Thursday, 16 September 2021

Towards Triopoly

 "Let us have the candour to acknowledge that what we call the 'economy' or the 'free market' is less and less distinguishable from warfare. Though its political means are milder (so far) than those of communism, this newly internationalised capitalism may prove even more destructive of human cultures and communities, of freedom, and of nature. Its tendency is just as much toward total dominance and control." Wendell Berry

In 1920 Rudolf Steiner's Die Kernpunkte der Socialen Frage was translated into English and published by George, Allen & Unwin under the title The Threefold Social Order. Subsequently published by several publishers, and under differing titles, the book was widely read, discussed and quoted in the wide variety of social reform circles that existed throughout the English-speaking world in the interwar years.

Throughout his works Steiner insists that man is a spiritual being, not in any vague or mystical sense but in an exact scientific sense. This being the case, a social system which fails to offer scope for the free activity of man’s spiritual nature cannot but descend into chaos. The spiritual is not something private, to be set aside from the mainstream currents of the life of society, reserved to a 'spare time' activity. Rather it is of central importance within all aspects of human social interaction. In the absence of an understanding of the spiritual nature of humanity, attempts to reform the political and economic institutions of society must flounder because they will inevitably fail to meet human needs. It is absolutely essential to liberate science, religion and art, i.e., education in all its forms, from dependence upon the corporate political economy.

Steiner's explanation of the interlocking elements of society is highly discussable. Ideally, each element operates to complement the others, so that they form a coherent whole. The three spheres can be summed up as Liberty (in the cultural sphere), Equality (in the rights sphere) and Fraternity (in the economic sphere).

l. A cultural/spiritual or educational system covering ‘all that of necessity proceeds from the individual and must of necessity find its way from the human personality into the structure of the body social’.

2. A political or equity system dealing with ‘all that is made necessary in social life by the relations between man and man’.

3. An economic system having to do with ‘everything which is requisite for man’s regulation of his material relations with the external world’.

Steiner looked to a future in which the three spheres, though forming the one body of the social order as a whole, would work freely and independently. He saw that the social order was being run as a monopoly. Since he wrote, a century ago, the economic aspect of life has, to a great extent, overspread all aspects of social interaction:

"It [the economy] has outgrown both political and cultural life. It now acted like a suggestion on the thoughts, feelings and passions of men. Thus it becomes ever more evident that the manner in which the business of a nation is carried on determines, in reality, the cultural and political life of the people. It becomes more evident that the commercial and industrial magnates, by their position alone, have acquired the monopoly of culture."

The present social chaos is a direct result of the failure of the schools of economic and political science to break free of the world of monopoly culture, finance and practice.


NOTE: For documentation see Understanding the Financial System, Frances Hutchnison 2010. Free download and hard copy available from https://www.douglassocialcredit.com/.








Monday, 13 September 2021

How the Other Lot Think

 

I thank the goodly god of Gold

Who has denied me nought,

Who has increased me fifty,fold,

Because I have not thought.


I thank the god that gave the lie

To what the Saviour quoth,

And made it possible that I

Serve God and Mammon both.

Eimar O'Duffy


Thoughts to conjure with. Since those words of Eimar O'Duffy were published in his 1933 dystopian novel Asses in Clover.  Since that time, following the money has become the sacred rule of thumb across the corporate world. A job is only registers as 'work' if you are legally paid a wage or salary to do it. In 1933, the world at large was still recovering from the shock of a World War fought by servicemen conscripted in law and paid to fight. O'Duffy was part of the broad church of the guild socialist movement that encompassed the work of John Ruskin, William Morris, Clifford Hugh Douglas and so many others. Included in that movement were many 'anthroposophists', individuals, men and women who had studied the teachings of Rudolf Steiner on science, philosophy, farming, politics, economics, spirituality and education. Found in all walks of life throughout the English-speaking world, they sought to understand how the financial system was permeating and distorting all three spheres of the social order - the political, the economic and the cultural spheres.

Over the decades of the 20th century, individuals came to be defined by their earning power. Furthermore, the trade or profession through which an individual's income was obtained determined their relationship with the world at large. Increasingly, as the century rattled on, powerful corporations determined the shape of the social order, offering 'employment' in the profitable industries, or in the research, education and training necessary to provide workers for those industries. Thus, in addition to the massive infrastructure of modern times, the employed produced highly profitable arms manufacture, nuclear fuels and weapons, information technologies, banking, pharmaceuticals, bioengineering, agribusiness and so on. As the lands of the world are commandeered by the corporate world, local farming and indigenous populations are forced into waged and salaried slavery as the only alternative to starvation. Small wonder the god of gold reigns supreme. Seemingly, millions have little choice but follow the money and ask no questions.

Nevertheless, throughout the two centuries of industrialisation, questions were being asked by thoughtful farmers in particular and women in general (see https://www.douglassocialcredit.com/ ). Alternative lifestyles have been developed by those endowed with the skills and foresight necessary to step outside the comfort zone of paid employment. However, especially in the last two decades, ignorance about the basic facts about what makes the social order tick, who makes the laws, and so on has become endemic. Taught to follow the rules through a schooling system that now exists purely to turn out workers for the global corporate machine, so many simply cannot hear what the thoughtful farmers, mothers and activists are saying. This is where creative listening, as introduced in the last Blog, can come in. We need to listen carefully, in order to understand how the other lot think. Only in that way can we begin to move towards sharing and caring for our common home.




Friday, 10 September 2021

Creative Listening Introduced

Many major issues of today demand our full attention. These include matters of health, mothering, education, food and farming (from agribusiness to biodynamic agriculture), anthroposophy, Goethean science, law, economics, politics, gardening, healing therapies, mass media, journalism, genetic engineering, biotechnology, and so on. As individuals we may take a lively interest in the research, writings and findings of the dedicated specialists in all these subjects whose work comes to us in a variety of different forms over the electronic media. The array of material to hand is awesome. But, in the absence of local platforms for debate, it is virtually impossible to test out our thoughts with others of different minds. Free and open discussion is, and always has been, the only antidote to authoritarianism.

Take, for example, the whole Covid vaccer/anti-vaxxer debate. The journalists at UK Column News gave their support to Doctors for Covid Ethics Symposium, and made it available to the world at large. Yet there are many who have broken off relationships with friends and family members because one recommended viewing the presentations, but the other did not like what they heard. In those instances, it would be more accurate to say the anti-Doctors for Covid Ethics individuals did not like what they thought they had heard. Which is a very different thing. In my view, the road to social disaster is paved with self-induced ignorance about what the other side are actually saying.

Hence, I would suggest, it is well worth study reading Why Schools of Economics and Political Science Should be Closed Down. The task is to decide whether we agree or disagree with the title. And if so why? And if not, why not? And where does that take us?

I have settled on this particular text because it is good and very well written. Also because politics and economics are my areas of expertise, and as a researcher, author, teacher and activist. Moreover, all the other topics we are covering are constrained within the boundaries of the Threefold Social Order, as set out by Rudolf Steiner in The Threefold Commonwealth (now available as Towards Social Renewal). What you can learn in the cultural sphere, what legal rights you have within the political sphere, and how you operate as producer and consumer in the economic sphere are questions determined within a man-made social order that is presently beyond the comprehension or control of humanity.

I knew John Papworth and others of his circle, and worked on ideals we had in common. Recently, a small pamphlet by Rachel Pinney entitled Creative Listening, drew my attention. It was the root of a series of conferences, extending over a period of 14 years, in which a great deal of creative listening was undertaken. The task is to build on that experience.

For the time being, I'm posting up Blogs based upon the text of Why School of Economics and Political Science Should be Closed Down, My hope is that individual areas of research and concern can be discussed within that framework, giving rise to practical actions based upon sound theory and research. The task is to work together, not to pick each other to pieces, according praise and blame as the mood takes us.

Hence the trick is to make yourself think that the opposite of your own view just might be true, and, for a while, to adopt it as your own. You will then be able to lay the two views side by side in the quest for commonality.

NOTE: The Creative Listening booklet is now available for free download (as is Why Schools of Economics and Political Science Should be Closed Down) on the SOCIAL ART page of https://www.douglassocialcredit.com/



Wednesday, 8 September 2021

Why Schools 3

Observing the effects of global political economy upon local households and communities, John Papworth advocates the closure of the departments of political economy that currently promote global corporate policies in defiance of the needs of the living earth and its people. In doing so, he echoes Peter Maurin's promotion of 'Catholic Worker Schools' to strengthen the moral fibre of local communities. Founded by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin, a key element of the Catholic Worker movement is the farming communes:

We need Communes
to help the unemployed
to help themselves.
We need Communes
to make scholars out of workers
and workers out of scholars,
to substitute a technique of ideals
for our technique of deals.
We need Communes
to create a new society
within the shell of the old
with the philosophy of the new,
which is not a new philosophy,
a philosophy so old
that it looks like new.

A philosophy so old it looks like new? The phrase demands our attention. Over the course of the last two centuries the world has gone through a period of rampant materialism. Corporate bodies have taken over the key institutions of society, turning people into slaves of a world-wide 'Mega-machine (see Mumford) that is rapidly disintegrating. As Forster predicted in The Machine Stops, technological 'progress' is bringing the world to a grinding halt.

All previous civilizations disintegrated. They took the form of small centralised hubs of city states served by a vast hinterland of peasant farming communities. In those city states of ancient times, the vast bulk of the work of all kinds was undertaken by slaves. Men and women who had been reared in peasant farming communities were forced to work, under the orders of an all-male elite, following instructions in order to live. Slaves are primarily materialistic in that they must follow their own self-interest in order to live. It follows that moral and ethical considerations become secondary. Slaves may attain very responsible positions in private households and in public life. Nevertheless, lacking authority, they remain as slaves. Even when they are paid a wage or salary, as are vast numbers of today's workers in industrial production, farming, education, health, transport and bureaucracy, they can at best be described as waged and salaried slaves (see gild socialist literature).

When previous pockets of 'civilisation' faded away, humanity as a whole went back to the land. Male aggressive and war-like spirits were tempered by the mothering wisdom of the feminine side of humanity. Now technological and scientific 'progress' is leading us to the brink of total disaster. As there is nowhere else to go, it would make sense to listen to those quiet voices that have been all around us since ancient times, voicing the social philosophy of the spiritual world. What is new today is that humanity as a whole has set aside the ancient philosophy of the common good. As Peter Maurin put it, in one of his Easy Essays:

Modern society has made the bank account the standard of values.

When this happens, the banker has the power.

When the banker has the power, the technician has to supervise the making of profits.

When the banker has the power, the politician has to assure law and order in the profit-making system.

When the banker has the power, the clergyman is expected to bless the profit-making system or join the unemployed.

When the banker has the power, the Sermon on the Mount is declared impractical.

When the banker has the power, we have an acquisitive, not a functional, society.

Peter Maurin’s words ring as true today as when they were first published in the Catholic Worker during the 1930s. One could base an entire evening’s discussion on each individual point made in the quotation. If, however, one tries to raise those same issues within an academic setting, within a 'school of economic or political science' one will be studiously ignored. Which is why they need to be closed down ASAP.





Tuesday, 7 September 2021

Why Schools of Economics ...

At the back of John Papworth's book Why Schools of Economics and Political Science Should be Closed Down booklet, the suggestion of a "Fourth World University" is floated:


"Countries are governed largely by their ruling ideas, which is why the modern world is in the grip of theories which have so little relationship with reality that it staggers from one crisis to another with gathering momentum; it is now clearly out of control because the size of organisation in many spheres has become so enormous as to make it impossible for them to be controlled by anyone for any rational purpose.

"It is to counter this grip that a global website 'university' has been founded to research and promote solutions to the problems of applying the human scale to all aspects of human social organisation. As yet we are hardly in the earliest dawn of the degree of human reconceptualization required. Despite the work of Kohr, Schumacher, Sale, Mander, Gandhi and others of the modern era, the factor of size continues to be seen, at best, as a convenient or even sentimental addition to prevailing concepts of planning or initiative rather than as a vital prerequisite for human survival.

As a result we continue to move towards what Jerry Mander calls 'the corporate-driven globalised unification of economic activity'; it is one which can only lead to the bankruptcy of the planet's material resources, the disintegration of countless richly-endowed national cultures and the spiritual impoverishment of an entire civilisation.

"This is an appeal to scholars, radicals and visionaries everywhere to act whilst there is time, to establish centres of learning and teaching in subjects closest to their concerns, however modest in size, in whatever part of the world they may live, in terms of the human scale and subject to human control. Help to create a global network of responsible scholarship, aware that it is as unique as the need for it is urgent and that it is helping to express the emerging global consensus of the need to create a new world of ecological sanity and spiritual vitality."

* * *

Whether or not John Papworth's Fourth World University suggestion was followed up in practical terms, the idea certainly accords well with the Yorkshire Education Association. (See HOME Page https://www.douglassocialcredit.com/ for details.) The concept of an adult education self-help university is by no means original. See, for example, Peter Maurin's 'Agronomic University', as introduced on page 32 of my booklet Down to Earth: A guide to home economics. (available as free download from https://www.douglassocialcredit.com/ RESOURCES\FRANCES HUTCHINSON). In 2011, Papworth could assume his readership would be familiar with the names Kohr, Schumacher, Sale, Mander and Gandhi. Similarly, around the time of the Second World War, Peter Maurin could assume familiarity with Luther, Calvin, Marx, Veblen, Kropotkin, Tawney and Ruskin, Morris and so on, in addition to the biblical texts and the social teachings of the church. Note also the final paragraph of the "To Despair .." Blog of 3 September, which includes reference to the allied movements of anthroposophy and guild socialism. But, to be practical, where do we start?

If scholars, radicals and visionaries everywhere" are to "establish centres of learning and teaching in subjects closest to their concerns", as Papworth suggests, the starting point is for individuals to form Booklists of their own. Reviewing those texts with which we are familiar enables us to find common ground so that we can draw together with others in discussion.

As has been said recently, "The only moral way of halting this COVID Nazification is to once again place people and ethics above science and technology." (Dr. Kevin P. Corbett.) The demanding task that lies ahead is to move beyond sound-bites by undertaking the task of self-education. And that can only be done in the company of others.

NOTE: The Booklist on the HOME page of https://www.douglassocialcredit.com/ includes suggestions of books that are of contemporary interest. How many of them are familiar to you, the reader? These could provide a starting point for starting a discussion group?



Monday, 6 September 2021

Why School 1

Why Schools of Economics and Political Science Should be Closed Down, is set within the paradigm of the finance-driven industrial and technological progress of the last two centuries. Presently, finance is the lifeblood of the global economic, political and cultural systems upon which we are utterly dependent from the day we draw our first breath to the day we draw our last. John Papworth's booklet was published in 2011, at a time when, following the 2008 crash, far-sighted statesmen and citizens sought to counter the pressure to abandon national currencies in favour of "the economics and politics of super-scale" (page 6). As JP so aptly asks, how many of the citizens of those countries (Greece, Iceland, Ireland) understood what it really meant to trade in their on currency, "the lifeblood of their own state" in favour of a European single currency? (See Dele Ogun's Foreword to JP's booklet. )

We use money everyday, indeed, without it we cannot last out a day. Yet, amazingly, we haven't a clue about what money is, where it comes from, how it is made, who makes it and on what authority. If you ask an academic economist to explain, the answer will come back, "Oh don't ask me! Money is a matter for accountants to take care of. Economists have more important things to bother their heads about: supply, demand, markets, all that sort of thing". So does it really matter what money is? If professors of economics are not interested, why bother our heads about it?

It is not the first time the question has arisen. As the First World War drew to a close, fear, doubt and utter confusion reigned supreme. Just as with the vaccers and the anti-vaxxers of today, there were conflicting camps. Many thought that, having fought well and won the battle, there would be a return to the 'old normal' of the pre-First World War era. Other recognised that unprecedented change was taking place, and troubled waters lay ahead. The task was to understand what had happened, and what was happening as a result.

At that time, roughly a century ago, there was no mass media, not even radio booming into people's homes. News was circulated through the hard copy press, in the form of daily news sheets and weekly periodicals sold through local newsagents and financed by the readers. These were read aloud in many households, deposited in public libraries, and debated in pubs, clubs, churches and local meeting places. Until the late 20th century periodicals were kept in local libraries and could be consulted by members of the general public, as could topical books featured in reviews in the same periodicals. The hard copy literature of the so-called interwar years is highly readable and makes interesting reading. Unlike today, they were not dependent upon funding from the corporate world. Weekly journals include The Tablet and the New Statesman, which survive to this day, and The New Age and The New English Weekly which do not.

It is to the latter two journals that we must turn to discover how and why "schools of economics and political science" were opened up. Founded by Beatrice and Sidney Webb, who drew up the original Constitution of the Labour Party in 1918, the London School of Economics turned out bankers, economists and politicians promoting the orthodox theories of political economy so comprehensively debunked in JP's text. Future leading figures in Labour politics made their names by addressing audiences, throughout the UK, refuting the guild socialist writings of A.R. Orage, Clifford Hugh Douglas and others. Referred to in the previous Blog (To Despair .. ) The history of these writings is spelled out in the two texts The Political Economy of Social Credit and Guild Socialism and Understanding the Financial System. Both are available to download from the website: https://www.douglassocialcredit.com/.

Why Schools, debunks the accepted doctrine of economic orthodoxy that includes 'labour' as one of the factors of production, alongside land and capital (see page 12). For JP, this suggests that individual human beings, made in the image of god, "are of no more or less account than a share certificate or a cabbage patch". In similar vein, in 1934, readers of the New Age were presented with an exploration of labour theory of value. In assessing the value of work, whether paid or unpaid, how is an hour's work to be valued? What yardstick may be most appropriate to evaluate comparison between the hourly value of the work undertaken by:

(1) a Professor at the London School of Economics,

(2) The Editor of The New Age,

(3) the late Mrs Norman for her feat in bearing and rearing her son, our Montague (Governor of the Bank of England in 1934)? (The New Age, 1934)

Schools of economics and political science are all, like the London School of Economics, founded upon the premise that labour, the work of human beings, is merely one of the 'factors of production'. Alongside land and capital, it is merely to be valued according to the financial value it creates. The theme explored by the guild socialists in the so-called 'interwar years of the 20th century is echoed by JP in the 21st century, but with one big difference. The guild socialist/ Douglas/social credit/New Age texts were widely read in hard copy. The massive range of papers, books, journals and pamphlets were freely discussed by people of all walks of life throughout the length and breadth of the English-speaking world. In the present time electronic communications can create the illusion of freedom of information leading to informed consent on matters of health, welfare, political rights and freedoms. But it is an illusion. At one time, back in the late 19th century, the cry was to educate our (new) masters, the electorate. Now it is blatantly obvious, we must set about educating ourselves. There is no better place to start than with Why Schools..., supplemented by the two texts mentioned in this blog.











Friday, 3 September 2021

To Despair is Wrong

Rudolf Steiner

To despair because one cannot think that enough people will be found, even in the turmoil of today, capable of receiving such ideas, provided only sufficient energy be supplied to spreading them, this would be to believe human nature hopelessly insensible to healthy and reasonable influences.

Is it hopeless? This is not a question that ought to be asked at all. One should only ask what we ought to do, in order to make the exposition of these ideas as forcible as possible, so that they may awake confidence.”

John Ruskin – on human nature

Thinking it high, I have always found it higher than I thought it, while those who think it low, find it, and will find it, lower than they thought it: the truth being that it is infinite, and capable of infinite height and infinite fall, but the nature of it, - and here is the faith I would have you hold with me, - is in the nobleness, and not in the catastrophe.”

Johann Fercher von Steinwand – “Johannisfeuer” – The power of ideas

Ideas are actually existing, that is, living beings or spirits, but because they are without earthly admixture, our human powers of conception have no idea of their form. On the other hand, in these ideas, as in everything spiritual, is the longing, or the will, to take on outline and body. They appear one after the other in the world, and clothe themselves in our matter, and alas: at the same time also, in our shortcomings and our faults.”


The above quotations were handwritten in a well-thumbed copy of Rudolf Steiner’s book The Threefold Commonwealth, first published in English in 1920. In The Control and Distribution of Production, published in 1922, Clifford Hugh Douglas, the originator of Social Credit, quoted from the Steiner book and recommended it to the English-speaking world. The work of Joseph Beuys, Michael Ende and other cult figures was inspired by Rudolf Steiner’s work. Douglas, Ruskin and other Guild Socialists were household names, their writings being widely studied and discussed at public meetings throughout the country.

Today, discussion of the teachings of Steiner is virtually completely confined to Anthroposophical circles, whilst study of Guild Socialism and Social Credit is eliminated from academia. In the absence of any focussed discussion in the popular press and media on this valuable legacy of twentieth century scholarship, socially concerned authors scurry around making individual observations about the ‘elephant’ which their eyes are not trained to see as a whole (a reference to John Godfrey Saxe’s poem “The Blind Men and the Elephant. The result is that the power of money remains supreme. We seem to have no choice but to spend our daily lives as producers and consumers under the domination of the money economy. Is there any alternative? How can we move from despair to an awakened consciousness of practical, workable alternatives to an endless round of driving the ambulances to help the casualties of a world economy run entirely on money values?

COMMENT: Since 2013 the above piece has been circulated in various forms. It is so relevant to the present times.

 

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

Money and Health Care

The following story appeared in the Spring 1946 edition of The Countryman:

Channel Island Bonesetter

A THIN old man, bending over a gnarled old stick, he entered the kitchen without bothering to knock at the door. He showed no embarrassment in collecting a weekly grocery docket from the parish charity of which my husband was treasurer. One of the last of our rustic bonesetters, he claimed the ability to cure by rude manipulation everything from consumption to warts.

'Thank you very well, ma'am', he said, speaking in the patois, his queer sharp eyes taking me in from head to foot. 'You don't happen to feel poorly, do you?' I assured him hastily that I was in perfect health.

`Ah, then, if at any time you feel you have les cotai's bas, it will be a pleasure to Pierre Dumont to relieve you. I've got experience, ma'am. Up to now seven hundred and fifty patients have come to me. See, I have all their names.'

He handed me a little penny notebook, containing the patients' names in numerical order as they had visited him. Some I knew. There was a retired colonel. Another name belonged to our very occasional gardener.

'I don't take any fees, ma'am. Not like the doctors. That's why I haven't a motor car and have to accept charity. But of course people sometimes give me what they please. It's a present, though, not a fee, and the law can't touch me. Doctors, they sneer at me, but, ma'am' —a dirty claw-like hand was thrust six inches from my face, so that I backed hurriedly — 'that's where my strength is. In these fingers. It's a gift from God.' — Marie de Garis


The Bonesetter was a healer in a tradition that goes back to Egyptian times, continuing in the UK through the monasteries and after their Dissolution into modern times (see Wikipedia). Such healers combine their God-given talents with inherited skills and common sense to give service to the community. Like all traditional healers, they have been set aside. The modern global medical-industry paradigm now controls educational systems, doctors and research institutes, and the mainstream media. As it pedals the illusion of providing sophisticated medical care, it creates populations "that are ignorant of the real risks and benefits of vaccines" (See https://www.peopleforsafevaccines.org/ )

As we realise the full impact of the compulsory vaccinations programme that is being forced upon a fearful and ignorant global population, we are prompted to ask the vital question: How on earth did we get into this situation? Fortunately, the emergence of global corporatism, under the umbrella of global finance, has been traced by many writers, philosophers and historians over the course of the 20th century. Many resources are already available for free download on the Douglas Social Credit website (https://www.douglassocialcredit.com/)

One such resource is the extended essay by the late John Papworth entitled Why Schools of Economics and Political Science Should be Closed Down.

"In this excellent book, John Papworth goes to the very root of the problem to explain how we the people have all been led to trade the wisdom of ages contained in Aristotle's theory of scale for the shallow modern philosophy of 'just follow the money'. The book juxtaposes the teachings of the ancient thinkers that put the human being at the centre of economic and political theories against the teachings of the modern schools of economic and political science that have made 'the market' the central focus." So writes Dele Ogun in his Foreword to the book as published by Arbuckle Books in 2011.

Over the course of September it is my intention to provide a full Commentary on the text of this remarkable essay that speaks so clearly on matters of money, health and healing.



Saturday, 7 August 2021

Doctors for Covid Ethics

 

The Doctors for Covid Ethics Symposium was streamed live on the two evenings of 29\30 July 2021.

Session 1: The False Pandemic

Session 2: The Going Direct Reset

Session 3: First Do No Harm

Session 4: The Hour of Justice

All 4 Sessions can be viewed on UK Column News: https://www.ukcolumn.org/ .

Over the past 150 years a global economy has evolved to commandeer the resources of the world. Powerful global corporations use the global financial system to dictate the rules across the political, economic and cultural institutions of every country. In the Doctors for Covid Ethics Symposium doctors, lawyers, journalists, academics, scientists, politicians and leading administrators raise discussion of the resultant muddle that threatens to eliminate humanity. Right across the world we have a series of interlocking institutions that determine how we work together, using the resources of the planet, our physical labour and the accumulated cultural inheritance of humanity. Presently, the institutions of finance determine what is produced, who does the work, and who benefits. It was not always so.

In days gone by we had tribal chiefs, emperors and kings. Although these rulers decided the rules of the game, they could only do so with the full support of the people. The common people knew exactly what was going on, who was to be praised, and who was to be blamed. When things went well the King was obeyed, respected and showered with the good things in life. When things went badly he paid with his life, as a new king earned the respect and support of the people. The quest for the common good prevailed in the long run, because without it rulers and peoples perished. And the people knew it. Today, the president or prime minister of a massive modern state is virtually as powerless as the common people. The financial system, as it evolved historically, enabled the global corporations to control resources and wealth production on an unprecedented scale. We cannot put the clock back, it's true. Equally, if we try to move forward on the present trajectory, we will find there is no future for humanity. As has been said so often over recent decades, we have to find a middle way.

Before industrialisation, and the rule of international finance, the Queen Mother and the King held sway over the resources of the household. Industrial, scientific and technological progress has created a 'brave new world' of slaves. Reared to service the institutions of the global economy, the slaves spend their 'free' time in their households refreshing themselves with food, sleep and entertainments, rearing the next generation of slaves and caring for the sick and elderly who cannot serve the system. The system would collapse overnight if we did not give it our service and reproduce its workforce. With new technologies, however, the system only needs a limited number of us. These can be bred to order, and the rest dispensed with. We, on the other hand, rely upon the global financial system. Without it we could not even feed ourselves, let alone acquire the other basic necessities of life.

The contributors to the Symposium provide a clear picture of the present muddle that dominates right across the political rights sphere, the economic or productive sphere, and the common cultural knowledge and communications sphere. They leave us with many questions that demand answers. To that end, the first step is to take the time to view all four sessions of the Symposium, discuss them with others and take on board any practical suggestions that emerge.

COMMENT: All 4 Sessions of the Doctors for Covid Ethics Symposium can be viewed on UK Column News: https://www.ukcolumn.org/ . See the Yorkshire Education Association material (see previous blogs). See also Understanding the Financial System by Frances Hutchinson and Asses in Clover, by Eimar O'Duffy. Both books available through www.douglassocialcredit.com/

Tuesday, 27 July 2021

The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists

The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists Robert Tressell (1914) Graphic Novel by Scarlett and Sophie Rickard (2021). Reviewed by Bernadette Meaden, 26 June 2021, in Ekklesia

ACCORDING to George Orwell, The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists is a book everyone should read. It is often named by people on the left as the book which has had the greatest influence on their politics.

However, there is no denying that unlike Animal Farm or 1984, the book published over a century ago is quite long, and probably less appealing to some modern readers. That is why this graphic novel version, by sisters Scarlett and Sophie Rickard, is of such great value, as it brings Robert Tressell’s semi-autobiographical tale of a group of workers and their families to a new and wider audience. The sisters have distilled the story and the arguments of the original book into an enjoyable, entertaining and thoroughly readable format. The characters are sensitively drawn, with a mix of vulnerability and nobility which makes their situations even more poignant. The book is a real work of art, and the illustrations vividly convey the society, the period and the community in which the story is set.

The format means that some of the usual work of a reader’s imagination, gradually forming our own pictures of the characters and places in our minds, is unnecessary, as they are there before our eyes from the first page. This perhaps allows us to become more quickly absorbed in the story, and the arguments we encounter. To a reader unaccustomed to graphic novels it can initially feel strange, but once entered into fully it is a rich experience, with not just our minds and emotions engaged, but our aesthetic senses too.

Perhaps what is most disturbing about the book is how, in so many ways, the injustice experienced by workers at the beginning of the 20th century remain with us. A hundred years on, people in Britain don’t (yet) have to worry about being able to afford medical care, but in many other ways – job insecurity, debt, the lack of affordable housing, the ruthlessness and greed of exploitative businesses and employers – the similarities are striking. And whilst the people’s care for each other, as they share what little they have, is moving, their tendency to be deferential and even grateful to those who treat them so badly, and the ease with which they can be divided, is intensely frustrating.

Frank Owen, the socialist, argues that things do not have to be this way. He tries to persuade his workmates that they should not be defending a status quo which keeps them permanently on the edge of destitution. Some of the specific solutions Owen proposes may not seem the best way forward to today’s readers,but his analysis of the capitalist system, and insistence that any solution needs to be radical and bold, seem ever more valid in an age when billionaires would rather leave the earth’s atmosphere than share their vast accumulated wealth.

One of the pleasures of the book for me was how the children emerge as important characters, asking the crucial questions that sometimes only a child could ask, and personifying the perfectly valid ideals that get crushed by a harsh economic system. And although the book is usually characterised as the story of a group of working class men, the Rickard sisters say: “We have taken great pains in this adaptation to put the women of Mugsborough back in the centre of the action where Tressell planted them. It’s the story of the effects of capitalism on the lives of a group of men who work together. These men’s lives are centred around their homes and families. It is the tale of a whole community dealing with impossible conditions. The capitalist system grinds women down too, but in different ways.”

Another interesting aspect is the portrayal of organised religion, and its role in a struggling community, which could make uncomfortable reading for some people of faith.

William Morris said that we should have nothing in our homes that is not either useful or beautiful. As this book is both beautiful and useful, I’d suggest that every home should have one. And not just every home, but every school, college and prison library. To this end, the #RaggedEducation project allows readers to donate a copy and make the book available in all these places. Helping young people to think about the economic system which now blights our world, and which may be having a very negative impact on their own well being and life chances, seems to be a very worthwhile thing to do. Review published in Ekklesia, 26 June 2021.


Friday, 23 July 2021

Unite Behind the Science

In 2019 Greta Thunberg accused the entire adult world of acting like "spoiled, irresponsible children". She called for politicians, heads of state, worldwide corporations and individual families to "follow the science" by starting to live "within the planetary boundaries". Under present circumstances, it is a big ask. We may call for reform, for repentance, for change. But who is going to lead that change? In 2020 worldwide Lockdowns resulted from following the 'science', bringing unprecedented chaos to the world social order. And the question remains unanswered: where do we go from here?

On the one hand we must agree with Greta. As a species we are indeed acting as "spoiled, irresponsible children". But the task is not to change 'them up there', the politicians and the corporate heads. They are too busy working to give us what we have been taught to want - electricity at the flick of a switch, food grown, processed, packaged, transported and ready to eat, clothes, shelter, holidays, leisure activities and so on. All is magically available to us through a financial system that acts like a parent figure. Without thought we go to work to earn a wage or salary from the unsustainable system, so that we can buy from the system those goods and services it supplies, regardless of the impact upon the living world around us.

The task is to recognise that the man-made economy that sustains our life on earth, is indeed man-made. Every day of our lives we consume the goods and services designed for us by the corporate world. Every day we use the money system to maintain and care for our homes and families. We go to work as farmers, teachers, factory workers, bankers, medics, office hands and sewage workers so that we can buy the gods and services we need to be fit and healthy workers. Generation after generation, we bring babies into this world, feed them into the school system, prepare them to be the next generation of waged and salaried workers, tend them in their hours of leisure, and care for them when they can no longer work for money.

The disruption of Covid invites us to think about our daily priorities, and the assumptions upon which they are based. On reflection, the health crisis can be seen as a symptom of the economic, the social, and the ecological challenges of today. It could well be that, as Pope Francis observed in Let Us Dream, they have a common solution. "Could it be," he asks, "that the replacing of the objective of growth with that of new ways of relating will allow for a different kind of economy, one that meets the needs of all within the means of the planet?"

Having recognised the problem, it is tempting to grasp at ready-made solutions, but in doing so we can end up in a greater pickle than we are already. Hence the need for discernment. "What is the Spirit telling us? What is the grace on offer here, if we can only embrace it; and what are the obstacles and temptations? What humanises, what dehumanises? where is the good news hidden within the sombre news, and where is the bad spirit dressed as an angel of light?" (p60-1) When it comes to a time to choose, these are questions for those who humbly search and listen, to reflect and pray before launching into action. Addressed to the world at large, and raising the fundamental economic, ecological and social issues of our times, Let Us Dream provides an excellent starting point for study and reflection.

We are called to redesign the economy so that it can offer every person access to a dignified existence while protecting and regenerating the natural world. And that means that, as individuals, we are called to transform our relationship with money and finance. How much of what we do every day is motivated by the need to acquire funds - wages, salaries, expenses? How many of our daily necessities are supplied by exploited labour and ecologically disastrous use of the resources of the land? Humanity has failed to master technology. As a result, technology has ceased to be our instrument and has become our overlord. It has changed our mindset so that we become more intolerant of limits. If it can be done, and it is profitable, we see no reason why it shouldn't be done. As we neglect the needs of Mother Earth, we lose what we need to survive. At the same time we lose the wisdom to live well together.

The finance-driven industrial-commercial corporation is central to contemporary existence. Hence our educational programmes have become subservient to its control. Students must prepare themselves for jobs within the all-enclosing bubble of the industrial-commercial world. Under these circumstances, working outside the financially endorsed economy seems to make no sense: it is contrary to rhyme and reason. As a result, we find ourselves lacking the intellectual tools necessary to develop the wisdom to live well together. To unite behind genuine science and human-centred technology we need to revisit our history, so that we can revive the study methods and practices of the worldwide Adult Education movement of the 20th century.


The above thoughts combine insights from Let us Dream (2020) with those of Thomas Berry's The Dream of the Earth (1988). Both books appear on the 400-strong Booklist that appears on the opening page of the Yorkshire Education Association. See https://www.douglassocialcredit.com/.










In Perspective


A grandmother in South Africa recently published the following in the online business blog – BizNews. Professor Lubbe writes:

I am a seventy-year-old grandmother, so yes, I am in the high-risk group. Over the last year or so, I have listened to a select number of politicians, scientists and medical doctors. I have been exposed to the eloquent views, hysteria and patronising utterances of these experts as well as the authoritarian voices of the Command Council. As each COVID-wave comes and goes, I have been told what to do, when to do it and the deadly consequences of not following the rules. I have been told my grandchildren should not hug me because they can kill me; my grandchildren have been told the same. Every day the main media has bombarded me with the same voices and the same messages. If I don’t behave, if my grandchildren don’t behave, I will die, or worse yet, I will personally be responsible for killing my neighbours. I may have already unwittingly done so because, for all I know, I may have already had COVID. I have certainly had a range of symptoms over the last year that ticks all the boxes. I did not test, so I don’t know. I may contract COVID tomorrow and die, I don’t know, but then again, I may die of cancer or a heart attack, I may die in a car accident or a violent crime; I just don’t know.

What I do know is that my freedoms and choices have been taken away by people with whom I do not necessarily agree or even find particularly pure of motive. I want to hear views from all sides, I want discussion and debate in the main media and then I want to make my own choices. I have come to realise that debate has been stifled and that anyone holding a different view on any issue relating to COVID, be it medical, economic or social, have been silenced. The main media has taken it upon themselves to define what false news is, and debate has become the sacrificial lamb at the altar of a pre-determined COVID-agenda. Anyone wishing to enter into the debate is lumped together with some crackpot conspiracy theorist. I read voraciously, and I try to understand different views. I am not awestruck by people in authority, and I am not convinced of something simply because someone else says so, even if they are so-called experts. I believe in critical thinking. So why are we being told what to do by the same people who stifle all debate? Where is the discussion? I don’t particularly appreciate being told what to do simply because others who ostensibly know better are telling me.

I have become more and more convinced that the reigning COVID scientists, politicians, doctors and media are each, for their own particular reason, on a mission to eradicate COVID at the expense of all else. COVID determines every move we make. I don’t think scientists and doctors have ever before had such extraordinary power over entire nations, and to “save lives”, they are now dictating public policy. Politicians are curtailing our freedoms because they have the ideal opportunity to do so. Humankind has been placed at the altar of COVID to serve these interests. Reputations are at stake here. We must endure every other illness as long as we don’t get COVID; we must lose our jobs, see our families suffer and our children fearful as long as we don’t get COVID. We must stifle independent thought and follow the rules just so that we don’t get COVID. We should stop questioning the lockdown measures because the reigning scientists, the politicians, the doctors know best. If we do, we risk being ridiculed, insulted and labelled conspiracy theorists.

I have been fearful many times; I don’t want to get COVID, I don’t want my family, friends or neighbours to get COVID, but then again, I don’t want to get cancer, die in a car accident or be murdered. What I do want is my freedom to choose what I want to do in an imperfect world where dangers lurk and people die. My children and grandchildren’s future depend on it.”

Berendien Lubbe, emeritus professor at the University of Pretoria, articulates, quite brilliantly, what many others in the BizNews community have expressed in different ways.

Thursday, 15 July 2021

The Household Under Capitalism

In 1988 I was involved with an interlinking network of researchers, activists and writers campaigning for peace, economic justice and ecological sustainability. In those circles there were Marxists in plenty, but followers of John Ruskin and William Morris were few and far between, and followers of Rudolf Steiner were neither to be seen nor heard. As a teacher, social worker and parent I was concerned at the lack of debate on issues of child care, care of the sick and elderly, food, farming, care of the land, and home making in general. I wrote a short article entitled "The Midas Touch". Following its publication in Contemporary Review, I was encouraged to return to post-graduate study with a view to answering the questions raised in the article. Thus I embarked upon a career of research and writing. This resulted in a series of books and articles on economic history and the social order, many of them co-authored and/or refereed by academics. Much of this material, including "The Midas Touch" and "The Child - as Father and Mother?", is available on the RESOURCES\FRANCES HUTCHINSON page of https://www.douglassocialcredit.com/.

Central to my work was the study of the Douglas Social Credit movement, and that came about as follows. As I discussed the policies of the then emerging green movement, with my elderly neighbour, he pointed out that it had all been said before. In the 1930s he, along with other working class men and women, had attended a series of WEA (Workers Educational Association) and University Extension classes on the Social Credit movement that was sweeping across Canada, Australia and the UK. He talked of the mass of literature available at the time, produced some examples, and gave me a fair introduction to the issues covered by the movement.

Meanwhile, The Catholic Worker movement was spreading a very similar philosophy in the United States. Peter Maurin's Easy Essays are designed to be an easy introduction to the setting up of round table discussions, houses of hospitality and agronomic (care of the land-based) universities. He explains the history of capitalism, as it progressed through its five stages. In the beginning consumers sought out the producers able to supply them with the goods and services they wanted. They met and exchanged face to face, without the intervention of a middle man. Under Mercantile Capitalism the producer sold to the middle man, who sold on to the consumer, breaking the link between consumer and producer. The functional society faded away and the acquisitive society came into existence.

Factory Capitalism grew as the middle men built factories and took the crafts men out of their craft shops. Men, women and children became factory hands, working outside the home on terms decided by the factory owner. As a result, there was nobody at home to mind the young children and tend the land.

Monopoly Capitalism followed as the firms of the middle men became larger and more centralised, and took legal control over resources of land, labour and capital. The debt-financing of production enabled Finance Capitalism to hold sway. And, in the final stage of State Capitalism all economic activity came to be supervised by State bureaucrats. Deprived of "personalist vision", the workers were deprived of the means to take the personal responsibility necessary for dynamic democracy.

In Peter Maurin's view,: The world would be better off * if people tried to become better. * And people would become better * if they stopped trying to become better off.

It is now necessary to build a new society within the shell of the old. "Man was placed here [on earth] with talents, to play his part, and on every side he saw the children of this world wiser in their generation than the children of light. They built enormous industrial plants, bridges, pipelines, skyscrapers, with imagination and vision they made their blueprints, and with reckless and daredevil financing made them actual in steel and concrete. Wheels turned and engines throbbed and the great pulse of the mechanical and physical world beat strong and steady while men's pulses sickened and grew weaker and died. Man fed himself into the machine." Dorothy Day, The Long Loneliness.

Reflecting on their work together, Dorothy Day noted that Peter Maurin was a peasant, while she was a city product. "He knew the soil; I, the city. When he spoke of workers, he spoke of men who worked in agriculture, building, at tools and machines that were the extension of the hand of man. When I spoke of workers I spoke of factories, the machine, and man the proletariat, the slum dweller, and so often unemployed." Peter saw "only the land movement as the cure for unemployment and irresponsibility". The good society would not come from better conditions under capitalism, but from a good society where people took the responsibility to generate informed discussion, to house the homeless and to create 'agronomic universities'.

COMMENT: See https://www.douglassocialcredit.com/ for Yorkshire Educational Association material, and a range of articles on related issues. With due acknowledgement, material can be downloaded and printed out without charge for study purposes.






Tuesday, 13 July 2021

From Focus to Study Groups

Powerful multinational corporations are paying researchers very good money to run focus groups to find out how and what we think. By obtaining 'qualitative date' on our perceptions and thought processes through interactive and directed discussions, they learn how to manipulate our choices as consumers and citizens.

It has been going on for a long time. As a student of the social sciences way back in the 1960s, I learned how research into human thought patterns and behaviour was being used to promote mass marketing techniques. It was in the interests of Big Business to use quantitative and qualitative research methods to understand, and hence to control,the ways we think and act. We learned how 'lies, damned lies and statistics', the tools of social engineering, were already being developed and used. To this day, the focus group remains one of the powerful social science tools used to govern the political economy.

Focus groups are a research method organised for the purpose of collecting 'qualitative data' through 'interactive and directed discussions'. Researchers bring together groups of individuals selected according to pre-determined criteria such as age, sex, social class and so on. The interviewees are asked about their perceptions, attitudes, opinions, beliefs and opinions regarding topics that may range from abortion and politics to views on commercial products and services. Group members are encouraged to talk and interact with each other, allowing researchers to explore and clarify the thinking of participants.

Participation follows 'discussion stimuli', which may take the form of a provocative thesis, a lecture on a text, a short film, or the unfolding of a concrete problem for which a solution needs to be found. Typically, groups are conducted face to face, so that non-verbal behaviour can be observed and assessed. There are certain advantages to online methods, however, such as ease of access and the avoidance of the need to travel. Because corporate products and services are marketed across geographically vast areas, online discussion groups are a very practical way of allowing geographically diverse individuals to determine how mass produced products can best be marketed free from local considerations.

Instead of paying small farmers well to develop ecologically sound farming methods, we are paying an army of researchers to manipulate our minds so that we will buy the mass produced products so cleverly marketed through the mass media. The use of social science research techniques allows vast corporations to dominate the political, economic and cultural spheres of the social order. It was not always so.

In the immediate aftermath of World War II, when focus groups were first being developed, Peter Maurin's Easy Essays were published. He distinguishes between five forms of capitalism: Mercantile (no middleman: consumer deals with producer direct), Factory (waged slavery outside the home), Monopoly (massive centralised cartels), Finance (debt-based) and State (bureaucratic controls). He concludes:

"Economic activities* are now supervised* by State bureaucrats.* State bureaucrats* can give the people* State supervision. * State supervision* is not a substitute * for personal vision. * And without personal vision * people perish. * Personal vision * leads to personal action. * Personal action * means personal responsibility. * Personal responsibility * means dynamic democracy."

(In the above passage * indicates a line break.)

Since the mid-twentieth century, when The Catholic Worker published Easy Essays, focus groups have supplied corporate capitalism with the means to eliminate virtually all sense of personal responsibility for family, local community and the needs of the living planet. Social science research methods do not seek to help members of the group understand their rights and responsibilities. On the contrary, they cultivate the materialistic values of the corporate world. Their purpose is to create a population of willing producers and consumers content to serve materialism in all its forms. In this scenario, protests and petitions for social justice and ecological sustainability will at best serve to consolidate the status quo. One might as well save one's breath to blow one's porridge.

Through his work with Dorothy Day on The Catholic Worker, Peter Maurin enabled the poor and homeless to join with others to think things through for themselves. They were a part of the massive, liberal adult education movement that spanned the globe in the first half of the twentieth century. Study groups organised by the Workers' Education Association (WEA) and other similar bodies were a powerful force for social change, bringing public libraries, health, education and welfare services, often run democratically by municipalities. Those provisions were planned and organised by ordinary citizens in their roles as producers and consumers of the goods and services needed by the local community. See any local history of the municipality in which you currently live.

The task ahead is to use the techniques of mass production, mass transportation and mass communications to the benefit of local communities. That can only happen when well-informed individuals take time to develop the personal vision that leads to personal, responsible action. And that will not happen by chance. Fortunately, a wealth of study material is available to hand, and much of it is already being discussed in informal, non-vocational study.

Currently, study groups take many different forms. These include Steiner/anthroposophical groups, faith groups, book clubs, gardening, political, art clubs and so on. Such groups are called together by individuals who gather over a period of weeks or months to share in discussion of non-vocational ideas and practices. Often an existing group can shift to study of new material introduced by one of the members.

The reader of this blog might consider drawing together a group of friends, in person or on Zoom, with a view to sharing thoughts on the following:

The Machine Stops by E.M. Forster;

The Sense of Wonder by Rachel Carson;

Bloke's Progress by Hunt and Emerson (and John Ruskin);

Why I Am Not Going to Buy a Computer/Feminism, the Body and the Machine by Wendell Berry. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Scarlett and Sophie Rickard;

A starting point for an altogether new group might be a one-off gathering to discuss the merits of Yorkshire Airlines (You Tube) as a social commentary.

COMMENT: For all the works mentioned, except the last, see the Booklist on the YEA page of https://www.douglassocialcredit.com/


Wednesday, 7 July 2021

A Word to Socialists

Extract from Eimar O'Duffy, Life and Money (1933)

Socialism is almost a religion with the most earnest of its adherents; who, in consequence, are apt to shut their minds to arguments against it, much as the pious shut their minds to the seductions of unbelievers. They regard all non-Socialists as the heathen and the publican, and refuse to believe that those who do not accept their dogmas can be genuinely seeking social regeneration. As I was a Socialist myself in younger days, I can under­stand their mentality, and propose, therefore, to add a few words for their benefit, which non-Socialists may skip.

The first difficulty in dealing with Socialists is to get them to define Socialism. They differ among them­selves, both as to its end and as to its means. I have even known vigorous champions of the creed to declare that it means nothing in particular—a fine example of the mental chaos of this enlightened age. The most generally (252) accepted definition, however, is ‘the public ownership of all the means of production and distribution’. Some Socialists boggle at the ‘all’, but in doing so they give away their case entirely; for nearly everybody is agreed that some of the means of production and distribution should be publicly owned (many of them are publicly owned already), and if the Socialist is merely a person who wants public ownership more or less extended in scope, then there is no general Socialist position to attack or defend, but only a number of particular cases to be decided on their merits.

I take it, then, that Socialism means the public ownership of all the means of production and distribution. The arguments of ‘big business’ against that solution of our difficulties are well known, and mostly stupid, and Socialist writers can make short work of them. What Socialists fail to realise is that the instincts of the ordinary man and woman are against it, and quite rightly, for it is based on wrong first principles. It is true that eight million electors voted for the Labour Party at the general election of 1929 and that even more may be induced to do so in the future; but that does not mean that eight million people voted for Socialism as properly defined. Most of those votes represent either the natural desire of workers for better conditions, or the general yearning (253) for a better social life than the present muddle and scramble.

Socialism is fundamentally Procrustean. Its principle is that man exists for the state, instead of the state for man. Socialists have definitely maintained that proposi­tion in argument with me, and it is, moreover, implicit in all Socialist doctrine, whether individual Socialists deny it or not. Many Socialists (Bernard Shaw, for instance) assert that the state should have the right to enforce birth-prevention. If the state is to be responsible for production, they say, then it has the right to regulate the number of consumers. (Note once again that ‘regula­tion’ for Procrusteans always means ‘restriction’.) Of course there are Socialists who would not go so far as this, but if once the principle of ‘the state over all’ is admitted, there is no limit to the extent to which it might be applied. Socialism, in fact, involves an amount of government interference in people’s personal affairs which the ordinary man and woman will not tolerate. There is already too much of it—mostly due to well-meaning attempts to remedy notorious abuses—and we don’t want any more. An economic reform which runs contrary to that sound and healthy human instinct can never command general acceptance.

Though Socialism lays down no definitely Sisyphist principle, it is coloured throughout with Sisyphistic concepts, as I have already shown. Thus, Socialists usually express the utmost horror at the idea of the national dividend. ‘Why should some people have to work to maintain others in idleness?’ Faced with the fact that in an age of plenty there is not enough work to go round, they propose that everybody should be (254) compelled to do a certain amount of the work that is necessary—that Shelley should be taken from his poems to do a turn at a machine, while a perfectly competent mechanic is sent to lout about at a loose end. Surely it would be far better to leave Shelley alone, to dream on his dividend, and pay the mechanic handsomely to do the work he is fitted for and enjoys doing? Or, if you object to the exceptional example of the poet, is it not better to pay one mechanic to do the job properly than to compel half a dozen indifferent or unwilling men to do it badly?

‘Economic equality’, you object. But equality does not really matter if everybody has plenty. When writers and speakers deplore the ‘inequalities’ of the present system, their theme in reality is poverty: if there were no poverty, nobody would bother about inequality. In a society where an individual had a free choice between leisure at, say, £250 a year, and work for six hours a day at £600 a year, the inequality would not be an injustice. What we want to do is to abolish poverty and establish prosperity; and the only way to do that is to produce plenty of goods and equate our consuming power to the supply. Socialism, aiming at equality through restriction, work fetishism, and suppression of liberty, can only achieve an equality of poverty, or at best a general industrious frugality, like that of bees in a hive.

The process of reasoning which led to Socialism is fairly obvious. Karl Marx crudely divided mankind into Capitalists and Workers and declared that there was an essential clash of interests between them. This was true enough in an age of scarcity, though it would have been more accurate to say that there was a clash of interests between every man and every other man—(255) that each had to scramble for what he could get, and that the capitalists, being the best equipped, came off best. In an age of plenty, however, this conception of society has become as false as the doctrines of the bankers and orthodox economists. There is enough for everybody, and the interests of individuals no longer clash with one another, nor with those of the community, though the restrictions on plenty caused by a deficient currency make them appear to do so. The prosperity of each de­pends on the prosperity of all, if only people could be got to see it. The scheme proposed in this book shows how this can be realised in practice. By equating consumption to production we can make the self-seeking instincts of the ordinary individual work out to the benefit of the community as a whole.

 COMMENT: Spotted the above recently in O'Duffy's Life and Money. Published in 1933, it has dated very little with the passage of time. The whole document is available on the SOCIAL ART page of https://www.douglassocialcredit.com/

Tuesday, 29 June 2021

Science and Scientism

 

Back in the 1990s I spent time in the company of scientists who were expressing concern at the lack of public debate on developments in genetic engineering. They pointed out that the planting of genetically engineered crops in fields open to the air constituted deliberate release into the wild. They expressed the view that uncontrolled releases of this nature were contrary to true scientific practice because their effects could not be monitored or controlled. As I listened to these sincere and well-informed individuals I could not credit that such unwise actions were really taking place. Surely there were checks and balances in place? Now, as I read leaflets from those days (see 'Deliberate Release into the Environment of Genetically Engineered Organisms', as posted on the YEA Page of https://www.douglassocialcredit.com/ ), current developments force me to revise my earlier judgement.

With hindsight I now see that those organisations were well justified in seeking to draw attention to matters of general concern to the public at large. The leaflet cited above was one of many backed by a number of national and international organisations and circulated widely at academic, political and green conferences - which is where I found myself talking to concerned scientists.

During the same period (the 1990s) I was introduced to an international body of women medics, scientists, academics and journalists who were concerned that developments in the new reproductive technologies were occurring rapidly and without open public debate. Formed in 1985, FINRRAGE (the Feminist International Network of Resistance to Reproductive and Genetic Engineering) sought to share information about the development and application of these techniques globally, and their impact upon the lives of women. They asked: "Where are doctors and scientists taking us? Test-tube fertilisation, surrogacy, embryo flushing, sex-preselection, genetic engineering and artificial hormones are being used on women all over the world. As medical scientists find new ways to control human reproduction, the need to explore how these technologies affect women becomes more urgent." So says Pat Spallone in Beyond Conception. When the possibility of using IVF (in vitro fertilisation) on women became apparent in the 1970s, it raised medical, legal, moral and social questions, giving rise to a series of committees set up by corporations and governments to explore ethical issues. These questions are explored in Beyond Conception, published in 1988. For information on literature covering a range of related issues see the YEA Booklist that is to be found on the YEA Page of: https://www.douglassocialcredit.com/ .

Two documents have recently been added to the Douglas Social Credit website SOCIAL ART PAGE. The first comprises two articles written by Ellen Teague and published in The Tablet. In 'Frankenstein in the Fields' (1998) she documents the dangers to human health and the health of the planet posed by developments in genetic engineering of food pursued by transnational corporations whose primary motivation is profit. Her review article, entitled 'Eden or Apocalypse' (1999) looks at five books exploring the developments to date in the genetic engineering of food crops.

'Editing Humanity' appeared more recently (2015) in The Economist. It drew attention to the CRISPR-Cas9 (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) technology that makes it possible to edit genetic information quickly and cheaply. The Economist Leader comments that the new technique for manipulating genes "holds great promise - but rules are needed to govern its use".

The question for all of us to ask - and answer - is -who is currently determining the direction of research? What is their primary motivation? Who might devise the necessary rules? And how might those rules be enforced?

Frances Hutchinson, 29 June 2021

"It is well known, too, that the talents of scientists are unscrupulously prostituted by Commerce. Research into pure science is not wanted. To live, the scientist must devote himself to discoveries that are financially exploitable." Eimar O'Duffy, Life and Money, 1935) p242.

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

The Booklist

 

A dizzying amount of information is currently circulating throughout all our households. It takes the form of articles, You Tube presentations, Zoomed discussions and, last but by no means least, thoroughly researched and well-written books. With so much excellent material vying for our attention, how do we make sense of it all? How can we, as individuals, use that information to inform our personal choices? How do we share the insights we gain with others who come from different perspectives but share the common concern with the chaos that passes for political economy?

As we sift through the latest news stories, evaluating their authenticity as best we can, it becomes apparent that economic theory and practice are in the doldrums. Career economists, if they are perfectly honest, will admit that their paid employment leads them to spend their time comparing and contrasting the second-hand ideas of dead economists whose works they have never read through in the originals. For those who have read around the subject, Marx's Capital is a good, entertaining read. But few social scientists, even those claiming to be Marxists, can begin to explain what Marx was all about. Much as in E.M. Forster's futuristic novella The Machine Stops, ideas on arts and sciences are bandied about in a meaningless mumbled jumble.

In the light of the above thoughts, the Yorkshire Education Association (YEA) has emerged to provide men and women of all ages, creeds and walks of life with the basics of individual and group study. The draft programme for the YEA offers a basis for individual and group research into a viable future for humanity and the living world of nature. It is both a discussion document and a resource.

Central to the whole YEA Programme is The Booklist (topic 8). Over 300 books are listed, some dating back into the 19th century, some first published within the last year. The Booklist opens the door to an exploration of the mass of excellent, inspirational work that has been written in the past, and is being continued for future generations. All can be researched via the Internet for price, availability, content, reviews, and cover illustrations. For example, John Ruskin's Unto This Last:Four Essays on the Principles of Political Economy, published in 1862, gave rise to the Ruskin Comic book Bloke's Progress, published in 2018 by Knockabout Books. It is the story of how Daren found new meaning to life with help from John Ruskin. According to the cover blurb, Ruskin, the internationally acclaimed art critic, was "possibly the greatest in any language".

"The Book: Darren Bloke is an ordinary, hard-working stiff until a lottery win changes – and ruins – his life. He squanders his windfall and loses everything but his beloved dog, Skittle. Then he is visited by the spirit of John Ruskin, who shows him the true meaning of Wealth – not how to acquire it, but what is the right way for an honest human to deal with it.

"Further visits from Ruskin’s spirit take him on a journey into Perception – how to look at the world through a more creative filter, and finally, he learns from Ruskin the true value of Work, and how it can enrich his life above and beyond a pay-packet. Darren discovers the meaning of Ruskin’s favourite saying – There is no wealth but Life.

"A reviewer commented: "Not only did I find the story and the discussion of Ruskin’s views fascinating, I was also very moved by Bloke’s Progress and what it says about modern life. It’s a rare thing for a comic graphic novel to achieve the kind of emotional impact this story had on me.

Offering a positive, funny and intriguing journey through Ruskin’s work, Bloke’s Progress is very much recommended.

"The Authors: Kevin Jackson is a writer, broadcaster and film-maker, and is a committed follower of Ruskin. Hunt Emerson is a cartoonist, and a committed follower of his dinner."

The above comments were taken from the internet. Most of the books listed in The Booklist can be researched in the same way. If you are an author listed on The Booklist you may like to contact us to explore ways to promote access to your work.

See ESSAYS\YEA Page of https://www.douglassocialcredit.com/


Saturday, 19 June 2021

Towards Utopia

 

Luddite is a term that has come to mean one who is opposed to industrialisation, automation, computerisation and/or new technologies in general. The term originated in the early 19th century, when hand loom weavers saw that mass production methods were making their cottage industry lifestyle unsustainable. When spinning and weaving was based in the household, kitchen gardens could be tended. Waged slavery in the mills and mines brought great misery and threw the 'unemployed' onto the streets. To this day the 'unemployed' continue to be thrown out of work because the new technologies render their labour superfluous. In Life and Money: Being a Critical Examination of the Principles and Practice of Orthodox Economics with A Practical Scheme to end the muddle it has made of our Civilisation, (1933) Eimar O'Duffy explored the flaws in conventional economic thought and practice. As he explained, amidst the plenty of our modern world:

" ... we have our work cut out for us in providing the hungry, the naked, and the homeless with food, clothes, and houses. Remember that men, women, and children are suffering the agonies of poverty now. Remember that mankind are one flesh. That poor old woman selling matches in the rain is your mother; that pale widow addressing envelopes to keep her children is your widow, and her children your children; that plucky little chap I read of the other day who supports his invalid parents and his eight brothers and sisters, is your own little chap; that girl, driven by despair to prostitute herself, is your sister; and that-broken man carrying a sandwich-board is your brother. Let us open the golden gates and call them in to the gardens of plenty. ...

"These considerations, of course, are not economics, but ‘man doth not live by bread alone.’ It was in an effort to inspire his disciples with his own deep sense of this mystic oneness of humanity that Jesus told them in his last discourse that ‘I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you,’ and begged them three separate times, with something of despair at their failure to imbibe his spirit, to love one another. If we could but see our own joy and sorrow in those of others, there would be no more poverty.

"The alternative to taking the course which I have proposed [in Life and Money] is to go on as we are going at present, leaving the vicious circle I have described unbroken, with poverty spreading wider and wider as time goes on. Unemployment is increasing in every civilised country, and must, unless man loses his inventive power, go on increasing. If we continue our present policy in regard to it, the logical end of the process would be a small band of wealthy people enjoying the benefits and luxuries of civilisation, produced in overflowing measure by a small number of workmen, with an immense poverty-stricken multitude looking on in helpless idleness. But before that end could arrive, one of two things would have happened. Either Parliament would have yielded to an irresistible popular clamour to suppress all machinery; or the whole of civilisation would have been smashed in universal warfare or revolution." (page 116)

In the so-called interwar years (1918-39) many writers, like O'Duffy, tried to make sense of the political economy that brought war and poverty amidst plenty. Over the intervening century, very little has changed. As the film I, Daniel Blake demonstrates, a practical common sense economics has yet to emerge. In the meantime, the business-as-usual political economy continues to devastate human society and the natural world upon which we all depend.

O'Duffy's analysis of the workings of corporate capitalism has stood the test of time. It is available for individual and group study. See on SOCIAL ART page, https://www.douglassocialcredit.com/ The Works of Eimar O'Duffy, Life and Money. See also his Goshawk fictional trilogy exploration of the same themes.