THE FEAR OF LEISURE By Eric D. Butler
Notes of Eric D. Butler's paper at the Fourth Social Credit Seminar: "The New Times," vol.24. no.21. November 8, 1958. In spite of the fact that it can be easily demonstrated that it is possible for a small and decreasing number of people in a modern industrial society to produce all the physical requirements for the whole community, and that the most important potential of the semi-automatic production system is increasing leisure time for all, any suggestion of a policy which would enable the individual to obtain a financial income, however small for a start, without first being compelled to engage in economic activities, or in filling in forms of some description in the growing Government bureaucracies, meets with widespread opposition.
Both Communist and non-Communist Governments are in complete agreement on a policy of "Full Employment" as the only means through which the individual is entitled to life. And as every policy must derive from a philosophy, it is clear, as a number of outstanding Western thinkers have pointed out that although the West is referred to as the free world, it is progressively retreating from freedom. Lip service is still paid to freedom in the Western world, but in fact the individual is being increasingly subjected to centralised direction of all aspects of his life. Many express concern at the effects of this centralised direction but at the same time endorse the policy of "Full Employment" which makes these effects inevitable.
The Anglican Archbishop of York, (England) in his book. The Church of England Today, points out that the modern, planned industrial society takes "responsibility and incentive from individuals who soon feel that they are impotent in a mass-organised society which provides for their livelihood, arranges their work, and caters for their amusement.. . The result is dangerous, for the individual loses the power of independent judgment . . . We are drifting toward the formation of a mass society in which the individual becomes submerged."
Similar statements have been made by other leading Churchmen, but the Christian flocks are given no guidance on policies necessary to prevent the development of the mass society. Christian chaplains in industry may help minimise some of the effects of the mass society but can make no basic contribution to the growing threat to individual freedom and the human personality so long as it is accepted that the
economic system exists, not to provide the individual with the production he requires with the minimum of human time and energy, but to keep him at work. The unfortunate fact must be faced that Christians generally, who should be more concerned about making freedom a reality than other people, share the widespread fear of leisure. Whether or not this fear can be overcome will be one of the decisive factors in the ultimate outcome of the clash between two philosophies: that of freedom and that of totalitarianism. When we consider the efforts by large numbers of people to gain economic independence for life by purchasing tickets in lotteries or by guessing the number of goals football teams will kick, it does appear contradictory that there is such general fear of leisure. But it is significant that individuals are not afraid of having economic independence and leisure for themselves. There have been no recorded instances where any of those winning a substantial lottery or football pool have refused to take the prize because they have been afraid of having leisure time! In fact surveys taken of those winning big lottery prizes reveal that very few have used their money foolishly.
No, people do not fear leisure for themselves. It is the other fellow they are concerned about. The purpose of this paper is to make an examination of the basic causes of the fear of leisure and to indicate how the re-orientation of society towards a policy of increasing leisure and freedom for the individual may be obtained. It is essential for our examination that we first clearly define our meaning of the two words "Leisure" and "Work." Words are one of the principal media through which individuals attempt to convey their ideas to one another, and even when there is no conscious attempt to pervert the meaning of words in order to distort the conception of reality, it is easy for different people to obtain different ideas from the same word. Defining leisure Leisure to many people conjures up a picture of passive idleness. The very fact that many people are repulsed by the thought of individuals being little more than vegetables, neither engaging in any physical activities nor in conscious thought or contemplation indicates that the normal man, no matter how much he may have been depersonalised by an environment which stifles his individual initiative, is basically creative. We can term a man of leisure as one who possesses sufficient economic independence to enable him to choose how he shall express and develop his creative powers. A man of leisure does not have his activity, whatever form it may take, forced upon him. We can therefore define leisure as free, voluntary or unenforced activity in contrast with forced activity, which we call Work or Labour. Defining Work In order to clarify still further our conception of Leisure, we do need to look a little closer at what we mean by work. Douglas pointed out that physically there is no basic difference between one man expending energy in playing football and another man expending energy in some economic activity. But there is a tremendous psychological difference. The man playing football is prepared to put up with a great deal of
physical discomfort, even risking injury, without any offer of material reward, simply because he is acting voluntarily. He enjoys expending his energy in this way. But the man working in a factory may be there only under the compulsion of obtaining a financial income with which to purchase the necessities of life. It cannot be pointed out too often that the normal man is creative and, if freed to do so, will express his creativeness in accordance with his natural abilities and desires. The individual desires not so much to be employed, or "set to work," as to be able to seek his own employment.
In his address entitled The Approach to Reality, Douglas said: "Most people prefer to be employed - but on the things they like rather than on the things they don't like to be employed upon. The proposals of Social Credit are in no sense intended to produce a nation of idlers - and would not. There never was a more ridiculous piece of misrepresentation than to say that as a class the rich are idle. They may be wrongly employed, but they are not idle. The danger to the world does not come from the idle rich - it comes from the busy rich. "No. Social Credit would not produce idlers: it would allow people to allocate themselves to those jobs to which they are suited. A job you do well is a job you like, and a job you like is a job you do well. Under Social Credit you would begin to tap the amazing efficiency inseparable from enforced labour, and the efficiency of the whole industrial system would go up." While many will readily grasp that the man possessing free time can develop himself through physical activities of his own choosing, it is easy to overlook the important fact that a man with leisure may also develop himself through contemplation. This important aspect of the subject has been dealt with beautifully in the following extract from Professor Thomas Robertson's great work, Human Ecology: "To expand the individuality ... is the chief end of man, but growth in reality requires proper conditions, such as are almost unattainable in Occidental society, where visible activity alone is a measure of efficiency. This is evident from the common English idiom about 'doing nothing." Thus, to sit and feast the eyes on nature is 'doing nothing.' One of the most serious sources of human dissatisfaction today is the confounding of physical inactivity with inaction. Unless we are to admit the need for 'doing nothing,' we dethrone the human and make man no better than a beast of burden. Life becomes futile the moment we forget the end of existence, and permit activity for any other end, or even for its own sake. This is precisely what, in ever-increasing degree, the financial mechanism imposes on us. Life becomes an empty round of doing things, which are meaningless. In Upton Sinclair's description, 'We go to work to earn the cash to buy the bread to get the strength to go to work to earn the cash to buy the bread,' and so on. "To live properly, it is the significance of experience, even of the humblest and most commonplace, which is of vital importance to man. This significance cannot be grasped without time and opportunity. Putting it another way, we are so busy doing things that we have no time to utilise experience. The pace is too hot. Leisure is rightly understood as free time from occupation. It is commonly used for purposes of play and sport, but there is another variety of use, which assumes importance as maturity and age approach. It is contemplative leisure, which is the unique human technique of browsing on events, of chewing the cud of experience, to digest out the
virtue of living. It is the tragedy of European and American culture that in it there is no place for contemplative leisure, which, far from being a doing of nothing, is a doing of the one thing which pre-eminently separates man from animals. At one end it is a simple turning over of events in quiet seclusion. At the other it represents the highest activity of man in contemplation of 'reality.' It is a phase of creative quiescence, the very antithesis of inactivity, which is vital to human welfare and satisfaction. It represents the solitary aspect of development in distinction to all other phases of activity which are best carried out in fellowship with others."
In examining the fears which prevent the acceptance of increasing leisure, it may appear waste of time and merely perverse to suggest that there is a fear of scarcity at a time when there is talk once again of "over-production" and automation. But it is true that there is still a deep, subconscious fear in the mind of man that the threat of scarcity is never far away and still a reality. Man's history does partly account for this fear. There have been approximately 7000 years of recorded human history and it is only one-seventieth of that time since Faraday invented the dynamo and the industrial revolution got under way. Insidious propaganda keeps alive the idea that life is a permanent and grim struggle, and that any widespread leisure must inevitably lead to decadence and disaster. History is perverted to attempt to show how leisured classes in the past became "soft" and passed under the control of vigorous barbarians. No reference is made to the fact that leisured classes and the civilisations they helped build were destroyed by policies of financial and economic centralism. The class-war propaganda of the Communists and Socialists, which insists that those enjoying a degree of economic independence only do so at the expense of the poor, also helps create the impression that there is a limited amount of real wealth and that there must be a levelling down. The idea of leisure and economic independence for the individual is repugnant to the Communist, who is dominated by the false doctrine that "Labour produces all wealth." The Communist is at one with the puritan who preaches that work is "good" for the individual. A number of competent observers of Russian society have commented upon the dominating puritan atmosphere.
Fear reinforced by finanial polices The subconscious fear of scarcity is strongly reinforced by present economic and financial policies, which foster economic sabotage on so vast a scale that most people are unaware that much of the activity in which they are engaged is unnecessary and robs them of potential leisure. The very complexities of the system make it difficult for the individual to realise that what he thinks is most essential is in reality nothing but a waste of precious human lives and a squandering of economic resources. Think of the thousands engaged in fantastic advertising, much of it designed to stimulate support for the ever-changing models in motor cars, washing machines, refrigerators and other mechanical appliances. All this feverish activity is designed to
"make work." Even women must in increasing numbers leave their homes to enter the production system. Economic "experts" now state that it is "impractical" for women to stay at home; the production system would collapse without their services.
As Douglas pointed out, the perversion of technological development merely resulted in more work being done, not in the freeing of the individual. The urgent appeals for still greater increases in production ignore the fundamental question of whether the increased economic activity does serve the genuine requirements of the individual or whether it is part of a never-ending programme of making work. It is undoubtedly true that many do find some satisfaction in the unnecessary activities in which they are engaged. The transport engineer striving to solve the problem of moving an increasing number of people to and from their places of work considers that he is spending his time and using his talents creatively. And there can be no logical quarrel with this attitude so long as no questions are asked concerning the alleged necessity for moving people and production around. Enormous numbers of very competent people are harnessed up dealing with effects. Until there is sufficient clarification of the perversion of means into ends in the economic field, it will always be difficult to present to people the vision of the Leisure Society that is physically impossible. The perversion of the money system and the misrepresentation of the true nature of money have also had such a deep psychological impact upon most people that, even when there is some grasp of economic realities, they shrink from the prospect of receiving money without first participating in some form of economic activity. While it is true that there has been a widespread exposure of the Money Myth over the past 40 years, nevertheless the belief still persists amongst large numbers of people that money of itself is important. In his Policy of a Philosophy, Douglas pointed out that most policies today "have no relationship to Christianity." "Our policy, " (i.e., the Western world's) he said, "so far as it can be defined ... is related philosophically to the adulation of money. Money is an abstraction. Money is a thing of no value whatever. Money is nothing but an accounting system. Money is nothing worthy of our attention at all, but we base the whole of our actions, the whole of our policy, on the pursuit of money; and the consequence is, of course, that we become the prey of mere abstractions . . .." The great Francis Bacon appealed for a just relationship between the mind and things. It is because there is no such just relationship today that the worship of abstractionism, which prevents the emergence of reality, is so prevalent. One of Christ's major crimes in the eyes of Jewish Sanhedrin was that He attacked the religious abstractionism, which had been developed to the stage where it took precedence over the real needs of individuals. It is not money that is the root of all evil, but the love of money. The reference to the love of money is a condemnation of the worship of abstractionism, as was Christ's famous statement that it is impossible to worship both God and Mammon. So long as the worship of the abstraction money continues and its true nature is obscured, there will be fear of any proposal to pay individuals a financial dividend in order that they may enjoy genuine independence and leisure.
Directly linked to the worship of the abstraction money is the carefully-fostered idea that "something for nothing" is morally bad for the individual - and, of course, can only be obtained at the expense of other individuals. One of the fundamental philosophical cleavages between Christianity and Judaism concerns this very question. Judaism repudiates the Christian conception of unearned grace - and criticism of "something for nothing," so widely prevalent amongst those who call themselves Christians, demonstrates the powerful influence of the very philosophy which Christ challenged. Douglas related how a Jewish millionaire stated that Social Credit financial proposals would save Western Civilization, but that that Civilization was not worth saving. It is not without significance that a number of historians have drawn attention to the fact that there are many striking similarities between Judaism and Marxism. The Christian God is one of love Whose abundant Universe offers the life more abundant. The philosophy underlying the doctrine that "Labour produces all wealth" logically elevates man into his own God and infers that he alone is responsible for the basis of life. But the truth is that, to use Douglas's words, "The laws of the universe transcend human thinking. ' If these laws are discovered and obeyed, they provide the individual with increasing freedom. The truths of the Universe are gifts to the individual: "something for nothing." Man is an heir to a heritage, which his forefathers built up by their discovery and application of the truths of the universe. Rejection of this fundamental fact is one of the major barriers to the creation of the Leisure State. It is appropriate that we mention here that, contrary to what might be reasonably expected, the modern Trade Union movement has both directly and indirectly opposed the leisure idea. Instead of demanding that "the wages of the machine" by paid to the individual who can be displaced by technological advances, Trade Union leaders have consistently attacked both profits and the dividends arising out of profits. They fear the independence, which an extension of the dividend system would bring.
Douglas drew attention to this matter in Social Credit, in which he said: "Now it is fair to say that Labour leaders are, although they may not consciously know it amongst the most valuable assets of the financial control of industry - are, in fact, almost indispensable to that control; and the reason for this is not far to seek. They do not speak as representatives of individuals; they speak, as they are never tired of explaining, as the representatives of Labour, and the more Labour there is, the more they represent. It is natural that employment should be represented by them as being the chief interest of man: as the representatives of the employed, their importance is enhanced thereby."
The insistence upon forced work as the only means to a financial income makes the production system an instrument of government. High-sounding references to the alleged virtues of work cannot completely mask the fact that the economic system, dominated by financial policy, has been developed into a system through which the will-to-power of those controlling policy is expressed. Those seeking complete power over all others fear leisure and independence more than anyone else. There is
adequate evidence to indicate that it is those seeking complete power that foster and encourage all the other fears, which prevent the realisation of leisure. The deliberate elevation of the production system into a system of control, and the consequent subordination of the individual to functionalism, is a manifestation of the growing dominance of the philosophy of materialism and collectivism.
The situation is a deadly challenge to Christianity and the Christian Church. The Church could and must give a lead to remove the fear of leisure by stating in unequivocal terms the true purpose of man and his systems. If it is prepared to stand passively by and allow the growing knowledge of God's gifts and truths, as demonstrated by the growth of automation, to be described as a "problem," then the victory of the anti-Christ is certain. If the Church believes that freedom is indispensable for the moral and spiritual growth of the individual, then it should be giving an authoritative lead by insisting that the individual be permitted full access to his heritage of leisure. There are, of course, legitimate grounds for the view that a too sudden access to leisure and economic independence may result in some undesirable developments. We all know that the habits of some of the new rich are not very pleasant, a fact which Social Credit recognises. But if we accept the Christian view of man, that he must express his sovereignty through himself, and not through others, then a start must be made towards placing him in the position where he can develop that sovereignty. The Welfare State is undoubtedly the most insidious barrier to the creation of a society of genuinely free, independent individuals, because it guarantees the individual a minimum of the material requirements of life in exchange for the loss of freedom of choice, the only real freedom. The much-publicised Four Freedoms are provided in any prison. In some American prisons today prisoners are given the best possible food, entertainment is provided, they can earn money at some trade, and even sexual intercourse with their wives is permitted. The question then arises, "Well, what constitutes the punishment in these prisons?" And the answer is that work, play and breeding is all done at the behest of those who have sovereignty over the prisoners. The real punishment is the lack of free choice.
Man does not live by bread alone. It is what free time the individual possesses after providing bread, and what he does with that time that is important. Increasing leisure for self-development and the spiritualising of his life is today possible for all individuals. Is fear going to be used to deny man his God-given heritage? No real Christian can ignore this issue. How, then, can fear of leisure be overcome? The brief answer is the application of the Christian teaching concerning love. The foundation of Christian teaching is love. The tremendous implications of this teaching have unfortunately been blurred by the modern mania for sex, which many people mistake as the same thing as love. The Christian teaching is that "Perfect love casteth out fear." The Social Credit policy of growing leisure and financial dividends for all is based
upon this type of love. It is a policy stemming from love of, and faith in, one's fellow human beings. It is the antithesis of policies based upon fear of what one's fellows would do if they had genuine leisure.
To fear leisure for others is a manifestation of distrust; it denies the divine nature of man.
A society whose members were dominated by the Christian conception of love would be transformed into one in which individuals would freely and voluntarily associate in expanding leisure for all in order that they could know God, love God, and serve Him more completely.