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.


Wednesday 14 September 2022

What is Needed to Create a Sane Social Order?


If a social order based upon mutual respect, justice and peace is to be built it is essential that the common people learn to understand the financial system that currently rules their lives, with disastrous effects. In this series of Understanding Life and Debt Blogs I plan to introduce some key texts that may help the man and woman the their local communities across the world to see how the real and the financial economies are related.

Down to Earth: A Guide to Home Economics
Frances Hutchinson,
KRP Lid. 2013, 36pp.

Once upon a time people were able to provide for themselves, using the resources of the natural world, and their own skills and knowledge. Now we are governed by an incomprehensible machine technology, under a dictatorial financial system. How this situation came about is explained in this short booklet.

What could happen in future will depend upon ordinary citizens coming back down to earth, in their own local environments. The choice is between fully informed debate leading to local economic democracy, or permanent subjection to Big Brother. If conventional un-wisdom and meaningless sound bites continue to stand in for informed discussion, the ordinary citizen will face increasing subjection to a faceless, centralised bureaucracy. If socially, ethically and environmentally sound farming policies are not to continue to flounder for lack of funds, finance must be converted from a dictatorial master into a useful tool. The options for reform are spelled out in this study guide.

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

Saturday 10 September 2022

End of an Era: What Next?

The tributes paid to Queen Elizabeth by King Charles and senior members of the House of Parliament on 9th September were, I thought both moving and sincere, giving grounds for cautious optimism that they may herald a new era in the politics of the days to come. When the Queen came to the throne in 1952/3, my school friends and I were just embarking on secondary education. Since that date, she has been a constant source of encouragement to citizens of all walks of life in the UK and Commonwealth nations. It is up to those living today to ensure that constitutional rights are guarded in the times to come.

To that end, it could be interesting to review the history of the various local government services then being made available by local people and for local communities across the length and breadth of the UK. In this connection two books spring to mind. Michael Bradford's 1988 The Fight for Yorkshire, and The Pickles Papers, by Tony Grogan (1989). Sadly, Michael Bradford is a political ignoramus, but he does, almost accidentally, provide some fascinating clues about the devastation caused to local government by the 1972-4 Local Government Acts.

The primary, secondary, further and adult education services on offer to us in 1952/3 were provided by a range of local authorities who raised local taxes and spent them according to the perceived needs and wishes of the local government of the local community. In addition to education, local government raised local taxes to provide transport (buses and trams), museums, parks, gardens, allotments, swimming baths and wash houses, art galleries, theatres, libraries, cottage hospitals, sewage disposal, and health services (and any amount more that you can think of). Meanwhile, local churches and faith communities provided community support and taught a basic philosophy of life. And banking administration was undertaken by local banks, locally managed by locally identifiable individuals. Cash payments were the order of the day.

It might be interesting to draw up a picture of local the authorities in the city, town or county area in which you presently live. Up to the rein of Queen Elizabeth, and for a further two decades after her accession, local government services were financed and administered according to the needs, wishes and intentions of local communities. The two books mentioned above start to tell the story of the devastation and havoc wrought upon those services out of the blue by an unaccountable centralised government. The time has certainly come to look again at the possibilities offered by a return to local community provision of local government services through a mixture of local finance coupled with that sense of service that has been so sadly lacking in recent decades.

On a Personal Note

As some will have noticed, we are no longer producing the quarterly journal The Social Artist (formerly The Social Crediter). Illness, death and covid have decimated the group that supported me as Editor from 2001 to 2020. Nevertheless, back numbers of the journals are available electronically on the website (see PUBLICATIONS PAGE) They are full of short articles and reviews introducing useful references to the work of key authors and interest groups of the past few decades. Comments welcome.