SOCIAL ART

 

For poets, playwrights, craftspeople, actors and novelists the concept of economic democracy through social credit possessed immediate appeal. Lack of financial security has been an incessant impediment to artistic endeavour. Names associated with the social credit movement include Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, Herbert Read, Storm Jameson, William Carlos Williams, James Laughlin (American publisher), Charlie Chaplin, Eimar O’Duffy, Aldous Huxley, Sybil Thorndike and Bonamy Dobrée. Involvement included the authorship of articles and pamphlets, and organisational activities.

 

Below is a selection of writings from this body of literature.

 

'The Machine Stops' (1909) by E.M. Forster

In his novella The Machine Stops, Forster (1879-1970) identifies a social phenomenon which appears in a number of fictional dystopias of the twentieth century. The ‘Machine’, like ‘Big Brother’, or the shadowy authority behind the Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning’ (DHC) governs human relationships whilst remaining beyond human comprehension or control. The full text is available here.   

 

Pearls of Wisdom 1 by William Dobson

'Thoughts can be as poisonous as dangerous drugs. You may, if negative in a single hour, or by being in the company of persons whose minds are full of envy, jealousy, cynicism or despondency, absorb a literally poisonous element of thought, full of disease.' 

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Pearls of Wisdom 2 by William Dobson

'The cultivation of habits of cheerfulness and emotional conditions of a hopeful, optimistic and cheerful mind, have a powerful influence in the building up of a healthy body and the production of happiness. Every mental activity creates a definite chemical change in the body, so that if our thoughts are wholesome and healthy, we are constantly made better by them.'

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          Writings of Eimar O'Duffy

          The Goshawk Trilogy

          Social credit provided the central theme of Eimar O'Duffy's mythical science-fiction fantasy trilogy. Published in three volumes, it is a           comic indictment of politics and economics in the contemporary world. Read more...

 Below are excerpts and whole texts from this trilogy.

King Goshawk

King Goshawk and the Birds (1926)

Extracts from the first book of Eimar O’Duffy’s Trilogy can be read here, with accompanying Commentary. Here, and in Asses in Clover, O'Duffy takes up the theme of the futility of waste and war in the twentieth century.

Spacious Adventures

The Spacious Adventures of the Man in the Street (1928)

The complete text of the second book of O'Duffy's trilogy is available here

Asses in Clover

Asses in Clover (1933)

The full version of the book can be read from here.

Commentary to 'Asses in Clover by Frances Hutchinson

                 Social Credit in the Twentieth Century

The cataclysmic events of the First World War (1914-1918) shaped the lives of artists, writers, poets, men of letters and ordinary people during the inter-war years. A generation of young men, of all trades, professions and backgrounds, had gone off to war in their thousands under the impression that they were embarking on an adventure which would last a matter of weeks. The four traumatic years of the ‘War to End All Wars’ left survivors emotionally stunned. (See Links page for War Poetry Website) “Our power of feeling or caring beyond immediate questions of our own material well-being is temporarily eclipsed”, observed John Maynard Keynes in 1920.

In his autobiography, Insanity Fair, the journalist Douglas Reed paints a powerful picture of his personal experiences during and after the First World War. Like so many young men of his generation, he went off to war in 1918 when he was just 19 years old. As an international journalist moving between the capital cities of Europe in the 1920s and 1930s, he struggled to comprehend the course of events, writing his recollections as the Second World War approached. By 1945, Insanity Fair had run to fifty-two impressions.

The twentieth century financial system which made the First World War feasible was the subject of comprehensive study by Clifford Hugh Douglas. Despite Douglas’ analysis of the relationship between finance and real-world policy formation, throughout the inter-war years financial policies leading inevitably to poverty amidst plenty and further warfare were persistently adopted. Subsequently, the worldwide Social Credit movement which arose during the 1920s and 1930s was systematically airbrushed out of public memory. The vast body of literature on the subject of Social Credit is documented elsewhere on this website.

The Social Credit debate was supported by a wide variety of poetry, fictional and autobiographical writing, much of which is currently being made available again, in print or electronically. Eimar O’Duffy’s Goshawk Trilogy, King Goshawk and the Birds, The Spacious Adventures of the Man in the Street, and Asses in Clover illuminates the lunacy of maintaining outdated and irrelevant economic theory as a guide to practical policy formation.   

  Other Literature

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Visioning the Sustainable City by Bill Hopwood and Mary Mellor

Published in Capitalism, Nature, Socialism.

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'Taking the Bottles Back' by Sue Townsend

Taken from Chatto Counterblasts No.9 Mr Bevan's Dream, Sue Townsend 1989

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AFTERWORD to George Orwell’s 1984 by Erich Fromm

1984 is more than a satire of total barbarism. "It means us, too," says Erich Fromm in his Afterword. It is not merely a political novel but also a diagnosis of the deepest alienation in the mind of Organisation Man.

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'Creed or Chaos?'

Address delivered by Dorothy L. Sayers at the Biennial Festival of the
Church Tutorial Classes Association in
Derby, May 4th, 1940

WORK
The unsacramental attitude of modern society to man and matter is probably closely connected with its unsacramental attitude to work. The Church is a good deal to blame for having connived at this. From the eighteenth Century onwards, she has tended to acquiesce in what I may call the " industrious apprentice" view of the matter: " Work hard and be thrifty, and God will bless you with a contented mind and a competence." This is nothing but enlightened self-interest in its vulgarest form, and plays directly into the hands of the monopolist and the financier. Nothing has so deeply discredited the Christian Church as her squalid submission to the economic theory of society. The burning question of the Christian attitude to money is being so eagerly debated nowadays that it is scarcely necessary to do more than remind ourselves that the present unrest, both in Russia and in Central Europe, is an immediate judgment upon a financial system that has subordinated man to economics, and that no mere readjustment of economic machinery will have any lasting effect if it keeps man a prisoner inside the machine. Complete text.

Poems

The Banker and Economist' by Eimar O'Duffy (1933)

'Our Problem and a Solution' by Bob Harvey (2008)

                'Legalized Usury' by Peter Maurin

Monopoly  

More than thirty years before Parker Brothers brought their version of Monopoly onto the market in 1935, the Landlord's Game was invented to teach alternative economic thought. The full story has been traced back to Abraham Lincoln, the Quakers and a forgotten feminist named Lizzie Magie. Here is the UK version of the Landlord's Game from which the game of Monopoly was developed. The Playing Board (see link) can be printed out and assembled for play. 

Click here to access this game.