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Monday, 23 July 2018 10:58

Social Credit and Democracy: The Problem

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  Social Credit political theory readily grants what lies, perhaps, at the root of the democratic urge and which accounts, in large measure, for the popular appeal of ‘democracy’: firstly, that governments should serve the common good of the people and secondly, if governments don’t serve the common good of the people in an effective, efficient, and fair manner, the people who are affected should have the ability to sanction the government so that the quality of government might immediately improve.[1]

     At the same time, Douglas was highly critical of the conventional ‘democracies’ that have come to characterize the Liberal West, often describing them as ‘ineffective’. Not only did they fail to serve the common good to the extent that this was physically possible and desirable, they also failed to provide the people with an effective vehicle for remedying this sorry state of affairs. To make matters worse, it was not uncommon for ‘democratic’ governments to impose policies on the population which were contrary to the general will of the population. That is to say, we have been regularly treated to the spectacle of ‘democratic’ governments, so-called, introducing policies that are ‘anti-democratic’ in the deepest and truest sense of that word.

     Writing in reference to the British ‘democracy’ of his time, Douglas commented:

“If Macaulay’s New Zealander, after musing on the more material remains of our social system as exemplified in the Houses of Parliament and the secretariats of Whitehall, should be driven to investigate the concepts of national organisation symbolised by them, it is fairly certain that nothing will astonish him more than the evidences he will find on every hand of the persistent and touching faith of this queer old people in what they call ‘representation.’ ... He would note that at irregular and inappropriate intervals queer ceremonies called elections took place at which persons for the most part personally unknown to the electors were ‘returned’ for the ostensible purpose of carrying out ‘reforms’ which most of the electors neither understood nor cared about one fig. And he would further observe that these elected ones, once safely through the ceremony, at once became very superior persons, full of dignity and importance, and for the most part concerned with very intricate relations between the State and Borioboola-Gha. It seemed very clear that these same electors never derived any benefit from these negotiations, or in fact and on the whole from more than the very minutest fraction of the activities of their representatives, while further it was quite plain that a small number of very opulent gentry of international sympathies, who were not elected, and represented no one but themselves, did in fact sway the whole deliberations of the elected assembly. Still this touching faith that some day they would elect the right men and all would be well seemed to sustain the people through a series of disappointments which would have daunted a less stubborn race. The New Zealander, who we must suppose to be an intelligent man, would, we think, conclude that this was a matter outside logic and reason, and only comparable to collective hypnotism. And he would be right.”[2]

    Here we are, so many decades after Douglas’ passing, and nothing has substantially changed. Indeed, the situation has steadily deteriorated. That people in the Western world are greatly dissatisfied with their governments is so generally true as a statement that it might be regarded as an axiom of political life. And yet, in spite of this dissatisfaction, there are many who remain convinced that ‘conventional’ parliamentary or republican ‘democratic’ government is the best system of government for which we can hope.

     Douglas’ assessment of the situation, and hence his vision for the future, is quite different.

Social Credit political theory provides an explanation both for why conventional democracies fail and what can be done to re-order the political system so that governments might deliver more satisfactory results in view of the common good of individual citizens. 

     In this present article, I will begin with an examination of some of the structural faults with the current system that Douglas identified. A deeper discussion of the problems which afflict us, as well as a survey of Douglas’ suggestions for fixing the system, will have to form the subject of future articles.

     If conventional ‘democracy’ fails to secure the correct aim of political association: the maximization of the individual’s effective sovereignty over his own affairs with the least amount of trouble to everyone, the question must be posed: why does it fail?

     The short answer to this question from a Social Credit perspective is that conventional ‘democracy’ is not an effective democracy and is thus no real democracy at all:

 “It is not too much to say that the practical aspect of all modern social problems is bound up with the over-riding problem of an effective democracy. If we cannot face the issue squarely, we cannot hope for anything but the succession and multiplication of crises, which now are almost our normal existence.”[3]

     Stated in another way, conventional ‘democracy’ does not allow, to a greater or lesser extent, for the successful uniting of the real demand of citizens for effective sovereignty over their own affairs with the real, objective capacity of the political association to satisfy those demands. Douglas held that this failure is primarily a structural failure; i.e., conventional ‘democracies’ are not properly designed to effect, in the easiest possible manner, the true purpose of political association. Just as the financial and economic systems that are operative in our contemporary world are fundamentally ill-conceived, so too are its political systems.

     So what are some of these failures of design? Well, according to Douglas’ analysis, there are problems with conventional ‘democracy’ both at the level of policy and at the level of administration.


Failures of Design – Incorrect Objectives at the Level of General Policy

     Political theorists often claim that, in liberal democracies, the objective of government is to adjudicate or to strike a balance between competing group interests in the state which have incompatible ends: ‘politics is the art of compromise’. On the basis of this conception, it is inconceivable that there should be a unanimous general or common will in favour of an overriding general objective, such as the maximization of effective, individual sovereignty over one’s own affairs to the extent that this is objectively possible and with the least amount of trouble to everyone. The possibility of there being a truly common policy is discounted from the very beginning. As a result, such ‘democracies’ do not even aim at fulfilling the true purpose of political association, even though many ordinary citizens take for granted that in a democracy the will of the government should reflect the general will of the common people:

“It is common to assume, at any rate as a convention, that British Policy is the greatest-common-measure of what would be the policy of individual Britons. One of the first points I wish to make to you is that this is not true, that it probably never was true, that it is probably less true now than it ever was. The same argument can be applied to the politics of other countries, ...”[4]

     In passing it must be noted that the absence of a common political philosophy and a consistent universal political policy derived from that philosophy also leave the path open, however, to the imposition of a policy on the public by those elite groups who control, directly, or indirectly, the power of money.

Failures of Design – Incorrect Means at the Level of Administration

    The false conception of the true end of government as lying primarily in the peaceful (i.e., non-violent) balancing of competing interests naturally gives birth to a set of administrative means which are supposed to deliver that equilibrium.

     Chief amongst these means is the introduction of an alternate-party system. The existence of two or more political parties is meant to serve as a brokerage mechanism by means of which the variety of competing interests in the nation can be brought together into a smaller number of groups (this already involves some level of compromise) and as a supposed safeguard against dictatorship by always allowing for an alternative group of people who are available to occupy the seats of political power. This party system is then combined with universal suffrage within the context of anonymous ballot-box ‘democracy’; i.e., all adult citizens vote secretly for the party (or leader/representative associated with a particular party) which seems best placed to forward their particular interests.

     It is a legitimate question whether or not such a governmental system is even adequate for the attainment of the general policy-objective which conventional Liberal ‘democracies’ ostensibly envisage.  It should go without saying that such a system is not suitable for fulfilling the true purpose of political association. Contrary to many popular assumptions, an honest examination of the matter reveals that the standard ‘democratic’ devices are structurally and functionally faulty in practice; i.e., they actually constitute obstacles which prevent individuals from obtaining effective control over their governments:

“Now I am entirely convinced by my own investigation and experiences, not merely in this country but in many parts of the world, that while democracy in policy is absolutely essential to the functioning of the modern world, there is at the present time no such thing as a genuine democracy anywhere, and probably less in this country than anywhere else.”[5]

     Let us proceed to an examination of the voting system employed in contemporary ‘democracies’ in greater depth. In general, the purpose of a voting or electoral system is to stipulate who can vote, when, by which mechanisms, and for which ends. The sort of voting system which is typically in place in conventional ‘democracies’ we might refer to as ‘ballot-box democracy’. At regular and, in some cases, fixed intervals, the adult population is asked to vote behind closed doors for a set of candidates, some of whom will, should they obtain sufficient support, form part of the government.

     Ballot-box ‘democracy’ fails as a suitable mechanism for establishing an effective democracy for a number of reasons.

     In the first place, it only permits the citizenry to have some sort of say once every couple of years; it does not allow individuals to exercise such pressure continuously on the government so that the results which they intend can be actualized. This means, in effect, that the government in such a system quite easily becomes a temporary dictatorship. How many times has a government in so-called ‘democratic’ countries managed to impose policies which are opposed by the majority of the population because they were safely in-between elections? Since nature abhors a vacuum, the absence of a suitable mechanism which would allow the citizens to sanction governments at any and all moments, leaves the government officials subject to those more hidden forces which are in a position to exert continuous pressure through monetary or other means:

“There is an idea that when you have an election, the implications of which, in nine cases out of ten, you do not understand, you have disposed of the matter of government. That is unworkable democracy. It sets the government mechanism at the mercy of those people who apply pressure all the time. One leading Social Crediter in the United States who had many talks with President Roosevelt, complained bitterly that – what is perfectly true – President Roosevelt had all along the line given way to the pressure of the financial interests. President Roosevelt made the correct and proper reply. He said, ‘It is my business to yield to pressure.’
     Unless you have a dictatorship, it is the business of government to yield to pressure. Either a government is supreme over the people or else it must yield to pressure, and it is your business to exercise that pressure.”[6]

    A second problem with ballot-box ‘democracy’ is that it does not recognize its due limits. For example, it forces political minorities to acquiesce to the decision of the majority, or, in many cases, to the decision of the largest or most influential minority. Apart from certain stipulations that may form a part of a Bill of Rights or Constitution, there is no mechanism in place by means of which minorities can contract out of majority decisions.

     A closely related difficulty is that there is no mechanism by means of which the majority can be prevented from supporting government decisions to infringe on the relevant prescriptions of natural law where political functionality are concerned, i.e., the objective principles which must be respected if a political system is to function optimally in facilitating the fulfillment of the true purpose of political association. In the words of Douglas:

“Any gang which gets a majority, by a fallacious ballot and a manipulated agenda, can upset all the rules, sell or give way all the assets, and liquidate the Company, all in the sacred name of d’markrazi. It is not a question of ‘Party’, but it is beyond question that the less scrupulous the gang, the less it is handicapped either in the achievement of power, or the use of it.”[7]

     If one permits, or to the extent that one permits, the fundamental rights and obligations of individuals in a functional society to be overturned on the basis of the claim that ‘the will of the majority must prevail’, one is in fact affirming a principle of lawlessness, i.e., one is affirming that the ‘majority’ have the right to break the fundamental social contract unilaterally.[8] In view of these considerations, it must be admitted that any kind or degree of unrestricted majority rule is simply another manifestation of dictatorship and is therefore incompatible with authentic democracy:

“... a human collectivity, still less an electoral majority is not the proper focus of unitary sovereignty. That is not simply a statement of opinion; it is a statement of the same nature as to say that a cricket bat doesn’t make a good agricultural machine – it does not produce the results which are expected of an agricultural machine.”[9]

     Unrestricted majority rule, or what we might refer to as ‘the dictatorship of the mob’, is facilitated by two additional factors that characterize ‘ballot-box democracy’. The first is universal adult suffrage. Under the present set-up, the universal extension of the right to vote must result in the disenfranchisement of the intelligent voter (with, let it be noted, a consequent loss to the whole community). If all adults are given one vote, i.e., everyone’s vote is of equal worth, unrestricted majority rule means that the mediocre majority can easily lord it over more astute minorities in the service of vested interests:

    “It is a fact inherent in the nature of the case that ownership must vest in an individual, and any attempt to get away from this law of nature results as a practical consequence in the appointment of an administrator whose power increases as the number of his appointers increases. This is, of course, the idea which is contained in the continuous extension of the voting franchise, and, a very Machiavellian policy it is, resulting as it does in the intelligent voter being completely disfranchised.”[10]

     The lack of genuine democracy inherent in unrestricted majority rule is thus only intensified to the extent that the ‘right to vote’ has been continually expanded under prevailing conditions:

“the fact, of course, is that a parliamentary vote gives no effective control, and the more widespread the vote, the less the control.”[11]

     The second factor that encourages the tendency toward mob-rule has to do with the anonymity of the voting process. The secret ballot allows for the separation of power from responsibility. Individuals can vote for parties and hence policies which may benefit themselves or their class at the expense of the common good and these individuals cannot be held accountable for their anti-social behaviour. This lessens, in turn, the control which well-meaning individuals can exercise over the political process:

“The degradation of British politics can almost be identified with the introduction of the secret ballot. A man who is ashamed or afraid to let it be known how he votes, is afraid to take responsibility for the consequence of his voting, and has no right to a vote.”[12]

     But why, exactly, does Douglas suggest that the ‘dictatorship of the majority’ can be reduced to the ‘dictatorship of the mob’? It is because the whole conventional ‘democratic’ system imposes a psychology that leaves the way open to mass manipulation by astute wire-pullers:

“A mandate is a recruiting device, and its morality is neither greater nor less than that of war of any description. Vox populi is not only not vox Dei, but such empirical psychologists as Gustave le Bon have demonstrated beyond all reasonable doubt that in itself it is far more likely to be vox diaboli. ... a mandate obtained from a political majority can, more especially in wartime, be manipulated for purposes which, while not understood by the electorate, will be passively accepted if they can be put into words suitable to a negro revivalist orgy.”[13]

    But you see, the mob can only function in a politically constructive way; i.e., in a way that results in the implementation of new policies, if it has a leader:

“It is obvious that a majority is only a specialised and deceptive word for the “Führerprinzip”. No majority can act without a Leader. When an individual resigns power to a leader, he resigns it primarily to be used against him. To the extent that the “Führerprinzip” has been effective, the present state of the world is the result of the “Führerprinzip”. You can’t have it both ways – either the device is ineffective, or the results are catastrophic.”[14]

     As we shall discover in future articles, the ostensible leader of the mob in modern, ‘democratic’ countries is, all too often, nothing more than the puppet of the hidden oligarchic elites who put him there. It would be bad enough if unrestricted majority rule meant that the majority was dictating to the minority for the benefit of the majority. In a large number of cases what is actually happening is that the majority is being manipulated to penalize a minority in order to advance the interests of the same oligarchic elites:

“So-called democracy, therefore, is a ballot-box device for despoiling minorities, not, it should be carefully noted, for the benefit of majorities, but for the benefit of third parties. Motor taxes do not distribute motor cars, wine taxes do not distribute wine, and expropriated estates do not go to the landless.”[15]

     This manipulation of the masses by the elites at the expense of the individual is most easily achieved by bribing the more uncritical and self-absorbed segments of the electorate:

“It is quite certain that this subtle misuse of words, in combination with the equally subtle misuse of fraudulent majorities as a device for centralising power, is neither accidental nor unconscious, although the actual users may think that they understand their import. It has been grasped by our Masters that majorities will always accept a label as an explanation; that the short road to power is to popularise a label, which can always be done by an appeal to greed, and then to fill the bottle which carries it with any noxious rubbish which will achieve the downfall of the purchaser. By the aid of two or three labels, you can sell the same poison indefinitely.”[16]

     For all of these reasons, Douglas held that any sort of unrestricted majority rule must, even with the limitations that are placed upon it in liberal ‘democracies’,  be rejected:

“A majority ceases to have any validity when it is led to an objective its component individuals do not understand, or when a dissentient minority is forced to accompany it.”[17]

 

---------------

 

[1]  Cf. C.H. Douglas, The Control and Distribution of Production (London: Cecil Palmer, 1922), 51: “It has frequently and rightly been emphasized that the essence of any real progress towards a better condition of society resides in the acquisition of control of its functions by those affected by its structure; ...”

[2] C.H. Douglas, The Control and Distribution of Production (London: Cecil Palmer, 1922), 143-145.

    The fact that many people believe so strongly in the merits of conventional ‘democracy’ while simultaneously being dissatisfied with its practical results is a strong indication that such people have been effectively brainwashed. That is, the facts or reality of the situation can no longer make any impact whatsoever on the zealotry with which an unworkable theory of democracy is held up as the ideal or at least as ‘the best we can do’ because the people have been subjected to some process of political socialization which can only qualify as a form of indoctrination. In such a cognitive environment, reason is severely impeded in its task of reflecting on experience in order to discern the truth.

      Douglas’ assessment of the results of British democracy was, on the whole, quite negative: “These islands have had many bad Governments – probably on balance, many more bad Governments than good ones even by comparison with the low quality of Government everywhere.” C.H. Douglas, The Development of World Dominion (Sydney: Tidal Publications, 1969), 47.

[3] C.H. Douglas, The Alberta Experiment (Western Australia: Veritas Publishing Company PTY. LTD., 1984), 54.

[4] C.H. Douglas, Warning Democracy, 3rd ed. (London: Stanley Nott, 1935), 52.

[5] Cf. C.H. Douglas, Security Institutional and Personal (Liverpool: K.R.P. Publications Ltd., 1945), 11.

[6] C.H. Douglas, The Approach to Reality (London: K.R.P. Publications Ltd., 1936), 15.

[7] Cf. C.H. Douglas, The Development of World Dominion (Sydney: Tidal Publications, 1969), 48.

[8] Cf. C.H. Douglas, The Brief for the Prosecution (Liverpool: K.R.P. Publications Ltd., 1945), 68: “Mr. Asquith, when concerned to pass the Parliament Act, which abolished the very real safeguard of an effective Second Chamber, said ‘The will of the people must and shall prevail.’ This is, of course, an affirmation of essential lawlessness – the right to break a contract unilaterally.”

[9] C.H. Douglas, Major Douglas Analyzes ‘Social Credit’ in Alberta 1948, 8. Cf. C.H. Douglas, The Development of World Dominion (Sydney: Tidal Publications, 1969), 2: “The problem presented by the centralised (‘majority’) political vote is the same in its fundamentals as that of which it is only another manifestation – the monopoly of credit.”

[10] C.H. Douglas, Warning Democracy, 3rd ed. (London: Stanley Nott, 1935), 8. Cf. C.H. Douglas, The Development of World Dominion (Sydney: Tidal Publications, 1969), 44. “Since the prevalent political theory is that the majority must not merely be represented, but that their views must prevail, we obtain quite automatically by a ballot-box democracy, the government of the whole by the worst.”

     One particular poignant proof of this assessment lies in the consequences of permitting the illiterate to vote: “ ‘More than two thousand youths enter the Army each year who cannot even sign their name.’ – General Sir William Slim. We aren’t told how many who don’t enter the Army each year can’t sign their name. But they can all make a cross on a ‘secret’ ballot paper, even if they can’t read the name of the candidate. So they just about cancel the votes of the few thousand whose opinion on political matters is worth attention.” C.H. Douglas, The Development of World Dominion (Sydney: Tidal Publications, 1969), 118.

[11] C.H. Douglas, Programme for the Third World War (Liverpool: K.R.P. Publications Ltd., 1943), 37.

[12] C.H. Douglas, The Development of World Dominion (Sydney: Tidal Publications, 1969), 118. Douglas was quite critical of any kind of anonymity in public affairs: “It is obvious that anonymity is the antithesis of both individualism and responsibility – it is the amorphous, in distinction to the defined responsibility.” C.H. Douglas, “Whose Service is Perfect Freedom” (Bullsbrook, Western Australia: 1983), 34.

He went on to note in the same passage that anonymous power-yielding was also very much at odds with the Christian world-view: “The first characteristic conferred upon an individual by Christianity is ‘a Christian name’. A child thus becomes an individual, not merely ‘a human being’ or ‘one of the Smiths’. And if at some later date, John Smith forges a cheque, we are careful to incarcerate not merely one of the Smiths, but John Smith.”

[13] C.H. Douglas, Realistic Constitutionalism (London: K.R.P. Publications Ltd., 1947), 34. Cf. C.H. Douglas, The Big Idea (Bullsbrook, Australia: Veritas Publishing Company, 1983), 59: “The next point is equally simple and far-reaching – that groups are inferior to individuals. Majorities have no rights and are generally not right. They are an abstraction to which it is impossible to impart the qualities of a conscious human being. The attempt to construct a system of human relationships on the ‘rights’ of majorities is not democracy. If it were, democracy would stand self-condemned.  ... It is only possible to associate, i.e., to form a majority, for the purposes of a function – ‘we descend to meet’.”

[14] C.H. Douglas, The Big Idea (Bullsbrook, Australia: Veritas Publishing Company, 1983), 61.

[15] C.H. Douglas, The Brief for the Prosecution (Liverpool: K.R.P, Publications Ltd., 1945), 69. Ibid., 72. “... the primary perversion of the democratic theory is to identify it with unrestricted majority government. When Mr. Asquith announced that the will of the “people” must prevail, he meant that he would present a bribe to the electorate at the expense of the minority in such a way that he would get a majority. It is that situation which has to be altered.”

     One widespread and on-going example of this phenomenon is the tendency of the poorer classes to vote for measures that are supposed to benefit them, but which actually advance the interests of the oligarchy by penalizing those individuals and groups who are better off and who constitute, therefore, possible competitors or threats to their hegemony. It was in response to this general danger that Douglas once made the following declaration: “Political democracy without economic democracy is dynamite. The need is to abolish poverty, not represent it.” C.H. Douglas, The Monopoly of Credit, 4th ed. (Sudbury: Bloomfield Books, 1979), 120.  

[16] Cf. C.H. Douglas, The Development of World Dominion (Sydney: Tidal Publications, 1969), 58. Cf. Ibid., 112: “... the ‘will of the majority’ basis of sovereignty is a Freemasonic racket.”

[17] C.H. Douglas, The Big Idea (Bullsbrook, Australia: Veritas Publishing Company, 1983), 61.

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