Thursday, June 28, 2012

Edward Filene Speaks to the Radical Purpose of Credit Unionism

Edward Filene
Timely excerpt from an article by credit union pioneer Edward Filene on page 7 of the February, 1936 issue of The Credit Union Bridge (now Credit Union Magazine) entitled "Of the People, By the People and For the People":

...But do the Credit Unionists of America recognize their own historic part in this never-ending movement toward true democracy? Toward the liberation of humanity, and its rise to yet undreamed of heights, not by destroying great and useful powers which are used to oppress it, but by discovering how to use those powers for the common good.

As we celebrate the birthdays of Washington and of Lincoln, it is my hope that Credit Unionists at least will not be content with the mere recital of victories won. These are the two greatest names in our National history; but they are great because they dared to look forward, and it is dishonoring, not honoring such names, to celebrate their birthdays merely by looking back.

May each of us Credit Unionists remember, then, that he is not merely one of a little local group, which has discovered a convenient way of meeting certain little credit problems. We are enlisted units, rather, in a great and growing army of liberation, destined not to destroy the money power or even quarrel with it, but to discover how this power which necessarily controls the lives of people in this machine age may be used most effectively by the people for the people's interests.

To discover that, it was necessary to begin with the little local circle. Until we learned the first lessons, we could not go into the higher grades. But money is power only when it is used. To use it most effectively, we must use it constantly; and as our resources grow, we must learn how to deploy them in ever greater and more comprehensive ways. ...

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