Living Lives of Our own By James Reed
Lives of Our Own (Createspace, 2017), is a brilliant new book by leading social credit theorist and philosopher, M. Oliver Heydorn. The subtitle of the book aptly sums up what this treatise is about: Social Credit, Catholicism, and a Distributist Social Order.
The tone of the book is set with an epigraph from Hilaire Belloc, published in 1934, expressing his support for the rationality and morality of the social credit agenda, of overcoming restricted purchasing power, freeing people from wage-slavery, and ensuring that people are “to be fully fed, well housed, well clothed and given manifold opportunity for the enjoyment of life.” This is no longer a truism, because our world of 2017 is quickly approaching that of the Great Depression era, with record numbers of homeless and unemployed.
This social ill is giving new life to communism and socialism, at least on university campuses, with commo students celebrating the Russian revolution centenary, along with their usual activities of promoting every politically correct agenda imaginable. Dr Heydorn sets out from page one of his book, to explain that the social ills noticed, and manipulated by the commos are real, but their solution, namely collective/state ownership of the means of production, has been conclusively shown to be flawed, and leading to even worse problems that those generated by capitalism. It throws workers from the frying pan, right into the furnace.
Distributism is not socialism, any more than any concern with preserving one’s race is necessarily, “Nazism.” Indeed, the distributists thought that workers should share in the profits of their productive activities, but in a decentralised way. Social credit shared the same economic democratic philosophy, that by various changes to the financial system, people would become shareholders in the nation’s productive capacity, and by virtue of the national dividend, no longer be mere wage slaves. This, in essence totally undercuts the Critique of ‘capitalism made by communist theorist Karl Marx.
Heydorn carefully explains the main differences between distributism and social credit, which is that the former is primarily concerned with distributing a direct ownership in the productive agencies, while social credit goes further and looks at the fundamental working of the financial system, and seeks to distribute a beneficial ownership in the real capital and productive forces of a nation, based on the national dividend, dividend-paying shares. The classical distributists, including greats such as G. K. Chesterton, did not deal extensively with the issue of how to directly distribute the ownership of financial credit.
Heydorn’s purpose in his treatise then, is to outline common points and differences between classical distributism and social credit. In the light of his previous works, he also seeks to find paths that are common with Catholic thought and philosophy on the issues of real economic and financial justice.
Cutting to the chase, spoiler alert, Heydorn shows at length how, although distributism has its heart in the right philosophical place, it is lacking in technical solutions to many of today’s challenges, such as technological unemployment arising from the rise of the robots and intelligent and expert systems. Social credit goes beyond distributism, in uniting citizenship, people as valuable political agents rather than mere meat machines, with the productive property of capitalism. Social credit is thus, a form of distributism with a little “d,” believing in the need for a more equitable distribution of private productive property, but for the reasons detailed above, and expanded upon in his book, it is not strictly a classical distributism, with a big “D.”
Apart from the economic and financial material, Heydorn goes into some depth about how social credit principles are completely consistent with Catholic philosophy, such as the demands that the natural law makes upon economic reality. Catholic principles guiding any economy include the dignity of the human person, the common good (loving one’s neighbour as oneself), subsidiarity (to decentralises power as much as possible), and solidarity (people are interdependent). It can be argued, I believe, that all of these principles transcend Catholic thought, and are to be found in Protestantism as well, being core parts of Christian ethics. There are plenty of examples of these principles in the work of social credit founding father, Major Douglas, too. Chapter 3 of Heydorn’s book gives a very good summary of social credit, informed by these principle.
To take from chapter 4 the apt phrase, “The Fellowship of the Sane,” social credit attempts to restore sanity to a economic and financial world which is basically mad, as he detailed in chapter 1, “An Economy in Crisis.” Lives of Our Own, is therefore strongly recommended for all of those seeking a solution to most of our outstanding social problems, which have an economic/financial aspect to them. This is another fine work by a leading social credit intellectual, and we are fortune to have a young man with such talent working on the side of the angels.