Lion for Freedom
by Nigel Jackson
poet, essayist and schoolteacher
E. D. Butler
A WELL RESEARCHED and lengthy book would be needed to do justice to the man who founded and for forty-five years headed the Australian League of Rights, enduring on the way more wicked calumnies than any other Australian leader has ever been subjected to - and shrugging these off with an amiability and equity that has borne witness to a remarkable spirit indeed. This essay can but serve as an introduction to the subject, touching on some but not all of Eric Dudley Butler's achievements.
I met Butler in Melbourne in September 1964, at the urging of the Sydney-based musical entrepreneur George Miller, and have remained in contact with him and his movement for seven years while retaining a degree of personal independence in my relations with the League.
On September 1st this year I had afternoon tea with Butler, now in his eighty-sixth year, at his farmstead home Runnymede, for many decades a centre of hospitality and intellectual stimulation for League members, supporters and friends, and still a rural paradise some forty kilometres north-east of Melbourne. I asked Butler what he thought were his main achievements and he immediately replied that he thought the major one was the strong defence in Australia of the traditional British way of life. He said that he has always been deeply attracted to the Anglo-Saxons and even more to the Scots.
This is hardly surprising, since Butler was raised in an ambience of admiration of, and fidelity to, Great Britain, her monarchs, her sacred tradition, her history, her literature and arts, and her empire. His father, Charles Harry Butler, was a very successful teacher and primary school headmaster, whose mother was Welsh. Perhaps that Welsh ancestry came out in Charles Butler's great love of the poetry of Shakespeare, Keats, Tennyson and other English poets.
Joe Blackburne, Butler's grandfather, came from a well-established pioneering family with antecedents in Ulster. A local councillor in Benalla, he was a political man whose main reading was Hansard. Butler was thus brought up in an atmosphere of political commitment and discussion. He recalls the adults around him discussing the overthrow of the Bruce government when he was ten, and, on another occasion, wondering who would be the next governor-general (it turned out to be the distinguished anti-Zionist Jew, Sir Isaac Isaacs.)
Butler considers that he gained his deep love of things British mainly from his father and grandfather: he was brought up on British history and the central British myths of King Arthur and Robin Hood.
His religious life initially developed within the Methodist tradition of Christianity; his family were church-goers, but not scrupulously regular. In early manhood he went across to the Church of England, partly influenced by the Anglicanism of his wife, Elma Turner before she married,
whose ancestry includes an Irish element from County Clare.
The Douglas Influence
Butler was thus a precocious student of British history and political institutions. He was still in his teens when he experienced a decisive conversion to the Social Credit philosophy and practice of British engineer Major Clifford Douglas (1879-1952). In his 1979 booklet Releasing Reality, written to commemorate the centenary of Douglas's birth, Butler wrote: "In 1935, at the age of nineteen, I read a letter in a Benalla newspaper which was my first introduction to the ideas of C. H. Douglas. The course of my life was changed by that introduction and the subsequent impact of Douglas's thinking." The ideas of Douglas received strong support in north-eastern Victoria, and others who early discussed them with Butler included the Reverend Eric Bray, Methodist minister in Benalla, and the then editor of the Wangaratta Chronicle.
(a) Eric Butler campaigning in the Riverina in 1938;
(b) with Norm Rolls; (c) Social credit on the road.
Butler was already a political activist. In his 1985 booklet The Truth About the Australian League of Rights (on which much of this essay will be based) he wrote that in 1934 he pushed his bicycle many long miles campaigning for John McEwan (later federal leader of the Country Party) in the seat of Indi.
Writer and Orator
Butler soon became a major figure in the Social Credit movement just prior to and during the early years of World War II. That movement played a vital role, he believes, in bringing the Labor Government of John Curtin to office in 1941.
Butler was an early subscriber to the journal The New Times, founded in May 1935 and edited by Tom Moore. In 1937 Butler left passionfruit growing in NE Victoria and met Moore. His first article, "Slavery in Gippsland", appeared in The New Times on 19 January 1938. In it he described conditions in the dairying industry in Gippsland, Victoria, following a working holiday on a dairy farm there.
Butler soon realised that his main interest was in lecturing and organising. He was encouraged to submit articles to The New Times by its second editor, H. F. Allsop. During 1940 Butler campaigned for Les Hollins during his 1940 state election campaign (Hollins was a Social Credit candidate who won the seat of Hawthorn as an independent).
In 1941 Butler continued to play a prominent role in the expanding grass-roots monetary reform movement. Interest in the topic had been greatly intensified, of course, by the experiences of Australians in the Great Depression. "During the first two years of the war I was promoting a movement which was like a rising tide across the nation," he wrote. Butler addressed over 250 public meetings in all the eastern states. Over 800 people attended one held in Nhill, Victoria. At the same time he was doing national service training and (in September 1941) getting engaged.
A major line of Butler's lecturing was that a maximum war effort was impossible, and that the peace could not be won, unless there was a major change in financial policy. "To fight a war with privately created money is to fight two enemies, one within and one without!" he warned his audiences.
In Echuca on 11 July 1940 he spoke as follows: "The Empire war effort is only a fraction of what it could be if the Federal Government took over the powers of the private financiers and made credit available to every small enterprise that can assist in war production....I agree that Hitlerism must be removed. I believe that the only way to do this is by the use of arms, but that is not enough. What were the causes responsible for Hitlerism? At the cost of millions of lives can we be sure that we are not defending those groups that made Hitler possible with financial help?...
"Financial policy is directed from outside the country. As a result of World War I international finance in every part of the world has been able to direct financial policy."
In The New Times on 12 July 1940, Butler wrote: "Hitler is the very embodiment of those underlying evils against which we are fighting today. He must be defeated."
The young writer-orator made a deep impact on his audiences. The Border Morning Mail for 10 July 1940 reported on his public meeting in the Albury Town Hall in New South Wales: "Eric Butler, the well-known young finance reformer, was the speaker.... It was decided almost unanimously to urge the federal Government to take immediate action to take control of the creation of money for financing the war, in order that a maximum war effort might be achieved without further debt or taxation."
The Malden and Newstead Echo on 11 June 1940 wrote: "Eric Butler is one of the most renowned writers on all economic and other questions relating to the welfare of the Commonwealth and the British Empire as a whole. He is a great believer in British culture and has already (he is only twenty-four) produced two books dealing with the international situation which have been given an amazing reception."
Rural Victorian hotel advertising a Butler meeting in 1938
At a meeting in Tongala, Victoria, on 31 May 1940 Butler faced a packed hall in a situation in which local police feared mob violence, and spent over two hours patiently answering interjections until he finally triumphed over his political opponents, some being communists but others citizens of goodwill who had been misled by propaganda. Butler's booklet, The Enemy Within the Empire warned that the military conflict of World War II was being used as part of an ongoing programme to break up the British Empire. It sold over 30,000 copies.
In December 1941 Butler reported for full-time military duties. Before doing so, on 15th December, he wrote an open letter to all federal parliamentarians. He called for a real national effort to tackle the money problem. The Government should give credit to firms producing luxury items to enable them to transfer their manufacturing resources to producing war requirements. "This idea of taking money off people under the guise of transferring resources used for non-essentials is not necessary. It is directly camouflaging the colossal swindle being foisted upon a stampeded public."
Butler appealed to Prime Minister Curtin to take action against the enemy within. "You know, you have been telling us for years what you would do about the money power if you obtained office... Take the Australian people into your confidence." This appeal was ignored, thus justifying a warning given to Butler in September by Alex Wilson, the independent Country Party member for the Mallee whose vote had been crucial to giving Curtin government. Wilson had stated that Curtin, despite his expressed sympathy with features of Social Credit, would not break with financial orthodoxy unless a strong non-party movement was maintained to pressure him.
Butler also appealed to those M.Ps who knew "this debt-and taxation swindle" to speak out. This appeal was also largely ignored.
Butler served in the seoond A.I.F. He served as a gun sergeant for twenty months without leave in the Torres Straits, taught troops as an instructor at Canungra Jungle Training School for six months, transferred to the Officers Training School at Seymour, Victoria and was honourably discharged at the end of the Pacific phase of the war.
Social Credit activities now (1942 to 1944) focused on opposition to all proposals to use the war situation to erode the Australian Constitution. Butler wrote articles from the north, all his work being subjected to both military and civilian censorship. The only articles refused publication were those critical of the USSR and warning of the long-term communist plan for global revolution and the end of the British Empire.
Butler helped in the defeat of the 1944 Powers referendum. He constantly drew attention to the totalitarian philosophy of the chief promoter of that referendum, the Attorney-General Dr. H.V. Evatt, expressed as support for "the supremacy of Parliament". Butler knew of Evatt's connections with the Marxist theoretician, Professor Harold Laski of the London School of Economics, who also deeply influenced another key opponent of the Constitution in later years, Dr. H.C. "Nugget" Coombs of the Reserve Bank.
Writing in 1985 Butler commented: "The traditional British view of government is that it is the servant of the people and operates within the framework of moral values embodied in the Common Law. The future of civilisation depends upon whether governments are prepared to admit that their laws are subject to Natural Law."
Butler had many a clash with Marxists in the Army Education service, both in its publications and during lectures to the troops. In June
1945 Army Education prevented the ABC from broadcasting an army group discussion written by Butler, even though it had been passed by the ABC, the military censor and the civilian censor. The only excuse offered was that it used the word "bureaucrat" too often! Titled Does Totalitarianism Threaten us on the Home Front?, it quoted King George VI's victory speech urging the creation of "a world of free men untouched by tyranny" and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill's warning that the victors must avoid becoming "all little stooges of the state".
Powerful forces planning the centralisation of govermnent in Australia sought to use the war to silence their opponents. This probably explains the internment without trial of P. R. Stephensen, leader of the Australia First movement, and several of his key followers. Butler in 1985 commented that after the war "I spent many an entertaining hour with Stephensen at the old Metropole Hotel in Sydney. Australia First was highly nationalist and patriotic.
The internment of its members in an atmosphere of hysteria created by sensational allegations may have been intended as a preliminary to the internment of Social Credit leaders like myself."
Eric Butler (2nd top left) with a "concert party" on Horn Island during the war - Torres Strait
On 27 August 1942 Butler's father advised him that he had heard on good authority that The New Times was to be closed down and severe action against Butler taken. Butler consulted Allsop and other Social Crediters at once and The New Times published a challenging front page article on the 4th September headed "Enemies of British Democracy versus Us". Subsequent investigation revealed that there was a plan to intern Butler and others, including Dr. John Dale, Melbourne City Health Officer and Mr. Bruce H. Brown, Deputy Commissioner of Mails. Sir Stanton Hicks, eminent South Australian nutritionist and later Director-General of Food Supplies for Australia was also being smeared as "proNazi".
Strong support from his father helped Butler beat off this danger. Later the Reed Enquiry into subversion was set up on 28th January 1944. Butler was summoned to appear before it on 20th August and its report was presented to the Federal Parliament on 6th March 1945. No doubt to the intense disappointment of Dr. Evatt and other centralists, Butler was entirely exonerated of any charges of disloyalty. The Commission was unconvinced that there was any basis whatsoever for allegations of subversion against Social Crediters.
In Section 61 of its report it stated that "most of them devote a great deal of time to studying the questions in issue and are intensely interested in political, social and economic matters - an attitude which... might very well be emulated by a great many more of the citizens of this Commonwealth. . . (almost all) those who have come under our notice are loyal to His Majesty the King, and are actuated by a sincere desire to improve the lot of themselves and their fellow men, and to bring about a better state of society... Mr Eric Butler is a member of the 2nd A.I.F." Despite this clear finding, Butler's enemies in later years, such as Ken Gott and Phillip Adams, did not scruple to present him as a pro-Nazi traitor in their diatribes!
Founding the League
The first League of Rights, founded in 1946 in South Australia, grew out of the struggle against the 1946 referendum, Dr. Evatt's second attempt in two years to obtain more powers for the federal government. Butler had been brought to South Australia to direct the "Vote No" campaign, backed by leading state professional and business leaders. In an article in Heritage No. 77-78 published September 1995-February 1996 ("The League of Rights Commemorates Fifty Years of Service to the Truth") Butler described the moment of conception.
On 28 September 1946 he outlined a project he had been considering for a year or two. He was with a small group of those who had assisted in the direction of the "Vote No" campaign. He explained that the nature of the world situation had worsened, not improved, as a result of World War II, and predicted that efforts to centralise power everywhere would continue. The whole of the old British world could expect centralist attacks under various labels. What was needed was a permanent non-party "watchdog" that could inform people well ahead of time of the threats to our free society. It would be primarily an educational and service organisation. The name "League of Rights" was suggested by one of those present. C. H. Allen, a longtime Social Crediter.
Soon afterwards the League established other state bodies in Victoria and Queensland. Later other state bodies were founded. In the late 1940's Butler, as Australia's most prominent Social Crediter, with a long record of campaigning for an end to the debt system, found himself running training schools for trading bank staff to help them oppose bank nationalisation effectively. The League opposition to bank nationalisation was the logical result of its philosophy of opposition to all forms of monopoly. It defended the Constitution as the barrier to excessive centralisation of power.
The 'No' Vote
In these early years the League was "respectable"; but eyebrows were raised in some conservative quarters when it recommended a "No" vote in the Menzies Government referendum seeking to outlaw communism. The League stressed that not even such a motive justified granting vast and, to a large extent, unspecified powers to the Federal Government.
Butler soon began to experience efforts to muzzle his voice and curb his influence. For example, he became a feature writer on national and international affairs for the long-established Melbourne morning newspaper The Argus. Its editor, Sir Errol Knox, then came under great pressure over Butler's articles. On 1st May 1949 The Argus started publishing a series of weekly articles based on a League of Rights study course. The seventh and last, scheduled to appear on 2nd July, was suppressed this coinciding with the takeover of The Argus (a conservative paper) by the British Daily Mirror (a socialist paper). The Argus was eventually closed down a few years later.
With son Dick and wife Elma, displaying news clippings and map of 1963 Commonwealth lecture tour.
Butler also encountered opposition when he sought to alert the Melbourne Anglican Synod, of which he was a member, to the dangers of communism, and to propose effective action plans to meet these dangers. At the 1958 Synod Butler moved a controversial motion about Christianity and education. It warned that modern education was producing "technical barbarians", stressed the importance of interesting students in the humanities and pleaded for natural justice for Christian schools. Archbishop Frank Woods, later to be knighted, requested a meeting with Butler, who was unimpressed by the character of the church leader.
At the 1959 Synod Butler placed on the notice paper a motion asking the Synod to declare that Christianity and communism are completely incompatible, that the Synod appoint a committee to prepare a comprehensive report on the philosophy, strategy and tactics of communism, and that this report be studied by senior students at all Church of England schools.
This set the cat among the pigeons. On 28th September the Sydney left-liberal fortnightly Nation published a two-and-a-half page diatribe on 'The Secret Life of Eric Butler", signed by "The Melbourne Spy", who was probably Cyril Pearl (a writer not unlike Phillip Adams). Archbishop Woods sent Butler an appealing letter about the coming Synod. He wanted the minimum of "provocation". The Synod did not pass the motion; however, it did reject a proposal to send a delegate to a communist-front "peace congress", which caused some gnashing of teeth, and Synod members declined to attack Butler personally during the debates. Subsequently, however, some clever juggling by church administrators ensured that Butler would not appear at future synods.
Butler was a local councillor for some years; and in 1958 a determined effort was made to prevent him being elected president of the Eltham Shire. Butler also encountered peculiar opposition within the universities. For example, following a lecture he gave at the University of Melbourne in 1947, a public debate was arranged between him and Judah Waten, secretary of the Jewish Council Against Fascism and Anti-Semitism (a communist front, although Waten did not admit his membership of the CPA then). One lie told by Waten was that Butler had advocated sending all Jews to die in concentration camps in Central Australia and that evidence for this could be found in The New Times!
A year or so earlier Butler had published his booklet The International Jew, an essay built around an analysis of the controversial Protocols of the Elders of Zion. In it Butler challenged the Jewish role in international finance and its connections with communism. Of all Butler's publications, this was perhaps the one which roused the greatest fury.
Butler had another public discussion with a Jewish antagonist, Hugo Wolfson, senior lecturer in political science at the University, who falsely claimed that people like Butler were psychologically preparing people for the day when they would be prepared to kill all Jews! Wolfson also lied by contradicting Butler's correct statement that West Germany had published a White Paper on the worldwide "swastika campaign" of early 1960, stating that it was a communist activity.
A National League
The Australian League of Rights was constituted as a national body in 1960 and soon began to have international influence. In 1962 Butler made an important trip to the UK accompanying the young Queensland Liberal M. P. James Killen in a campaign against the proposed British entry into the "Common Market", an entity which they correctly perceived was intended to develop into a United Europe within which British sovereignty would be lost.
It was during that trip that Butler first began to develop very serious misgivings about the role of Churchill in World War II. In Heritage No. 82 published in 1997 he recalled how the distinguished British Conservative M. P., the Rt. Hon. R. H. Turton, drew his attention to Churchill's address to the House of Commons after his return from the Yalta Conference. Clearly Churchill had given full support to an agreement which handed the communists a major strategic victory in both Europe and Asia.
Butler learned that in the late stages of the war there had been grave concern among many Conservatives that Churchill was sacrificing the long-term interests of Britain and its Empire in order to placate both Moscow and Washington. Churchill had agreed under great pressure to the Morgenthau Plan (Morgenthau was an American Jew) which would have destroyed Germany's status as a major European nation, leaving the USSR dominant in Western Europe. The Plan had been drafted by top secret communists, including Harry Dexter White, inside the Roosevelt administration.
Concern with Churchill
Butler's insight into Churchill's behaviour was deepened by a meeting at the 1979 World Anti-Communist Conference in Washington with Boris Baganov, a former secretary of Joseph Stalin. Baganov assured Butler that Churchill had been blackmailed at Yalta and stated that the Kremlin had a massive dossier on the British Prime Minister, who had a number of personal as well as political skeletons in his closet. Butler had also learned that King George VI and his Queen had had no confidence in Churchill in the early years of his prime ministership, since they doubted he had the stability and ability to adopt the type of diplomacy necessary to avoid a world war - not policy of peace at any price, but one which sought to protect the long term interests of the British world.
A gift in Canadian Dollars to assist African children, presented to Rhodesian Minister of External Affairs and Defence, Lord Graham, by Mr. Eric Butler on behalf of Canadian National Director Ron Gostick and members of the Canadian League of Rights. August 1967
One sequel to this line of revisionist thinking was Butler's unequivocal championship of British historian David Irving, particularly over the publication by Veritas (a publisher associated with the League) in 1987 of the first volume of Churchill's War. Irving very clearly exposed Churchill's acute financial embarrassment in the late 1930's and the crucial fact that his career was saved by a Jewish-organized financial cabal known as "The Focus". In 1992 Jewish organizations spearheaded a determined campaign to have Irving denied future entry to Australia (he had made two tours without any significant trouble) and eventually obtained their will, after the Immigration Act had been altered to enable Irving to be excluded on mere pretexts. Butler and the League took up Irving's cause with enormous persistence, even though Irving's own behaviour towards them was not always co-operative; and the perfidy of both the Keating ALP and Howard coalition governments was at least made amply clear to those who wanted to know about it.
In the Sixties and Seventies Butler was making annual visits to all parts of the English-speaking world, including South Africa and the USA. He built up a formidable range of high-level contacts and was thus able to publish a remarkable range of informed opinion in League journals, particularly Intelligence Survey. Butler was appointed Far Eastern correspondent for American Opinion, magazine of the John Birch Society - until he was dropped after pressure from the Jewish Anti-Defamation League.
In 1964 he made a dramatic tour of Canada, facing some intensely hostile meetings, including those at Regina and Moose Jaw which he graphically described in Heritage No. 83 in 1997. His associate was Patrick Walsh, a former undercover agent for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Zionist-communist opposition led to Butler's activities being discussed in the Canadian lower house.
By 1970 the League was firmly established in the UK, Canada and New Zealand. The concept of the Crown Commonwealth League of Rights came into existence, leading to a co-ordinated international campaign in defence of the Rhodesian independence stand. A symbol of Butler's championship of Rhodesia was the moment when he handed over a tanker of petrol on behalf of Australian supporters of that beleaguered nation.
One of Butler's articles was translated into many languages and may have reached a circulation of six million copies. The leader of the Opposition, Gough Whitlam, attacked Butler's pro-Rhodesian Government activities in the federal Parliament and suggested he should be deprived of his passport to prevent further visits to Rhodesia.
Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith discusses world affairs with Eric Butler in August 1967.
Butler made many important new friends during the Rhodesia phase of 1965 to 1978. One of these was a brilliant lawyer and former director of the Australian Department of External Affairs, Dr Walter Henderson. Dr Henderson had little difficulty in exposing the illegality of international actions against Rhodesia, arguing in particular that the British-Rhodesian agreement of 24th September 1971 required that the Rhodesian Government be recognised as de iure and UN sanctions dropped. The Whitlam Government ignored his findings; but the League published them in a booklet, Rhodesia: a Re-orientation of Australian Policy, later publishing his Conservatism and Society (1976), in which appeared the memorable statement: "Insufficiently literate egalitarians may jeer at the word 'elite' without knowing...what it means. It means not a coterie of business tycoons...but a distinct group of men and women of outstanding knowledge, ability and character upon whom fall the cardinal functions and responsibilities of effectively running a state and a society."
Butler, a farmer himself, firmly believed in the importance of the rural sector. In 1985 he wrote: 'The future of Australia requires an independent rural Australia...England combined a tradition of liberty in close association with a deep passion for the land...William Cobbett was a great lover of rural England...Shakespeare is an authentic voice of the countryside...Christ's ministry was in a predominantly rural setting."
During the Sixties and Seventies many League meetings were held to discuss the rural crisis. Men like Doug Anthony (Country Party leader) and Sir William Gunn (spokesman for the wool industry) were preaching the "get big or get out" approach, contributing to the decline in the number of producers and the growing threat to many traditional family farms. Fearing national economic disaster, the League attacked the cost-price squeeze and advocated long-term low-interest loans with a restoration of consumer price discounts. League influence was strengthening, as senior members of the federal Country Party were meeting with its representatives. Jeremy Lee, one of Butler's most important associates during the last thirty years, was invited, as national secretary of the Institute of Economic Democracy and Assistant National Director of the League, to speak to the management committee of the Queensland Country Party in Brisbane.
This led to a national campaign against the League. Attackers included the central executive of the Queensland branch of the ALP, M. B. Cameron the newly elected Liberal member for Southern in the SA Legislative Council, Dean Jaensch (politics lecturer in the University of Adelaide), ALP federal parliamentarian Clyde Cameron, the Democratic Labor Party monthly magazine Focus and Mr Doug Anthony. The Adelaide Advertiser played a leading role in publishing many of these attacks.
Mr Anthony went too far and under pressure grudgingly admitted that his description of the League as a "Nazi-type" organisation was "inappropriate"; and the state management of his party on 27th August 1971 formally dissociated itself from the slur. Mr Anthony had forgotten the finding (based on an ASIO report) of the Liberal Attorney-General, the Hon. R. M. Snedden, on 17th December 1965 that there was "no evidence to suggest that the Australian League of Rights is other than a reputable organization".
Butler and the League were staunchly defended by eminent Australians, including Anne Neill, former undercover agent for ASIO, who on 14th July 1971 described the League as "the one organisation the leaders of which had any real understanding of communism and its ultimate objectives" and wrote of the "'loyal friendship and understanding" she had received from Butler.
On 18th September the Hon. Sir Reginald Sholl, former justice of the Victorian Supreme Court and former Australian Consul-General to New York, opened the League national seminar and said: "I have known this organisation and Eric Butler for many years as persons who have kept themselves well informed about the theory and practice of world communism and who have the courage to ascertain and attack subversive activities in industry, politics, literature, broadcasting and other fields in this country."
Butler believes that the League was the most influential grass-roots movement in Australia during the Whitlam years (1972 to 1975).
In 1975, before challenging Billy Snedden for the Liberal leadership, Malcolm Fraser met privately with Butler to discuss the leadership. Butler was unimpressed by Fraser and in early 1976 issued an open letter predicting that the Fraser coalition Government was on a disaster course. Events confirmed this prophecy.
The Fraser Governments
(a) set in motion the disastrous and divisive Aboriginal Land Rights movement;
(b) adopted the UN conventions which led to the historic High Court decisions that found that, in essence, a federal government can, under the external affairs powers of the Constitution, enter into international conventions and agreements and then legislate nationally to give effect to these agreements (Dr. Evatt had proposed such a line in the Forties);
(c) played a major part in the destruction of Rhodesia and the handing over of the country to the Marxist thug and later ruthless dictator Robert Mugabe;
(d) played a major part in breaking down Australia's traditional immigration policies; and
(e) forbade QANTAS to fly into South Africa.
On occasion attempts have been made to deter Catholics from supporting the League by raising the sectarianism bogey. The truth is, however, that Butler enjoyed the confidence of some most prominent Catholic churchmen. He has recorded that the door of Archbishop Daniel Mannix (a Melbourne legend who died in his late nineties) was always open to him and his colleagues. Archbishop Mannix even wrote a letter of introduction for Butler for a tour of New South Wales and Queensland, expressing gratitude for his "strenuous fight against sectarianism and communism" and his cooperation with Catholics. The Archbishop was a regular subscriber to The New Times from its inception until near his death.
Butler also enjoyed warm and friendly relations with the next Archbishop of Melbourne, Archbishop Simmonds, who subscribed to Intelligence Survey and, an outstanding exponent of natural law, supported Butler on several major issues.
League supporters cooperated with Catholic and other allies wherever possible in the battle against communists inside the trades union movement. Butler believed that the League may have played a decisive role in Dr. Evatt's failure to win the 1954 federal elections.
He later drafted a brochure for the Reverend Norman Hill, Anglican vicar of St. Mark's, Fitzroy, which became probably the most widely distributed piece of literature during the 1955 Victorian state elections. He supplied copies to Frank McManus, later to become a prominent DLP senator.
Defying the Zionists
In his booklet Releasing Reality, Butler recorded how Major Douglas came to decide that there really did exist in the affairs of nations a "Jewish Problem" with its roots deep in history. Douglas raised the matter as early as 1924 in his major work Social Credit. There, Douglas argued that a conspiracy of silence surrounded the issue; that the theory of rewards and punishment is Mosaic in origin; that finance and law derive their main inspiration from the same source; that the Jews exhibit the race consciousness idea to an extent unapproached elsewhere; that they are the protagonists of collectivism in all its forms, whether socialism, Fabianism or big business; and that the Jews as a group, and not as individuals, were under question. Both Douglas and Butler showed a very high degree of moral courage in publicly criticising what they regarded as damaging Jewish influence in the British nations they cherished, as well as elsewhere. For, however it is in fact structured, Jewish influence in national and international politics is formidable.
Jewish spokesmen have tried to discredit Butler and the League by accusing them of "anti-Semitism" and "racial hatred" - as though they were simply overcome by some utterly pathological aversion for which they deserve to be made social pariahs. Such an attitude is itself an expression of hatred and cannot be justly maintained by any fair-minded person who studies the writings on Jews by Butler and the many other authorities on the subject he has quoted throughout his long career as a public activist.
This does not mean that the views of Douglas and Butler on every aspect of the Jewish question are correct. My own view is that, compared to the theses of the Perennialists (Rene Guenon, Ananda Coomaraswamy, Frithjof Schuon and others), their attempts to distinguish between Jewish and Christian sacred traditions are at times narrow-minded and ignorant. It is a cardinal error to claim that there is no valid form of Judaism with its own metaphysical symbolism, rituals, liturgies and initiatory power. Anyone who doubts that might profitably study Leo Schaya's The Meaning of the Kabbalah (Allen & Unwin, UK, 1971).
As this article is being completed (27th October 2001), an apposite religious statement has appeared in The Age by the Reverend David Powys, Anglican Vicar at Mount Eliza, Victoria. "Among religious people, in general," he writes, "a distinction can be drawn between those who hold theirs as the only way to God, salvation and/or enlightenment, and those who regard theirs as one of many. These may be dubbed 'exclusivist' and 'inclusivist'. "Exclusivists bring conviction, animation and renewal to any religion, but they are also the ones most likely to test society's commitment to freedom and tolerance."
Eric Butler and South Africa's Ivor Benson share a platform in Durban, May 1970.
Butler grew up in a British Empire which, in an era before today's international trade, communication and transport, could complacently imagine that it was undergirded by "the one true faith". It is in that context that his belief that Judaism and Buddhism are "religions of pessimism" (a serious misjudgement, to say the least!) would have formed. In this context it is regrettable that some recent commentators in League publications have made disparaging remarks on The Old Testament, which beyond doubt is filled with expressions of profound spirituality and sacred beauty. Indeed, the whole story of Moses and the search for the Promised Land appears to be plainly initiatory material irrespective of any historical accuracy it may possess.
"Something is rotten in the state of Denmark," said Hamlet; but he did not claim that Denmark was wholly rotten. So is it with the Jews in our times. In Australia the recent attempts by leading Jewish agencies to silence revisionist historians, have octogenarians extradited to face "trial" for "war crimes" and limit the freedom of speech to protect themselves from justified criticism are evidence that much reform is needed within Jewry; but, in calling for this, we must beware that we do not fall into the trap of caricaturing this people and failing to respect the humanity they share with us.
It is not the whole of Jewry that deserves censure, but only certain powerful trends, or sub-communities, within it. However, the Gospel accounts of the opposition faced by Jesus suggest that these trends have existed for millennia - hardy growths indeed!
Curiously, Butler has never had difficulty on the political plane, as opposed to the religious, in respecting Jewish intellectuals and writers. His praise for men like Dr Oscar Levy, Dr Alfred Lilienthal and Mr Moshe Menhuin has been insightful and generous.
His Christian Line
During his career Butler wrote extensively about Christianity, continuing and exploring the analyses of Douglas. For both men Jesus appeared as an inimitable defender of human dignity and individuality. They tended to select from the Gospels and, to a lesser extent, the rest of The New Testament, teachings which coincided with their political philosophy; and, in general, they brilliantly matched the two. However, these happy parallels seem to have misled Butler at times into seeing himself as more of an expert on the vast subject of Christianity than is the case. He never took a university degree; he is a gifted amateur, not a scholar. Nor is he a mystic, let alone a metaphysician.
On the other hand his sterling insistence on the fundamental relationship between Christian sacred tradition and Magna Carta, the Common Law and the British spirit, which are embedded in that tradition, gave him a clear perspective from which to castigate effectively the shortcomings of various forms of what Eric Voegelin in The New Science of Politics (University of Chicago Press, USA .5 1952) called modern gnosticism - socialism, Marxism, communism, fascism, nazism, humanism, existentialism, anarchism and (in some of its forms) liberalism.
It also enabled him to write some noble statements such as this one in The Truth about the Australian League of Rights (pages 91-92): "The League has never fostered hatred against any group of people, and believes that every individual, irrespective of ethnic background, has value in the sight of God. One of the legacies of the French Revolution, the equality dogma, disputes the reality of the uniqueness of each individual and the many differences between racial groups. Equality means no quality. Christians who preach the doctrine of equality are surrendering to a view for which there is no evidence in The New Testament."
In the 1980's the question of "Aboriginal land rights" became a major issue. A former communist, Geoff McDonald, revealed that it had been communist policy since the 1920's to use the aboriginal issue as a tool to achieve socialist revolution in Australia. His book Red Over Black was published by the League and became a very widely read text. An even more important book promoted to clarify the controversy was Land Rights - Birth Rights by "Peter B. English" (a pseudonym) - published by Veritas in 1985. This was a year after the famous 1984 Warnambool meeting, at which both Butler and RSL chief Bruce Ruxton were on the platform, and which had been called by irate farmers to protect their own land rights from what amounted to theft by govemments. So great was the indignation that the "Aboriginal land rights" movement was badly stalled, while coalition spokesmen, including Geoff Kennett, sought to distance themselves from the League. A Jewish delegation even visited Kennett in Parliament House to try to minimise League influence.
Geoff McDonald, author of the best selling "Red Over Black", with Eric Butler and Frank Bawden, founding member of the League.
Land Rights - Birth Rights was the work of a European Australian who had served in Papua New Guinea and with the Department of Native Affairs in Western Australia. It was dedicated not only to Professors T. G. H. Strehlow and A. P. Elkin (acknowledged experts in the field of Aboriginal cultures), but also to Kuradu and Burori, Aboriginal elders who had initiated the author as a wundu in the sacred rites of the Meening Aborigines of the Bight region of South Australia.
"English" exposed clearly how the 1967 referendum (in which the Australian people strongly supported two apparently reasonable proposals to benefit Aborigines) was misinterpreted and misapplied for political purposes, especially after the Whitlam ALP Government rushed straight after its 1972 election into grossly widening (to the point of absurdity) the definition of what constitutes an Aboriginal. As a result, true bloods (the only legitimate inheritors of Aborigine sacred traditions) lost out and a host of half-castes and quarter-castes were able to profitably claim Aboriginality, entitling themselves to government largesse and a hand on the levers of power.
It thus required courage and determination by Butler to withstand the powerful attempts of revolutionary groups to use the Aborigines as a wedge to divide Australians, further erode British tradition in the nation and thus soften the country up for absorption into the "New World Order"; but Butler never faltered. His stand has been vindicated by the positions subsequently taken by many responsible commentators, including the former Liberal Minister Peter Howson and the distinguished Victorian QC Ian Spry, editor of National Observer.
In Releasing Reality Butler provided a succinct statement of the importance of Major Douglas, his discoveries about the workings of the modern financial system, his proposed solutions and his overarching expression of a philosophy, with associated policies, that was based on divine truth and natural law. Not having financial expertise, I do not feel qualified to comment on the validity of Douglas's monetary reform proposals; but there is no doubt in my mind that he correctly analysed the danger to human freedom posed by many trends in the industrialised world.
In essence, Douglas warned that the excessive centralisation of power over individual initiative was the major cause of the collapse of past civilisations. He identified control over the issue of money and credit as the key instrument of power in the modern world. He thus saw the drive towards creating a world Government as a strategy designed to ensure that a centralised Money Power is reinforced with centralised economic and military power.
Douglas concluded that all efforts to operate the current finance economic system under prevailing methods of creating and issuing financial credit must lead to inflation. Attempts to control inflation would in turn lead to depressed standards of living, loss of human freedoms and military wars.
Butler faithfully publicised the Douglas world picture for sixty or more years of intense political activity in a spirit of public service and Christian devotion. In doing so he acquired and published a formidable knowledge of world affairs and European history. He was able to circulate a vast amount of historical data that powerful interests were eager to cast down what George Orwell in Nineteen Eighty-Four called "the memory hole".
Past and present National Directors of the Australian League of Rights, Eric Butler and Betty Luks.
He was able to draw to himself a loyal band of able workers in the different states. He fashioned and maintained a powerful minority community to act as a pressure group in Australian society; and he directed its influence into a huge number of important political campaigns, many of which resulted in victory, despite the enormous power of his adversaries.
Yet the League has perhaps been no more than a "holding operation", delaying rather than frustrating the intention to absorb Australia into a totalitarian world government. Butler wisely endeavoured to assure that it would grow and flourish beyond his lifetime, by stepping down as national director before his own powers and energies failed and handing over control to a very able younger colleague, David Thompson. When Thompson unexpectedly withdrew from the League, there was another able colleague ready to take over, Betty Luks.
It is quite clear that a large book, carefully researched and documented, will be needed to do justice to the role of Butler in Australian history. It should not be written in a mode of hagiography, however. Current and future leaders of the League will be wise to review in each generation the findings of Douglas and Butler, and to accept that human error will assuredly have crept in here and there.
One aspect of the League's philosophy that may need revision is its understanding of democracy and the problem of obtaining the best possible political order in society. Once Douglas had decided that an entrenched money power, monopolistic in tendency, was in existence and determined to maintain and advance its position, he had to find a strategy to weaken its power. He sought a mechanism whereby electors could unite to demand results from their parliamentary representatives.
The political parties did not offer a sufficient avenue for reform in themselves; for they too easily came under the control of the money power itself. Douglas thought that the solution was for electors to be encouraged to form groups within electorates which could place pressure on parliamentary representatives to ensure that the will of the electorate was done. In general Butler guided the League to follow this pattern of activity.
By contrast, a different approach was followed in Britain by the corresponding figure of importance, John Tyndall, for many years leader of the British National Party. Tyndall argued that until patriots had regained control of the nation, reform would not occur, and that the only way of gaining such control was through winning a national election.
Diametrically different policies have led to similar results: Butler and Tyndall have each created important minority groups, but neither group seems remotely within reach of obtaining sufficient control - or influence. One concludes that the enemy have simply been too strong.
Perhaps in both cases it might be wise to turn away from the pursuit of democratic models and to re-examine the model of traditional, hierarchic societies as advocated by Rene Guenon in The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times and Julius Evola in Revolt against the Modern World. Such models retain the Crown and the institutions and grandeur of the throne (Butler's loyal defence of the monarchy has been another of his significant achievements, without which the 1999 referendum might have been lost to the republicans). However, they replace democracy by aristocracy ("rule of the best") and a caste system based upon human nature and those natural laws to which both Douglas and Butler wisely paid homage. The challenge is to extend the size and influence of a "kingdom within the kingdom", the League and the BNP being such mini-kingdoms; and perhaps the traditional model is better.
Maybe these and other critiques of Douglas and the League could be debated at the 2002 national seminar. For, in certain contexts, a "more of the same" policy may not be the best way in which the League can continue and build upon the remarkable achievements of Butler, who has been a pioneer as well as a traditionalist."On Target" is published by the Australian League of Rights, Box 1052. G.P.O. Melbourne 3001.
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