Forerunners to the Commonwealth Idea

The voices of many persons have been raised since the inception of our nation which have decried economic injustice and political abuse, and have proposed innovative change.  We are singling out three forerunners most pertinent to our current consideration of national restructuring and revitalizing of our whole economy.

The following three dynamic crusaders encompass writings and activities that give us a composite picture of “An Idea Whose Time Has Come!”:

Edward Bellamy:  

In my books I have already given you a sprinkling of insight into the analytical and futuristic thinking  of this courageous individual who was a whole century ahead of his time.  If his voice had been heeded, untold suffering, and death, would have been averted up the ensuing decades.

He was born in Chicopee, Mass., on March 25, 1850, spent most of his life there, and died of tuberculosis on March 22, 1898 in the same town of his birth.  His life had spanned a mere forty-eight years.

At age eighteen he traveled in Europe where, as he later wrote, “my eyes were first fully opened to the extent and consequences of man’s inhumanity to man.”  On his return he studied law, was admitted to the bar, but forwent practice to become a writer.  He was on the staff of the New York Evening Post for a number oif years, wrote for the Springfield Union, and then spent the balance of his life doing creative writing during which he wrote thirty stories, three novels and the futuristic books Looking Backword and Equality.

Bellamy’s “Parable of the Water Tank,” included in his book Equality, was purposely selected for our reading because in a dozen pages we have a microcosm of how our economy is flawed and how the people can organize their work so as to bring prosperity, security and tranquility to their lives.  The simple presentation contains all the elements of our predatory, exploitive “open market” economy.

Writing a over a century ago, and having national prominence as an author, Bellamy dignified contemporary reform movements and spearheaded social and economic structural change.   He backed his efforts with organizations and set up numerous Nationalist Clubs for the purpose of educating the public.

Above all, he saw the folly in trying to resurrect the “competitive system” and pleaded that on its ruin “build a Temple” that truly functions in the people’s interest.   A thread of spirituality is vividly interwoven throughout both his physical and intellectual writing and activities.

Charles A. Lindbergh, Sr.

The second crusader that we want to salute is Congressman Lindbergh who was maligned and pilloried for his relentless battle against the “Money Trust” and the passage of the Federal Reserve Act in 1913.  From 1908 to 1918 he was a U. S. Representative from Minnesota and during that time he waged an incessant battle against the powerful private banking interests, not only in the Halls of State, but in the writing of several books and in his campaigning for governor of Minnesota.

Like Bellamy, his books were suppressed up the years by the nation’s capitalists whose exploitive functioning was dependent on the populace ignorance.

Lindbergh’s son, of course, was America’s famed hero, “The Lone Eagle,” whose daring exploit of being the first person to make a solo trans-Atlantic flight gave him an heroic fame that has resounded up the decades.  Father and son had a very close relationship and while their challenges in life were quite different, their steadfastness in pursuit of goals bears out the same genetic drive they both shared.

Every person who is concerned as to how our socio-economic system is wrongly structured, and how powerful predatory forces have risen in our midst in consequence, should read Congressman Lindbergh’s books and speeches delivered on the floor of Congress.  We would be remiss if we didn’t include here two excerpts, one each from two of his books.

In his book “Your Country at War,” written in 1917, Lindbergh sums up the contradiction of the technological ability to provide a good life for everyone while at the same time there exists misery and poverty.  On page 203, he wrote:

Most men are in a condition of poverty now.  Also we absolutely know that the trusts, as a result of the centralizing of the control  of the industrial agencies and material resources, operated in connection with their juggling of credits and money, have made us dependent upon the trusts for employment.  This is the industrial slavery that the capitalistic interests prefer to chattle slavery.  If we were chattle slaves, they would have to care for us in sickness and old age, whereas now they are not concerned with us except for the time during which we work for them.

Knowing these facts, will the people continue to remain in such a state of bondage?  Certainly not!  The trusts have taught us the principle of combination.  If it is good and profitable for the trusts, it is good and profitable for the people.  It would be better to have one great trust created by all of the people for their common benefit than to have our actions controlled by several trusts operated for the individual benefit of a few persons.

Created by all of the people for their common benefit is a fitting preamble to the National Cooperative Commonwealth!

William Dudley Pelley

The third American we want to single out is William Dudley Pelley, author, philosopher and crusader, whose contributions are unparalleled in unmasking economic exploitation, and offering proposals that would completely eradicate unearned profiteering from the economy.  He was the stormy petrel of the 1930s, during which the most severe depression that this country has ever known, and no economic fraud or conspiracy was so small  or so big that it escaped his vitriolic and scouring pen.

Along with Congressman Louis T. McFadden, who was the chairman of the House Committee on Banking and Currency, Pelley launched a  documented expose of the privately owned Federal Reserve System its tie with internationalism, its financing of both political parties, and how under the guise of “free enterprise” the wealth of the nation was inexorably concentrated in the grip of an “iron fist” while the majority became increasingly burdene with taxes and indebtedness.

However, in the eyes of those who would subvert and pillage mankind Pelley was to commit the unpardonable sin.  It was one thing to expose and indict the miischief-makers in society, the debauchers of all that is moral and wholesome, the usurpers of a people’s money and government.  It was even tolerable that patriots band together in organizations such as the “Silver Legion” which Pelley had brought into being.

But it was intolerable that remedial measures should be proposed that would place in the hands of the people absolute control and direction of their economic, political and cultural life.

In his book No More Hunger Pelley spelled out the fundamentals of a Christian Commonwealth in which every citizen would be a common and preferred stockholder in a national corporate economy.  In a broad sense, a basic sense, Pelley had drawn together and updated the dual thinking of both Bellamy and Lindbergh.  On page 40 he stated that the “Christian Economy” which the people are striving for and working toward is “a government of mutuality where the people themselves are triuly sovereign under the form.”

The most dynamic offering in his proposal for a corporate commonwealth was the abolishing of debt-money and a circulating medium of exdhange, thus breaking for all time the strangling and stultifying impact of interest-bearing debt and all forms of liens and foreclosures.  It meant liberation from the tentacles of private banking and the introduction of monetary reform that automatically provided working capital that released the full work potential of the nation.

We would be remiss if we didn’t note, at least briefly, other writings of this most prolific author.  Many Americans who lived during the 1920s and 1930s are familiar with Pelley as a nationally known fiction writer whose name regularly appeared on the covers of Saturday Everning Post, Redbook and The American Magazine.  They might even know that he had two hundred and forty-eight short stories published, as well as several full-length novels, two of which were madei nto movies, and that he wrote in addition a score of movie scenarios.

Others are more familiar with his profound research in science, philosophy and religion and the over thirty books that have come from his prolific pen on these subjects.

More pertinent to our current focus are all his writings and organizing that led to his arrest on the political “crime” of sedition because he was forewarning his fellow Americans of the dangers to their very survival, and he was proposing solutions that would take away the abnormal and predatory power of the military-industrial-banking complex that was entrenched in Washington.

Against the background of the war hysteria of 1942, and our alliance with Stalinist Russia, it was but routine to get a conviction against Pelley.  He was sentenced to 15 years in prison.  The documented case of William Dudley Pelley unmistakably demonstrates that political trials and political prisoners are by no means confined to foreign lands.

So determined to silence Pelley were his antagonists that they included him in the infamous Mass Sedition Trial of 1943 using the same “evidence’ against him that has been introduced in the Indianapolis trial  despite the constitutional prohibition, “nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twie put in jeopardy of life and limb.”

On November 22, 1946, Chief Justice Bolitha Laws, of the Ul. S. Court for the District of Columbia, dismissed the Mass Sedition Case by  citing that to allow the case to continue would a “travesty on justice.”

To all intents and purposes Pelley has been exonerated of the conviction in Indianapolis but he passed on in 1965 before any court would grant him relief from the original sentence.  He served seven and a half years as the Twentieth Century’s most outstanding political prisoner.

Up the centuries true leaders of the people have always been made to endure vilification, persecution, imprisonment, all too often death itself.  Yet the circumstance of their fate has not been difficult to comprehend.  Invariably, each was years ahead of his time and possess the rare quality of being able to interpret the present in light of the future.

The three crusaders we have saluted possessed that rare quality!  .  .  .



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