Sunday, 13 July 2008

Social Credit and Existentialism

By: Socred - B.A., SCMP

The opening to the Social Crediter states that this journal is for “Political and Economic Realism”. The purpose of this essay is to demonstrate that the philosophy of Social Credit is not Realism, where truth is defined as conformity of thought with being. But that Social Credit is for “Political and Economic Existentialism”, where truth is “an objective uncertainty held fast in an appropriation-process of the most passionate inwardness”(Soren Kierkegaard, Concluding Unscientific Postscript pge. 182). It is my view that Social Crediters adopted the philosophy of Realism in opposition to the philosophy of Idealism, thereby erroneously believing that they had overcome abstractionist thought. However; as Kierkegaard said, "let ideality and reality be in conflict forever and a day - as long as there is no consciousness, no interest, no consciousness that has an interest in this struggle, there is no doubt - but let them be reconciled, and doubt can continue just as actively." (Soren Kierkegaard, Philosophical Fragments) Ideality and reality will never be reconciled in human consciousness where the possibility of doubt exists. In reality, realism does not negate abstractionist thought, but is merely another form of it.

"All progress in the world, and in some ways the world has unquestionably made progress, has been achieved by the recognition of the TRUTH, and the reason that so little progress has been made in the solution of social problems is, to my mind, because in this sphere alone truth has been ignored or denied." (Speech by Major C.H. Douglas at "The New Age" Dinner, March 18, 1933.) But what is the truth? If the truth is defined as conformity of thought with being, then the truth becomes an approximation-process that can never be completed in time. This is due to the fact that “all understanding comes after the fact”. (Soren Kierkegaard, Concluding Unscientific Postscript pge 108) However; the individual is always in the process of becoming and as such is always incomplete. For the existing individual, there can be no finality. With this in mind, “then it will be evident that the idea of a persistent striving is the only view of life that does not carry with it an inevitable disillusionment. (Soren Kierkegaard, Concluding Unscientific Postscript pge 110) The idea that truth is conformity of thought with being must inevitably bring disillusionment as we are forever waiting for “the truth to be revealed”. The TRUTH that Douglas refers to cannot be defined by philosophical Realism, but must be something else, since Douglas, and Social Crediters, would not want us to be disillusioned.

Douglas said that;“Systems were made for men, and not men for systems, and the interest of man which is self development, is above all systems, whether theological, political or economic.”(C.H. Douglas “Economic Democracy” pge 18). In my opinion, this statement is the essence of Social Credit philosophy and contradicts the tenets of Realism, because “the systemic Idea is the identity of subject and object, the unity of thought and being. Existence, on the other hand, is their separation. It does not by any means follow that existence is thoughtless; but it has brought about, and brings about, a separation between subject and object, thought and being. (Soren Kierkegaard, Concluding Unscientific Postscript pge 112) If Social Credit is for Realism, and the idea that the truth is conformity of thought with being, or subject and object, then men must be made for systems, since the essence of the systemic Idea is conformity of thought with being. In other words, we must either accept the idea that the philosophy of Social Credit is Realism, and reject that systems were made for men, or we must reject the philosophy of Realism, and look for the truth somewhere else. "An existential system cannot be formulated. Does this mean that no such system exists? By no means; nor is this implied in our assertion. Reality itself is a system - for God; but it cannot be a system for any existing spirit. System and finality correspond to one another, but existence is precisely the opposite of finality." (Soren Kierkegaard, Concluding Unscientific Postscript pge 107) Realism, and the finality of the correspondence between thought and being exists for God, but cannot exist for us spirits who exists in time, and are always in the process of becoming.

What is it to exist as a spirit? "Spirit is creative initiative." (Why I am a Social Crediter, Bryan Monahan pge. 9), and further, "spirit is inwardness, inwardness is subjectivity, subjectivity is essentially passion, and in its maximum an infinite, personal, passionate interest in one's eternal happiness." (Concluding Unscientific Postscript pge 33) Therefore, spirit is not a form of objective knowledge which is essentially dispassionate, but is the ultimate form of passion for one's own eternal happiness. Man is essentially creative, and his creativity is a result of his passions. All systems seek to control man's passions, to destroy his creative nature, so that he may fit into the system. "It is, you see, a "live" problem, a spiritual problem, which is a conclusion that we Social Crediters have to some extent avoided, for the reason that, as a class, we possess that trained cast of mind that is intensely apprehensive of emotional excess." (Social Credit and the Christian Ethic Norman F. Webb) In other words, it is an "existential" problem, and a spiritual problem, which is something that the objective mind finds repulsive. This is not to say there is no value in scientific or "objective" knowledge. "No, all honor to the pursuits of science, and all honor to everyone who assists in driving the cattle away from the sacred precincts of scholarship. But the ethical is and remains the highest task for every human being. One may ask even of the devotee of science that he should acquire an ethical understanding of himself before he devotes himself to scholarship, and that he should continue to understand himself ethically while immersed in his labours; because the ethical is the very breath of the eternal, and constitutes even in solitude the reconciling fellowship with all men." (Soren Kierkegaard, Concluding Unscientific Postscript pge 136) The scientist is not dispassionate about his work (one would hope!), even if he must not let his passions interfere with his observations or judgement. The doctor seeks a cure for cancer because he is passionate about saving lives! Douglas made observations in regards to economics and the monetary system because he wanted to better mankind! It is first and foremost an ethical decision which brings doctors to seek a cure for cancer, or brings Douglas to seek a better understanding of the monetary system.

The ethical decision is made by individuals through free will, and our ability to choose between good and evil. As Douglas said, "freedom is the ability to choose or refuse one thing at a time". Ethical man is constantly in the process of choosing between good and evil as he exists in time. Socialists believe that man is essentially evil, and will choose evil unless bound by the "laws" of an imposed system. This belief is also expressed in the theology of Puritanism. "Puritanism, as I said, is of the devil, clothing the very deepest and darkest passion of the human mind--the impulse to dominate over one's fellow mortals--in a moral disguise" Social Credit and the Christian Ethic Norman F. Webb) Social Crediters believe that man is essentially good, and given the freedom and subsequent responsibility to choose between good and evil, man will generally choose to do good. As Douglas said, it is " the object of Christ, to permit the emergence of self-governing, self-conscious individuals, exercising free will, and choosing good because it is good." (C.H. Douglas The Realistic Position of the Church of England) In order to maximize the good decisions that responsible individuals will make, we must allow them freedom to exercise their will, and make them responsible for the decisions that they make. Economic and political systems must first serve the individual, for the individual must never exist to serve the system. "The fundamental idea underlying Social Credit is that the community exists for the sake of the individual; that the development of industrial organization is for the sake of freeing the individual to the maximum practical extent from occupying his time in working in order to exist." (Bryan Monahan, “Why I am a Social Crediter”) It is individuals who comprise the community, and if they are making choices which are good for themselves, then generally these choices will be good for the community at large. If the existing individual is the vehicle through which good and evil comes into the world, we must seek the truth in the individual, and not in the objective correspondence between idea and being which exists only in God.

What is the truth? This question could not even be asked if it were not for the possible existence of untruth. It is human consciousness that brings the question of truth into existence because the essence of knowledge is doubt. However; doubt itself cannot lead to the truth, but only the question of the truth. Descartes' doubt led him to conclude "I think therefore I am", but this in an inversion of reality and the essence of idealism, for in reality "I am therefore I think". Truth is not to be found in doubt, but in existence itself. "For since it is a fact that the nearest the human mind and language can get to a statement of Truth is a paradox -- "For whosoever will save his life, shall lose it," and many others -- it is quite probable that the approach to a practical problem, even our very actions themselves, may require to be in a sense paradoxical in order to be sound. (Social Credit and the Christian Ethic Norman F. Webb) Because humans can never be the conformity of thought with being, any statement of Truth must appear to be a paradox, because the truth is not objectively known, but subjectively lived. "Inwardness in an existing subject culminates in passion; corresponding to passion in the subject the truth becomes a paradox; and the fact that the truth becomes a paradox is rooted precisely in its having a relationship to an existing subject." ( Soren Kierkegaard, Concluding Unscientific Postscript pge 178) The truth is that man is an ethical being who exists in time, meaning that the conformity between thought and being can never be resolved within him; however, through free will he is forced to choose between good and evil in a passionate embrace through faith that Truth is a paradox. The ultimate form of this paradox is that God, the eternal, existed in time in the persona of Jesus Christ. The doctrine of Incarnation is what presents itself as an absurdity to the Greeks and an offense to the Jews. “It is not too much to say that one of the root ideas through which Christianity comes into conflict with the conceptions of the Old Testament and the ideals of the pre-Christians era, is in respect of this dethronement of abstractionism.” (C.H. Douglas, Social Credit pge 22) The dethronement of abstractionism is not found in the conformity of thought with being, which is the essence of the systemic Idea, but in existence itself which holds that the truth is "an objective uncertainty held fast in an appropriation-process of the most passionate inwardness, the highest truth attainable for an existing individual." ( Soren Kierkegaard, Concluding Unscientific Postscript pge 182)

Realism, or the idea that truth is the conformity of thought with being, is, ironically, unrealistic because it can only be realized by God. Existentialism, which concludes that conformity of thought and being can never be realized for an existing individual, is more realistic than the philosophy of Realism. Social Credit, in order to protect itself from rationalization of the system, and to uphold the belief than systems were made for men, must reject the philosophy of realism, and accept the philosophy of existentialism, because "an existential system cannot be formulated"( Soren Kierkegaard, Concluding Unscientific Postscript pge 107). Idealism, which seeks the conformity of reality with thought, and realism, which seeks the conformity of thought with reality are in essence two sides of the same coin, and both are the essence of the systemic Ideal. I believe that existentialism, which rejects all systemic thought, and begins with the questions of what it is to exist as a human consciousness in time is in actuality the beginning point for a Social Credit philosophy, because in essence it represents the ideals of the society Social Credit seeks to create which is that systems were made for man.