Where Karl Marx Agrees
With Henry George

Bolton Hall

[Reprinted from Land and Freedom, May-June 1938]

We have Socialists, Communists, Trade Unionist Employers Federationists, Anarchists, Free Trader Tariff Reformers, Revenue Protectionists, Money and Credit Reformers, Prohibitionists, Religious Bodies, Georgeans, etc., etc.

The pity is that workers for reform are so divided their aims. Is there a possibility of reaching some common agreement; of co-ordination, of bringing plan of chaos? All these may be divided into two classes those who believe that ideal conditions are to be sought through authority and those who believe that liberty enough. In chemistry a certain element will clarify clouded mixture; in mechanics, the principle of economy secures simplification.

Our Socialists and Communists follow Marx, and both George and Marx largely agree on the evils of Land Monopoly, Taxation, and Protection. The first plan of the Marx and Engels Manifesto demands the diversion of the People's Ground Rent into the public treasury The following statements in Das Kapital by Marx (Vol. I, pp. 842, 829, 830; Vol. Ill, 896-7-8, 956 also practically accord with George's teachings:

"The expropriation of the mass of people from the soil form the basis of the capitalist mode of production."

"When land is very cheap and all men are free ... not only labor very dear, as respects the laborer's share of the product, but the difficulty is to obtain combined labor at any price."

"The starting point of the development that gave rise to the wage-laborer as well as to the capitalist, was the servitude of the laborer. ...The expropriation of the agricultural producer of the peasant, from the soil, is the basis of the whole process." (Page 739.)

"In England ... the great feudal lords created an incomparably larger proletariat by the forcible driving of the peasantry from the land, to which the latter had the same feudal right as the lord himself, and by the usurpation of the common lands." (Page 741.)

"The proletariat created by the breaking up of the bands of feudal retainers and by the forcible expropriation of the people from the soil; this 'free' proletariat could not possibly be absorbed by the nascent manufacturers as fast as it was thrown upon the world. On the other hand, these men suddenly adapt themselves to the discipline of their new condition. They turn en masse into beggers, robbers, vagabonds, partly from inclination, in most cases from stress of circumstances." (Page 758.)

In the Communist Manifesto of 1847, issued in London following a ten days' discussion by a Committee of which Marx and Engels were both members, the very first operative clause of that document called for "Abolition of property in land and confiscation of ground rents to the State."

In the International Socialist Review (Vol. VIII, pp. 643-646), Marx wrote: "In the society of today the means of labor are monopolized by the landed proprietors; monopoly of landed property is ever the basis of monopoly of capital by capitalism."

On Taxation and Protection, Marx says: "... Modern fiscality whose pivot is formed by taxes on the most necessary means of subsistence, thereby increasing their price. ...Its expropriating efficacy is still further heightened by the system of Protection. ... Protection was an artificial means of manufacturing manufacturers, of expropriating independent laborers, of capitalising the natural means of production and subsistence." He clearly distinguishes between landlord and capitalist. 'Private land has nothing to do with the actual process of production. Its role is confined to carrying a portion of the produced surplus value from the pockets of the capitalist to its own." "Rent, instead of falling into the hands of the capitalists who extract it from their laborers, is captured by the landlords, who extract it from the capitalists." But while Marx aimed at abolishing "Capitalism," George attacked the evils attached to "Capitalism" through our land laws and other monopolistic laws.

"The landlord does not only receive interest on the capital of other people that costs him nothing, but also pockets the capital of others without any compensating return." Capital, Vol. Ill, chap, xxxvii, paragraph 12.

"They (capitalist tenants) shouted for a reduction in their rents. They succeeded in individual cases. But on the whole they failed to get what they wanted. They sought refuge in a reduction of the cost of production, among other things, by the introduction of the steam engine and new machinery. ... Here high ground rent is directly identified with a depreciation of labor, a high price of land with a low price of labor." Vol. Ill, part VI, chap, xxxvii, paragraph 24. (See also paragraph 20.)

"It (landed property) represents merely a certain tribute of money which he (the land owner) collects by the force of his monopoly from the industrial capitalist (and) the capitalist farmer." Same work and chapter, paragraph 5.

Concerning the effect of Socialist regulation of industry, the futility of which the Georgeist is constantly emphasizing, Marx says: "The compulsory regulation of the working day in respect to its length, its pauses, the hour at which work shall begin and end, the system of relays for children, the prohibition of the employment of children below a certain age, and so on necessitate an increased use of machinery, a greater outlay of capital. As far as concerns the intermediate forms between manufacturer and domestic industry, and domestic industry itself, they can no longer compete." Vol. I, part IV, chap, xiii, sec. 8E, paragraph 18.

"The capitalist performs at least an active function himself in the development of surplus value and surplus products. But the land owner has but to capture his growing share in the surplus product and the surplus value created without his assistance." Vol. Ill, part VI, chap, xxxvii, paragraph 45.