There is an interesting discussion taking place amongst Social Crediters and while it centres on Oliver Heydorn’s recently published a book “Social Credit Philosophy”, it raises interesting questions for the serious student.
Readers might like to consider the following for themselves:
J.S. writes: The purpose of the book is to put Douglas’ philosophy in one treatise on the subject. In this regard, Oliver Heydorn does an admirable job.
Anyone who has read Douglas’ works knows that he only touches on the subject of philosophy, and all of his writings on the subject are scattered throughout his works. Oliver does a tremendous job pulling all of this together into a coherent whole. As such, any serious student of Social Credit needs to read this book.
Douglas referred to Social Credit as “the policy of a philosophy”. As such, you would think that the philosophy of Social Credit would be front and centre in any of Douglas’ books or articles. On the contrary, Douglas seems to ever only mention it in passing and scattered about in segments of his works. I believe that this is because, as Oliver points out, that Douglas was really dis(un)covering his philosophical beliefs as he proceeded.
It has been said (by B. R.) that Douglas was an exceptionally intuitive thinker, but if I have a criticism of Douglas’ works [it] is that they are not laid out in a deductive, logical manner. Because of this fact, many erroneous beliefs and statements about Douglas’ ideas have been put forward even by followers of the man.
I want to touch on a point that I believe Douglas was erroneous, or at least Oliver’s interpretation of that point is erroneous (I believe the former, and actually believe that Oliver interprets it correctly, and it is in fact Douglas who is wrong).
In the book, Oliver states that “that which is moral is that which works best”. But is this true? If my object is to kill as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time, then that which works best is to detonate a nuclear device on a heavily populated area. Is that moral? Or does morality operate at a higher plane in that it first determines the correct course of action, and that which works best to get to that objective is merely the best way to achieve morality? I believe that the subject of morality transcends mere engineering discoveries of what is the best method to obtain an objective. It is morality that determines what objective we ought to follow. The best method of achieving an objective does not determine the objective itself, but is merely a secondary question…”
Wallace Klinck responded:
“His concepts of “moral” and “good” were clearly related to man’s degree of success in understanding and relating to the Logos, being the body of law which governs the universe. He assumed that there is such cosmic law and that we as humans can only seek and achieve an increased, if imperfect, understanding of it. To the extent that we do discover and adhere to the Logos we will prosper. That is realism.
On the question of intuition I believe that B. R. was certainly correct in his expressed opinion that Douglas was an exceptionally intuitive thinker. Douglas himself mentioned that some insights seem to come as a seemingly instantaneous flash of awareness. This introduces the question of the nature of intuition. Does man think creatively by virtue of his own mortal cognitive powers or is he or she the recipient of imparted knowledge? That is, is the mind of man merely a conduit for the mind of God—the Mind of the Maker? In reality do we receive knowledge from external inspiration and have only the ability to process or utilize it? Ask and ye shall receive. Does man actually create or merely receive? Let no man boast. Something, perhaps, for the Marxists and Libertarians, whose creed is salvation through works, to ponder.”
Moral Code and/or Moral Law
Betty Luks: I would like to add to this discussion. When once speaking with Geoffrey and Elizabeth Dobbs they spoke of the time when Douglas was writing “Economic Democracy”. They explained that, just as along the lines that Wallace Klinck described, “Douglas himself mentioned that some insights seem to come as a seemingly instantaneous flash of awareness”.
Wallace also mentions “The Mind of the Maker” - Dorothy L. Sayers wrote a book with the same name. In the chapter “The Laws of Nature and Opinion”, she writes of two distinct meanings attached to the word “law”. The following is ‘cherry picked’ from her book:
1. Arbitrary Law: An arbitrary regulation made by human consent in particular circumstances and capable of being promulgated, enforced, suspended, etc., without interference with the general scheme of the universe.
Such laws can prescribe that certain events shall follow upon certain others; but the second event is not a necessary consequence of the first.
As an example, if an Australian was to marry two wives at once, there would be a legal sanction – but only if he is found out; there is no necessary causal connection between over-indulgence of matrimony and the legal sanction.
Arbitrary law is possessed of valid authority provided it observes two conditions:-
1. Public opinion shall strongly endorse the law.
2. Arbitrary law shall not run counter to the law of nature.
That is, when the laws regulating human society come into collision with the nature of things, and in particular with the fundamental realities of human nature.
2. In its other use, the word “law” is used to designate a generalised statement of observed fact of one sort or another. Most of the so-called “laws of the nature” are of this kind: If you hold your finger in the fire it will be burnt”.
Such “laws” as these cannot be promulgated, altered, suspended or broken at will; they are not “laws” at all, in the sense that the laws of the nation are “laws”; they are statements of observed facts inherent in the nature of the universe.
In Whose Service is Perfect Freedom
But the word “law” is also applied to statements of observed fact of a rather different kind.
There is a universal moral law, as distinct from a moral code, which consists of certain statements of fact about the nature of man; and by behaving in conformity with which, man enjoys his true freedom. This is what the Christian Church calls “the natural law”.
Much confusion is caused in human affairs by the use of the same word “law” to describe these two things: an arbitrary code of behaviour based on a consensus of human opinion and a statement of unalterable fact about the nature of the universe.
At the back of the Christian moral code we find a number of pronouncements about the moral law, which are not regulations at all, but which purport to be statements of fact about man and the universe, and upon which the whole moral code depends for its authority and its validity in practice. These statements do not rest on human consent; they are either true or false. If they are true, man runs counter to them at his own peril. He may, of course, defy them, as he may defy the law of gravity by jumping off the Eiffel Tower, but he cannot abolish them by edict.
Regulations about doing no murder and refraining from theft and adultery belong to the moral code and are based on certain opinions held by Christians in common about the value of human personality. Such “laws” as these are not statements of fact, but rules of behaviour.
Societies which do not share Christian opinion about human values are logically quite justified in repudiating the code based upon that opinion. If, however, Christian opinion turns out to be right about the facts of human nature, then the dissenting societies are exposing themselves to that judgment of catastrophe which awaits those who defy the natural law.
The God of the Christians is too often looked upon as an old gentleman of irritable nerves who beats people for whistling. This is the result of a confusion between arbitrary “law” and the “laws” which are statements of fact. Breach of the first is “punished” by edict; but breach of the second, by judgment.
Scattered about the New Testament are other statements concerning the moral law, many of which bear a similar air of being arbitrary, harsh or paradoxical:
“Whosoever will save his life shall lose it”; “to him that hath shall be given, but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath”; “it must needs be that offences come, but woe unto that man by whom the offence cometh; “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God”; “it is better for thee to enter halt into life than having two feet to be cast into hell”, etc.
We may hear a saying such as these a thousand times, and find in it nothing but mystification and unreason; the thousand and first time, it falls into our recollection pat upon some vital experience, and we suddenly know it to be a statement of inexorable fact. The cursing of the barren fig-tree looks like an outburst of irrational bad temper, “for it was not yet the time of figs”; till some desperate crisis confronts us with the challenge of that acted parable and we know that we must perform impossibilities or perish.
Now I understand what C.H. Douglas meant when he answered that question, “What is moral?” by replying, “That which works best!”