Major Douglas and Alberta Social Credit

Description

315 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
$21.95
ISBN 0-8020-7994-6
DDC 971.23'03

Author

Year

1997

Contributor

Reviewed by Ashley Thomson

Ashley Thomson is a full librarian at Laurentian University and co-editor or co-author of nine books, most recently Margaret Atwood: A Reference Guide, 1988-2005.

Review

This book focuses on the ideas of C.H. Douglas, the British major who
conceived Social Credit. Hesketh argues Douglas’s theories were
strongly influenced by the infamous anti-Semitic (and forged) book, The
Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. Positing a massive Jewish
financial conspiracy, Douglas developed Social Credit as a practical
response for citizens who wanted to free themselves from its power. The
solutions Douglas advocated were not always practical for Alberta, a
province operating within a federal state, and much of the interest of
this book derives from the tension between the ever-impatient
Douglasites and politicians such as Premier Aberhart who were forced by
practical realities to temper their enthusiasm. By Hesketh’s
reckoning, this tension persisted from 1932, when the movement was
founded, until about 1943, when Ernest Manning took over as premier.

Readers will appreciate Hesketh’s extensive research and his clear
exposition of theories that were often opaque even to those
contemporaries who claimed to believe in them. Many of the ideas that
Social Credit spawned—against government intrusion into citizens’
lives, debt, and high taxation, for example—have been incorporated
into the thinking of the modern Reform Party. The current leader of the
Reform Party is, of course, the son of the man who succeeded Aberhart.
Inadvertently or not, Hesketh has made a significant contribution to our
understanding not only of Douglas and early Social Credit but also of
modern Canadian political history. For this reason, his book deserves an
audience far wider than the specialists for whom it may seem intended.

Citation

Hesketh, Bob., “Major Douglas and Alberta Social Credit,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 24, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/30347.