50 Years Ago: The Douglas Scheme

From the days of Marx and Engels, Socialists have pointed out that the improvements in the instruments of production, added to the continual increase in the applications of science and discoveries to industry, were resulting in the means of production out-running the effective demand for and consumption of markets. The periodical crises of the nineteenth century that resulted from these facts brought forward various “remedies”, many of a financial character . . . But the great favourite idea was the one of supplying “cheap” credit to the small producer or capitalist who was being beaten in competition by the large capitalist. As this “credit” could not—for obvious reasons—be obtained through the usual financial channels, the municipality or the State was called upon to supply it.

The work now under consideration is one of these attempts to save capitalism from catastrophe by means of “credit” manipulation. This statement may surprise those members of the ILP etc. who have been mystified by its confused exposition into supposing that its object was to provide a scheme to benefit or even to emancipate the workers. In fairness to the author it must be stated that he makes no such claim himself, for while he says capitalism is breaking down, he proposes the scheme to save society from crashing into chaos. The workers are to remain workers and the capitalists are to continue to be capitalists.

(From a review by J. Fitzgerald of Credit-Power and Democracy, Major C. H. Douglas, Socialist Standard, December 1924.)