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1932 Manifesto of The League for Social Reconstruction. (LSR)

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The Manifesto of the League for Social Reconstruction (LSR) was a document written in 1932 by a group of Canadian intellectuals who were deeply concerned about the economic and social challenges facing the country during the Great Depression. The LSR was founded in 1931, and the manifesto was its first major statement of purpose. The LSR was a progressive organization that sought to promote social and economic planning, and the manifesto was a call to action for Canadians to rethink their economic system and embrace a more cooperative and equitable society.

The manifesto argued that the Great Depression was not simply a temporary economic downturn, but rather a symptom of deep structural problems in the Canadian economy. The authors of the manifesto believed that the country needed to move beyond traditional capitalism and embrace a new economic model that emphasized planning, cooperation, and public ownership of key industries.

Specifically, the manifesto called for the creation of a "socialized economy" in which major industries were owned and operated by the public, through either nationalization or cooperative ownership. It also advocated for the creation of a national economic plan, coordinated by the government, to ensure that economic growth was sustainable and equitable.

In addition to its economic proposals, the manifesto also called for a range of social reforms, including the expansion of public education, the introduction of a national health insurance system, and the establishment of a guaranteed minimum income for all citizens.

The LSR was not a political party, but rather a group of independent intellectuals who sought to influence public policy through their writings and activism. The manifesto was widely read and discussed in Canada, and it helped to inspire a generation of progressive thinkers and policymakers who were committed to building a more equitable and cooperative society.

Although many of the LSR's specific proposals were not immediately adopted, the manifesto helped to shift the terms of public debate in Canada and lay the groundwork for many of the social and economic reforms that were implemented in the decades following its publication.
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Manifesto of The League for Social Reconstruction. (LSR)

February 1932

by Frank Underhill (1889-1971)

The League for Social Reconstruction is an association of men and women who are working for the establishment in Canada of a social order in which the basic principle regulating production, distribution and service will be the common good rather than private profit.

The present capitalist system has shown itself unjust and inhuman, economically wasteful, and a standing threat to peace and democratic government. Over the whole world it has led to a struggle for raw materials and markets and to a consequent international competition in armaments which were among the main causes of the last great war and which constantly threaten to bring on new wars. In the advanced industrial countries it has led to the concentration of wealth in the hands of a small irresponsible minority of bankers and industrialists whose economic power constantly threatens to nullify our political democracy. The result in Canada is a society in which the interests of farmers and of wage and salaried workers - the great majority of the population - are habitually sacrificed to those of this small minority. Despite our abundant natural resources the mass of the people have not been freed from poverty and insecurity. Unregulated competitive production condemns them to alternate periods of feverish prosperity, in which the main benefits go to speculators and profiteers, and of catastrophic depression, in which the common man's normal state of insecurity and hardship is accentuated.

We are convinced that these evils are inherent in any system in which private profit is the main stimulus to economic effort. We therefore look to the establishment in Canada of a new social order which will substitute a planned and socialized economy for the existing chaotic individualism and which, by achieving an approximate economic equality among all men in place of the present glaring inequalities, will eliminate the domination of one class by another.

As an essential first step towards the realization of this new order we advocate:

(1) Public ownership and operating of the public utilities connected with transportation, communications, and electric power, and of such other industries as are already approaching conditions of monopolistic control.

(2) Nationalization of Banks and other financial institutions with a view to the regulation of all credit and investment operations.

(3) The further development of agricultural cooperative institutions for the production and merchandising of agricultural products.

(4) Social legislation to secure to the worker adequate in come and leisure, freedom of association, insurance against illness, accident, old age, and unemployment, and an effective voice in the management of his industry.

(5) Publicly organized health, hospital, and medical services.

(6) A taxation policy emphasizing steeply graduated income and inheritance taxes.

(7) The creation of a National Planning Commission.

(8) The vesting in Canada of the power to amend and interpret the Canadian constitution so as to give the federal government power to control the national economic development.

(9) A foreign policy designed to secure international cooperation in regulating trade, industry and finance, and to promote disarmament and world peace.

The league will work for the realization of its ideal by organizing groups to study and report on particular problems, and by issuing to the public in the form of pamphlets, articles, lectures, etc., the most accurate information obtainable about the nation's affairs in order to create an informed public opinion. It will support any political party in so far as its programme furthers the above principles, and will foster cooperation among all groups and individuals who desire in Canada the kind of social order at which the League aims.

*** Source: The Canadian Forum, April 1932

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Source: The Canadian Forum, April 1932

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