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Newsletter No. 12 - June 2007

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CONTENTS

1. Gordon Brown: What will he do as Britain's new PM?

2. US Monetary Reform - Richard C. Cook's Emergency Program and the American Monetary Institute

3. Quarterly Review Re-launched

4. "Who & What Is Peter Cadogan?"

5. Book Reviews

(1) Renee-Marie Croose Parry with Kenneth Croose Parry, THE POLITICAL NAME OF LOVE, New European Publications, 2007, 366pp, £17.75, paperback.

(2)Michel Glautier, THE SOCIAL CONSCIENCE: Can a Caring Society Exist in a Market Economy?, Shepheard Walwyn, 2007, 352pp, £19.95, hardback.

6. Book Notes

(1) William H. Martin and Sandra Mason, THE ART OF OMAR KHAYYAM: Illustrating Fitzgerald's Rubaiyat, I. B. Tauris, 2007, 184pp, £39.50, hardback.

(2) Marion Body, THE FEVER OF DISCOVERY: The Story of Matthew Flinders, who gave Australia her name, New European Publications, 2006, 250pp, £15.00, hardback.

------------

1. GORDON BROWN - BRITAIN'S NEW PRIME MINISTER

Gordon Brown is expected to take over on 27th June. What will he do about all the problems and unfinished business left by Tony Blair? Will he make sweeping changes in the Cabinet, and in the way British government policies have been decided and implemented in the past ten years? Will he be able to offer the prospect of an exciting new start, admitting past failures under Tony Blair for which he himself shared Cabinet responsibility?

That question could come up with particular force in the sphere in which he has had special responsibility as Chancellor of the Exchequer (finance minister). That involves the government's operational policies for managing the country's money supply, raising public revenue (e.g. by taxation and borrowing), and spending the revenue on public purposes. As at present carried out, those three functions all have deeply perverse effects - economic, social and environmental. They are discussed in many items on this website.

Gordon Brown made a dramatic start ten years ago, reforming the Bank of England, giving it operational independence to control the money supply according to the elected government's published objectives, and requiring it to account to Parliament for how it performed. That was a small step in the right direction.

Unfortunately he did not question, and so far as we know has not yet questioned, the assumption that the only important aspect of how the money supply is managed is control of inflation - as if who creates new money, whether as debt or not, and how it is put into circulation, has no effect on economic efficiency, social justice or environmental sustainability.

However, over the following few years Brown's pronouncements, for example about an "enabling" economy and the importance of "green" taxation, occasionally gave hope that his initial reform might be a first step in a more systematic, wider-ranging reform programme, covering all three of the Treasury's main operational responsibilities.

More recently other optimists may still have hoped like me that, before launching such a historic programme of democratic reform, Brown might be waitinguntil he himself was in the top job and Blair no longer in a position to interfere. But it takes a lot of optimism to keep that flickering hope alive. For the time being we have to take comfort from the fact that, as the following item suggests, international awareness of the need for money system reform is continuing to spread.

 

2. US MONETARY REFORM

"An Emergency Program of Monetary Reform for the United States" by Richard C. Cook was published in Global Research , 26 April 2007 and is a powerful independent 12,000-word report. I commend it very warmly. (It reached me via Finland, then New Zealand - thanks to Lars Österman and then Electronz Ezine, a regular source of useful information and comment on monetary reform.)

The author worked for the Carter White House and NASA, then spent 21 years with the U.S. Treasury Department. His report explains why the U.S. financial system headed by the Federal Reserve System has failed and why only an emergency program of monetary reform can address conditions which are leading to catastrophe.

The following quotations are tasters.

“'Dollar hegemony' has flooded the world with U.S. currency, loans, or debt instruments to support our fiscal and trade deficits, pay for our extraordinary level of resource utilization, induce foreign governments to purchase our armaments, ensure the allegiance of their governing elites, and maintain their economies in subservience through World Trade Organization and International Monetary Fund trade and lending policies. ....

One thing is connected to another. A good investigator always asks, "Who benefits?". The most salient feature of our financial system is that the creation of new purchasing power through credit - loans, mortgages, credit cards, etc. - is controlled by private financial institutions and, though regulated, works principally for their profit. Because we are never taught about alternative economic structures, we take this system for granted. ....

But the system is man-made, with functions and effects that can be measured and analyzed. The system was created by historical forces, but if we want to, we can identify these forces and change the system. What we have lacked is the understanding of our possible choices, along with the discernment and moral courage to act on our understanding. The direction in which change must be sought is that of greater economic democracy; that is, a higher degree of sharing of the bounty of the earth by more people."

Spot on! His thinking appears to fit well with the important reforms proposed by the American Monetary Institute - click here for details of the legislation it proposes and its annual conference in September.

 

3. QUARTERLY REVIEW - re-launched in April 2007

The Quarterly Review was founded in 1809, to act as a counterbalance to the Whiggish Edinburgh Review. The founders included George Canning, the poet Robert Southey and the poet and novelist Sir Walter Scott. It soon became one of the most important journals of the 19th Century. It launched Jane Austen's career. Contributors included the Duke of Wellington, Lord Salisbury, William Gladstone, Matthew Arnold, and John Ruskin.

That old Quarterly Review ceased publication in 1967. It has now been revived, with former Conservative MP Sir Richard Body as Chairman of the Editorial Board. The editor is Derek Turner. His first editorial is titled " Radical Thinking for Challenging Times".

One of the contributors to the first issue of the revived QR is Peter Challen on "Economics - Time for a Root and Branch Reform". Peter is an old friend from the 1970s when he directed SLIM - the Church of England's South London Industrial Mission. He sees the underlying failings of the present system as "not just to do with our culture and human nature, but fundamental design flaws within our present money system". Four factors in particular are to blame: "an unquestioning acceptance of the present economic order"; "a profound mal-distribution of land, assets, resources, and knowledge"; "inordinate power given to corporations which lack emotions, consciences, values or ethics"; and "a deeply flawed bank credit system".

For more about the new QR and to request a free copy of its first issue, click here. To contact Peter Challen, click here or email him.

 

4. "WHO & WHAT IS PETER CADOGAN?" is a 15-page booklet written and published by Peter in January, shortly before his 86th birthday.

Another old friend from 1970s London. He was then the humanist minister in charge of the South Place Ethical Society. He had just published "Direct Democracy", which has been described here as "a ground-breaking essay." Under his auspices we held the first Turning Point meeting on 29 November 1975.

This new booklet tells the story of his political and intellectual journey and his reflections on it. In 1956 he was cast out of the Communist Party and twice declared by Moscow to be 'a main enemy of the Soviet Union', then similarly expelled from active membership of the Cambridge Labour Party, and subsequently too from the Socialist Workers Party for the crime of "talking to the capitalist press". Then in the 1960s he played a central role in the Committee of 100's Ban the Bomb campaign, and also as a supporter of Biafran independence from Nigeria.

Some years later, "suddenly the penny dropped. You can say No, No, No and Out, Out, Out till the cows come home and it makes not a blind bit of difference. ... Protest is the wrong path. We saw the biggest demo ever just before the Iraq war began. It was treated with contempt by Bush and Blair".

His search for alternatives led him to lament the "sad fate of anarchism in Britain", to find that William Blake is "a philosopher, prophet and artist who never let me down", that historical idealism is the answer to historical materialism, and that

"Today, we have no spiritual/political flame. It is extinguished. It is up to us to relocate it and re-ignite it".

His practical responses, with the Gandhi Foundation and Northern Ireland as well as in London, have been based on the critical importance of small groups.

His booklet provides a short but fascinating account of movements for popular democracy in Britain, particularly in the past 30 years, but going back to the 17th-century Civil War between Parliament and the Crown. He has offered to send a copy without charge to anyone who asks for one. Email him here.

Also see www.onwebsite.co.uk/PeterCadogan.html.

 

5. BOOK REVIEWS

(1) Renee-Marie Croose Parry with Kenneth Croose Parry, THE POLITICAL NAME OF LOVE, New European Publications, 2007, 366pp, £17.75, paperback.

You wonder what this book's title signifies? We will come to it.

Renee-Marie and Kenneth are yet other old friends. We worked together in 1970s London on initiatives like PARLIGAES, the Parliamentary Group on Alternative Energy Strategies, which she set up. Future Labour Party leaders like Bryan Gould (now back in New Zealand) and the late Robin Cook took part. It was one of several voluntary organisations she set up in England.

After leaving London the Croose Parrys lived in Florida for 20 years. Recently, no longer able to stand the US under George W Bush, they have gone back to live in Renee-Marie's native Bavaria, from which she had fled Hitler's Germany in 1942.

From Florida they visited Cuba regularly (they still do), got to know Cuba well, and came to admire deeply the way the Cuban people and their leader Fidel Castro dealt with the country's problems - mostly imposed by the United States. Alison and I have very good memories of a conference in Havana in February 1997 on "Medio Ambiente y Sociedad" ("Environment and Society") in which Renee-Marie invited us to speak and which enabled us to visit other parts of Cuba too.

Their book is about Cuba, and is "dedicated to the Cuban people in recognition of their valour and the wisdom of their leaders". It is in three parts. The first (73 pages) is on "The United States and the World". It has seven chapters, the first of which deals with "American Ideology and the Arrogance of Power" - so setting one of the book's main themes.

The second part (111 pages) is on "Cuba and the United States". The last of its twelve chapters concludes with the following words of Fidel Castro.

"This small and blockaded Third World country, against which the United States has used all its resources in terms of subversion, destabilisation, sabotage, pirate attacks, hundreds of plots to assassinate the Revolution's leaders, a dirty war, economic warfare, biological warfare, a military invasion using personnel recruited, paid, supplied, escorted by US naval units and directed by US government, and ultimately the very real threat of nuclear extermination, has succeeded in honourably withstanding all of the blows dealt to it by the greatest superpower in history .. .".

The third part (the longest at 124 pages) is on "Cuba and the Future of History". The first of its eight chapters is on "Fidel and Religion - and the Christian-Marxist Dialogue". It focuses on the Christian-Marxist rapprochement arising from dialogue between Castro and Frei Betto, the Dominican worker-priest from Brazil. (Frei Betto's affirmation that "El Socialismo es el Nombre Politico del Amor" - "Socialism is the Political Name of Love" - explains the book's title.)

That rapprochement echoed a European development in the 1950s-'60s. Renee-Marie, with the Teilhard Centre for the Future of Man in London, then helped to bring together the thinking of the Catholic priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin - on the evolutionary process as the development of consciousness - with the "alternative" Marxist thinking of Roger Garaudy.

Subjects of subsequent chapters include eco-socialism, justice, authenticity, evolution and the phenomenon of love, and Cuba as the "Noah's Ark to save the Human Future". They end with "The Development of Consciousness and Cuba's Significance for the Human Future" and a final conclusion that:

"In an age when the direction of social evolution in capitalist countries is being dictated by the all-encompassing media and advertising industries, creating appetites for the trivial, the superfluous and the extravagant, Cuba stands as a beacon between the rich world scrambling to have more and the Third World struggling to survive, lighting up the way to Eutopia - the good place".

One may have some reservations, for example about continuing to think of the future in terms of conflict between abstractions like "capitalism" and "socialism", or placing too much reliance on the achievements and wisdom of one person like Fidel Castro, however outstanding. But it should undoubtedly be read and kept for reference by anyone who is interested in a thoroughly documented account of the US's superpower role in the world, or of what has been happening in Cuba since 1959, or in an understanding of human evolution giving hope that it will not continue to be shaped by an urge to dominate and exploit.

To order a copy click here.


(2) Michel Glautier, THE SOCIAL CONSCIENCE: Can a Caring Society Exist in a Market Economy?, Shepheard Walwyn, 2007, 352pp, £19.95, hardback.

This book asks two main questions - (1) as above, Can a caring society exist in a market economy? and (2) Is a market economy sustainable that denies man's fundamental nature? The answer it gives to both questions is basically No. The rule of law must intervene in favour of social justice "as the embodiment of the Social Conscience, acting by defining rights and duties in the broader context of a humane society".

The issues discussed include

  • the social effects of globalisation
  • rapid scientific and technological changes and their impact on society worldwide
  • moral values, family values and shareholder value
  • problems of identity and social cohesion
  • the role of education in a society that seems to have lost a sense of purpose and direction
  • a market economy with a value system that affronts the Social Conscience
  • freedom that rejects authority and is surrendered to permissiveness
  • widespread loss of confidence in government.

Not surprisingly, Glautier's book makes some points in common with the Croose Parry book (see above). For example in the Introduction he asks

"Are we in control of our destiny or at the mercy of forces beyond our control? Certainly, as the world gets smaller with the globalisation of the market economy, there is a risk that welfare policies will have lower priority than profit-making. The concentration of economic and hence military power in the hands of one nation that dictates its law to the rest of the world and takes as bounty a wholly disproportionate percentage of all its natural resources for its own excessive consumption, may be seen as an alarming portent of a new form of oppression".

Similarly he regards Love as a moral value, defined as a sympathetic awareness of another or others. He sees it as the main motivation in the creation of harmonious relationships and as an essential feature of the Social Conscience.

He sees the market economy "as an endless process of destruction and re-creation" and the conflict between wisdom and wealth as "a moral conflict in which the Social Conscience holds the moral high ground and wealth, through money, controls the market economy".

He suggests that, "by prescribing and requiring the observance of religious rules from which moral values are derived, religion has provided the rules that act as the basis of... the Social Conscience", and that "the past, present and the future [are] linked together through the influence that the Social Conscience bears on succeeding events. It acts as a prism for an understanding of the past and of the present and is visionary in the anticipation of the future".

There will be much of interest here, especially to academics, on a wide range of topics including: policy objectives for a caring society; empowering a caring society; the implications for education; market behaviour; accounting, accountability and shareholder value; the State, society and government; citizenship and the democratic deficit; authority and freedom; conflict resolution and crime control; and the views on these topics of Plato, Aristotle and other philosophers, theologians and thinkers after them.

My main reservation arises perhaps because I conform too closely to Ralph Waldo Emerson's perception that "The English mind turns every abstraction it can receive into a portable utensil, or a working institution". I can't help looking for practical explanations - practical in the sense that they can help us to see answers to the question, What should we do?

So I find myself less interested in discussion and definition of the abstractions involved. I want to ask questions like:

  • WHY does such a clear conflict between market values and human values exist? How has it come about?
  • HOW do today's institutions help to keep it going? and
  • WHAT therefore should we do to put it right?

I want answers like:

  • WHY? Because powerful and wealthy people and nations have developed the money system in the past in order to serve their own interests, and that is how it still works - not to meet the needs of all citizens in today's more democratic world.
  • HOW? The conflict is kept going today by the systematically perverse effects of the way governments handle their own operational responsibilities for money and finance - i.e. money supply, public revenue, and public spending, and the corresponding arrangements at the international level.
  • WHAT SHOULD WE DO? We must now reshape this manmade system to serve the interests of all citizens fairly and efficiently, and
  • here are detailed actions that will be needed.

 

6. BOOK NOTES (Although the two following books are not directly connected with this website's main concerns, I hope some readers may be interested to know of them.)

(1) William H. Martin and Sandra Mason, THE ART OF OMAR KHAYYAM: Illustrating Fitzgerald's Rubaiyat, I. B. Tauris, 2007, 184pp, £39.50, hardback.

Fitzgerald's "Rubaiyat" is one of the best known of all poems, and probably the most widely illustrated of all literary works. This is the first serious attempt to examine the illustrated editions in detail.

It is a beautiful and fascinating book, the fruit of a great labour of love in Bill and Sandra's retirement as Leisure Consultants. They too are other good friends from the 1970s.

For further details about the book and Omar Khayyam click here.

For availability in North America click here.

For Bill and Sandra's continuing concern with Leisure click here.


(2) Marion Body, THE FEVER OF DISCOVERY: The Story of Matthew Flinders, who gave Australia her name,
New European Publications, 2006, 250pp, £15.00, hardback. For ordering details click here.

Matthew Flinders was born in 1774 and died 40 years later in 1814. Against competition from Napoleon's France, he was first to circumnavigate the continent of Australia, chart its coastline, and give it its name.

It is a moving story - among other things for his short life; for the constant mutual affection in letters between him and his wife during his long absence between their marriage in 1801 and his return to England in 1810 less than 4 years before his death; and for his splendid 14-page tribute to Trim, his cat companion at sea, "the best and most illustrious of his race", who "terminated his useful career by an untimely death, being devoured by the Catophagi" of Mauritius.

Reading about his lengthy enforced stay in Mauritius as a prisoner of the French governor on his way back from Australia, and about the local French families who befriended him there, reminded me of the sense of historical romance for the "Ile de France" which I felt in the 1950s on visits from the Colonial Office in London, 150 years after Matthew Flinders' time.

 

James Robertson

7th June 2007

 

The Old Bakehouse, Cholsey
Oxon OX10 9NU, UK
Tel: +44 (0)1491 652346
e-mail: james@jamesrobertson.com

 

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