Is It Twilight or Dawn --
Johannes L. Bjorner
]An article originally published in Criindskyld,
October 1940. Translated by Grace Isabel Colbron and reprinted from
Land and Freedom, January-February 1941]
For those who enjoy their pessimism and embrace their worries, the
time we are now living in is a rather good time, and no one should
prevent them from being as worried as possible provided they keep
their pessimism for themselves and do not force it on their
fellow-mortals. But for folks with a more wholesome point of view, it
is good to look our times right in the eyes, to weigh advantage and
disadvantage, and try to find some little profit in the accounting.
One thing can be looked on as gain, and that is that we are living in
a very interesting epoch an epoch that can teach us much.
Most people can now see what many Georgeists prophesied -- that the
Versailles Treaty was a bad mistake. The new boundaries drawn up in
Versailles may in some cases have been better than the old ones in
that they paid more heed to language and ethnographical boundaries,
and the League of Nations was a step in the right direction. But the
demand of the Entente Powers (especially France), that the more than
two thousand miles of new borders should be tariff borders, tore the
Versailles Peace in tatters. Tariff is war and war always results from
it. This was one of the causes why Germany, for instance, and also
England, were cheated in the disarmament issue; but it was the tariff
which the munitions industry knew how to play as their trump card.
That is how we can best summarize the position of today. And what now?
The war in Western Europe may be looked upon as over, for the moment.
But can it not extend itself still further towards the West? Most
certainly. There is space enough for a Thirty-Years' War for the
sovereignty of the Atlantic Ocean, and still further but that is
probably too big a mouthful for the war industries. And the people
themselves may become weary of the war. The strongest probability is
that the war will cease in a relatively near future. And then we'll
have "peace"! Nothing more?
"Peace is not the best thing one could wish for." We should
not struggle merely to keep peace. There's peace in the churchyard,
the peace of the grave. Life cannot be supported on peace alone. The
opposite of war is not merely peace, but co-operation, just as helping
one another is the opposite to killing one other. Not just peace, but
free trade, is the true opposite of war. Down with the barriers, then
which means, down with the tariff!
What are the chances?
After France's collapse the government of Marshal Petain sent out the
word: "France's recovery will come through a new economic system
in commerce and agriculture, and industry shall learn to keep itself
up by the quality of its production." In other words, away with
Protection ... institute free economy!
And Germany? Alfred Rosenberg, on July 10th, called together the
foreign press to give them a glimpse of Germany's future economic
policy. Rosenberg pictured a Europe of independent States but without
customs frontiers! And as there was some doubt later as to what he
really had said. Two important dailies, the Berliner
Bocrsenzcihthy on July 13th, and the Volkischcr Bcobachter
on July 16th, carried long commentaries on Rosenberg's speech and
ended with the following words, dealing especially with the North:
"Germany does not intend to pull down the Northern
States, whose rich cultural wealth and historical tradition are
perhaps nowhere in the world better known than in Germany. Living
and working together, that is Germany's aim, not destruction of
But how much understanding has modern Germany about free trade? That
is another question. Opinions differ in Germany, differ widely.
Recently, Germany's plans for a future political ordering of German
agriculture were announced. The Government seems to see clearly
regarding the danger of the constant capitalization of ground rents
and its attendant increase of price and consequent indebtedness of
land property. But instead of meeting this problem with an effective
land valuation tax, they are merely instituting any number of new
regulations, old regulations and the like regulations that are the
opposite of free trade.
But that is Germany's concern. But they must let the rest of us
practice free trade.
It is high time that we gather our forces for a forward push. We had
all the necessary conditions for making Denmark Europe's free port to
our own advantage and as an instructive example to other countries.
But we did not do it. Much might have looked better for us, but the
majority willed it otherwise. Now, we've got our "cold shower."
Let us hope that it will teach us to open our eyes and come together
for a new strong policy.
What Lloyd George said in the House of Commons last May was quite
true that England and France had only themselves to thank for Hitler's
hard hand over them. And we can say that we have only ourselves to
thank for much in our public policies.
Much has happened this year which may portend a new healthy popular
uprising. We have seen the five democratic parties (in Denmark) unite
in a concerted opposition to reaction. We have seen employers and
workers unite to avoid future wages disputes. That is an important
step! And many things point to a new awakening of national life. There
were the 740,000 people who met on September 1st to sing the Grundtvig
song. That could not have happened a year ago! And the feeling of
fellowship that lay over the dedication of the Grundtvig Church on
September 8th Grundlvig's Church the great work of a faithful disciple
of Henry George, Architect Jensen Klint ... a landmark to the talent
of our day. And on the latest occasion, September 26th, our King's
70th birthday, the wave of homage and fidelity that rolled out toward
the King had an objective higher than the King's person. It was the
cry of a people to Heaven, the cry of a strongly felt national unity.
"We are Danes and we will always be Danes."
Will the Denmark of Valdemar's day, the Denmark of free trade and of
the great land reformers, blossom again in a new national Spring
towards the aim of The Earth for the People?
Does our day mean Twilight or Dawn?
It is Dawn!