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The Social Credit Phenomenon

The Social Credit Phenomenon

Copyright Date: 1989
Pages: 280
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  • Book Info
    The Social Credit Phenomenon
    Book Description:

    In this account of the Social Credit transformation, Alvin Finkel challenges earlier works which focus purely on Social Credit monetary fixations and religiosity.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8238-2
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. 1 The Social Credit Phenomenon
    (pp. 3-13)

    A government that styled itself ‘Social Credit’ ruled the province of Alberta from 1935 to 1971, swept to power by a Depression-born movement for reform and maintained in office by a wartime and post-war prosperity that allowed it to indeed achieve many reforms. Yet the reforms achieved, mainly in the social service and educational areas, appeared to bear little relationship to the party’s pre-1935 promises for economic restructuring. And the original radicalism of the Social Credit League later gave way to conservative and often reactionary ideology.

    This book explores the changing character of Social Credit and seeks to explain why...

  6. 2 Alberta Society at the Time of social Credit’s Appearance
    (pp. 14-40)

    A short three years elapsed between William Aberhart’s conversion to Social Credit doctrine and the Social Credit League’s provincial election victory in 1935. But such a victory would have been unlikely had the ground both for social credit and for reform more generally not been sown for many years in the province by agrarian and labour reformers. And the broad base that the Aberhart-led organization boasted would have been equally unlikely had that organization not been, in the minds of its members, democratic and open. The political atmosphere of the early thirties – before Social Credit’s entry on the scene – was...

  7. 3 The Schizophrenic Period: Social Credit’s First Term, 1935–1940
    (pp. 41-72)

    The first Social Credit administration, from 1935 to 1940, had two personalities. One was reform-minded and anti-corporate; the other was economy-minded and appeasing towards the corporate sector. The reform-minded personality was shaped both by the monetary reformers and by the more amorphous grass-roots movement of reform-minded people who formed the mass base of the Social Credit League. The economy-minded personality reflected pressures from the Alberta and Canadian ‘establishments’ and the approaches of key members of the government, including Aberhart. When the electorate voted in 1940, it was as yet unclear which of these two personalities would dominate future Social Credit...

  8. 4 The Transformation: Social Credit during the War
    (pp. 73-98)

    During its first term in office, Social Credit had proved to be a reformist party of government whose reform program horrified the business community but often disappointed its own members and supporters as too timid. As the party began its second term in office, there was every reason to believe that it would continue to be interventionist. But by the time the next election occurred, in August 1944, the Social Credit administration had become a staunch opponent of many forms of government intervention once favoured, either in action or in rhetoric, by party leaders. The party had also become more...

  9. 5 A Hot Economy and a Cold War: Social Credit, 1945–1960
    (pp. 99-140)

    Within little more than a decade, Social Credit had been transformed from a mass, eclectic movement for social reform led by monetary reformers to a relatively small government party that enjoyed considerable support from various sectors of the Alberta population for its judicious combination of right-wing rhetoric and social service and road-building programs. The combination of a buoyant post-war economy, fuelled after 1947 by fresh oil and gas discoveries, and the U.S. inspired Cold War allowed Social Credit to maintain successfully a combination of mild social reformism and strident anti-socialism to render ineffective the disunited if numerically significant political opposition...

  10. 6 Defending Jerusalem and Spreading the Gospel: The Late Manning Period
    (pp. 141-176)

    The very heart of true Christianity is that an individual who has been made a new creature by a miraculous spiritual new birth reflects that spiritual experience in everything he thinks and says and does.

    There is no way in which a truly born-again Christian can divorce his own nature from any phase of his activities from that time on nor would he ever desire to do so. It has always been my belief that there is great need for Christian men and women in public life for, after all, if we are not going to have our public affairs...

  11. 7 The Road to Disintegration
    (pp. 177-201)

    In September 1968 Ernest C. Manning announced that he was retiring from the premiership of Alberta after more than a quarter-century in the post. A leadership convention two months later, the first in the Social Credit League’s history, chose Municipal Affairs Minister Harry Strom as Manning’s replacement. Strom ran the province for only two and a half years before facing his first election as premier. In that election, the resurgent Progressive Conservatives carried two-thirds of the seats and ended thirty-six years of Social Credit rule. Used to the spoils of power, Social Credit proved an inept opposition party. Its attempts...

  12. 8 Social Credit and the Debate about ‘Populism’
    (pp. 202-213)

    Thus far, I have dealt with Social Credit as largely an Alberta phenomenon. But how unique to Alberta was a political movement of this kind? This chapter explores two topics related to Social Credit which have sparked lively debate. The first is the extent to which Social Credit can best be understood as a ‘populist’ movement and thereby related to a variety of other political movements in Canadian history as well as the history of a number of other countries. The second topic concerns the extent of similarity between Alberta Social Credit, at various phases of its existence, and the...

  13. Conclusion
    (pp. 214-218)

    Although the Social Credit organization is in the late eighties dead as a doornail, the impact of that organization on political thinking in Alberta is enduring. Alberta’s Progressive Conservative government, flush with oil royalties in the seventies, seemed to take tentative steps away from the hard right-wing line which Manning had made Alberta’s trademark after 1943. But once a recession began in 1982, the Tories rediscovered much of the Manning heritage and found that, particularly in rural Alberta, it still had great resonance. Once again the unions were under siege and universal social programs were attacked. A dispute with the...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 219-272)
  15. Index
    (pp. 273-280)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 281-282)