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

January 2006

Ruskin Revisited, Part I

It's a pleasure to revisit Ruskin after many years. The most prescient social and economic thinker of the nineteenth century, his writing is far ahead of its time and ours, and his instincts are seldom wrong. His greatest social and economic writing is Unto This Last, published in 1862.

The Roots of Honor

He opens with this salvo:

Among the delusions which at different periods have possessed themselves of the minds of large masses of the human race, perhaps the most curious – certainly the least creditable – is the modern soi-disant science of political economy, based on the idea that an advantageous code of social action may be determined irrespectively of the influence of social affection. (1; numeric citations refer to numbered sections)

In other words, of the soul. The soul cannot be quantified, so the "scientific" political economist leaves it out. But the soul will not be left out. It comes back and vitiates all the political economist's results and leaves him with a "science" that has nothing to do with reality.
Thus, the capitalist philosopher argues that the greatest material benefit to society comes through free bargaining between a master trying to get the most work for the least money and a worker trying to do the least work for the most money. But, says Ruskin, "the universal law of the matter is that . . . the greatest material result obtainable by them will be, not through antagonism to each other, but through affection for each other" (9) – like the affection between the commander of a regiment and his men. So why is it that "it is easy to imagine an enthusiastic affection existing among soldiers for the colonel, not so easy to imagine an enthusiastic affection among cotton-spinners for the proprietor of the mill" (12)?
A precarious situation for the worker gives no chance for this motive power to develop. Demand for labor and demand for goods are subject to constant fluctuations. But to allow the motive power of affection to develop, the worker needs the security of (1) a standardized rate of pay for particular work and (2) a guarantee of steady employment – both irrespective of the vicissitudes of the market. That it prevents the growth of affection is a sufficient indictment of the present system on ground of justice.
In regard to (1), a given kind of work should pay an invariable, just wage; none but the best should be engaged; and none but first-rate work should be produced. This is Ruskin's way of getting at what C. H. Douglas would later call an "aristocracy of producers." In regard to (2), it is not implied that all should work (quite the contrary) but that those who do should work steadily and have regular hours. These goals are only justice, and the master should even be ready to make personal sacrifices to achieve them.1
The heroic possibilities of business, Ruskin says, have been underestimated, because people have no conception what the calling of the merchant (including the manufacturer) is. The soldier's profession is to defend the nation, the pastor's to teach it, the physician's to keep it in health, and the lawyer's to enforce justice in it, and each of these must be ready to die, rather than betray his calling. So the merchant's calling is to provide for the nation or die trying. And because such provision involves the agency of many lives and hands,

it becomes his duty, not only to be always considering how to produce what he sells in the purest and cheapest forms, but how to make the various employments involved in the production . . . most beneficial to the men employed.2 . . . [He] is invested with a distinctly paternal authority. . . . And as the captain of a ship is bound to be the last man to leave his ship in case of wreck, and to share his last crust with the sailors in case of famine, so the manufacturer, in any commercial crisis or distress, is bound to take the suffering of it with his men, and even to take more of it. (22)

The Veins of Wealth

The political economists' answer to the above is that theirs doesn't pretend to be anything else than the science of getting rich and, as such, is proven to work. But that, Ruskin observes, is not political economy at all, it is mercantile economy. Ruskin is here getting at the distinction Douglas makes between real credit and financial credit:

Political economy (the economy of a State or of citizens) consists simply in the production, preservation, and distribution, at fittest time and place, of useful and pleasurable things. The farmer who cuts his hay at the right time; the shipwright who drives his bolts well home in sound wood; the builder who lays good bricks in well-tempered mortar; the housewife who takes care of her furniture in the parlour, and guards against all waste in her kitchen . . . are all political economists in the true and final sense: adding continually to the riches and well-being of the nation. . . . But mercantile economy, the economy of "merces" or of "pay," signifies the accumulation, in the hands of individuals, of legal or moral claim upon, or power over, the labour of others [i.e., money]; every such claim implying precisely as much poverty or debt on one side, as it implies riches or right on the other. . . . What is really desired, under the name of riches, is, essentially, power over men. . . . The establishment of the mercantile wealth which consists in a claim upon labour, signifies a political diminution of the real wealth, which consists in substantial possessions. (28, 30, 35; my italics)

Ruskin here observes that the power of money comes from its scarcity, and he also has a suspicion this scarcity is contrived. He would later observe:

The strangest point in the whole matter is that though we idlers [upper classes] always speak as if we were enriched by Heaven, and became ministers of its bounty to you; if you ever think the ministry slack, and take to definite pillage of us, . . . the sources of wealth seem to be stopped instantly. (Fors Clavigera 4).

He is unaware of how it is contrived, namely, (1) the gold standard and (2) the fact that every pound of money, by the method of its creation, is automatically yoked to a corresponding antipound, a pound of debt. Nevertheless, his statement paves the way for the possibility of a new type of money that would serve political economy (real credit), rather than forcing political economy to serve it.
"Of any given mass of wealth," Ruskin continues,

it is impossible to conclude, . . . merely by the fact of its existence, whether it signifies good or evil to the nation in the midst of which it exists. . . . Such and such strong hands [may] have been paralysed, . . . so many strong men's courage broken, so many productive operations hindered. . . . That which seems to be wealth may in verity be only the gilded index of far-reaching ruin. . . . And therefore, the idea that directions can be given for the gaining of wealth, irrespectively of the consideration of its moral sources, . . . is perhaps the most insolently futile of all that ever beguiled men through their vices. . . . Buy in the cheapest market? – yes; but what made your market cheap? Charcoal may be cheap among your roof timbers after a fire. . . . Thus every question concerning these things merges itself ultimately in the great question of justice. (38)

Money is power over labor, and affection is a greater power over labor. Then,

since the essence of wealth consists in power over men, will it not follow that the nobler and the more in number the persons are over whom it has power, the greater the wealth? Perhaps it may even appear, after some consideration, that the persons themselves are the wealth. . . . In fact, it may be discovered that the true veins of wealth are purple – and not in Rock, but in Flesh – perhaps even that the final outcome and consummation of all wealth is in the producing of as many as possible full-breathed, bright-eyed, and happy-hearted human creatures. (40)

This is true political economy, the art of enriching the nation, which generates affection, as contrasted to mercantile economy, the art of gaining leverage over others, which does not. Thus, in the end, the soul is the only wealth there is, and affection is the soul's motive power. Therefore, what promotes the growth of that enriches the nation absolutely, and what hinders the growth of that impoverishes the nation absolutely.

Qui Judicatis Terram

Ruskin defines money as "a moral or legal claim on labor." Similarly, Douglas describes money as an order system. His favorite example, a railway ticket, is an order for a ride. Ruskin rejects any significant distinction between buying goods and hiring labor. To buy plate is to order the labor of silversmiths; to buy velvet is to order the labor of cloth makers.
What makes a money payment just or unjust? Reduced to its simplest terms as a relation between two people, says Ruskin, the idea of money is that of "a promise to some person working for us, that for the time and labour he spends in our service to-day we will give or procure equivalent time and labour in his service at any future time when he may demand it" (47). This can still accommodate progress, to wit – as less and less labor is required to produce things, less and less labor is required to be given in exchange.
Yet on this definition of just payment, a market price or wage can be completely unjust:

I want a horseshoe for my horse. Twenty smiths, or twenty thousand smiths, may be ready to forge it; their number does not in one atom's weight affect the question of the equitable payment of the one who does forge it. It costs him a quarter of an hour of his life, and so much skill and strength of arm, to make that horseshoe for me. Then at some future time I am bound in equity to give a quarter of an hour, and some minutes more, of my life (or of some other person's at my disposal), and also as much strength of arm and skill, and a little more, in making or doing what the smith may have need of. (48)

"If we promise to give him less labour than he has given us," Ruskin observes, we under-pay him" (47). Labor for labor as a standard means that workers should receive sufficient money to buy back the product. This begins to come close to Douglas.
As for the smiths out of employ, or the workmen who do not form part of the aristocracy of producers, Ruskin anticipates Douglas:

I should be glad if the reader would first clear the ground for himself so far as to determine whether the difficulty lies in getting the work or getting the pay for it. Does he consider occupation itself to be an expensive luxury? . . . or is it rather that, while in the enjoyment even of the most athletic delights, men must nevertheless be maintained, and this maintenance is not always forthcoming? . . . People are loosely in the habit of talking of the difficulty of "finding employment." Is it employment that we want to find, or support during employment? Is it idleness we wish to put an end to, or hunger? We have to take up both questions in succession, only not both at the same time. (54n.)

Previously, Ruskin said the standard was labor for labor. Now he seems to contradict himself, saying that even those who don't work have a right to "maintenance." It was left to Douglas to solve this riddle: we have received labor from the unemployed, not directly but indirectly in the form of the still-producing labor of the dead, the Cultural Heritage, of which every person is part owner. If we do not return them an equivalent, they are cheated.

Ad Valorem

Ruskin finally draws the observations made thus far into new definitions of five key terms, thus laying the groundwork for the New Economics.
Value. The word value comes from valere, to be strong in life (valiant) or for life (valuable):

To be "valuable," therefore, is to "avail towards life." . . . The real science of political economy, which has yet to be distinguished from the bastard science, as medicine from witchcraft, and astronomy from astrology, is that which teaches nations to desire and labour for the things that lead to life: and which teaches them to scorn and destroy the things that lead to destruction. (61)

Wealth. "To be wealthy," says John Stuart Mill, "is to have a large stock of useful articles." Ruskin observes that useful means the same thing as valuable and that to have is a graduated concept changing with the ability to use the useful thing. Therefore, wealth is "the possession of the valuable by the valiant" (62f.).
Price (or Cost). "The price [or cost] of anything is the quantity of labour given by the person desiring it, in order to obtain possession of it." That is, either directly in the making of it or indirectly in exchange for it.
Labor. Labor, in turn, is "the contest of the life of man with an opposite; – the term 'life' including his intellect, soul, and physical power, contending with question, difficulty, trial, or material force" (70).
In other words, labor and true price (or cost) are the same thing. In the 1872 sequel to Unto This Last, Ruskin would write:

"Labour is the suffering in effort. . . . Everything else is bought and sold for Labour, but Labour itself cannot be bought or sold for anything, being priceless. This being the nature of labour, the 'Cost' of anything is the quantity of labour necessary to obtain it" (Munera Pulveris, 59f.). Again, "The price of other things must always be counted by the quantity of labour; not the price of labour by the quantity of other things" (69f.). If a thing requires excessive labor, the correct expression is not that the labor is ill paid and therefore cheap but that the thing is dear.
Production. "Nearly all labour may be shortly divided into positive and negative labour: positive, that which produces life; negative, that which produces death" (72). Production, properly so called, signifies positive labor. There are "two kinds of true production, one of seed, and one of food; or production for the Ground, and for the Mouth. . . . And since production for the Ground is only used with future hope of harvest, all essential production is for the Mouth" (65).

The final object of political economy, therefore,

is to get good method of consumption, and great quantity of consumption: in other words, to use everything, and to use it nobly. . . . Production does not consist in things laboriously made, but in things serviceably consumable; and the question for the nation is not how much labour it employs, but how much life it produces. For as consumption is the end and aim of production, so life is the end and aim of consumption. . . . There is no Wealth but Life. (76f.)


The student of Douglas will instantly recognize kindred ideas: the concept of an aristocracy of producers, the distinction between real and financial wealth, the concept of money as an order system, a suspicion that scarcity is artificial, the distinction between employment and empayment, and consumption as the goal of economics.
The definition and role of labor, the concept of money as an order system, and the role of the organization deserve special consideration.
Ruskin says labor is the suffering in effort. If labor is the suffering in effort, then progress consists of reducing not effort per se but the suffering in effort. It is the suffering in effort that makes things costly. It is the suffering in effort for which the worker requires compensation. Work that is a joy is therefore not labor at all but productive leisure. It requires no compensation and does not add to the cost of the thing produced. That society is richest which produces all it needs with the least suffering. Douglas adopts this same philosophy, and the idea of productive leisure is at the heart of social credit.
While both Douglas and Ruskin conceive of money as an order system, there is a crucial difference: Douglas thinks of money as an order system for goods and services, while Ruskin thinks of it as an order system for labor. Both can accommodate progress. If an ounce of labor produces a pound of goods, Douglas says the consumer claims the pound of goods, and Ruskin says the consumer commands the ounce of labor.

Douglas's concern is pragmatic: it is useful to have tickets to distribute things. This is true even if the things cost no labor at all to produce. Ruskin's concern, in contrast, is about justice. He on principle defines all his concepts in terms of the human being. That's why he treats money as a claim on labor, rather than things. His primary concern is justice in the relation between the producer and the consumer as human beings. Indeed, he says that the human beings are the wealth. Consumer goods themselves are merely capital for the producing of the real ultimate good – "as many as possible full-breathed, bright-eyed, and happy-hearted human creatures."
Since wealth is that which is good for life and labor is an expenditure of life, political economy is, at root, about human energy exchange – life spent and life increased. Technology, organization, and products are all just vehicles and mediators for the real Work of a human being – to become more and more alive.
There is still "the vexed question of the destinies of the unemployed workmen" (54). Work, Ruskin says, is a natural human necessity. No one is economically superfluous. However, it may be that for some occupations, "maintenance is not always forthcoming," and that is the problem. Power technology doesn't make people economically superfluous, it frees them for higher and more distinctly human economic roles. I am certain he would echo Charles Ferguson's observation that "a serene old woman on her dying-bed may do more for the building of the free city than fifty navvies with swinging mattocks." 3
What frees us for these higher tasks is the labor of the dead in the form of the Cultural Heritage, of which each person is an heir. Therefore, not only does each person contribute to the life of the nation directly, but each person also contributes indirectly by putting his share of the labor of the dead at the disposal of the nation. We can therefore fruitfully extend Ruskin's concept of money as command over labor by tacitly including the labor of the dead.
We want two economies: an economy of Labor Work and an economy of Leisure Work. The economy of Labor Work compensates work that one would not do for the pleasure of it. It pays on the basis of labor for labor, the just wage. The economy of Leisure Work is for work that one wants to do if only one can afford to. It pays on the basis of maintenance, an equal dividend to each. Where is this maintenance to come from? From the Cultural Heritage, which frees up people for this Leisure Work and so makes this Leisure Work possible.

My working paradigm has long been that "money is the way society allocates the use of new goods and services" 4 – that is, I start with the things. If I am to rewrite this in Ruskinian language, I have to start with the people. I have to assume that the things do not exist yet but will be produced to my order.
Take Douglas's favorite example of a railway ticket. Does the ride that the ticket claims already exist, or not? Clearly, the ride does not exist until it happens. I order the ride, and the staff makes it happen. It is true that something already exists: the trains, the tracks, in a word, the organization. The organization embodies many generations of past labor, so that the staff can be poised to give a ride on demand. But the consumer doesn't really have to worry about all that. He is only concerned with the result, the ride. The consumer can take the organization for granted and give orders to the staff. This is quite consistent with Ruskin's way of looking at it.
As the organization becomes more perfect and the quantity of labor required to produce a ride on demand diminishes, the quantity of labor that the consumer must exchange to obtain it should likewise naturally diminish. Thus, in theory, progress should be all good. In fact, however, a problem arises because what Ruskin calls the mercantile economy is a dinosaur and is holding back all the rest of the organization. The mercantile economy does not enable the consumer to pay (i.e., offer current labor) only for current labor. It requires him also to reimburse (i.e., offer current labor to) the organization for the past labor that is part of its cost-history.

This is unjust. To obtain a thing, the consumer should not have to offer labor equal to all the generations of labor that went into the thing. Besides that, it is absurd. What is the organization (or for that matter, what is the bank behind it) going to do with orders for current labor for which it has no use?
However, suppose we think of money not as strictly command over current labor but also command over past labor, that is, command over the organization that stands poised to deliver. The organization is a piece of the Cultural Heritage. The Cultural Heritage has a mediating role between the piece of itself (the organization) and the consumer. The piece, or organization, can receive reimbursement from the consumer for its past cost-history provided that the consumer receives his just share of the Cultural Heritage as a whole.
Douglas says the consumer claims the pound of goods, and Ruskin says the consumer commands the ounce of labor. Douglas says the Cultural Heritage is the biggest factor of production. Essentially, he is saying that the Cultural Heritage is the producer; and that is why he distinguishes between producers as organizations versus consumers as individuals. Ruskin, in contrast, thinks of producers as individuals and the Cultural Heritage, the organization as merely a means. The difference is only one of language. Douglas focuses on the organization because he wants to show how the Cultural Heritage, the organization, the means gets commandeered by financial men who have no real interest in production.

Part 2 of this essay will look at Ruskin's further meditations on this subject in his 1872 sequel to Unto This Last, Munera Pulveris.


1. "While many a zealous person loses his life in trying to teach the form of a gospel, very few will lose a hundred pounds in showing the practice of one" (20). Compare Douglas's description of social credit as "practical Christianity."
2. Note that both consumer and worker are taken care of here.
3. University Militant, p. 88.
4. Triumph of the Past, June 2003.


I have chanced to read July Garland: A Biography, by Anne Edwards in the 1996 paperback reprint by Orion Books. It is, among other things, a story of various kinds of vicious corruption in people and organisations associated with the film star's rather short life and career; but two things in particular struck me as being of more general interest.
One is the author's hint that Louis B. Meyer of MGM followed a policy of making films to relieve the depression in American people's spirits in and following the Depression. "MGM began a twenty-year cycle of what Meyer considered clean and wholesome entertainment."
That is, stories that projected "the Hearst philosophies," in which Bank presidents and politicians fared well," and in conjunction with simple-minded domesticity and patriotism (pp. 43-45).
The other is that, "Early in the thirties he [Meyer] was indicted by a Los Angeles grand jury for conspiring to commit usury."
Of course, I cannot tell how much, if anything, of bias is in the author's work; and I would not wish to vilify a dead man in whom I have no interest apart from these two allegations.
In particular, is the second one true? Was there at that time a law in California against usury? How was usury defined? How did the law affect the banks? Is there still such a law? If not, what were the circumstances in which it was repealed?
Can one of your readers enlighten me?
Dewi Hopkins Bangor, Wales.