‘THE ROAD TO WIGAN’ WAS/IS THE HELLISH COAL TOWN

     Michael Lane in his journal “Triumph of the Past” dealt with C.H. Douglas’ warnings about ‘large-scale planning’ in “Power and Freedom”.  People seem to have forgotten the Soviet economic policy was based on such ‘Large-Scale Planning’, ‘Five-Year Plans’, etc., and after seventy years of ‘planning’ was revealed to be an absolute disaster!

     In 1946 Douglas presented the direction the socialist government was then taking Britain symbolically as “Wigan,” the hellish coal-town:

“If a man, presently at Crewe, says he wishes to go to London [= Prosperity], and then insists on entering a carriage labeled Wigan, you will probably be tempted to call him, ‘incompetent’, ‘inefficient’ or some of the other words frequently heard in connection with the Socialist incumbents of our present governing system. . . . But you may be quite wrong.
The man may really have intended to go to Wigan, and have told you he was going in the other direction, to avoid argument as to the relative attractions of Wigan and London. . . . Taking their key words, ‘Full Employment’, ‘Austerity’ and ‘Unlimited Exports’, as signposts, it is not really difficult to see why the train is going to Wigan when you suppose that everyone wants it to go to London. . . ."

And Wigan?
     Wigan is merely Big Business as Government” (Development of World Dominion 148). Of course, today “Wigan” has had a makeover. In fact, it looks a lot like The Village in Patrick McGoohan’s marvelous sixties TV series, where every morning a wonderfully fresh and cheery female voice would announce over the public address system: “Good morning! It’s another BEAUTIFUL day!” Call it New Wigan.
If we don’t like where we are going, why are we going there? Britain had been moving steadily toward more centralized power for fifty years. Both the consistency of the facts over time in Britain and parallel facts in otherwise unlike countries (Germany, Russia, the United States) led Douglas to infer the existence of a Promoter. That is, if for centuries we never went to Wigan and never had the least interest in going to Wigan, then all of a sudden not only are we going there but we have no choice in the matter, it is reasonable to infer that someone wants to go to Wigan.

War is a puzzle just like Wigan.  "
     “I suppose that about two thousand millions of individuals are affected by the present war (1946…ed). I should place the number of individuals who would be quite unable to say with approximate accuracy what it is about at roughly nineteen hundred and ninety nine millions, so that we are left with this simple alternative. Either the total population of the world likes war without knowing what it is about; in which case it is obviously absurd to do anything to abolish it, or, on the other hand, we can find the causes of war if we examine the actions of a minority hidden amongst less than a million individuals” (Programme for the Third World War, p. 32).

Furthermore, War and Wigan are connected to one another:
     There is a quote that Douglas repeats over and over throughout these late writings, because he believes it to be a rare, unguarded self-revelation by the Promoter. It is taken from Planning, the journal of a research foundation, Political and Economic Planning, founded and directed by Israel Moses Sief. The quote comes from the year 1938 and reads as follows: “Only in war, or under threat of war, will the British nation embark on large-scale planning.”

Large-Scale Planning
     But how can Douglas object to large-scale planning as such? Aren’t the resident population’s objections to the water-power project met by the answer that they are failing to see the problem as a whole? Aren’t the reluctant Highlanders being narrow-minded and short-sighted? Mustn’t they be nudged along and even coerced if the common good requires it? Won’t this ultimately be best for everybody, including them? Isn’t that democracy? No, says Douglas! Democracy is the power of the resident population-a minority but the minority most concerned-to say, effectively, no:

“The only legitimate power (and properly exercised, it is immense) of a democracy, as such, is negative-it is almost comprised in the power to contract-out” (Development of World Dominion 60). The right to contract out is the right to dissociate oneself from positive projects and programs without penalty. It doesn’t apply to ordinary, negative, criminal law….”

In The Land for the Chosen People Douglas noted:
     “….  overtaxed farms are being displaced by mining operations: “Miners, very good fellows as they are, are not regarded with enthusiasm by farmers. They are inveterate trespassers and poachers; destroy fences, leave open gates, and produce an easily recognisable ‘ragged’ air to the countryside which is accentuated by the ‘planned’ neatness of many modern colliery villages. The sulphur smoke from the pit chimney hurts the crops. And of course, by the almost inevitable destruction of the amenities of the district, its general residential value becomes restricted to those connected with the working of minerals” (p. 11).  “Amongst many debts, mostly unacknowledged, which the countryside owes to the large landowner,” Douglas observes, “is its preservation, until he was dispossessed, from vandalism” (p. 36).

     Another instructive example is a Highland’s hydro-electric project that was under consideration in 1945.
Hydroelectric power was Douglas’s professional field. He writes as follows:
     “The natural Highland water-power is almost ideal for the utilisation of small, high-fall installations taking water from small streams at a high altitude, and returning it to its original bed several hundred feet lower down, without interfering in any way with the watershed or the local amenities. Such plants, rarely exceeding two or three hundred horsepower, under local control and possible in nearly every village, offer advantages to the local population obtainable in no other way. . . .
The Commission proposals are radically different. Whole catchment areas are to be monopolised, glens are to be flooded, villages submerged, immense dams and pipelines built, with secondary effects on climate and vegetation which are unknown but certainly considerable. . . . The electrical energy generated is transmitted at so high a voltage that its utilisation locally or en route is impracticable, and is in fact disclaimed.” (Brief for the Prosecution, p. 76)

He observes: 
     “The Report on which the proposals are based remarks ‘No vested interests will be permitted to interfere’ with them. That is to say, the proposals represent an over-riding policy which will be empowered by the sanctions of law to sweep existing vested interests out of its path. At the same time it is admitted that the objective is more power for factory industry, and notably the electro-chemical industry. Who committed the nation to that policy? When was it submitted to the judgment of the House of Commons? When, and by whom, was it decided that one vested interest is more important than several?

     It is symptomatic of the paralysis which has overtaken British thinking in the past fifty years that this phrase ‘vested interest’ which merely means stability of tenure, can appear in the Report of a Royal Commission, without amplification, as though it described a public evil. There is probably not an individual in the country whose waking hours are not largely devoted to acquiring a vested interest in something or other, even if it be only a tooth-brush.

     In fact, it is precisely those predatory aggressors on vested interests concerned with the monopolisation of Scottish water-power, and the industry for the use of which it is intended, which transform concentrated vested interests into a public danger. The widespread distribution of vested interests would be the greatest guarantee of social stability conceivable.

     This sweeping away of minor vested interests by a major vested interest is policy in action. But the policy is not defined and is carefully kept from Parliamentary discussion unless a nebulous connection with ‘full employment’ can be regarded as a definition. . . . The minor vested interests which are adversely affected are numerous. Perhaps the first in importance, although apparently the last to be considered, is the antipathy of the resident population” (Brief for the Prosecution, pp. 73-75)….” (emphasis added…ed)

IS THIS REALLY ‘THE END OF THE STORY’?
NIMBYS! REMEMBER FARMER GEORGE BENDER’S BATTLES?