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Thursday, 05 March 2020 17:34

Thus Spake C.H. Douglas ... Zoroastrianism and Social Credit

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“May Ahura Mazda protect this land from hostile armies, from famine, and from the Lie.” – a dedicatory inscription found in the ruins of Persepolis, capital of the Persian (Achaemenid) Empire

     We have been accustomed, in Social Credit circles, to describe Douglas Social Credit as ‘practical Christianity’, and I think that this is indeed correct. Nevertheless, for some time I have noticed various points of contact between Social Credit and the Zoroastrian religion. This, too, shouldn’t come as any surprise or be seen as a contradiction, since the particular vision of the world shared by the prophet Zoroaster exerted a heavy influence, especially during the Babylonian Captivity, on Old Testament Judaism and thereby on Christianity. The Persian Zoroastrian King, Cyrus, is recognized in the Bible as being anointed by God and inspired by Him to liberate the Jews in Babylon. Cyrus, for his part, appears to have recognized the God of Israel and his own God as being one and the same.[1] Furthermore, there is a direct connection between Zoroastrianism and Christianity insofar as Zoroaster had predicted the coming of a Saoshyant, or world saviour, who would be born of a virgin … the three Magi who visited the Christ Child were, in fact, Zoroastrian priests who had correctly read the anticipated signs, both of the times and in the heavens, so as to be alerted to the timing of His birth.

     So what is Zoroastrianism and what does it have to do with Social Credit?

     The prophet Zoroaster, who is said to have laughed when he was born (instead of crying as one might expect any normal infant to do), lived sometime between the 15th and the 6th century BC, with some scholars seemingly preferring a 12th century date. He was a member of an Iranian (Aryan) tribe and lived either in what would become Bactria or in what would later be known as Azerbaijan. As the reader might surmise, less is known about him than about Abraham, Moses, Jesus, or Mohammed.

     Thankfully, more is known about his teachings as these were written down in the Gathas and in the rest of the Avesta. According to the revelations received by Zoroaster (an English translation of his Greek name), or Zarathustra (Old Persian), or Zartosht (modern Persian), the world is the work of a Creator-God, Ahura Mazda, or Lord Wisdom/ Wise Lord. This one God (Zoroastrianism is monotheistic) made everything good according to the plans or blueprints contained in His rational mind; these ideals collectively formed a body of truth or cosmic order called ‘asha’. When things are in alignment with asha, there is no friction, nothing occurs at the expense of anything else, and no one prospers at the cost of someone else’s injury. Unfortunately, the harmony of the material or concrete realm of the world which instantiated asha became corrupted when the universe was somehow invaded, assaulted, or infected by an evil spirit, Ahriman, and by his followers, who brought chaos, disorder, dysfunction, and disease, and who work to prevent the instantiation of asha in the visible world. They do this by promoting druj in opposition to asha. Druj is the lie, the false narrative or representation of reality. To accept or to act in alignment with druj is to frustrate the natural tendency or movement towards the realization of a given being’s innate potential for goodness.

     So each human individual finds himself placed in this cosmic drama, this battlefield between the forces of good, which seek to fulfill the intentions of Ahura Mazda in creating the world, and the forces of evil, which seek to sabotage the Wise Lord’s creation. Since Zoroaster regards human beings as rational and as possessing free will, it is our duty as individuals (Zoroastrianism represented a definite break from tribalism) to discern and to choose. We will be held fully responsible for the choices we make as we must endure their natural consequences. To have a successful life, and a successful hereafter – Zoroaster was probably the first to explicitly introduce notions of heaven and hell, etc. – one must bring oneself into alignment with asha by having ‘good thoughts’, i.e., recognizing what is true, just, and right as opposed to what is false, unjust, and wrong, by uttering ‘good words’, i.e., respecting and articulating the path of alignment with asha in speech, and ‘good deeds’, i.e., engaging in actions that help to actualize the good in the world.[2] Unfortunately, our minds tend to be clouded by greed and fear and even when we do the right thing we may not do it for the right reasons (i.e., because it is right), but rather out of self-interest or self-promotion.

     Whatever one makes of Zoroastrianism as a whole, there are definite commonalities between it and Social Credit on a philosophical level. In what follows I want to provide some indication of just how close Douglas is to Zoroastrian thinking, presumably without even realizing it, by focusing our attention on one speech in particular that is found in the book Major C.H. Douglas Speaks. That speech has sometimes been entitled: “On Truth”.[3]

   To begin with, the whole notion of asha, or cosmic order, would appear to be the same datum which Douglas identifies as the ‘canon’. It has also been termed the natural law or Logos in the Christian tradition. In his speech “On Truth”, Douglas dealt with the canon at some length:

“Now, it is my own belief, and I might almost say that it is almost my only religion, that there is running through the nature of the Universe something that we may call a ‘canon.’ It is the thing which is referred to in the Gospel of St. John as the ‘Logos,’ the ‘Word.’ (Logos: ‘The Word’ or ‘Reason ‘). [St. John 1:1, ‘The Word (Logos) was with God, and the Word was God.’ (I am the Word, the Truth, and the Light). Social Credit is based on Truth and Reason.] It has an infinite variety of names. The engineer and the artist refer to it when they say that they have got something ‘right.’ Other people mean the same thing when they talk about absolute truth, or reality. By whatever name you wish to refer to this idea, it does not matter very much; we all instinctively recognise its existence whether we meet it in something like architectural proportions as, say, the cenotaph, or even in the grim lines of a battleship.”[4]

     Not only is there an intelligible order, replete with laws and principles, governing what, and how, and why things are, but Douglas also recognizes that this order poses a challenge to us as rational and free beings: will we discern the canon accurately? Will we obey, conforming ourselves in word and deed to the canon, or will we choose to violate its order? Embracing and correctly applying the canon leads to success, the fulfillment of the inner logic of a particular activity or being, while violating the canon brings the ontic and axiological promise inherent in any given activity to naught:

“Genuine success only accompanies a consistent attempt to discover and to conform to this canon in no matter what sphere our activities may lie.”[5]

     Here too, the Zoroastrian notion of the importance of living a life in keeping with asha via good thoughts, words, and deeds, so that we may receive the blessing rather than the curse finds its echo. The mentality or spirit keen on promoting asha by seeking to incarnate it in this world through thought, word, and action, is referred to in Zoroastrianism as Spenta Mainyu, the ‘bounteous spirit’ or the ‘progressive spirit’ – progressive in the sense of supporting the natural evolution or unfolding of reality’s potential for goodness along the paths marked out by asha. Opposed to the progressive spirit or mentality is the Angra Mainyu (from which Ahriman is derived), or the constrained or restrictive mentality which thwarts the unfolding of asha. This opposition between ideas and mentalities is also to be found in Douglas’ essay:

 “What is happening in the world to-day is the clash of fundamental ideas, and those ideas will work themselves out to what may almost be called their inevitable end, attracting to their service great masses of individuals to whom they are congenitally sympathetic.”[6]

     Douglas’ subsequent description of one of these fundamental ideas, that of the undue centralization of power and the consequent enslavement of the individual, is definitely an instance of the ‘restrictive mentality’ in operation:

“At the present time it would appear superficially that one of these ideas - that of a centralized domination of the activities of this planet - had received, through its mechanism of international finance, a serious set-back; I do not think there is any sound ground for this idea. On the contrary, I believe that this conception was never so near to success as it is at the present time, and I am by no means satisfied that a complete success will not be achieved within a very short period of time. That that success will be short-lived I am confident, not because of the ability of the individuals composing the world's populations to fight successfully against the stupendous and far-reaching enslavement which is involved in it, but because of the inherent unsoundness of the idea and the internal disruptive forces which it is bound to set up.”[7]

     Indeed, when I think of the intimate connection, in Zoroastrianism, between the recognition and application of truth and the phenomenon of authentic progress I cannot but marvel at these following words of Douglas:

“All progress in the world, and in some ways the world has unquestionably made progress, has been achieved by recognition of TRUTH, and the reason that so little progress has been made in the solution of social problems is, to my mind, because in this sphere alone truth has been ignored or denied.”[8]

     At the same time, Douglas also makes it clear that it is by way of falsity, by way of druj in Zoroastrian terms, that authentic progress has been thwarted and has been replaced with dysfunction throughout the whole of human history:

“Running through all history like the thread of Ariadne, it is possible to trace a continuous policy which I can only describe as a divorce between things themselves and the description of them. A well-known instance of this, of course, is the glamour of war. War, at any rate modern war, is a dirty, beastly, inhumane, insane undertaking, proving nothing, adding nothing to the content of human values, and incidentally definitely dysgenic, having a strong tendency to kill off the best of the stock, and to leave the weakling to carry on the race. Not only that, but the conditions which accompany a war give play to intrigue, corruption, tyranny, and wire-pulling under cover of the suppression of publicity and the necessity for centralised control which are imposed by the exigencies of the struggle. Yet no war was ever carried on without a definite organisation to represent it as being in some way magnificent, glorious, and ennobling.

“This antithesis is a commonplace, and forms the basis of the misguided activities of pacifists unable to recognise that without a rectification of the causes of war, the suppression of war is as likely to be productive of good results as is plunging a sufferer from measles into cold water for the purpose of driving in the spots.”[9]

     As an interesting aside, I find it fascinating that while it is necessary to recognize evils, like war, for example, as evils, as a preliminary to eliminating them, Douglas is right to point out that very often it serves no purpose to try to eliminate these phenomena directly by making sentimental appeals, or calling for a change of heart, or engaging in other ‘moralistic’ abstractions that aim to suppress the symptoms. What one must do if one is keen on eliminating the undesirable phenomenon in question is to discover what is causing it in the first place. Once one has dealt adequately with the cause, one need not worry about the phenomenon. In the case of our social problems: political, economic, and cultural, their cause lies in druj, in the dishonest and therefore faulty software under which we attempt to run the hardware of our civilization:

“That is the picture which we see in looking round the world to-day, and it would be difficult to deny that it is a gloomy picture. It is the direct result of endeavouring to carry on the business of the world in accordance with a defective conception or idea.”[10]

     In Zoroastrian terms, the whole Social Credit project can be understood as an attempt to discern and apply asha to social matters, to the ‘problem’ of human association, with the promise that once this is done properly and consistently, we will all, as individuals in our communities, benefit from the ensuing social progress and be freed from the constraining/restrictive mentality which is responsible for so much social disorder, dysfunction, and decay. As long-time Social Crediters will know, Douglas had developed elaborate diagnoses and remedial proposals for political as well as economic association, even though he is best known for his financial analysis and monetary reform ideas. With respect to finance, the clear connection between improper finance and falsity or ‘druj’ and between proper, functional or progressive, finance and ‘asha’ is fully affirmed by Douglas:

“For instance, I have no doubt whatever that there is one single test which can be applied to any financial scheme which is put before you for your consideration, and that is, whether it represents reality, just as we know that the fundamental falsity of the present financial system is that it distorts and perverts reality.”[11]

“We are beginning to recognise, however, that this constant tendency to present a false picture of what is actually going on in the world extends all through our civilisation. We who are dealing with the problem of finance recognise that the fundamental problem is this false picture presented by finance, of the facts existing in the world to-day, and we know that finance and the people who operate the financial system regard it as of the first consequence that they should obtain control of the mechanism of public information, whether through the newspaper, broadcasting agencies, or the moving-picture, so as to present a false picture of civilisation, bearing only the most nebulous relation to the facts of the world as they do exist.”[12]

     A lot of the problems we have in the world, social and individual, can be traced back to the fact that our financial system is not an honest system; i.e., it is not designed to provide us with an accurate picture of our real and potential wealth. In other words, the existing financial system embodies druj and the economy that operates within its parameters is necessarily marked by the restrictive/constrained spirit and is, in consequence, productive of all sorts of unnecessary dysfunction and disorder. A faulty financial software means that the economic machine harnesses what are essentially natural and healthy human impulses and turns them toward destructive purposes like economic conflict and military warfare:

“We see the great elemental desire for self-preservation sweeping millions of people along the path which leads inevitably not to self-preservation but to self-destruction. In the East, the circumstances imposed upon immense populations, partly by their artificial restriction into areas fundamentally too small to support them, and partly by the reckless exploitation of Westernised groups acting under compulsion of a defective financial system, are seeking economic safety through the agency of wars, potentially so destructive that the mere idea of safety of any kind is grimly farcical in connection with them.”[13]

     To free the financial system from druj by bringing it into alignment with asha is a large part (but not the only part) of the Social Credit project:

“At this very period in which we live, it is probable that one of the fundamental struggles which is taking place, and one on which the future of civilisation depends perhaps more than on any other, is the attempt to obtain an atonement, or as it has been pronounced - an at-onement, between reality and the description of it. It is the importance of that attempt which justifies the work which is being done by the Social Credit movement, which might be properly described as a movement for honesty in public life.”[14]

     From a Zoroastrian perspective, being a Social Crediter is what happens when a rational and free human being adopts the perspective of Spenta Mainyu in reference to the wide array of social problems that can crop up in the ‘field’ of human association. It is a very specific and vitally important venue for practising good thoughts, good words, and good deeds, not only for one’s own temporal and eternal benefit, but even more so for the benefit of Ahura Mazda, as it aids Him in His quest – and arguably in a way that nothing else would – to bring creation to its intended fruition and to vanquish evil by the overwhelming power of the good:

“In looking round this room I see the faces of many who have been associated almost from the very beginning, with the attempts that we are making to discover and to follow this canon in regard to the matter of finance, and I believe that the success which has been achieved up to the present, and the still greater success that I am confident will follow after a period of storm, is due more than to anything else to the single-mindedness of those and many other people unfortunately prevented by distance or other obstacles from being here to-night, who have steadily pursued this idea. I say that I am confident that single-mindedness of purpose directed to the pursuit of this canon to which I have referred is the only thing of absolutely primary importance in any undertaking. Given that, forms of organisation and other mechanisms for the attainment of the end, necessary as they undoubtedly are, will, as one might say, provide themselves both at the right time and in the most perfect form that the necessities of the case require. …

     “In a period such as this and in connection with matters so momentous as those with which we have to deal more especially as a measure of success begins to attend us, there are bound to be attracted not only followers of the TRUTH, but others whose single-mindedness of purpose is not so pronounced. I am confident, however, that just as departure from the canon has produced the appalling condition of the world at the present time so the existence of a growing body of people who are aware of the situation, and singly devoted to bringing back UNDERSTANDING into relation with REALITY, constitutes not only the great, but the only certainty that eventually a world system founded UPON LIES will give way to one which is formed upon TRUTH.”[15]

 

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[1] Cf., for example, Ezra 1:1-2: “In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing:

‘This is what Cyrus king of Persia says:

‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of his people among you may go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem, and may their God be with them. And in any locality where survivors may now be living, the people are to provide them with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem.’”

[2] Accordingly, ancient Persian Zoroastrian youth were taught to ride, shoot straight, and to speak the truth.

[3] This speech was delivered at a ‘New Age’ dinner on March 18th, 1933, or just around 87 years ago.

[4]  C.H. Douglas, Major C.H. Douglas Speaks (Sydney: Douglas Social Credit Association, 1933), 52-53.

 Cf. also C.H. Douglas, Realistic Constitutionalism (London: K.R.P. Publications Ltd., 1947), 3: “... the rules of the Universe transcend human thinking, and cannot, in the ordinary sense of the words, be altered, and therefore must be ascertained and obeyed.”

[5] Ibid., 53.

[6] Ibid., 45.

[7] Ibid., 46 

[8] Ibid., 47.

[9] Ibid., 48.

[10] Ibid., 52.

[11] Ibid., 53.

[12] Ibid., 48.

[13] Ibid., 47 [emphasis is mine].

[14] Ibid., 48-49.

[15] Ibid., 53-54.

Last modified on Thursday, 05 March 2020 17:54

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1 comment

  • Comment Link Arindam Monday, 09 March 2020 00:13 posted by Arindam

    A very pleasant surprise - the Iranian faiths are usually ignored these days, due to their small following. I never expected anyone to investigate the connection between Social Credit and Zoroastrianism so thoroughly.

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