IV.) The Path Not Taken: Socialism and Social Credit.
When considering the development and decline of socialism in the twentieth century, it is important to distinguish between two main versions: a revolutionary 'Eastern' socialism that triumphed in Russia, China, Vietnam and elsewhere, and a reformist 'Western' socialism that strongly influenced Europe and North America. The key difference between the two - evident from the outset in the dispute between Lenin and Kautsky - was the attitude to representative democracy. In Lenin's words:
'Kautsky departed from Marxism by advocating what is, in the period of finance capital, a 'reactionary ideal', 'peaceful democracy', 'the mere operation of economic factors', for objectively this ideal drags us back from monopoly capitalism to the non-monopolist stage and is a reformist swindle.' (V. I. Lenin, Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism, Pluto Press, page 117).
It was the reformist Western version that discovered, considered and ultimately rejected Social Credit; the Eastern version seems to have had no association whatsoever with it, (though according to one source, Vyacheslav Molotov, the famous Soviet foreign minister, stated "There is nothing in the world we fear more"). It is perhaps no exaggeration to say that by doing so, the Socialists missed the opportunity of achieving the same level of success in the West that they had enjoyed in the East.
The very first Social Credit work of Major Douglas - The Delusion of Super-Production was published in 'The New Age', thanks to A. R. Orage, who, prior to encountering Douglas, had been a guild socialist. Thus, Social Credit may be said to have emerged on the left side of the political spectrum, (though of course the philosophy of Social Credit transcends left and right, and Douglas himself was a conservative, albeit an unorthodox one.)
Hence, it was to the Labour Party that the early British Social Crediters directed their attention, as is evident from many of the early writings of Major Douglas, (notably The Control and Distribution of Production). However, the economic decentralization at the core of Social Credit was altogether incompatible with the political centralization championed by the Fabians, and it is the latter who had the upper hand in Labour. The final break came with the Labour Committee investigating the 'Douglas-New Age Credit Scheme' turning in an unfavourable report.
Unsurprisingly, Social Crediters had no more success with the Conservative Party, while efforts to create Social Credit parties in order to enter government directly, were unsuccessful except, of course, in the Canadian province of Alberta, where a Social Credit party came to power, only to see its efforts stymied by the central government. Curiously, there was also some interest in Social Credit among members of the British Union of Fascists, (see Kerry Bolton's The Banking Swindle, pages 62-64), but although National Socialism was much more open to monetary reform than either Eastern or Western socialism, it seems Social Credit had no influence in the Third Reich itself, nor on subsequent far-right movements.
One might have thought that the collapse of the Soviet bloc as well as of the Soviet Union itself, and the concomitant discrediting of Marxism would have led to renewed interest in Social Credit from the Left, especially among its radical anti-capitalist wing. Nothing of the sort happened: on the contrary, the Left opted for virtually every path except monetary reform and Social Credit - be it identity politics, 'market socialism', environmentalism, not to mention 'Third Way' submission to neoliberalism. Social Credit - the path not taken - became the path altogether forgotten.
This is all the more surprising when we consider that the initial rejection of Social Credit by the Left (in the inter-war period) may be attributed, at least in part, to the fact that the effects of the Electrical Revolution were not widely appreciated then, whereas those of the Mechanical and French Revolutions were, (hence the tendency for leftist leaders, academics and activists to feel much more comfortable engaging with the teachings of Karl Marx than those of Major Douglas.) With growing experience and understanding of the Electrical Revolution and its implications, Social Credit would have become both more accessible and more relevant to them - yet, despite this, it received less attention from socialists in the 1990s than it did in the 1930s.
In order to account for this, we must analyze socialism from another angle.