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Sunday, 22 April 2018 21:49

Social Credit as Toryism

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     In my recent article entitled “Jordan Peterson, Classical Liberalism, and Social Credit” I tried to make the case that Social Credit is rightly understood as ‘Christian’ rather than Liberal. As a follow-up to that piece, I thought it would be opportune to explain in greater detail why and how it is that Social Credit is incompatible with the economic and political philosophy of Liberalism.  To be sure, certain forms of Liberalism, such as Libertarianism or Welfare Liberalism, may be even further removed from Social Credit than is Classical Liberalism, but it is my contention that there is something in the nature of Liberalism itself which cannot be squared with the Social Credit ethos.

     An alternative way of expressing the difference in kind which exists between Social Credit and the constellation of Liberal positions that were just mentioned would be to describe Social Credit as a species of Toryism. “Social Credit is Tory” is actually tantamount to saying “Social Credit is Christian.” In the course of this article I hope that the justification for the equation of those two propositions may be revealed as self-evident.

     Let us begin by considering the following statement issued in 1962 by the Canadian Social Credit Secretariat. Its purpose? To clarify the true nature of Social Credit right after 30 (!) ‘Social Credit’ MP’s had been elected to the Canadian Parliament:

“… Social Credit policy is traditional Tory-ism or genuine conservatism expressed in terms applying to industrial capitalism. In a world in which liberal, socialist, and other “left-ist” policies are dominant, Social Credit, as an expression of genuine conservatism appears revolutionary in nature – as indeed it is. A free society rooted in the Christian ethic, which is the goal of traditional conservatism, can be achieved only by bringing to birth a new civilization involving a fundamentally changed viewpoint of human relationships with the nation.”[1]

     The word ‘Tory’, in the sense of traditional conservatism, is to be understood here as a consistent political/economic or social philosophy and not in the sense of any particular political party, whether in the United Kingdom, Canada, or elsewhere. Those parties, while they may still employ the moniker, usually bear the most tenuous of ideological connections to Toryism as a historical phenomenon.

     The Tory bloc in British political history can be traced back to the Cavaliers during the English Civil War. In opposition to the Roundheads and to their ideological descendants, the Whigs, the Cavaliers stood for the integrity of a rather robust interpretation of traditional British constitutionalism.[2] According to that vision, the Monarch, the nobility, the common law, and the Church had an important role to play in the socio-political life of the nation, a role which ought not to have been undermined in the name of ‘democracy’ or of a liberal interpretation of the ‘free society’. The Tory insistence on the supremacy of the traditional British social order as it had evolved organically through the ages over and against ‘innovations’ such as ‘the supremacy of Parliament’, ‘free market fanaticism’ (which views the free market as an end in itself rather than as a means to an end), or ‘administrative lawlessness’ in the Civil Service bureaucracy, can be encapsulated in the phrase “God, King, and Country”.

     Such was the gist of Toryism as a current in British political life. But it is also possible to express the essence of the Tory worldview and its opposition/incompatibility with Liberalism in more purely theoretical terms. Such an analysis simultaneously reveals that the social orientation of the Tory, i.e. his general position on the due relation that should exist between the individual and his associations, is identical to that held by the Social Crediter.

     Social Credit claims that every association exists for some definite purpose that can be identified by human reason. Thus, economic association exists for the sake of delivering the goods and services that people need to survive and flourish with the least amount of human labour and resource consumption.[3] Once we have determined an association’s true purpose, the various means that must be adopted to achieve that purpose in an effective, efficient, and fair manner may be referred to as the association’s functional necessities. In the case of economic association, for example, sufficient cost-liquidating purchasing power or income must be made available so that all of the costs of production can be liquidated; only thus can distribution and the demands of solvency be met in the easiest manner possible.

     Now, given this schema, Toryism would be the view that in order to deliver the benefits of association to those individuals who make up the association – including the maximization of their legitimate concrete freedoms – it is necessary to insist on the priority of functional necessity. But, at the same time, Toryism maintains that the only restrictions that can be imposed on the individual are those that are necessary for the fulfillment of an association’s true purpose. All restrictions are functional in nature. No association has the right to impose restrictions or to make demands on people which go beyond what is required for the fulfillment of the common good. The individual’s concrete freedom, both in terms of positive and negative rights, is maximized to the greatest possible extent under this set up.

     Toryism thus represents a kind of correct balance, or happy medium, between the individual and his associations if it be assumed that the right end of association is to secure the common good of individuals. This can be contrasted, to speak in Aristotelian terms, with the error of excess, on the one hand, and with the error of defect, on the other.

     The error of excess is the error of all collectivistic interpretations of association, i.e., communism, socialism, fascism, etc. On the basis, perhaps, that ‘the end justifies the means’, Collectivism falls into the mistake of violating what should be regarded as the individual’s legitimate rights and freedoms by imposing restrictions and/or demands that go beyond functional necessity. As a direct result, the individual’s time, effort, and other resources end up being harnessed in the service of group policy, so that a social ideal, alien to the true and original purpose of the association, can be imposed on the individual and on the community as a whole. The individual and his interests are thereby illegitimately subordinated to the group, or, more typically, to an oligarchic elite who control the group for their own selfish benefit.

     But there is also the error of defect, and that is where Liberalism/Whiggism come into play. Liberalism falls into the opposite error vis-à-vis collectivism. By focusing on the maximization of alleged negative rights as the very purpose of association, the individual becomes emancipated not just from collectivistic domination, but also from some of the functional necessities of association for the common good. Since this form of ‘liberation’ impairs the capacity of an association to fulfill its true purpose, the real or concrete – as opposed to theoretical – freedom of most individuals living under such a regime actually suffers as a direct result. While they may be freer from public (as opposed to privately originated) demands and restrictions in theory, they also tend to be denied the benefits of association to the extent that they might rightfully expect. These benefits end up being usurped by private vested interests which have been left unregulated by the public power.

     Before moving on, I must make mention of the fact that – all propaganda to the contrary – we do not live in Liberal societies, or at least, we do not live in purely Liberal societies. Our modern Western ‘democracies’, so-called, tend to incorporate at one and the same time (but not, obviously, in the exact same way) both liberal and collectivistic policies (the latter usually appear in the form of socialism or cultural Marxism). The end result is that things that should be prohibited, for the sake of an association’s due functionality, are not, while things that should not be prohibited, things involving the exercise of an individual’s legitimate freedoms, are restricted and, to make matters worse, demands are made on individuals that the group has no right to make.

     Indeed, I fear that the liberal-collectivistic dynamic is actually a manifestation of the Hegelian dialectical trick: thesis-antithesis-synthesis, with the synthesis shorning both Liberalism and Collectivism of whatever benefits they may hold in theory and, more often than not, simultaneously delivering the worst of both worlds in practice. It is in the resulting synthesis that we live. The individual is thus squeezed in a pincer movement from both the left and the right, all the while his associations fail to deliver satisfactory results.

   Besides the intuitively given character of the difference between Toryism on the one hand and Liberalism/Collectivism on the other (and that in itself should actually be sufficient to settle the debate for anyone who has studied Douglas’ works and especially his social philosophy), what further evidence do we have that Social Credit can be classified as a form of Toryism?

     Well, to begin with, it is noteworthy that Douglas explicitly claimed on more than one occasion that he was a Tory and even did so in order to stress his opposition to Liberalism/Whiggism. [4] Indeed, Douglas’ works, especially his later works, contain innumerable critiques of Whigs and Whiggism … so many, in fact, that they cannot all be referenced here.

     Let us consider just the following quotes from Douglas:

“I am a Tory.”[5]

“Temperamentally, I am a non-party Tory, not a Liberal, but my chief objection to Liberalism with a capital letter is that while many of its expressed sentiments were admirable, most of its major policies were abominable. Quite in the modern technique, in fact.”[6]

 “To the extremely small extent that I can be said to have any party politics, I am a Conservative. In my opinion this is a conservative country, although it has been for many years, and is, governed by Whig policies. If I can do even a little to awaken you to a consciousness of what I mean by that, I shall be especially gratified.”[7]

     Now, if Douglas was a consistent Tory (which is most likely given what we know of his character and intellect), then his self-identification as a Tory is prima facie evidence that Social Credit would probably fall more into the Tory as opposed to the Liberal tradition of thought.

     And indeed, Douglas also made it explicitly clear that Social Credit itself was anti-Whig or anti-Liberal, and was, therefore, incompatible with and in opposition to the policies which, to a greater or lesser extent, had come to dominate Great Britain for a number of decades if not longer:

“You will gather from what I have just said that so far from coming to you as a propagandist of subversive doctrine (an idea which financiers are most anxious to convey) I am, in my own opinion at least, asking you to consider whether conservative opinion in this country has not yet been betrayed into the support of policies which are traditionally alien to it and to the vast majority of us, and which genuine conservative opinion would repudiate if it were conscious of its true implications.

“A minute or so ago I said that the policy of this country was and is a Whig policy. Now I should like you to place this statement side by side with the accusation which is universal on the Continent, in regard to both British and United States policy, that it is hypocritical. Because the keynote of Whig policy, which is predominantly a policy based upon orthodox finance, is hypocrisy – the justification, on some allegedly moral ground, of policies which are in fact not merely narrowly selfish, but pragmatically disastrous.

“I should like to emphasise at once that Social Credit is not an artificially concocted plan either of my own or of any one else’s. That is exactly what its opponents wish to argue about. While I am satisfied that the technical proposals which have been associated with it are reasonably sound (and I must add that the conviction is only strengthened by the complete failure of its opponents, either here or elsewhere, to establish their criticisms), the fundamental idea is simply the antithesis of Whiggism, namely, that the first essential of a stable, peaceful and successful society is to get at the truth and to present – not misrepresent – the truth to everyone concerned. “Credit is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” and no stable society can endure on false evidence.”[8]

      Beyond this, Douglas made his support for what can only be described as traditional Tory positions in both politics and economics quite clear. Take, for example, his speech before the Constitutional Research Association delivered in May 1947 and entitled “Realistic Constitutionalism”. In the printed version of his remarks Douglas wrote:

“The main point to be observed is that to be successful, Constitutionalism must be organic; it must have a relation to the nature of the Universe. That is my understanding of ‘Thy Kingdom come on earth, as it is in Heaven’. When England had a genuine Trinitarian Constitution, with three inter-related and inter-acting loci of sovereignty, the King, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and the Commons, these ideas were instinctive and those were the days of Merrie England. Since the Whig Revolutions of 1644 and 1688, and the foundation of the Bank of England under characteristically false auspices in 1694, the Constitution has been insidiously sapped by the Dark Forces which knew its strength, and the obstacle which it offered to treachery. We now have only the mere shell of the Constitution, Single Chamber Government dominated by Cartels and Trades Unions, (Mond-Turnerism), based on unitary sovereignty, to which the next step is the secular materialistic totalitarian State, the final embodiment of power without responsibility. …

“Speaking, not of course as a lawyer, but as a student of history and organisation, it is my opinion that the restoration of the supremacy of Common Law, the removal of encroachments upon it, and the establishment of the principle that legislation by the House of Commons impinging upon it is ultra vires, is an urgent necessity. The locus of sovereignty over Common Law is not in the electorate, because Common Law did not derive from the electorate and indeed ante-dated any electorate in the modem sense. In the main, it derived from the Mediaeval Church, perhaps not directly, but from the climate of opinion which the Church disseminated. …

“But whether by the strengthening and elevation of Common Law, and its repository in the care of an effective Second, non-elective, Chamber, or by some other method, clearly defined limits must be placed on the power of a House of Commons elected on a majority principle.”[9]

     In his talk, “The Realistic Position of the Church of England”, Douglas even argued for a return to the Medieval position in which the Church had a formal, though not totalitizing, role in the government of the nation:

“Before the Church of England can become what it should be, an integral, primary, and effective part of the Constitution, so that the phrase ‘Christianity is part of the Law of England’ may have real meaning, it is faced with the problem of restoring its locus standi. 

“It must be insisted that Christianity is either something inherent in the very warp and woof of the Universe, or it is just a set of interesting opinions, largely discredited, and thus doubtfully on a par with many other sets of opinions, and having neither more nor less claim to consideration. 

“The Roman Catholic Church has always recognised this, and has never wavered in its claims. It may be (and here I write with diffidence and proper humility) that the most direct path to an effective Church, is at least, close rapproachement, and at the most re-union of all the Churches making claims to Catholicity.”[10]

     This is the Tory – and Social Credit - vision for society. Democracy? Yes, but democracy within the right limits. Individual Freedom? Absolutely! But, it must be true liberty and not irresponsible licence. A certain knowledge of truth and a respect for the Canon (i.e., the natural law) must come first as the condition of the possibility of both an effective democracy and of genuine personal freedom ... as we have been told repeatedly: “The truth will set you free.” John 8:32

 

 

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[1] https://alor.org/New%20Times/pdf/NT2823.pdf

[2] As Douglas put it in his book, Brief for the Prosecution, the Tories and the Whigs were representative of two distinct philosophies, two different socio-political visions for the British nation:

“ In these days of coalition Governments, control by ‘Planners,’ and other modern improvements, it is difficult to realise that Cavaliers and Roundheads, Whigs and Tories, were exponents of two philosophies. 
     The Whigs were merchants, abstractionists, the dealers in intangibles. It is not a coincidence that the Whigs, Quakers, and nonconformists, became bankers and collaborators with the Jews, both resident and continental. 
They were fundamentalists.” 

http://www.socialcredit.com.au/uploads/4994663577.pdf, 15.

[3] We know this because, if this purpose were not adequately fulfilled, the economy would collapse. Getting the goods with the least amount of effort is the very reason why people enter into economic association in the first place. When this task is seriously hampered, society becomes unstable and is threatened with dissolution.

[4] That Douglas understood Whiggism and Liberalism to be synonymous is evidenced in the following quote from The Development of World Dominion:

“Any extensive paraphrase of it would be an injustice to its concise structure: but a comment on its major proposition that the essence of Liberalism or Whiggism as a philosophy, is best (we should prefer to say, most briefly) expressed in the statement by

Thomas Jefferson: “That Government is best which governs least.”

http://www.socialcredit.com.au/uploads/7357191080.pdf, 49.

[5] The Douglas System of Social Credit: Evidence Taken by the Agricultural Committee of the Alberta Legislature Session 1934 (Edmonton, Alberta: W.D. McLean, King’s Printer, 1934), 122.

[6] C.H. Douglas, “Liberals and Beveridge”, The Social Crediter Vol. 14 No. 1 (Saturday March 10th 1945), 3.

[7] C.H. Douglas, “Money: An Historical Survey”, The Fig Tree No. 2 (September 1936), 23.

[8] C.H. Douglas, “Money: An Historical Survey”, The Fig Tree No. 2 (September 1936), 24.

[9] https://www.socred.org/images/douglas-archives/RealisticConstitutionalism.pdf, 2-5

[10] https://alor.org/Library/Douglas%20CH%20-%20Realistic%20Position%20of%20the%20Church%20of%20England.htm

 

Last modified on Wednesday, 25 April 2018 22:20

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