Put the Quakers back in charge of Barclays, which they founded, as they also founded Lloyds. In what I wish that I could turn into something witty or profound, all four of the Cadbury, Rowntree, Terry and Fry families were, and presumably still are, Quaker. Banks once again run on the principles of Simplicity, Truthfulness, Equality and Peace are exactly what we need. Likewise, confectioners, among so very many other concerns. But most pressingly, banks.
All retail banks should be transformed into mutual building societies, ironclad as such by the Statute Law that already forbids building societies from engaging in investment banking, and would therefore automatically forbid all retail banks from so engaging if they had all been so transformed. I do occasionally receive communications from people who cannot get their heads around that one. But it is the law; look it up if you don’t believe me. And those people’s complete inability to deal with the very concept of mutualism is an even stronger argument in its favour.
The roots of the American Republic, of the campaign against the slave trade, of Radical and Tory action against social evils, of the extension of the franchise, of the creation of the Labour Movement, and of opposition to the Boer and First World Wars, are all in Catholic, High Church (and thus first Methodist and then also Anglo-Catholic, as well as Scottish Episcopalian), Congregationalist, Baptist, Quaker and other disaffection with the Whig Revolution of 1688, such that within those communities, long after any hope of a Stuart restoration had died, there remained a sense that the Hanoverian State, its Empire, and that Empire’s capitalist ideology were less than fully legitimate, a sense which had startlingly far-reaching consequences. Radical action for social justice and for peace derived from testing the State and its policies against theologically grounded criteria of legitimacy. It still does.
In reclaiming, reconstructing and redeploying that tradition, each of those communal bearers of it has a part to play. In the Quaker case, it is the Four Testimonies, set within the present relocation within the Great Tradition, both of the Puritan and Anabaptist movements behind the rise of the Friends, and of the Radical Dissent to which they contributed so significantly and substantially.
In large part, that will involve the correction and redirection of Quakerism, especially as it has usually manifested it since the middle half of the twentieth century. However, it will also involve other correction and other redirection: correction by, and redirection towards, the Simplicity, Truthfulness, Equality and Peace to which Scripture and Tradition bear witness, making them fundamental to all three of the authentic, indigenous, popular political traditions of this country.