes, it being an offense for the upper classes not to bear their fair share of it. Thus, both toil and leisure would be shared. What Ruskin did not see was that in the increase of productive power mentioned by Owen lay an important key to the solution to the tragedy of human effort. Quite simply, the advent of the machine meant that labor that was previously necessary was now waste. If the measure of the waste is a measure of how much better life could be if it were eliminated, then the machine, as in Owen's "vision," held promise of bringing about a new world. Of course, it could not do so on its own. It could not replace the necessity of right thinking, that recognizes that the only wealth is life and chooses and makes only things of life-giving power. What Ruskin failed to see was that with that right thinking, the increase in productive power would take its place at the summit of the true work that spares labor, increases the store, annihilates taxation, and pays a dividend.

1. Social Credit: Economics, 2d ed. (Chidlow: Australian Heritage Society, 2006), p. 43, my italics.
2. Compare the following: "Money is . . . correspondent in its nature to the title-deed of an estate" (21).
"Money is not a medium of exchange, but a token of right" (Fors Clavigera 2.243, anticipating Douglas). "[The proportion of the magnitude of the store to the number of the population], and the resulting worth of currency, are calculable; but its proportion to their will for labour is not. The worth of the piece of money which claims a given quantity of the store is, in exchange, less or greater according to the facility of obtaining the same quantity of the same thing without having recourse to the store [i.e., by making it or having it made]" (58). "A change in this estimate [formed by the population of its possessions] in any direction . . . instantly alters the value of money, in its second great function of commanding labour. . . . A currency is true or false, in proportion to the security with which it gives claim to the possession of land, house, horse, or picture; but a currency is strong or weak . . . in proportion to the degree of estimate in which the nation holds the house, horse, or picture which is claimed" (65). I think the distinction here is between existing goods (to which money is a fixed, legal claim) and goods that can be produced on demand, given a sufficient incentive in the form of existing goods.
3. The word men is used in this essay as a one-syllable synonym for people, without prejudice to women. This non-gender-specific usage of the word is abundantly attested (see the OED). The same word in a different context can mean male adults - but can it be an objection to a word that it has two meanings?
4. And the hands that best direct labor are the hands that most spare labor: "The object of Political Economy is not to buy or sell labour but to spare it" (59 n.)
5. Citations to this work are to volume and page.
6. He introduces it in Munera Pulveris as a Government store, but then says a Government can just be a body of private persons, command over labor being the very essence of Government; and in Fors Clavigera it is a national store.
7. Ruskin is thinking in terms of guilds.
8. The Unto This Last standard of labor for labor has to be thus revised in light of Ruskin's new definition of money. One could say that the net value of any man-made thing depends on how far it either gives or consumes life in (1) the production of it and (2) the use of it.
9. England, of course, having a state church.
10. The Revolution Absolute, p. 320.
11. Robert Dale Owen, Threading My Way: Twenty-Seven Years of Autobiography (London: Truebner, 1874), p. 214f. As a social crediter, I would like to know the history of the statement of this problem.
12. Ibid., pp. 217f., 223f.