The Citizens of Coventry believe that the judicial inquiry for which their Petition prays could result in the elimination of the periodical slumps and booms and replace them with a continual and vigorous use of the national resources of human ability and natural wealth, and remove the irritant of war and the obstacles to the free exchange of wealth between nations.
3. The General Principles behind the Petition
The Petition was drafted in the democratic belief that all sorts and conditions of men and all forces in the country are equal before the law, and that no power or community within the nation, including the power of Money, can arrogate to itself a position in which it is irresponsible to law.
These principles were developed and refined in a Conference held at Digswell Park. This conference was assisted by, among others, the Marquis of Tavistock, Lord Northbourne, Sir Richard Paget, Sir Reginald Rowe, Lady Clare Annesley, Professor J. R. Marrack, Professor Frederick Soddy, Mr Arthur Kitson, and Mr Jeffrey Mark.
The following are some of the findings of this conference: "In all forms of private commercial enterprise, purely monetary and financial considerations give an entirely artificial significance by pressure from vested interests and take precedence over all other considerations, including that of human well-being and the Christian conscience.
"There is no assurance that monetary policy shall conform with general economic policy. On the contrary, the power of money often gains at the^ expense of the producers of wealth-and it is in a position to dictate to the community the conditions under which wealth shall be produced and distributed
"That the well-being and happiness of His Majesty's subjects,
individually and collectively, is not the chief object of the operators of the financial system is manifest from the general forthcomingness of money in time of war and preparation for war and its desultory appearance in time of peace, when of all times men should be allowed to engage in the creation of wealth and the use thereof in the pursuit of happiness.
"In particular, the extent to which the power and influence of the Bank of England is exercised over the Treasury—and, through the mediumship of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, over the Cabinet itself—is altogether excessive. It was noted that the policy of the Bank, although exerting a dominating influence in agriculture, industry, and the affairs of the nation as a whole, was not subject to question or criticism in the House of Lords or the House of Commons, the Bank being registered and regarded as a private Corporation."
The Petition does not aim at subjecting the financial system to Party Politics. It is based on the idea that Money has its duties to Law and the common well-being.
"The public is uninformed or seriously misled as to the nature and extent of its powers and rights, owing to the fact that the educational and publicity processes of the country are becoming more and more controlled directly and indirectly, whether exercised through the mediumship of schools, universities, or technological and research institutes, or from the Press, platform, pulpit, and broadcasting services."
We appeal for these charges against finance and its associated institutions and practices to be investigated by His Majesty's judges, and that all evidence relevant to these charges shall be called upon.
It is the right and liberty of every subject:
that he shall not be dispossessed or impaired in the enjoyment of his prosperity or in the exercise of his trade, or in any way socially destroyed;
that he shall have safety and security to buy and sell without any unjust exactions or impediment; and
that he shall not be constrained to any unconscientious act;
that he shall possess the economic liberty to practice the
social implication* of the Christian faith in all departments
or hie. 20
A PEOPLE'S RUNNYMEDE
The first and last of these rights are so elementary to the idea of natural justice that they are substantially contained in Magna Carta; although these rights appear to have been infringed continually over the last hundred years, no action has been taken in the Courts, and Parliament has passed many statutes recognising the chaotic position resulting from these infringements. There can be, however, no prescription to commit public nuisances, and the wholesale infringement of these rights is and must be a public nuisance, so that the inertia of the Courts cannot be said to have abrogated the right while the actions of Parliament have been those of pure expedience. Thus the wholesale unemployment of workers who are willing to work and for whose product there is grave public need (as for instance the products of agriculture to combat malnutrition) is prima facie an infringement of the rights set out above, and
but that modem ec^micaifien "^ ComPIeteI7 realised, and continued to m^£%S **>**»*** has set up eges, vested in individuals T™- PresumPt">ns and privi-had seriously restricted and Xwn' and. corP<*ations, which hbemes of the people as a Su £ntmne8to beaten the
The principks'S1-^?^ ! *9' I938'
deputation of So7J? *** «*«£ of J*" [°Wns- The
above statement ^eS^6 ^onaLd^6 °ffi<*-
^ SUPPort ofSS^ m the
enty bishops and
2?oo clergy of all denominations.1 The mayors and clergy of twenty-one cities and boroughs then called town meetings to place the Petition before their people: 250,000 people gave their signed support to the principles and the Petition, and similar petitions were taken up in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.
Unfortunately war was declared before public opinion could be massed in sufficient strength for the Petition to be placed before His Majesty asking for the appointment of the Judicial Court.
This experiment is sufficient to demonstrate the common agreement of the people when the basic principles of reform are placed before them, and their willingness, not only to sign a petition but to form street and parish groups to study the problems of reform, and to support their petition by further public action.2
It is interesting to note that though these principles are known as Christian they were adopted by Mohammedan groups, as a basis of a similar crusade to mobilise public opinion to prevent poverty and remove the causes of war, and to establish a Common Law of human justice equitable to all nations. Also similar movements sprang up in Belgium and France under the name of Parliament Christian.
In every case we found that British people and the people of other nations, irrespective of political, religious, national, or intellectual opinions, were willing to unite and press for the establishment of these principles as Common Law binding upon themselves and their governments, to establish the security of the individual, and as a basis for co-operatoin between the nations.
An endeavour has been made in this book to outline the
1 Three years latex similar principles, in a Ten-Point Peace Plan, were
published in The Times with the signatures of the four leaders of the three main
religious denominations, agreeing that they should be included in any plan
for post-war reconstruction.
2 Since the outbreak of war these study groups have been developed under
the name of Parliament Christian, or the People's Common Law Parliament
whose policy and activities we put forward in this book.
A PEOPLE'S RUNNYMEDE
problems which will beset the post-war world. To understand these problems it has been necessary to point out the failings of our Government and the economic and financial system and the commercial practices which have brought about the present condition of the world. This has not been done in the spirit of criticism, but to enable us to judge our future action from our past mistakes, and to lay the foundation of Supreme Common Law which will prevent such evils arising in the world after the present conflict.
This chapter is written for those who are not aware of the tragedies of the years following the Armistice of 1918 until the declaration of war in 1939, and also to present these in a new light, so that we may indicate the reforms which are required, and how they should be applied.
The tragedy of war was aptly put by President Wilson when he said:
"Peace? Why, my fellow-citizens, is there any man here
or any woman—let me say is there any child—who does not
know that the seed of war in the modern world is industrial and
commercial rivalry ? That war was a commercial and industrial
war: it was not a political war. The reason that the war we
have just finished took place was that Germany was afraid her
commercial rivals were going to get the better of her; and the
reason why some of the nations went into war against Germany
was that they thought Germany would get the commercial
advantage of them. The seed of the jealousy, the seed of the
deeply-rooted hatred, was hot, successful, commercial, and
industrial rivalry." A
Thousands of us now realise how incredible it is that, rather than adopt a co-operative commercial system for the benefit of humanity, we support a competitive system which brings endless sorrow and suffering to the world and sacrifices millions of human lives.
The balance-sheet for the First Great War was approximately:
There were also the millions of war widows and orphans, the millions whose minds were permanently injured, and the industrial, social, economic, and cultural havoc which set the race back by a generation.
The cost of the war in real wealth will never be fully known, but the financial cost will reveal itself to succeeding generations as an increasing debt due to accruing interest. The following figures show the progressing growth of the National and Municipal debts of this country since April m: ■
7>5°°,337,654 7,822,298,060 8,163,180,28c
Financial Year ended March 31
Gross Outstanding Local Loan Debt
1914 1919 1925
864,882,000 1,176,900,000 1,404,400,000
8»93 i,459,ooo L -^msmsr
(0) Not available. (&) Not ,„.;,., ,
£1,481,000,000. aVaikbk;ktest %ure, j937,
We have paid interest amounting tn~ r
but the pnncipal instead of dec ealna K ^9'°00'000'000'
£1,000,000,000. We cannot «!! gt mcreased by over
without radical reform of our m^T?* Aeincreasine debt
V We paid for the weal* ' ?0neta7 Policy. S
Great War in the energy^d XT"' slandered in the it, but shortly after the conflict iT ^end^ in producing facturers of Britain found £*** W°rkers™* the mZ-mptcy because thev owed ,* ems,eIves on the ver*l ft , The soldiers who woTtl *htm"k>e, almost/8^8 °fbank" and everyone eCnthtrWarGattke ^fe^00*000'
MAN'S INHUMANITY TO MAN 27
land Trinidad, Jamaica, and Fiji owed between them A 28 239,000 to the City of London for helping to win die war and in the case of Australia, New Zealand, and Trinidad an annual Sinking Fund, whilst our oldest colony Newfoundland had to hand over to financial nominees the
right to govern itself.
The whole world found itself in debt to itself and unable to pay. All the money in the world was not sufficient to pay a debt which at no time had existed as tangible money, but merely as credit figures in ledgers.
The cost of the war in terms of human life, health and happiness, wealth and debt, and the trade depression which followed, staggers the imagination. According to a League of Nations report, millions of men and women throughout the world died of starvation because the debt system had ruined trade> and deprived them of the worthless bits of paper necessary to buy from the abundant store of food which surrounded them.
Burdened with this debt, humanity set out to repair the ravages of war. Even this tremendous obstacle to prosperity and human progress could have been overcome if human need had been a deciding factor in the laws and practices which devised and governed monetary and commercial policy. There is no effective legal definition of individual or social purpose, consequently the dominant policy of governments was not to preserve human life but to preserve financial and commercial status quo. In such a policy neither God nor man found a place. Man was sacrificed to maintain systems which destroyed him. The nation followed the example of the Hebrew who practiced usury and ignored the Divine law of common justice. The prophet could have repeated in our time:
"None pleads for right or decides for justice, but trust upon
tricks and false speech so that their products make nothing but
wrong. Their genius a contrivance of crime brings destruction
and ruin. No justice is found in their trades. They distort their
own roads and all who travel them never know peace." Isaiah.
28a PEOPLE'S RUNNYMEDE
^ A tnrR American industry pro-
During the years 1909 * ^!f ^fa for consumption,
duced 390 billion ^rs^ofgoods *> P ,
d£s of Purchasing power. The missing one-third of purchasing Po^er represented debt, and that amount of goods had to be exported or destroyed.1
I During the years 1927 to 1928 Australian factories produced £416 millions' worth of goods, but distributed only £130 millions in wages, salaries, and dividends. All nations practised a financial policy which prevented them from buying their own goods and purchasing their own wealth, but forced diem to seek markets in other countries. B The strong arm of financial law demands that the first call upon industry shall be to "pay its way," not to feed the people. Nations were faced with the decision of adopting a new monetary policy which would enable the people to buy die wealth of their labours, or to try to sell their goods abroad. Nations found themselves in the impossible position of trying to sell to each other surplus goods which none I could buy. The bitter competition for foreign markets
■ which broke out into open warfare in 1914 again threatened
the peace of the world.
ooSdofrnde-WaS !Tgl6dby-ebS hwasin *e ludicrous I position of owing itself money it had not got. It could not I sell its goods because it could not pav ■'£ tLJ ^ • I
money to buy them. P7KpeoPle sufficient
D The nations who tried to hrmL- +u. l 1
a direct exchange of good? or by ££¥h *edebt ™B *
I free monetary technique, were coLT ??nS ane^ debt-
1 of orthodox finance. "™nned by the supporters
I In 1921 unsaleable goods were nil#^
I were being destroyed to save the fiS;^ meVer? land> or
■ On every hand the financial demon ^ • Conomic system.
I human need neglected. Was 81Ven- preference and
J . * National Bureau of Economic Research fTn
I rc^ incomes of.U.S1) Mn
MAN'S INHUMANITY TO MAN 29
The Gold Standard crashed and the economic system llapsed. Most of the nations of the world defaulted on their debts. 30,000,000 men were thrown on the streets unemployed because they had produced goods they could not buy. Industries became bankrupt and the world plunged into' a trade depression from which it has never fully
" Do not you remember the past nor reflect on preceding events?" said the prophet. We must remember the cataclysm of suffering which afflicted the world after the Great War. . It will seem moderate in comparison with the universal blight of debt and impoverishment which will descend on the world when present hostilities cease, unless we reform our national life and are prepared drastically to reform our national and international policies.
If we want to make the world safe for man we must make up our minds what we want to do with him.
The operation of an economic system primarily for a monetary motive makes man subservient to that system. He becomes a pawn in an order over which he has no control, an inhuman process governing political and social life. Politicians then have to adapt themselves to serve economic and party expediency and so neglect the urgent needs of men and women. They are forced to jump to the crack of Party Whips, themselves organised to meet the requirements of financial powers. Politics, civic law, economic and educational institutions, and YOU are adapted to meet these requirements.
After this war these financial powers will seek to continue the competitive system which was the main cause of the conflict. Millions of men, discharged from war duties, will face starvation because they can neither work nor buy nor hey will cease to be even cogs in an economic
machine. They will be a hindrance, the unwanted, the unemployed. They will be nothing at all, because world economics has never defined the purpose of their existence or provided a place for them.
A PEOPLE'S RUNNYMEDE
Man has marched across the world with scientific strides
I fu . I„W achieved a thousand things for his benefit.
t"i;tZ^:^ abundance of goods and food,
nations have fought for raw materials and the necessities of
Se and passed through years of war, irreparable to t.me
and progress. . _,, . . , TXT
We appeal to the reader's sense of Christian values. We appeal to his or her sense of logic. If man made the effort, he could abolish the major troubles of the world as from to-morrow. He has not done so because his political and economic schemes are attempted without defining what man is, or what is the purpose of his existence.
Man cannot intelligently govern Man, employ Man, or save Man, or even fight Man, unless he has some notion of what he wants to do with his life—as a Man.
Man is essentially a spiritual entity, and Jesus Christ, who
provided the world with the most sound economic system
it has ever ignored, particularly made this point. Man's
spiritual origin is made manifest through his intelligence,
his culture, his arts, and the whole genius of the human
race—which should have set him above the animal kingdom.
safeguard their own existence. This existence is defined
and protected by law. But human purpose, which these
ISSS^tT T°Sedt0Serve> hasn° s^h definition.
SSS% " ' 8°Vernment of the people by finance
No success can attend anvr*^;,,^.- r * ,
if the problems are redded as T^t0fS°?Ialconditio*
measures can be justifiedonlv % ply #*%&** Sudl
individual well-being f| lfassessed | the light of
I And in view of the fact that „„
i experts have continually shown\^C°n?micand financial
I deplorable events arising fromth■ mabllity to foresee
1 should come to all of us the ur^Tr.SyStems> sureIy there arrangements based on human interl^T^ new economic
I It is man's natural evolution to L
1 to Progress through his
MAN'S INHUMANITY TO MAN 31
. . , 1 and intellectual abilities. This is a natural law, SPS cannot be suppressed without his energy being directed i an^odal channels. Therefore one might say that kbour-saving machines and the ease with which man produces an abundance of all things necessary for his needs are m accordance with Nature's order. They should set men and women free to pursue leisured and cultured lives. The task of all of us is to prepare and build up a society which will provide every encouragement and opportunity for humanity to develop as free individuals to fulfil their true destiny.
The moral-civic laws which prevent the individual from injuring another must be extended and made binding upon all institutions and associations. It is indefensible that commercial and financial powers or the customs of society should be allowed to pursue a policy which causes millions of men, women, and children to suffer unnecessary poverty, degradation, disease, and death. Such evils are equivalent to manslaughter and murder. That society and man's institutions commit the crime does not minimise or excuse it. Its power to inflict injury and widespread devastation surpasses anything which personal crime can accomplish, and therefore should be condemned and prevented by the full power and authority of the law.
Before we begin to devise plans for reform to prevent evil and anti-social activities we must agree upon the principles which will provide a frame of reference for reforms and a constitution of government that will define man's natural nghts to ensure that the right reforms will be made.