Monday, June 6, 2016

Henry George on the definition of Socialism

Despite the fact that Henry George was in favor of land nationalization, here is his view on the term 'socialism', and those who were calling him socialist.(The Works of Henry George, Protection or Free Trade, page 324)
The term "socialism" is used so loosely that it is hard to attach to it a definite meaning. I myself am classed as a socialist by those who denounce socialism, while those who profess themselves socialists declare me not to be one. For my own part I neither claim nor repudiate the name, and realizing as I do the correlative truth of bath principles can no more call myself an individualist or a socialist than one who considers the forces by which the planets are held to their orbits could call himself a centrifugalist or a centripetalist. The German socialism of the school of Marx (of which the leading representative in England is Mr. H. M. Hyndman, and the best exposition in America has been given by Mr. Laurence Gronlund), seems to me a high-purposed but incoherent mixture of truth and fallacy, the defects of which may be summed up in its want of radicalism - that is to say, of going to the root.

Like many progressives, George was not a socialist. He truly believed that if government only taxed land at 100%, that would solve more problems than any other proposal. 100 years after Theodore Roosevelt used parks as an excuse to start nationalizing land, we've experienced how dangerous it is for government to control the land. In the end, we the people are the ones who end up suffering.

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