Henry H. Hardinge
[An address at the Henry George Congress, 11
Reprinted from Land and Freedom,
American people are doing their level best to harmonize two things,
that in the nature of things are wholly irreconcilable. A perfectly
modern system of production and an ancient system of distribution.
The one is typical of the present and the future, the other belongs
to the past. The one is characteristic of the democratic state, the
other is the direct descendant of monarchy and aristocracy. The one is
honest and square and the other is out of square, and the two things
cannot be harmonized; they are irreconcilably hostile. The one is cast
in the mold of equal rights, the other in the mold of privilege, and
we must abandon one or the other. We cannot keep both.
The one is rapidly growing, evolving, changing; it is scientific,
productive, modern, wonderful and gigantic, and its marvelous
productiveness is the only thing that keeps the whole structure from
collapsing right now.
Under the hood of the modern automobile, can be found one of the most
remarkable contrivances that the resilient wit of man has ever
developed to cater to both pleasure and profit. It is the internal
combustion engine. In this device is involved every law of kinetics,
every law of electro -chemical metallurgy, geologic metallurgy and
Every law of electricity is involved in the self starter and battery,
every law of physics is in it, every principle, almost every force,
and they are all the product of nature.
There is a law of inertia that the self starter overcomes. There is
the law of momentum in the fly wheel. There is the law of induction,
compression, explosion, and exhaustion in the four cycle principle,
and every law, every force, and every bit of material in that
wonderful device are contributed by nature, not one single, solitary
thing under the hood is furnished by legislation or legislators.
What is true of the hydro-carbon engine, is true of all engines, and
devices for the rapid production of wealth.
The whole arena of modern production is fashioned and based upon the
same foundation; the laws, materials and forces of nature, and upon
Indeed! modern science in its endless ramifications is based exactly
upon the same thing, and a real scientist is distinguished by the fact
that he bases his conclusions, his discoveries, and his whole life
work upon exactly the same enduring foundation.
Now, does it stand to reason that fecund and generous nature, that
has given us every law, every force, and every bit of raw material,
out of which we fashion the modern industrial state, has suddenly
become bankrupt on the subject of distribution? Not only is it not
reasonable. IT IS NOT TRUE.
Our socialists and communist friends assume nature's bankruptcy in
this matter; in fact you can run the whole gamut from Tory to
Communist and you will not find a champion of liberty in the lot. The
Tory, the paternalist, the protectionist, the trade unionist, the
syndicalist, the socialist and the communist are drawn from the same
stock. They have a common ancestor, and that ancestor is force, brute
It finds expression in the dictatorship of the proletariat, "The
Class Struggle," "Collective Bargaining," and the Tory
demands for armies, navies and policemen. Not one of the lot has any
broad gauged understanding of, or confidence in the natural laws of
freedom. It is the last thing, not the first thing, that your one
hundred per cent. American thinks of, or believes in as a remedy for
the multitudinous evils that beset our industrial society, and yet
freedom is the only possible solution.
Every fungus-brained Tory in the world is against it. Shaw, the
Fabian, laughs at it. Mussolini, the socialist, despises and flouts
it. Every rattle-brained radical on earth today, has neither
conception of it nor faith in it, because he lacks knowledge of it,
and yet it is the only way.
Until Wilbur and Orville Wright mastered the principles of flying,
they did not fly, because they could not.
That is why Langley's plane fell in the river. In flying he was not a
scientist, he had not mastered the first principles. The Wright
brothers had. That is why they flew successfully; they were real
scientists and they proved it.
It is the same in political economy. Henry George was a real
scientist. He based his findings on the natural law of rent The
Ricardian Law that rent is the difference between the least and the
most valuable land in use with the same amount of labor, and he
demonstrated beyond contest that rent being as it is the automatic
reflector of social benefits, it will also be the automatic absorber
of social benefits, and if left in private hands as now, the few will
get the benefits that ought to accrue to the many, and that under the
Single Tax, "rent" would be the automatic distributor of
social benefits, as it is now the absorber.
George proved that the benefits of invention, discovery and general
social advance, increase the value of land and tend to decrease the
value of everything else. He proved that the logical result of
invention should be to cheapen goods, instead of raising rent.
He proved that rent is an exaction in private hands, not a
contribution, and that the reverse should be the case, and he showed
conclusively that the major values and organization are today
reflected in the value of land, as distinguished from all other
values, and that the only rational way to socialize the modern
mechanism of production is to socialize the thing in which all modern
methods are reflected, that is the high capitalized value of land.
Every imaginable expedient, every artifice, every possible device
that selfish ingenuity can marshal will be resorted to by the
beneficiaries of privilege to avoid substantial change in our system
of distribution which automatically levies private taxes in colossal
amounts upon the industrialists of this country. A system that charges
about half of everything produced for the mere privilege of producing
anything cannot be successfully defended.
A system where unemployment is chronic just as it is under
aristocracies as in England, and where producing useful things and
exchanging them is regarded as a privilege to be paid for and not as a
right to be taken and held against all owners as it is in new
countries that have not yet passed into the possession of speculators
and monopolists. Civil government is now and always has been the agent
of privilege and the destroyer of equal rights and it always will be
as long as the present system of taxation obtains that levies its
burdens upon labor-made values instead of law-made values. Heroic
action must be preceded by heroic thinking; the outstanding
characteristic of American life today is muddy thinking on all matters
economic and has been from the beginning.
Our chairs of Political Economy in the great universities are for the
most part filled with professional obscurantists like Seligman and
Ely, and their understudies are little better than intellectual
tightrope walkers, who are much more expert at balancing than they are
in expounding the laws that govern the distribution of wealth in the
modern state. Think of a system so devastating mentally and morally,
that can compel and that does compel thousands of alleged teachers of
the youth and maidens of this country, whose real office is to tell
our boys and girls the truth about political economy who dare not do
it, and who in order to make a living, and very often a mean living at
that, are compelled to "crook the pregnant hinges of the knee
that thrift may follow fawning," Can anything be more
contemptible? This, too, in the face of demonstrable fact that the
laws of distribution are as natural, as rhythmic, as harmonious, as
beautiful and as wonderful as the blending colors of a sunset.
They are just as harmonious as the marvelous laws that govern
production and infinitely more useful because we live in a world
overstocked with goods on the one hand and charity-mongers on the
other, and both out of balance, the one in economics and the other in
Any system that will bring the purchasing power of the worker up to
par with the producing power will settle this question and nothing
else can. Toryism will not do it; it is too stupid. Charity will not;
it is too ignorant. Trade Unionism will not; it is too circumscribed
and too self-centered.
Socialism and communism will not, not so much from lack of will but
from sheer lack of ability; favoritism and colossal overhead charges
alone prevent it to say nothing of their ignorance of economic
principles and inability to distinguish between equality of
opportunity and equality of income, which are antipodal principles.
Only one practical suggestion has ever been made looking to an
intelligent and scientific solution of this problem and that is the
one made by Henry George in 1879.
Almost half a century ago Henry George wrote the one outstanding
classic that has been written upon the subject of political economy.
He did for this science what Copernicus did for astronomy, and what
Darwin did for biology. Three great outstanding heroic contributions
to the intellectual and the material advance of the human race.
That book today rests upon the granite pedestal of truth, face up,
open for the thinking world to scan. There it is, matchless in logic,
beautiful in diction, perfect in illustration, unchallenged and
unchallengeable, unanswered and unanswerable, an everlasting monument
to the intellectual and moral integrity of the man who wrote it, and
there it will remain forever.
In our opinion, to Hon. Anthony J. Griffin, member of the House of
Representatives from New York City, goes the credit of having made in
April last the best speech delivered in the House against the
McNary-Haugen Bill. Mr. Griffin is one of the outstanding free traders
in Congress and a friend of former register Edward Polak.