Where Karl Marx Agrees
With Henry George
[Reprinted from Land and Freedom, May-June
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
"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."
"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
"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.