Thursday 22 December 2022

The Challenge of Monopoly

 Christmas is a time when friends and families gather together to share time and food. In addition to singing and acting out charades, a popular activity at these times is playing board games. Most of these are of the 'zero-sum' type: there is a winner, and the rest are losers. And of this type Monopoly is perhaps the most well-known.

First marketed in 1935 by Parker Bros. in the US, Monopoly has entertained, or driven to boredom, generation after generation of youngsters. At the same time, the playing of the game has promoted the philosophy of self-interest that underlies corporate capitalism. Less well known is the fact that Monopoly was pirated from a series of 'Landlord's; Games' drawn up in Quaker households across the US and elsewhere. The purpose of the original games was to discuss and explore local 'win-win' alternatives to the one-size-fits-all corporate economy. Maggie McGee is put down as the sole inventor of the original Landlord's Game. This was in no way the case. A little research will reveal many versions of the game were created in many different towns and cities over the course of the first two decades of the 20th century. Many sought to explain the economist Henry George's Single Land Tax proposals, whilst others explored the work of other economic philosophers. .

See, for example, Brer Fox 'n Brer Rabbit a version of the Landlord's Game marketed in Scotland as a children's game in 1913. See my article Towards a Threefold Commonwealth New View Issue 98 Winter 2020-21 for a link to this game.

The challenge is to focus attention on Monopoly, as it is played in these present, troubled times.. Where does the money come from? Who makes it? Who holds it during the game of Monopoly? In real life? How might every community have its own public bank?

Plenty of food for thought as the year ends and we sail into 2023.

Friday 16 December 2022

Asses in Clover


A century ago, in the immediate aftermath of World War1, the ordinary man-in-the-street and woman-in-the-household sought answers to some fundamental questions about the social order. What on earth was going on? Millions of young men set out to kill each other for no reason they could explain, save that they were paid to fight, and that seemed better than being unemployed because there was no money to employ them. At least they could (and did) send money back to their families until they were killed, at which point their pay stopped immediately.

As the war ended, most people took time to reflect. Before the war many families lived in poverty because there was nobody with any money to employ them. As soon as war broke out, there was the money to pay young men to kill each other, and to provide them with munitions, food, uniforms horses and other forms of transport to do so. All of this turned the wheels of industry and kept the money flowing. As the War ended, immediately, factory workers were laid off, farmers could not sell their grain, and there was no work for returning soldiers to do. Many of them were in a shell-shocked state, needing the lifelong care which could only be supplied by the now income-less household. Small wonder that many set about educating themselves through the adult education movement (about which far too little is presently known. See Albert Mansbridge and Sheffield Settlement).

Amongst the people seeking answers, not only about the finances of the First World War but also about the Easter Rising, was the poet, playwright, novelist and campaigner, Eimar O'Duffy. He observed the workings of the emerging corporate capitalist world order and, in 1925, published the first book of his Goshawk Trilogy, in which he conjured up King Goshawk who bought up the whole of the natural world and then, in effect, rented it out. In 1929 the second book of the trilogy was published. By this time O'Duffy had set about studying the work of Clifford Hugh Douglas and other 'New' Economists (eg Henry George), so that by the early 1930s he was amongst the most knowledgeable writers on the political economy. He produced two books, both of which demand our attention under present world circumstances. The first is Asses in Clover (1933), the third book of the dystopian trilogy, described on the cover of the 2003 Jon Carpenter reprint as "a humorous tirade at the follies of twentieth century economics and politics". The second is 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 Putnam (see the second, much edited, 1935 edition).

Life and Money opens with a section on "The Dilemma of Unemployment":

"Now observe this. The unemployed man has no doubt that, if he can get a job of work and draw the pay agreed on, the food and clothing will be there for him to buy. He knows that they are lying for him in the shops at this very moment. If he cannot get the work, the bread he might buy will stale and go to waste; the shirt he might buy will remain a little longer on the shopman’s hands, thus reducing his profits, and delaying his order to the (page 20) factory for a new supply. There may be a ‘glut’ in the wheat market; the cotton growers in America may be desperately resolving to bum their ‘surplus’ crops, and the Lancashire mill-owners offering their ‘overproduction’ of shirts at fantastically reduced prices to the Chinese. Fruit may be rotting on the trees, the Press clamouring against the ‘dumping’ of fruit from abroad, and the farmers gloomily wondering how they are going to dispose of their too generous supplies of milk and vegetables. In fact, there is not shortage, but abundance of all the things our friend needs.

Nevertheless, he cannot claim any share of this abundance unless he works for it. No effort of his has been required to produce it, or will be required to produce a similar abundance to-morrow. His work, as he has been told at the gate of every factory to which he has applied, is unnecessary; but all the same, he must work or starve. To make the situation more absurd still, and as if to emphasise that he is starving in the midst of plenty, it is not required that the work he does shall be productive. It may be utterly useless, or even positively mischievous. A lady may hire him to give her lapdog (which would be better dead) an airing. At once the shops are open to him to the extent of hergenerosity. But if she presently decides to keep the beast indoors, the man must go hungry again. If now, driven by despair, he hires himself out as a vendor of harmful drugs, a pedlar of indecent postcards, a gunman to a racketeer, or a procurer to a brothel, once again his money is as good in the shops as that of your honest workman. It is true that in such cases the law may have something to say in the matter: but that is not the point. The point is that the goods are there (21) without any productive effort on the part of the purchaser; and if they are available for the pest and the parasite, they must be available for a decent man whose work does not happen to be required at the moment." Extract from Eimar O'Duffy Life and Money, 1935 edition.

Asses in Clover is an exploration of the same themes through comedy. Just waiting to be turned into a play.

COMMENT: Available on DSC website . Go to RESOURCES page, then to SOCIAT ART page and scroll down until you see the Contents and Chapters of Life and Money.

Sunday 11 December 2022

Of Partridges and Pear Trees

Advent is a time of preparation for the festivities of the Twelve Days of Christmas. For many families today that involves buying as much as possible, which means spending on the mass of goods produced for profitable sale, boosting the finances of shareholders but without making anybody truly happy.

In the days when Christmas songs and carols were composed ( see Blog 9 Dec 22) there were no chain stores, banks or credit cards, and the global corporations had yet to throw their cocoon over the world. Families prepared to spend Christmas together according to the customs and traditions of their own particular household. carols were practised, party pieces polished, including songs, poems recited, dance, story-telling and musical instruments, played by individuals or groups. Someone had to act as MC for the party to go well. This was particularly useful when singing together or playing party games. For example, The Twelve Days of Christmas was originally a forfeit song. According to the Christmas Melodies book people took it in turn to sing a verse, adding a line each time. Thus:

On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me
A partridge in a pear tree.
The second day of Christmas my true love sent to me

If they made a mistake, they paid a forfeit. The song probably dates back to the Middle Ages.

In households not entirely hooked up to electronic devices, many of these practices continue. Games may take the form of quizzes, devised by family members (or even taken from the Internet). Many play board games, sitting around the table as family and friends continue eating and drinking. Probably one of the the most popular board games has been, and remains, the game of Monopoly. Few will have completely avoided coming into contact with this game in somebody or others' household. Nevertheless, Monopoly was not first devised as the supreme teaching aid for the capitalist values of greed, selfishness and ruthless competition. On the contrary, it was originally devised on the kitchen tables of ordinary families across North America as an exploration of the very opposite. The original "Landlord's Games" explored the humanitarian economics of the popular nineteenth century economist, Henry George ( 1839 - 1897). Based upon the basic values of cooperation, justice, freedom, love and wisdom, George's economics gave rise to a massive movement throughout the US. UK versions also emerged, including "Brer Fox an' Brer Rabbit", the incongruently named Scottish version. (See New View article. Towards a Threefold Commonwealth New View Issue 98 Winter 2020-21 ).

Monopoly is a zero-sum game - winner takes all. During the early decades of the twentieth century a mass of individuals and groups explored alternatives to corporate capitalism. See for a variety of resources available for individual study and group discussion of the "win-win" cooperative alternatives to the zero-sum philosophy.

Friday 9 December 2022


Come, Child, into our hearts and still the storm

made by our selfish wishes wrestling there

and weave again the fabric of mankind

Out of Thy Light, Thy Life, Thy loving Fire.

So writes Adam Bittleston in his Meditative Prayers for Today. As the frenzy of spend, spend, spend catapults us towards yet another corporate capitalist, materialist Christmas, we might, perhaps, reflect on those words "weave again the fabric of mankind".

Advent is a good time to reflect on the technology of the Machine Age, with its mass production of foods, clothing, entertainment, music, art, news and artificial sparkles. It is all too easy to find oneself wondering what on earth it is all about.

A book entitled "Christmas Melodies: Carols, Hymns, Songs" (Price 3/6d) recently caught my attention. It carries a Foreword by the popular conductor Sir Malcolm Sargent (1895 - 1967). He writes:

"IT IS ONE of the interesting and thrilling pleasures of the musician to realise that music is not only for the "professional" and for the "concert hall" but, that it has a willing duty to fulfil to the amateur and the home.

"Certain festivities demand their appropriate music and on occasion the dullest and least demonstrative of us feel an urge to burst into song.

"This is especially true at Christmas time, when Christmas Carols and Songs do more to create and maintain the spirit of Christmas than anything else."

It would seem that most of the Christmas hymns that we sing today in churches were composed in the nineteenth century with a church congregation in mind. However, most of the Christmas carols and songs are traditional, part of the folk music in general. Almost all the carols were written between 1400 and 1647, as the Middle Ages, the era of the Catholic (ie Universal) social order, was drawing towards its end, and the Protestant Revolution loomed large. In 1647 the Puritan regime banned the singing of carols.

Nevertheless, traditional carols and songs survived. According to the Christmas Melodies book, The Holly and the Ivy is described as

"a remarkable mingling of the pagan and the Christian. Holly and ivy are primitive symbols for male and female and the poem probably derives from a fertility dance. "The rising of the sun" almost certainly relates to pagan religion. The existing words date back at least to the 1300s; the carol probably comes from Gloucestershire or Somerset."

Also included in the Christmas Melodies are: Away in a Manger, Silent Night and The Coventry Carol, classed as carols (originally composed by lay people), Hark the Herald Angels, classed as a hymn, and Jingle Bells, classed as a Christmas song.

Like all traditional folk songs and nursery rhymes, Christmas songs were not sung from hymn books. The verses had to be learned by heart at mother's knee. It is in the ages old, multi-tasking household that traditional stories can be told, and notions of value, justice, right and wrong, good

and evil, can be passed on from generation to generation.

When families come together to share time during the twelve Days of Christmas, home cooked food is often the central feature of the celebrations. Carols are not as commonly sung today, perhaps because our electronic devices attract our attention, perhaps because we have never had the time, inclination or opportunity to learn the verses by heart.

In days gone by, winter was a time when the household was very much thrown back on its own resources. Long nights and low temperatures forced people to batten down the hatches and share time together musing over the meaning of life, death and the universe, of "love, peace, justice and human dignity", as in the verses of the Christmas songs and carols. Today, as the household is increasingly invaded by the nebulous network of the World Wide Web, it may be time to look again at the reasons for the various traditional Christmas festivities.

The next Blog will look at the Partridge in a Pear Tree.

Sunday 20 November 2022

Freedom Part 2: The Sense of Wonder

In an essay first published in July 1956 in Woman's Home Companion, under the title “Help Your Child to Wonder”, Rachel Carson argued that every child needs at least one adult with whom to share the earliest experiences of the natural world, She calls for a sharing of the experience with the child, for using our senses and emotions with the child, avoiding the temptation to teach. This is not just a pleasant way to pass the time in caring for a young child. Towards the end of the essay Carson asks:

What is the value of preserving and strengthening this sense of awe, this recognition of something beyond the boundaries of human existence? Is the exploration of the natural world just a pleasant way to pass the golden hours of childhood or is there something deeper? “I am sure there is something much deeper, something lasting and significant. Those who dwell as scientists or laymen, among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life. Whatever the vexations or concerns of their personal lives, their thoughts can find paths that lead to inner contentment and to renewed excitement in living. Those who contemplate the beautu of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is symbolic as well as actual beauty in the migration of the birds, the ebb and flow of the tides, the folded bud ready for the spring. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature – the assurance that dawn comes after night and spring after winter.” (Carson 1965, p88-9).

After her death, in 1964, the article was published in book form, illustrated according to RC's wishes. (See Rachel Carson, (1965) The Sense of Wonder, Harper and Row.) In the article, RC hopes there might be a good fairy to give each child “a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last through life”. Later, in Silent Spring, (1962) she documented exactly how humanity is poisoning every living creature on earth, including its own children.

Writing over a quarter of a century after the massive public debate which followed the publication of Silent Spring, Patricia Hynes was moved by looking at “so much death” to write The Recurring Silent Spring. She expressed her shock at

“ … the kill-potential of technology and the many ‘silent springs’ throughout the planet; my anger at living in a world in which nature and women are presumed to exist for the use and convenience of men, so that the destruction of nature and violence against women are interconnected, increasingly technologized, and infect all corners of the earth.” (Hynes 1989, p2)

The work of Rachel Carson, and other women scientists, journalists and academics circulated in the 'green', anti-war, women's movement of the late decades of the 20th century, but were airbrushed out of mainstream press, media and education. Works like that of Pat Spallone's Beyond Conception explored "the destruction of nature and the violence against women". But they were silenced, simply ignored, so that individual women and their families had no forum through which to express their concerns. RC researched and explained graphically the effects agri-business chemicals and processes upon the land, the rivers and the seas. Meanwhile, throughout the 20th century, unreported and un-noticed, research and development of medical procedures and pharmaceutical products (IVF), Information Technology (5G, IT, AI) and so on continued apace. Midwives, and their traditional expertise, have been systematically forced to comply with un-natural regulations or face exclusion from employment, so that, on Monday April 2, 2022 the Daily Mail carries an attack on the Natural Childbirth Trust as being the cause of "unnecessary deaths" of mothers and babies. Such little public debate as has taken place has been conducted by the only people who know what is going on in the fields of Big Pharma debate, and that is the scientists, journalists and academics who have been, or still are being, paid by the corporations who conduct the research. (See eg the Warnock Report to The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) 1980s)

There is, to date, no unbiased public forum in a position to conduct a free, impartial, urgently needed ethical debate in this highly emotive territory. The control over the human body and the health of the planet are matters that affect each and every one of us. For far too long we have allowed the profit motive to reign supreme, so that Forster's Machine looms large on the horizon.

Friday 18 November 2022

Freedom 1

Two recent Blogs are starkly different, and intentionally so. Murray McGrath's "After Thoughts on Independence" (22 October) is followed by an extract from a history of political economic thought of a century ago entitled Social Credit History.

A century ago, during the 1920s and 1939s, young people were not only asking fundamental questions about the social order of the times. They set about educating themselves to fnd the answers in order to participate in the social order as workers, citizens, artists, craftsmen and householders. The dominant feature of those two decades was the after-effects of World War I. Young people aged 16 plus were sent off into the trenches to kill or to be killed, and to watch their comrades die, for a cause that nobody can explain to this day.

Their families did not forget. They sought the reasons by studying, privately and in groups, in colleges and universities, adult education institutes, evening classes, and extra-mural courses, in pubs and clubs, in towns and cities throughout the British Isles. Men of letters wrote works of poetry and fiction alongside political, religious and philosophical tracts that were read, studied and discussed throughout the land, so that their authors became household names. Rich and poor studied alongside each other, with a view to building the free society envisaged by Murray McGrath.

Nevertheless, World War II followed the 1930s, and concluded with the dropping of the Atomic Bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Driven by the worldwide corporations, a basic materialism set in over the rest of the century. Despite the work of Rachel Carson (1907-1964), and so many others, the sense of wonder at, and respect for, creation has ceased to be part of the educational curriculum.

Rachel Carson became perhaps the most articulate scientist the world has ever known. In The Sea Around Us she told how human beings, having devised ingenious technologies, explored our planet’s past and the origins of life itself. A decade later, in Silent Spring, she documented exactly how humanity is poisoning every living creature on earth, including its children. A 1994 reprnt of Silent Spring carries the following text on the back cover:

"What we have to face is not an occasional dose of poison which has accidentally got into some article of food, but a persistent and continuous poisoning of the whole human environment"

"First published in 1962, Rachel Carson's scientifically passionate exposure of the effects of the indiscriminate use of chemicals is still of vital importance. In her vivid and well-informed text she describes how pesticides and insecticides are applied almost universally to -farms, forests, gardens and homes with scant regard to the consequent contamination of our environment and the widespread destruction of wildlife. She argues that unless we recognize that human beings are only a part of the living world, our progressive poisoning of the planet will end in catastrophe. Silent Spring remains the classic statement which founded a whole movement and should be read by everyone who is concerned about the future of our world."

Beautifully written, thoroughly researched and highly readable, Silent Spring remains an inspiring 'must read' to all concerned at the corporate take of control over the human body itself.

(See Freedom Part 2 in next Understanding Blog.)


Thursday 17 November 2022

Social Credit History

Extract from
The Political Economy of Social Credit and Guild Socialism
by Frances Hutchinson and Brian Burkitt, Routledge (1997)


The UK ‘social credit movement’ can be described as three movements which coexisted in an uneasy relationship. First, a self-appointed ‘Social Credit Secretariat’, loosely formed as early as 1921, produced material for study groups which sprang up throughout the United Kingdom. Finlay estimates that by late 1922 thirty-four study groups had been formed across the United Kingdom, centred largely on guild socialism (Finlay 1972: 122). Douglas was drawn into reluctant co-operation with this secretariat in the absence of any other prominent figure. Second, the informal Chandos group encompassed a number of leading artists, journalists and Church figures who shared common links with Orage. Third, John Hargrave and his Green Shirts movement popularised social credit ideas among the disaffected and unemployed in the United Kingdom.

The character of the social credit movement, covered in detail in Part III, heavily influenced the nature of reactions, particularly in the 1930s, when its widespread popularity was perceived as threatening to the established political scene. Indeed, reactions are more accurately described as responses to elements in the publicity and propaganda of the social credit movement than to the Douglas/New Age analysis as a whole. This, coupled with the search for solutions to problems of the time from various vantage points in society – the orthodox liberal economists seeking solutions to depression, the Labour Party seeking political credibility, the unemployed and lowpaid seeking explanations and deliverance – obscured the holistic character of the original texts.

Had the texts contained merely the maverick meanderings of a single mind, the subsequent fate of the ideas would be of little consequence. It is contended here that the Douglas/Orage collaboration synthesised into a coherent framework a constructive alternative view of the relationship between economics and society. The ideas propounded by Orage and Douglas had considerable impact on Meade, Keynes and other major figures in politics and economics in subsequent decades. The central theme of the detrimental impact of the impetus to economic growth and its relentless drive towards the production of armaments and waste arising from a debt-driven financial system was often neglected, even by leading advocates of social credit. In the ensuing debate, proponents and opponents alike failed to acknowledge an alternative framework for freeing the productive capacity of developed nations from exploitation for individual greed and competitive gain. Page 80 The PE


A third publication, issued by the recently formed Credit Power Press in 1922 with the title The Community’s Credit: a Consideration of the Principles and Proposals of the Social Credit Movement (Hattersley 1922), arose from a series of papers discussed by the Swinton (Yorks.) group of the social credit movement during the latter part of 1921 and the spring of 1922. The papers were based on Economic Democracy and Credit-Power and Democracy, the authorship of the latter book being attributed in part to Orage, ‘late editor of The New Age’. Unlike Cousens, Hattersley asserts that Douglas presents a ‘permanent solution to the present economic difficulties’ – in other words, that his purpose is to put the economy right (Hattersley 1922: i). Two of the three main strands of the social credit movement began to emerge in these three books by Young, Cousens and Hattersley. The Swinton group referred to by Hattersley were one of an estimated number of thirty-four study circles which were formed across Britain in 1921–2 to study and publicise social credit (Finlay 1972: 121–2). Although these groups appear to have centred on the remnants of guild socialism (Finlay 1972: 122), they subsequently formed the caucus of the later network which held ambivalent attitudes towards socialism. Cousens, on the other hand, became a member of the Chandos group of intellectuals who met from the mid- 1920s to discuss social credit from an Oragean perspective. Douglas initiated neither of these developments. ..... P138-9

p140 The Chandos Group

The Chandos group, the second main strand of the social credit movement, first met in May 1926 at the invitation of Dimitrije Mitrinovic, a contributor to the New Age under Orage. The group was formed to explore the possibility of publicising social credit ideas, and the original members were joined at their regular meetings by academics, clerics and business people. G.D.H. Cole, Lewis Mumford and T.S. Eliot were often in attendance (Mairet 1936: 110).

named after the restaurant at which it invariably met fortnightly, the group was influential in the many spheres in which the members and their associates conducted their daily lives. The seven who first dined together on the evening of the termination of the General Strike were joined by three or four others and continued to meet throughout the 1930s. According to Reckitt, one of the original members, the core of the group were W.T. Symons, Philip Mairet and V.A. Demant, with Egerton Swan, Alan Porter and Albert Newsome attending up to the publication of their first joint attempt to explain their stand, Coal: a Challenge to the National Conscience. They were joined by B.T Boothroyd, Hilderic Cousens, R.S.J. Rand and Geoffrey Davis. The latter had a background of distributism and was a member of the Sociological Society. The members of the group were, to a varying extent, contributors to the New Age under Orage and/or active social credit supporters. There was a strong Christian influence within the group. T.S Eliot, ‘that gracious personality of crystalline intelligence’, attended from time to time (Reckitt 1941: 190–5). The group acted as a focus of its members’ interest in social credit, and steered through a couple of minor publications on the social credit theme. Already in the late 1920s, however, ‘it had become evident that “social credit” aroused considerable prejudice’ and neither publication mentioned the term, regarding it as counterproductive (Reckitt 1941: 189–95; Finlay 1972: 168–72). As Reckitt noted, the monetary reform ideas in social credit would not appear attractive to public figures unless or until they were commonly discussed and accepted by the public at large. In effect, that is what happened. Within a few years of the publication of the original texts the ideas were being studied throughout the British Isles, in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Scandinavia (Douglas 1937: xiii). Following the economic crisis of 1931, finance became news and the work of a host of monetary reformers was subjected to public scrutiny. At this point, the early promotional material enabled the social credit movement to flourish on a worldwide scale (Reckitt 1941: 172–3) p40

See also pages 158++

COMMENT: Copied for John Carlisle and others interested in the history and contemporary relevance of Social Credit and Guild Socialism.


Saturday 12 November 2022

Poverty a Political Choice

Why do some people in the UK have more than enough, others have enough, whilst some have no rights to the basic necessities of life, of food, shelter and clothing? How can we exercise political choice?

The marathon task ahead is for groups of individuals to study the workings of the financial system within the daily lives of our own households, our places of waged employment and our local neighbourhoods. The quest is to develop a worldwide concept of municipal economics firmly rooted in a sense of place and community. On a pluralistic planet of difference, they embrace multiculturalism. And as our times plead for innovation, they exude creativity. Reasons enough, – good reasons, why mayors and their fellow citizens can and should rule the world.

In 1949, Huxley wrote in the foreword to a new edition of Brave New World:

“Overall, it looks as if we are much closer to utopia than anybody could have imagined 15 years ago. At the time, I put this utopia 600 years in the future. Today, it seems quite possible that this horror will come upon us within a single century” (Huxley, 1949).

Huxley was amazingly prescient with this prognosis. Given current trends, 2032 seems like a realistic date for the realization of this dystopia. It seems that the 21st century is the one in which we have to prevent a dystopia from becoming reality-one that is already well recognizable in its contours. We will only be able to prevent it from becoming reality, if we manage to unmask its dystopian qualities, and the plan behind it, in time, before people have lost their ability to imagine alternatives.

A possible route out of this impasse is suggested by Benjamin Barber in his most thought-provoking book entitled “If Mayors Ruled the World: Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities” (2013). He argues:

As nations grow more dysfunctional, cities are rising. When it comes to democracy, they command the majority. Rooted in ancient history, they still lean to the future. As we reach the limits of independence and private markets, they define interdependence and public culture. On a pluralistic planet of difference, they embrace multiculturalism. And as our times plead for innovation, they exude creativity. Reasons enough – good reasons why mayors and their fellow citizens can and should rule the world.”

Barber’s central question is where lies the best hope for global democratic governance capable of addressing problems that seriously threaten humankind and the planet such as ecological sustainability, energy, food and water availability, migration, economic stability and inequality. He defines the city as an aggregation of features: dense population, relational networks, public spaces, voluntary identity, secularity, cosmopolitan, mobility, multicultural, trade, arts – overall providing the creative, pragmatic, non-ideological and open networking that democratic global governance requires. Urban living is rapidly increasing, encapsulating more than half the planet’s 7 billion population and estimated to reach 70% by 2030. City populations range from 50,000 to 20 million upwards. There is much in Barber’s argument seriously to question nation-states’ capacities to assure the planetary public good and he provides strong justification for mayors, actively mandated by their citizens, to help hold nations to account and grow a powerful contribution by cities to global governance. In this context, reform of the wages system becomes an urgent priority.

The wages system

Under the wages system, the worker has no say in the planning of the work or in the conditions of work. Workers are engaged to follow orders given by a superior. The worker is rewarded by a money wage or salary which is taxed according to the rules determined by the powers at the top of the centralised pyramids of power. Hence the big banks and the big corporations of bureaucratic capitalism determine political and economic policy. As Guild Socialists Maurice Reckitt and C.E. Bechhoffer explained a century ago:

The fundamental basis of the revolutionary case against Capitalism is not that it makes the few rich and the many poor – though this is true; not that it creates social conditions which are a disgrace and an amazement in a civilised community – though this is also true; not that it brutalises the rich by luxury, stifles beauty, and frustrates the hope of craftsmanship for the worker – though, indeed, it does all these things; but that it denies and degrades the character of man by the operation of a wage-system which makes the worker of no more account than a machine to be exploited or a tool to be bought and sold. The seed of all our glaring social failure and distress today lies not in any imagined ‘problem’ of poverty, nor in any inevitable ‘stage’ of economic development, but in a vile conception of human relationship that has entered into and now dominates all our social life and has invested it with its character of injustice and insecurity. This spiritual failure to which we have come finds its concrete expression in the wages system. Its assumptions and even its ideals (if we can call them so) have won so great a victory over the minds and wills of every section of our countrymen that its creed is the credo of England today. Few challenge it; few have the spirit even to desire an alternative, far less to struggle for one. That men should be forced by the menace of starvation to accept a price for the labour which is all they have to sell, to subdue all their purposes and all their gifts to the purpose of others (and that purpose profit), to lay claim to no right of control over the conditions of their working lives, nor any power of government over those who direct them in the workshop, to be divorced from responsibility and all the attributes of free status, to have upheld before them no standard but that of gain, no incentive but the bribe (often fallacious) of higher wages – this pathetic distortion of human fellowship, this vile and perilous imprisonment of the human spirit, is actually accepted as natural, and even providential, by nearly all those who triumph( by means of it, and by the vast majority, indeed, of its victims.” . (See: Maurice Reckitt and C E Bechhoffer (1918) The Meaning of the National Guilds, Cecil Palmer, London.)


Saturday 22 October 2022

After Thoughts on Independence

by Murray McGrath

Do you want freedom or security?
You cannot have both.

Security is essential for a child but requires obedience and containment. Growing up is becoming independent.

Independence is freedom to be yourself; to live, love and relate to all life in an individual, constructive and harmonious way.

Genuine democracy in small communities, regions and nations would enable individuals to influence society. Having an influence encourages thinking and acting for the good of self and others. Without it, thinking for one’s self is discouraged and conformity prevails. Freedom is lost.

“Be a good obedient consumer. Keep our economy competitive and growing so that we, the controllers of this fine civilised society, can continue to get richer. Don’t worry, we will look after you. You are entirely free to entertain yourselves as you will and do what you like, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the status quo. Through the media, we will help you to form opinions and advise you what to think. To maintain this healthy, happy situation, keep shopping, enjoy your entertainments and support the establishment with your votes. Trust us; we know what is best for you!”

“No thanks!”

Although there is a long way to go to reach real freedom, it is worth striving for and every opportunity for progress is worth taking. Independence of small countries is a move in the right direction.

A happy healthy society is like a healthy ecology; a wide diversity of creatures living together in balanced complexity, free from power and profit oriented human interference.

This cannot work for large nations. Size results in the temptations of power, the imbalance of the few, and ultimately the killing fields of war.

Small democratic units are more likely to be happy and co-operate peacefully.

Restrain the expression of character, and you get selfishness and negativity. If its diversity is acknowledged and encouraged however, the result is positive and outgoing. It’s a question of identity.

Feeling significant as a person, a family, a community or a country is the basis for health and happiness. And that encourages good relations among all.

Being given power is not what it’s about.

“Oh, thank you London, thank you England, even thank you Britain for the powers you have decided to give us! You are too kind!”

“No thanks!”

“Just set us free to be our self!”

NOTE: Murray McGrath composed this homily on Skyros. towards the end of his life.

Wednesday 19 October 2022

The Good Shepherd Doll's House

There was something magical about yesterday. We were invited to a luncheon for old people at the Good Shepherd Community Centre. There we met a number of ageing acquaintances with whom we have collaborated to put the world right in days gone by. So many have helped others along the way. It was particularly good to see Y, who for many years came on foot with a friend to pick and store fruit, and to process windfalls into juice and wine. They would walk from Keighley town centre up onto the moors to pick boxes of bilberries and bring them to us to share. Their English was ropey, to say the least. Y's friend literally could not speak one word of English, and never did learn any over the decade or so that we knew her. Like so many people who migrated to Keighley from so many parts of the world since the end of World War II, they looked back with longing to their childhoods in peasant farming households. They described all the processes of food production and preservation, as also the production and processing of fabrics for clothing and for furnishing their homes.

Whilst we were at the Good Shepherd Centre yesterday I was delighted to find a sadly battered doll's house containing some oddments of furniture. I bought it and took it home in great delight. Perhaps I'm going completely senile already, as a result of Parkinson's and creeping old age? But as I explore the subject of doll's houses more fully (see blog in this series for 30th September) I find a whole new world opening up. Doll's houses can tell us a great deal about how we lived in the past, how we are organising our households at the moment, enabling us to think our way through to plan how our homes and local communities might look in the future.

Doll's houses are not mere toys for the young child or collectors items set in aspic for the decadent rich. On the contrary, properly organised, they can provide the focus for discussion of the role of the household as the foundation stone of the world-wide social order. What rooms could we have in the future? A lounge for watching big screen TV, for crashing out when we return from 12 hour stints of waged and salaried slavery? A music room? A library? A nursery? A fast food kitchen? A slow food kitchen? An artist's studio? Needlework room? A compost loo? Does the house have a garden? And so on.

Presently, redundant doll's houses are ten a penny, as families think their children have grown out of them. These and their fittings and furnishings can become the focus for community group discussion about households past, present and future. Such discussion is nothing new. In the November 1935 issue of The Catholic Worker, Peter Maurin advocated the establishment of farm-based communities:

It is in fact impossible
for any culture
to be sound and healthy without a proper regard
for the soil,
no matter
how many urban dwellers
think that their food comes from groceries
and delicatessens
or their milk comes from tin cans.

Those words were written way back, before World War II had even started. Like so many present day migrants to Keighley from peasant farming backgrounds, Peter Maurin signposts possible routes to the sustainable household and community of the future. (See blog for 4th October for reference to Peter Maurin's Easy Essays on Catholic Radicalism. and the Catholic Worker movement. The above quote was noted on page 127 of Peter Maurin: Apostle to the World, by Dorothy Day with Francis J. Sicius, Orbis Books, 2004). We cannot put the clock back, but we can learn from the past. 

Wednesday 12 October 2022

Understanding Reviewed in Sustainable Economics


Understanding the Financial System:
Social Credit Rediscovered.

by Frances Hutchinson,
Jon Carpenter, 2010,
ISBN: 978-1906067090

This book was of great interest to me, as I was introduced to its subject matter in my childhood in the 1930s, by my parents, who were active campaigners for Social Credit, and I attended the last few meetings, after WW2, of the Social Credit Party, with its leader, John Hargrave. I read Douglas's main books and those of some other advocates of SC, such as C Marshal Hattersley's This Age of Plenty, in my youth. The post-war corporate wiping from history of the ideas and movement for SC was illustrated to me when, in 1952, I heard on the lunchtime BBC radio news, of the landslide victory for it in British Columbia in the Canadian elections. This was accompanied by a few sentences about the aims of SC; but in that evening, in the 6 o'clock and nine o'clock news, not even the fact of the election result was mentioned!

My parents met as Esperantists, and were advocates of libertarian education, introducing me to the ideas of AS Neil, practised at his Summerhill School. Thus I absorbed in my childhood ideas of the unity of mankind, as well as of the distinction between the real. economy and the financial one, which dominates and shapes the real.

I was aware that conventional economics confuses physical and financial capital, and that the potential abundance due to the application of technology to production was turned to waste by the grossly unequal distribution of the results of the 'common cultural inheritance' and the 'increment of association'. These are the concepts CH Douglas introduced as justifying Social Credit's advocacy of 'National Dividends — or Basic Incomes — lack of which makes wage-slaves and/or debt-slaves of almost everyone.

In all of this time, I found no suggestion that SC, or the wider movement for monetary reform, was in any way anti-Semitic — in fact, some of the closest colleagues of my parents in their campaigning were Jewish!

Thus I am, perhaps, biased in favour of the theme of this book, which is exposing both the history of the widespread and rapidly growing support for SC, despite the hostility to it in the public media, in the period between the World Wars, and the distortion of history to discredit it and to minimize attention to it, since WW2, with virtually complete elimination of its ideas from the teaching of economics — and the use of accusations of anti-semitism to stop any discussion of the issue.

While I had foreknowledge of much of the book's contents, I found this considerably expanded by the detail it contains. It contains many extracts from material both for and against SC, and lengthy

discussion of its origins and related ideas, from Guild Socialism, the writings of Thorstein Veblen, and Rudolph Steiner's conception of the Threefold Commonwealth — the three related spheres of society: cultural, political and economic. In all, it shows how tragic was the failure to introduce reform of the system of money creation and distribution in the 1930s.

Douglas argued that the aims of everlasting economic growth and 'full employment' despite the growing use of machinery to replace human labour, were unrealistic and unsustainable. He predicted as early as 1920 that, if the creation of money remained in the power of private banks and distribution of purchasing power through National Dividends was not instituted, with adequate money issued into existence to end 'poverty in the midst of plenty', then worldwide depression would result, and lead inevitably to WW2. National Dividends would introduce 'economic democracy' and establish the 'sovereignty of the individual'.

Douglas noted that while money was in desperately short supply in peacetime, it was created as freely as required in time of war.

He did not propose any detailed way to change the way money should be created, but argued that it should be for public benefit, not private profit. Subsequent experience amply confirms his

views. 'He who pays the piper calls the tune'. The banks are the 'piper', and they 'call the tune' of all other institutions, including governments.

It was clear to me in the early 1960s, when Prime Minister Harold Macmillan proclaimed that 'we've never had it so good', just how much better we could have 'had it', but for the distortions of the 'economy' due to the dominance of 'debt-money'; we could have had leisure, and far less waste of materials and effort.

Although the most senior economists of the day debated with Douglas, both in print and on public platforms, none found any genuine flaws in Douglas's analysis of the true relationship between the material economy and the financial system. Since the financial system was man-made, Douglas argued it could be studied and reformed to suit the wishes of the people. In his view, if given a choice, the people would prefer a secure sufficiency rather than everlasting growth and uncertainty.

This is a book which should be widely distributed and studied. It carries an extensive bibliography and lists of references for each chapter. It exposes the disastrous domination of the real, productive economy by the financial interests, and their power over the institutions of government, education, commerce, and public media. The recent near-collapse of the financial system under the growing weight of unredeemable debt — which threatens worse to come — should help to open people's eyes to the need for reform, along the lines outlined so long ago. Read the book, and then use the internet to join and spread debate on this vital issue.

Brian Leslie (Editor)
Sustainable Economics

COMMENT: These three reviews (see last two entries on this blog) number among many review of my published works. In my opinion they are readable and highly suitable for group discussion - with or without the books to hand.

Tuesday 11 October 2022

Understanding the Financial System Reviewed

Understanding the Financial System:
Social Credit Rediscovered.

by Frances Hutchinson,
Jon Carpenter, 2010,
ISBN: 978-1906067090

This book is a real treasure house of information about a historical episode in the battle for a just, fair and well ordered society. The central event is the election of a government with a clear majority mandate to establish a fully overhauled financial system in the Canadian Province of Alberta. Until 1935, anybody would have been forgiven for not having heard of such a place.

As the author explains in the preface, the book is the result of seven years of research she undertook in response to 'a curious event' in 2001 in the Green Party where she was an active advocate of its Guaranteed Basic Income policy. The 'event' itself can be viewed as a miniaturised version of the real history around Social Credit which unfolded over four decades starting in the 1930s.

After establishing that Social Credit is a sound economic arrangement, superior to the prevailing one, the author pursues answers to the question why it was not implemented. The book is also the result of a crisis of collaboration on another book, The Politics of Money, that was precipitated by that 'event' in the Green Party.

We, as readers and beneficiaries of Understanding The Financial System, should be glad that Hutchinson had to do this painstaking research to establish the truth behind the writing of Derek Wall's article', Social Credit: The Ecosocialism of Fools, which claimed that Social Credit was a far-right fascist and anti-Semitic doctrine.

The first two chapters set the scene by presenting 'an overview summary of the changes in farming, society and the financial system from the earliest times, through the development of city states into the corporate world economy'.

In the rest of the chapters, and the numerous documents included as appendices, the book describes the contribution of Social Credit economics to a vision of the world that is well prepared to function as a fully industrialized and developed capitalist system. Interleaved in that story is the documented account of persistent and well-financed efforts of the established order to undermine ordinary people's understanding and trust in the soundness of a Social Credit future.

Apart from the clear presentation of Social Credit as a comprehensive economic philosophy and practice, the great value of Hutchinson's work lies in informing us of the length the established system can go to defend itself against the threat of being overtaken by an advanced alternative socio-economic arrangement.

In one area, however, this work misses the mark. The Douglas Thesis, dealing with the pervasive monopoly of finance, is one half of a solution to the ills that beset 21st century global society. Indicated by a mere aside, the author dismisses the work of Henry George as a 'minnow'. She fails to note the worldwide movement that — by exposing the private monopoly over land and all other natural resources — complements the reforms proposed by Douglas. There is a worldwide movement inspired by the rigorous analysis of George into a socio-economic failure that results in continuing poverty amidst increasing plenty. In addition, it is noteworthy that the solution to land monopoly has received the same treatment over the past hundred years from the defenders of the established order as Social Credit. This is revealed in the research presented in The Corruption of Economics.

Mentioning Henry George in the context of this review should not, however, be construed as pointing to a rival theory of economic reform. On the contrary, students of Douglas and George should find encouragement in the knowledge that a fully worked composite solution is available to heal a society wracked by the private exploitation of two fundamental monopolies.

Janos Abel
Green Christian, Issue 70,
Winter 2010/11

COMMENT: Janos Abel is perfectly correct in stressing the value of Henry George's work. See, for example, my article on the origins of Monopoly, "Towards a Threefold Commonwealth", Published in 
New View magazine, issue 98, Winter 2020-21] New View

Country Way Review

Review by Jeremy Martineau of
by Frances Hutchinson
Published by Jon Carpenter, 1998
ISBN: 1-897766-33-5

I wanted to read this book before passing it to anyone else. Now I can truthfully say read it yourself. "What everyone really wants to know about money" raises those questions which have bothered me ever since economics at university failed to answer the deeper questions I felt inside about the self which social science was missing. This book tells me there has been a conspiracy by orthodox economics to avoid the awkward truth that we humans cannot properly be confined to a definition as mere units of economic production or consumption which it suits today's controllers to make us. Yes there is a conspiracy among those who hold the hidden reins of power. 

How else is it that so few make the decisions, whether in so called democracies or even in dictatorships. We know that the world systems are not what humans or the planet really needs to thrive, but we don't know how to correct the injustices and barbarism and despoliation that is an unavoidable consequence of money as the sole measure of value. However gilded the cage, capitalism enslaves the common people. How to get to a better, fairer world from where we are is going to be hard, but first, read this book, if you dare. Did you know that the Roman Catholic catechism calls for a reform of international economic and financial systems so that they will better promote equitable relationships with less advanced countries. I write this a day after the Nationwide Building Society members voted aganst conversion to a bank. That is one sign of hope that not everyone is blindly following the greasy slide into corruption . They keystone to move in the wall of misunderstanding is that labelled financial value. Move it and you can see that it is not real. Money has become God, and we must dethrone it. 

COMMENT: Tidying through my files over recent weeks,I find a number of reviews of my books that seem worth dusting off and reading through. A good review is one that tempts one to read the book itself. With this in mind, I offer the above and one or two more in the following Understanding Life and Debt. blogs.

Saturday 8 October 2022

T' Peggin' Rug

T' Peggin' Rug
by Christine Thistlethwaite

Not another hoil in t"earthrug?! 
Aye! Sithee, worn reight through! 
They don't mek things ter last these days — 
Not like they used ter do. 
Tek 'earthrugs fer an instance 
Wi' ther fancy nylon pile, 
Right posh they look when span kin' new — 
But yer notice in a while 
'ow dull they've gone, and kind o' frayed, 
An' t' pile all worn an' flat, 
I allus sez ther's nowt can beat tow'd fashioned peggin mat! 

When t' winter neets were drawin' in 
(No telly then, tha knows!) 
Me mam 'ud start ter sooart things out — 
Owd coits and worn-out clothes. 
Ther'd be a job fer each of us — 
While some cut t' cloth in strips, 
Another cut aw't buttons off 
An' th'ooks an' eyes an' zips. 
We clipped until we fingers ached 
An' thumbs were near red raw, 
By heck! it wor a stallin' job 
Wi' bits all ower t' floor! 

At last me mam 'ud say "That's it! 
We've getten fairish theer — 
We'll start ter peg termorrer neet 
Whan Dad brings t' frame in here." 
She'd draw a fancy pattern on a piece of harden sacking 
An' nail it in to t' frame ter mek a strong an' sturdy backin'. 
An' then t' best part of all began — all seated in a row 
We'd prod an' poke them clippin's in an' watch the pattern grow. 
On t' day as it were finished, an' down hi' t' fireside 
Me mam 'ud bring all t' neighbours in an' show 'em it wi' pride 
When yer nobbut 'ad linoleum, or a floor o' cow'd stone flags 
They browt a touch o' luxury — yon mats med out o' rags. 
Ah've one upstairs, still goin' strong, outside o' t' bathroom door
'at me dad and me were workin' on in 1944! 
What can yer buy these days as cheap, 'ardwearin', warm an' snug 
As yon owd-fashioned work of art? Aye! t' good owd peggin' rug

From: Times and Seasons,
Rhymes and Reasons

by Christine Thistlethwaite

COMMENT: Making peg rugs was a common activity in working class streets in Yorkshire. With the guidance of my mother-in-law and her sisters, we made rugs here at Willow Bank in the 1990s, when Bradford Industrial Museum hosted workshops on making peg rugs as fashionable wall hangings. The memory gives much pause for thought.

There is no particular reason why the coming of TV should stop home production of rag rugs, or dressmaking, embroidery, or any type of art or craft. After all, the TV does have an 'off' button. Better still, one might consider following the advice of Jerry Mander, and smashing the one-eyed monster to pieces (See his Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television, Harvester Press (1980)

See also his "In the Absence of the Sacred: The Failure of Technology and the Survival of the Indian Nations" Sierra Club Books 1991).

After all, members of households combining with other households on craft projects is one of the joys of life that has not been, and does not have to be, confined to the aristocracy. See Suzanne Fagence Cooper (2022) How We Might Live with Jane and William Morris, Quercus. Such activities have often been combined with telling folk stories, poetry reading and the much neglected art of reading aloud. (See Francesco Dimiti To Read Aloud: A Literary Toolkit for Wellbeing, Head of Zeus, 2017)

Many thanks to Christine Thistlethwaite. .

Tuesday 4 October 2022

Social Workers and Workers

The training of social workers
enables them to help people
to adjust themselves
to the existing environment.
The training of social workers
does not enable them
to help people
to change the environment.
Social workers
must become social-minded
before they can be critics
of the existing environment
and free creative agents of
the new environment. In
Houses of Hospitality social
workers can\acquire that art
of human contacts and that
social-mindedness or
understanding of social
which will make them critical
of the existing environment
and the free creative agents
of a new environment. (p74)

Peter Maurin,

Catholic Radicalism:

Phrased Essays for the Green Revolution

See INTRODUCTION by Dorothy Day,

New York,

Feast of SS. Peter and Paul,

June 29, 1949

Friday 30 September 2022

Design Your Home and Community

Last weekend I picked up a copy of Michal Morse's (1992) Build a Doll's House for £2 in a second-hand shop. In a flash of recognition, I recalled the Willow Bank doll's house that kept children (and adults) in our household entertained over many a long year. The basic shell of the house must have been taken from the copious and detailed designs in the Morse book. Bought for £5 in a charity shop, the shell of the house was filled with an amazing assortment of furnishings, fittings and miniature dolls that could be endlessly re-arranged and added to, thought about and talked about as the mood took an individual child, a family or a group of children. Throughout the 20th century doll's houses, complete with furniture, fittings and appropriately dress dolls, have been mass produced as toys for children. However, looking through the Morse book, I discovered that enthusiasm for doll's houses is by no means limited to children.

Over the centuries of the agrarian and industrial revolutions, doll's houses have been created and enjoyed by the whole family, providing a focus for discussion of the centrality of household management to the lifestyle of home and local communities. Originally the toys of women in wealthy households, doll's houses are now being created as the dream house or country cottage, the decoration and furnishing of which can be fully determined by the owner .

Doll's houses are still thought of as being primarily for children, and they are certainly a very interactive and versatile toy for children of all ages. The Morse book contains full plans and instructions for making seven basic houses, including a 'box shop', a one-room plywood box with a shop front. The illustrations of furnished houses that appear throughout the book include much beautiful hand-crafted furnishing. Whether hand-made or mass produced, doll's houses provide a source of discussion material and story-telling for households of every description.

Doll's houses provides ample scope for exploration of an infinite variety of household types, furnishings and history. The stately home, with its kitchen gardens and quarters for live-in servants contrasts sharply with the inner city back-to-back terrace house - with shared outside loos down the street - common in the early decades of the 20th century. Although neglected by the mainstream formal education system, the history of household management, the provision of food, clothing, shelter, education, the arts, crafts and design of the home provides an endless source of interest. Stuy of household furnishings, design and fittings provides scope for imagining what different shapes to household might take in the immediate future.

There are indications that the time is coming to reverse the trend to increasing standardization of design of production, Perhaps the children of today will show us all, parents and child-free alike, the way to design the households, shops, workshops, community buildings, libraries, cafes, concert halls, places of worship, local businesses, banks, schools, medical provision, stately homes, kitchen gardens, transport and parks of the future.

The first step is to study our own households. How were they designed and furnished in the past? How are they currently laid out? And how might we re-design our own homes to take account of rising energy costs, ecological considerations, current thinking about health and education, arts, crafts, healthy living, the life of the spirit, finance and so on. How do we get and spend our money, and how does that impact upon the immediate locality and the lives of others in distant places?

The second step is to map out the hinterland of our households, taking in the local and international services upon which we depend. The idea of creating models of individual households or whole communities carries great potential for raising the practical issues of our times. See, for example, the recent book, How We Might Live At Home With Jane and William Morris, by Suzanne Fagence Cooper, (Quercus, 2022) referenced in the Understanding Life and Debt blog of 20 September 22.

The starting point, then, is the making of the shell of a doll's house for family and friends to furnish just for fun. That could lead to mapping out model-railway-style models of a village, town or city, and or further development of the Brer Fox and Brer Rabbit Landlords' Game referred to in my recent New View articles.

NOTE: See the website HUTCHINSON page for an electronic copy of the full text of most of the books introduced in this series of Blogs.

NOTE also that Michal Morse's Build a Doll's House, containing detail plans for making doll's houses, is now available on the internet for under a fiver, including postage,

Wednesday 21 September 2022

The Social Artist

The Social Artist
Frances Hutchinson (Editor 2013-2929)

The Social Artist is the last, but by no means the least in this series of blogs covering available literature on all aspects of the world social order, past and present. (See all September Understanding Life and Debt blogs.) The Social Artist is the quarterly journal that I edited from 2013 to 2020. The full sequence is available electronically on the website . Articles and entire issues can be printed and circulated by educational associations for study purposes.

The Social Artist is a continuation of The Social Crediter, a weekly publication started by Clifford Hugh Douglas in the late 1930s. The new title relates to Joseph Beuys:

If we want to achieve a different society
where the principle of money operates equitably,
if we want to abolish the power money has over people historically,
and position money in relationship to freedom, equality, fraternity …
then we must elaborate a concept of culture
and a concept of art
where every person must be an artist …

            Joseph Beuys What is Money? A Discussion, Clairview Press, 2010.

The Social Artist is packed with reviews of, and extracts from, contemporary and historical writers and activists covering the full range of issues from corporate to household management, food, farming and above all finance. Selecting at random, we note that the Autumn 2016 issue contains the following.

A quote from Rudolf Steiner's The Social Future (1919).

A 2015 prediction from Chris Hedges on Jeremy Corbyn's future prospects as leader of the Labour Party.

A review of Douglas social Credit over the past century. Note that the term 'social credit' is currently being deliberately discredited in China and elsewhere .

Reprint of an article in The Tablet by Jonathan Tulloch.

Extract from Martin Parker et al, The Routledge Companion to Alternative Organization (2014).

Article from Ekklesia by talented writer and frequent contributor to TSA, Bernadette Meaden on The Queen's Speech: a reality check.

Article on Home Economics by the Editor was subsequently developed into a series of articles in New View.

An extract from The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff (2002) on contemporary provisions for child development raises a major contemporary issue.

The fiction and non-fiction writings of Eimar O'Duffy ( ) on finance and the social order are outlined in two extracts from the work of this brilliant but sadly neglected economist of the 20th century..

The extract from Danish economists Neils Meyer et al, Revolt from the Centre dates from 1981.

The edition concludes with Bernadette Meaden's review of George Monbiot's latest (2016) book How Did We Get Into This Mess?.

Each of the editions of The Social Artist carries a similar medley of material on the evolution of the contemporary social order. Fortunately we have to hand Wikipedia to look up unfamiliar names and organisations. The archives of The Social Crediter are also available in several locations across the world.

NOTE: See the website HUTCHINSON page for an electronic copy of the full text of most of the books introduced in this series of Blogs.

Tuesday 20 September 2022

Two recent books on the Arts and Crafts Movement

To See Clearly: Why Ruskin Matters
Suzanne Fagence Cooper
Quercus, 2019.

"What can we learn from John Ruskin?

"In our age of immediacy, the visionary Victorian artist and critic inspires us to look and to linger. Fierce and encouraging, Ruskin 's writing's transform our sense of connection to the built environment and the natural world.

"Ruskin imagines new ways for 'hand, head and heart' to work together. He teaches us that buildings tell stories; how to travel with more care; the need to respond to our own mental fragility and to the anxieties of others. Ruskin tells us how to work more effectively, and more fairly Above all he challenges us to keep learning, in small ways and in great.

"Ruskin guides our focus from the smallest scale, the intense blue petal of a gentian flower, to the colossal: an Alp, a Gothic cathedral, the ilig,htof an eagle across a continent. With our eyes opened by John Ruskin, we can see more clearly how to take responsibility for our interconnected world.

"Suzanne Fagence Cooper is Research Curator at York Art Gallery, for the exhibition 'Ruskin, Turner & the Storm Cloud'. She was Research Fellow at the V&A. Museum, and is an historical consultant for film, TV and radio. She lectures for Cunard and the Arts Society. Her other books include Pre-Raphaelite Art in the V&A Museum and Effle Gray. "

How We Might Live At Home With Jane and William Morris
Suzanne Fagence Cooper
Quercus, 2022.

"'The house that would please me would be some great room, where one talked to one's friends in one corner, and ate in another, and slept in another; and worked in another'

"William Morris - poet, designer, campaigner,hero of the Arts & Crafts movement - wasa giant of the Victorian age. His beautiful creations and radical philosophies are Still with us today: but his wife Jane is too often relegated to a footnote, an artist's model given no history or personality of her own. In truth, Jane and William's partnership was the central collaboration of both their lives.

"Together they overturned conventional distinctions between work and play, public and private spaces, women and men, even the Victorian class structure. At every stage,Jane was transformative, hospitable. and engaged. The homes they made together --at Red House, Kelmscott Manor and their houses in London - were works of art, and the great labour of their lives was life itself. Through their houses, their friendships and their creations, they experimented with fruitful ways of living and working. They show us how we might enjoy lives filled with hope and beauty.

"In How We Might Live, Suzanne Faigence Cooper explores the lives and legacies of Jane and William Morris, finally giving Jane's work the attention she deserves and taking us inside two lives of unparalleled integrity and artistry.

"Dr Suzanne Fagence Cooper is an art historian working on 19th and 20th• century British art. She was a curator and Research Fellow at the V&A Museum for 12 years and is currently Honorary Visiting Fellow at the University of York. She recently curated a major exhibition on John Ruskin and. J. M. W. Turner. She is the author of To See Clearly:Why Ruskin Matters, Effie Gray and Pre-Raphaelite Art in the Victoria and Albert Museum. She is a trustee of the Burne-Jones catalogue raisonne, and has worked as a consultant for TV and film projects. She is also an invited lecturer for the Arts Society and Cunard."

Saturday 17 September 2022

Understanding the Financial System

Understanding the Financial System: Social Credit Rediscovered.
Frances Hutchinson,
Jon Carpenter, (2010)

Very few people can say with any certainty what money is, exactly how the financial system operates, or why finance dominates social policy formation throughout the social order. This has not always been the case. During the inter-war years of the 1920s and 1930s countless ordinary men and women conducted an informal debate on the flawed economic thinking which led simultaneously to war, waste and poverty on an unprecedented scale. The worldwide Social Credit movement of this period gave rise to a practical political venture in the Canadian province of Alberta.

Clifford Hugh Douglas' institutional analysis of the role of banking and finance in the social order continues to provide the missing link necessary for the comprehensive development of economic thought beyond the rational choice theories of neoclassical economics. In order to make some sense of the political economy of the early twenty-first century it is necessary to understand how economic, political and cultural policies have come to be determined primarily by finance.

Drawing upon the writings of key twentieth century social thinkers, including Rudolf Steiner, Clifford Hugh Douglas, Thorstein Veblen and the Arts and Crafts movement as a whole, Frances Hutchinson moves beyond negative critiques of global corporatism to suggest a transformation in our understanding of the relationship between finance and the three spheres of society, the cultural, the political and the economic.

NOTE: See the website HUTCHINSON page for an electronic copy of the full text of most of the books introduced in this series of Blogs.

Note also this series of Blogs will continue after the funeral weekend.

The Politics of Money

The Politics of Money: Towards Sustainability and Economic Democracy,
Frances Hutchinson, Mary Mellor & Wendy Olsen
Pluto Press 2002

On the whole, classical and radical economists have marginalised the role of money, most particularly the role of credit, in driving the machinery of accumulation and exclusion. Although critiques of capitalism from Marxist, feminist, ecological and many other perspectives abound, The Politics of Money is unique in gathering the strengths of these differing critiques into a coherent whole. The authors have drawn upon their varied expertise in economics and the social sciences to produce the foundations of a new political economy that will enable communities to reconstruct their socio-economic fabric through social and political control of money systems.

The book opens with a review of the role of money in current society, an overview of the history of money creation and a critique of the main theoretical developments in economic thought. Alternative perspectives on money are then presented through a review of a number of radical perspectives but focussing mainly on the work of Marx, Veblen and the social credit perspective of Douglas and the guild socialists. In the final part of the book contemporary monetary theories and experiments are analysed within the theoretical and historical perspectives provided in the earlier chapters. The main argument of the book is that it is necessary to understand the crucial role of finance in driving the 'free market' economy if a democratic and sustainable economy is to be achieved.

Frances Hutchinson is research fellow at the University of Bradford with a lifelong interest in ecology, economy and society. She has published three books so far, including: The Political Economy of Social Credit and Guild Socialism, (1997).

Mary Mellor is professor in the School of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Northumbria at Newcastle and Chair of the Sustainable Cities Research Institute. She is the author of numerous publications and her most recent book is Feminism and Ecology (1997).

Wendy Kay Olsen researches and lectures in economics and development at the University of Manchester. Her publications include Rural Indian Social Relations (1996)


Preface by Frances Hutchinson, Mary Mellor and Wendy Olsen.
List of Figures
1. The Money Society
2. Why is There No Alternative?
3. Money, Banking and Credit
4. Capitalism - the Elimination of Alternatives
5. Marx, Veblen and Money Waged Labour
6. Guild Socialism and Social Credit
7. Institutional Critiques of Capitalist Finance
8. New Ways of Thinking about Money and Income
9. Innovations and Alternative Money Systems
10 Towards Sustainability and Economic democracy
11 Bibliography

NOTE: See the website HUTCHINSON page for an electronic copy of the full text of most of the books introduced in this series of Blogs.

Friday 16 September 2022

What Everybody Really Wants to Know About Money

What Everybody Really Wants to Know About Money
Frances Hutchinson
Jon Carpenter Publishing 1998

Money makes the world go round – but in ever diminishing circles. It's the driving force behind most of the world's problems: global warming, habitat destruction, homelessness, ethnic and religious conflict, the widening poverty gap within and between countries, debt and homelessness, to name but a few. Thanks to money, the world is a nastier place by the day.

There seems to be no alternative to social injustice and environmental destruction, simply because there is no money for anything else. We all use money every day, but we don't understand where it comes from, who creates it, and most importantly, why.

As this book shows, most economists do not have a clue what's going on, and that is partly because they make all sorts of assumptions about human nature that are manifestly nonsense. Since economists have little understanding of the nature of money, they assume it is just a convenient neutral alternative to barter. In fact, money is now traded for its own ends, and has become the universal measure of good and bad. To bribg about today's global capitalist free market, work has been devalued to a form of slavery, and people everywhere have been denied access to their natural and basic means of survival: the land.

Frances Hutchinson shows why this situation has arisen, and explains many of the basic errors of the orthodox economics upon which all politicians rely. After discussing the powerful body of ideas that originated in guild socialism and were popularised across the world by the social credit movement in the 1920s and 1930s, she applies these insights to develop a 'home economics' which can be introduced by groups of people in their own localities anywhere in the world.

With a chapter by Alan Freeman on the World Trade Organisation and the globalisation of world trade, together with intellectual property rights and the privatisation of public and traditional knowledge.

Foreword by Helena Norberg-Hodge.

NOTE: See the website HUTCHINSON page for an electronic copy of the full text of most of the books introduced in this series of Blogs.

Thursday 15 September 2022

The Political Economy of Social Credit and Guild Socialism

Each of the books listed in this series of Understanding Life and Debt Blogs carries a bibliography citing relevant published texts, virtually all of which are housed in the two collections at 38 Cherry Tree Road, Sheffield.

The Political Economy of Social Credit and Guild Socialism.
Frances Hutchinson and Brian Burkitt, 
Routledge, 1997.

Guild Socialism has been regarded as a cul-de-sac in social and economic thought. However, this book breaks new ground in demonstrating its continued relevance. Focusing on the Douglas social credit movement, it explores the guild socialist origins of Douglas' work, condenses the economic and social theory of the original texts into a concise exposition and documents the subsequent history. Thoroughly researched, this early approach to 'post-autistic' non-equilibrium economics reveals the extent of the incompatibility between capitalist growth economics and a socially just, environmentally sustainable political economy.
The early years of the 21st century have brought a heightened awareness of the limited practicality of retaining self-interested individualism, materialism and corporate power as the guiding principles for policy formation in the global economy. Fortunately, a number of coherent bodies of economic thought provide the basis for considering practical alternatives. The closely linked movements of guild socialism and social credit, outlined in this book, can be studied alongside Christian, Islamic, Jewish, anthroposophic and other faith-based approaches to political economy, offering concerned individuals and groups the opportunity to blend alternative theorising with workable practice. Written in a style accessible to the general reader, this comprehensive guide to social credit is now available in paperback and, for study purposes, electronically.
"The contribution of Douglas and Orage to the incorporation of the non-market sectors of the economy – health, education, social security, the environment – is crucial. The power-grab of the banking system that Douglas and his associates identified almost a century ago, has come into a lethal flowering. In the long-overdue reassessment of what passes as economic science, their ideas will require careful attention. The Hutchinson-Burkitt book is mandatory reading for preparing ourselves for the task." William Krehm, COMER.

NOTE: See the website for an electronic copy of the full text of most of the books introduced in this series of Blogs.