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The
title to all such lands remaining with the commonwealth.[232]

I have italicized the most significant items. The preference given
to landless farmers in the last paragraph shows that the party in
Oklahoma does not propose to distribute its greatest favors to
those who are now in possession of even the smallest amount of
land. On the other hand, once the land is governmentally "owned"
and speculation and landlordism (or renting) are provided against,
the farmer passes "the right of occupancy" of this land on to his
children. European Socialist parties, with one exception, have not
gone so far as this, and it is doubtful if the American Party will
sustain such a long step towards permanent private property. It may
well be doubted whether the Socialist movement will favor giving to
children the identical privileges their parents had, simply because
they are the children of these parents, especially if these
privileges had been materially increased in value during the
parents' lifetime by community effort, _i.e._ if there has been
any large "unearned increment." Nor will they grant any additional
right after forty years of payments or any other term, but, on the
contrary, as the land rises, through the community's efforts they
would undoubtedly see to it that _rent was correspondingly
increased_. Socialists demand, not penalties against landlordism,
but the community appropriation of rent--whether it is in the hands
of the actual farmer or landlord. Why, moreover, seek to
discriminate against those who are in possession _now_, and then
favor those who will be in possession after the new dispensation,
by giving the latter an almost permanent title? May there not be as
many landless agricultural workers forty years hence as there are
now? Why should those who happen to be landless in one generation
instead of the next receive superior rights?

Not only Henry George, but Herbert Spencer and the present
governments of Great Britain (for all but agricultural land) and
Germany (in the case of cities), recognize that the element of land
values due to the community effort should go to the community. The
political principle that gives the community no permanent claim to
ground rent and is ready to give a "right of occupancy" for two _or
more_ lifetimes (for nothing is said in the Oklahoma program about
the land returning to the government) without any provisions for
increased rentals and with no rents at all after forty years, is
_reactionary_ as compared with recent land reform programs
elsewhere (as that of New Zealand).

Even Mr. Roosevelt's Commission on Country Life goes nearly as far
as the Oklahoma Socialists when it condemns speculation in farm
lands and tenancy; while Mr. Roosevelt himself has suggested as a
remedy in certain instances the leasing of parts of the national
domain. Indeed, the "progressive" capitalists everywhere favor
either small self-employing farmers or national ownership and
leases for long terms and in small allotments, and as "State
Socialism" advances it will unquestionably lean towards the latter
system. There is nothing Socialistic either in government
encouragement either of one-family farms or in a national leasing
system with long-term leases as long as the new revenue received
goes for the usual "State Socialistic" purposes.


The American Party, moreover, has failed so far to come out definitely
in favor of the capitalist-collectivist principle of the State
appropriation of ground rent, already indorsed by Marx in 1847 and again
in 1883 (see his letter about Henry George, Part I, Chapter VIII). In
preparing model constitutions for New Mexico and Arizona (August, 1910),
the National Executive Committee took up the question of taxation and
recommended graduated income and inheritance taxes, but nothing was said
about the State taking the future rise in rents. This is not a reaction
when compared to the present world status of non-Socialist land reform,
for the taxation of unearned increment has not yet been extended to
agricultural land in use, but it is decidedly a reaction when compared
with the Socialists' own position in the past.

In a semiagricultural country like the United States it is natural that
"State Socialism" should influence the Socialist Party in its treatment
of the land question more than in any other direction, and this
influence is, perhaps, the gravest danger that threatens the party at
the present writing.


By far the most important popular organ of Socialism in this
country is the _Appeal to Reason_ of Girard, Kansas, which now
circulates nearly half a million copies weekly--a large part of
which go into rural communities. The _Appeal_ endeavors, with some
success, to reflect the views of the average party member, without
supporting any faction. As Mr. Debs is one of its editors, it may
be understood that it stands fundamentally against the compromise
of any essential Socialist principle. And yet the exigencies of a
successful propaganda among small landowners or tenants who either
want to become landowners or to secure a lease that would amount to
almost the same thing, is such as to drive the _Appeal_ into a
position, not only as to the land question, but also to other
questions, that has in it many elements of "State Socialism."

A special propaganda edition (January 27, 1902) is typical. Along
with many revolutionary declarations, such as that Socialism aims
not only at the socialization of the means of production, but also
at the socialization of _power_, we find others that would be
accepted by any capitalist "State Socialist." Government activities
as to schools and roads are mentioned as examples of socialization,
while that part of the land still in the hands of our present
capitalist government is referred to as being socialized. The use
of vacant and unused lands (with "a fair return" for this use) by
city, township, and county officials in order to raise and sell
products and furnish employment, as was done by the late Mayor
Pingree in Detroit, and even the public ownership of freight and
passenger automobiles, are spoken of as "purely Socialist
propositions." And, finally, the laws of Oklahoma are said to
permit socialization without a national victory of the Socialists,
though they provide merely that a municipality may engage in any
legitimate business enterprise, and could easily be circumscribed
by state constitutional provisions or by federal courts if real
Socialists were about to gain control of municipalities and State
legislature. For such Socialists would not be satisfied merely to
demand the abolition of private landlordism and unemployment as the
_Appeal_ does in this instance, since both of these "institutions"
are already marked for destruction by "State capitalism," but would
plan public employment at wages so high as to make private
employment unprofitable and all but impossible, so high that the
self-employing farmer even would more and more frequently prefer to
quit his farm and go to work on a municipal, State, or county farm.


The probable future course of the Party, however, is foreshadowed by the
suggestions made by Mr. Simons in the report referred to, which, though
not yet voted upon, seemed to meet general approval:--

"With the writers of the Communist Manifesto we agree in the principle
of the 'application of all rents of land to public purposes.' To this
end we advocate the taxing of all lands to their full rental value, the
income therefrom to be applied to the establishment of industrial plants
for the preparing of agricultural products for final consumption, such
as packing houses, canneries, cotton gins, grain elevators, storage and
market facilities."[233]

There is no doubt that Mr. Simons here indorses the most promising line
of agrarian reform under capitalism. But there is no reason why
capitalist collectivism may not take up this policy when it reaches a
somewhat more advanced stage. The tremendous benefits the cities will
secure by the gradual appropriation of the unearned increment will
almost inevitably suggest it to the country also. This will immensely
hasten the development of agriculture and the numerical increase of an
agricultural working class. What is even more important is that it will
teach the agricultural laborers that far more is to be gained by the
political overthrow of the small capitalist employing farmers and by
claiming a larger share of the benefit of these public funds than by
attempting the more and more difficult task of saving up the sum needed
for acquiring a small farm or leasing one for a long term from the
government.

The governmental appropriation of agricultural rent and its productive
expenditure on agriculture will in all probability be carried out, even
if not prematurely promised at the present time, by collectivist
capitalism. Moreover, while this great reform will strengthen Socialism
as indicated, it will strengthen capitalism still more, especially in
the earlier stages of the change. Socialists recognize, with Henry
George, that ground rent may be nationalized and "tyranny and spoliation
be continued." For if the present capitalistic state gradually became
the general landlord, either through the extension of the national
domain or through land taxation, greater resources would be put into the
hands of existing class governments than by any other means. If, for
example, the Socialists opposed the government bank in Germany they
might dread even more the _present_ government becoming the universal
landlord, though it would be useless to try to prevent it.

It is clear that such a reform is no more a step in Socialism or in the
direction of Socialism than the rest of the capitalist collectivist
program.



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Keywords: landless, should, farmers, increased, george, taxation, question, unearned, through, though
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