To pick up where we left off in September’s article, if one denies any credibility to ‘hidden hand’ theories as explanations for why various things tend to go wrong politically, then it is essential that another theory or theories be put forward in its place. The alternatives to the claim that “powerful individuals and groups work together in secret to maintain and increase their influence at the expense of the common individual,” are that those who exercise power over us are invariably either angels and saints who love us, always tell us the truth, and do what is best for us, and that what we perceive as pernicious is actually good or at least the best that can be done, or that our rulers are hopeless, congenital incompetents. The systematic failure of the political, economic, and other social systems to fulfill their due ends to the extent that this fulfillment is objectively possible must therefore be due to the operation of blind forces (perhaps a hopelessly corrupted human nature?) over which neither the elite, nor we ourselves, would appear to have any meaningful control. If that is the case, then there is nothing that can ever be done to improve society and there is not much point even discussing any such matters any further. According to the cock-up theory of history and political events:
“The world is an unpredictable place. Terrible things happen, but no one is essentially to blame for them. On the whole the mathematics of chance and probability rule us, and, if we appear to be losing on black, our only course is to put our money on red.
On this theory, wars, revolutions, depressions, business amalgamations, rationalisation and nationalisation, taxes and bureaucrats, are natural phenomena as inevitable as the flowers that bloom in the spring. An attitude of reverent agnosticism combined with disciplined acceptance is all we can adopt pending a codification of the ‘trends,’ which clearly require data compiled and card indexed over a long period of time.
It seems inseparable from the acceptation of this theory, however, that we school ourselves to agreement with the remark, ‘Credo, quia impossibile’.”
Which sort of hypothesis is more plausible given the totality of empirical facts available to us? From Douglas’ point of view, the answer is clear:
“To suppose that it is coincidence that an identical and recognisable objective is being pursued in every great country under such varying titles and by such apparently, but only apparently, opposing forces, is to strain credulity beyond reasonable limits.”
If one wishes to do full justice to reality – regardless of the topic that is being investigated - it is of the gravest importance to neither underestimate nor overestimate the phenomenon in question. Accordingly, whenever this particular question of ‘conspiracy’ becomes the subject of reflection, the thoughtful individual will seek to follow a sensible middle-path in accordance with the available evidence and in full knowledge of his cognitive limitations. This will allow him to scrupulously avoid the error of those who become irrationally suspicious, i.e., paranoid, while, at the same time, avoiding the mistake of those who, by preferring to be complacently sceptical, refuse to call a spade a spade. To deny the reality and indeed even the possibility of conspiracy as an explanatory factor behind much of our socially-induced discontent is just as irrational, therefore, as to think that every negative thing that occurs in the world must be due to a conspiracy.
Interestingly enough, both of these extremes reinforce the power of conspirators but in opposite ways. Those who exaggerate the power of the oligarchic elites move people to despondency and inaction, while those who downplay or discount the threat leave the people in their ignorance and, what is worse, enslaved to false conceptions of reality. The two attitudes also tend to reinforce each other; i.e., the ravings of the paranoid encourage the tendency of the nonchalant to smugly dismiss any and all claims involving conspiracy, while the latter’s refusal to even admit the most evident of inconsistencies and inadequacies in the officially endorsed versions of reality can only confirm for the former that the oligarchy is very nearly omnipotent. It would appear that, of the two extremes, that occupied by the scoffer is nevertheless worse for, as many besides Douglas have acknowledged, “... the Devil never did a cleverer piece of work than when he persuaded his victims that he does not exist.”
A related objection is that Douglas’ general position on this matter is somehow simplistic and is therefore to be rejected as invalid or unsophisticated. Douglas responded to this critique by pointing out that, on the contrary, complex explanations are often the product of shallow analysis (i.e., an analysis which does not go back far enough in time), and, if they are championed as being intellectually astute, it is often because they serve the political purpose of distracting the public’s focus and thereby obscuring the real, underlying causes of a phenomenon:
“At this point, a short digression on the fashionable phrase ‘over-simplification’ seems to be desirable. It may be noticed that all really respectable comment on matters of moment is at some pains to disclaim anything of this nature, and the more complex the comment, the more certain is it to be accredited as respectable. When the explanation of any phenomenon is so complex, and takes so many factors into consideration that no one of them, if subjected to modification, can be expected to produce much alteration, it can be predicted with some certainty that it will be commended as a solid contribution to the solution of world problems.
“All problems are, however, just as complex as you care to make them. Let us suppose that you wish to explain the light by which you are reading. You may say that it proceeds from a heated wire enclosed in a glass bulb, which could not operate without thus and such arrangements of rubber-covered wires. Someone is sure to say that the rubber shortage will inevitably threaten your lighting system. When the supply of power from the grid fails, a considerable body of opinion will blame the Japanese invasion of Malaya and the shortage of rubber. But if you say that your light proceeds from the transformation of one kind of energy into a different manifestation of the same energy, you are not only more generally accurate, but you set up a more useful train of thought, and cut out many irrelevancies. In general, a cause is more likely to be comprehensively identified if you consider it a long way back from its effect, and the attribution of an effect to a complexity of causes is, a priori, a suggestion of a shallow analysis. It may not be, but in relation to public policy, it generally is so. Or to put the matter another way, a political effect rarely has only one immediate derivation, but it generally has one primary cause.”
The New World Order
If ‘conspiracy’ is to be admitted as a factor in our social discontents, many questions will arise naturally, one of the first being: what would be the purpose or goal of the conspirators? Douglas’ answer to that question runs as follows: the illegitimate and unjustified centralization of power on a global scale in fewer and fewer hands. This is what many people, both supporters and critics, have referred to as “The New World Order”.
Given the observation that the world must operate in certain ways just so long as the individuals who compose society do not have access to effective sanctions, it should come as no surprise that there have been many attempts in world history to achieve a monopoly of effective sovereignty over the entire globe or, at least, over very large areas through empire building of various sorts. The goal of world supremacy is not a new policy-objective:
“... the idea of world monopoly is not a new one, far from it, although it has taken many forms. Practically all the world’s historical empires, beginning with the Roman Empire, although there were others before that, were attempts at world power. That was the first type of an attempt at world monopoly, the military idea. We had an attempt in that direction as late as in 1914. It was the hardly concealed objective of the German Empire to form a military world state which would be supreme.
We know that failed. Another attempt along administrative lines undoubtedly was launched immediately after that in the original idea of the League of Nations, which undoubtedly contemplated the formation of something of the nature of a superior state which should lay down the law for everyone else. That never got very far, because I think its objective was early realised, and imperceptibly it merged into something else, which is undoubtedly a matter for our closest concern to-day, namely the financial hegemony of the world by a selected group of central banks, crowned by the Bank of International Settlements. That is simply the translation of the same idea into different methods, one after the other. You can see that it is a constantly recurring idea, and it recurs in different forms. I think it is extremely important to recognise it, because you can then recognise what is the connected meaning of a lot of disconnected things which are going on all over the world at the same time.”
Douglas held that the particular empire which international finance is seeking to build is the aforementioned ‘New World Order’. We are confronted with the use of the monopoly of financial power to achieve a one-world political association in the service of vested interests. Once fully established, this oligarchic regime would be characterized by:
“... a claim for the complete subjection of the individual to an objective which is externally imposed on him; which it is not necessary or even desirable that he should understand in full; and the forging of a social, industrial and political organisation which will concentrate control of policy while making effective revolt completely impossible, and leaving its originators in possession of supreme power.”
Remaking the World in their Own Image
It would be sufficiently disquieting if the centralization of effective sovereignty to the greatest conceivable extent were being pursued by the financial oligarchy as an end in itself; it would appear, however, that the power monopolists invariably have a transcendent aim in mind: the use of this immense power (once and however acquired) to thoroughly remake the world according to how they believe it ‘ought to be’. This involves the imposition of all illegitimate sorts of controls and the removal of all sorts of legitimate protections in order to make human beings think and behave as the overlords desire. Individuals must be made fit objects for planning:
“There is no more dangerous individual in the world at the present time than the Utopianist. Mr. Montagu Norman, Governor of the Bank of England, is a Utopianist. Mr. Chamberlain is a Utopianist. Lenin was a Utopianist, Hitler is a Utopianist. Just see where Utopianism has landed us. It is the Utopianist who provides the public excuse for nearly every theft of public property which has ever been committed.”
If, to the contrary, a political system were merely to reflect the true structural functional necessities of political association and never trespass by assuming powers which transcend such limits, it could never come close to possessing sufficient power to remake the world so that it reflects what the powers-that-be think the world ought to be like. In other words, restricting governmental action to structural functional necessities means having no control over what individuals and groups may freely choose to do within those appointed limits in their pursuit of self-development; it is to replace the attitude of planning with a great faith in the possibilities of maturing human individualities.
---- to be continued ----
 Cf. C.H. Douglas, Programme for the Third World War (Liverpool: K.R.P. Publications Ltd., 1943), 53: “If it is true that these insanities [listed in the preceding sentence as ‘wars, economic friction, poverty amidst plenty, and the other too familiar features of our contemporary world ...’ – OH] simply proceed from sheer inability to understand how they can be eliminated, i.e., pure incompetence, not only is no one to ‘blame,’ but, what is much more to the point, nothing will be gained by punishing anyone. This ‘village idiot’ theory of events is steadily publicised.”
 C.H. Douglas, The Brief for the Prosecution (Liverpool: K.R.P. Publications Ltd., 1945), 10.
On Douglas’ view, the propagation of the cock-up theory of history serves a distinct political purpose: it obscures the role which policy and the controllers of policy play in world events, thus rendering the latter immune from criticism or effective resistance.
 C.H. Douglas, “Whose Service is Perfect Freedom” (Bullsbrook, Western Australia: 1983), 6.
 C.H. Douglas, The Development of World Dominion (Sydney: Tidal Publications, 1969), 8. Cf. Ibid., 41: “Not the least of the weapons in the armoury of the Dark Forces is the carefully-managed ridicule which accompanies any general suggestion of their existence.”
 C.H. Douglas, Programme for the Third World War (Liverpool: K.R.P. Publications Ltd., 1943), 51-52.
 C.H. Douglas, The Monopolistic Idea (Vancouver: The Institute of Economic Democracy, 1979), 1.
 C.H. Douglas, Economic Democracy, 3rd ed. (London: Stanley Nott, 1931), 10.
 C.H. Douglas, Security Institutional and Personal (Liverpool: K.R.P. Publications Ltd., 1945), 9. It is, in other words, on account of their desire to impose a comprehensive social structure on individuals that the Utopians wish to centralize effective sovereignty as much as possible; the latter is a means to the former. Cf. C.H. Douglas, The Brief for the Prosecution (Liverpool: K.R.P. Publications Ltd., 1945), 57: “When the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Temple, said ‘We need supremely the control of human purpose’ he merely voiced, doubtless without realising it, the views of the world dominator everywhere.”