On the Land Policy of Henry George

Leo Tolstoy

[An excerpt from Tolstoy's novel, Resurrection, Part II, Ch.9, 1899; discussing the method of achieving equal access to land as proposed by Henry George]

Nekhludov began to explain to the peasants the theories of single-tax according to Henry George. "The land is no one's - it is God's" - he began.

"That's so. Exactly so," some voices were heard to say.

"All the land is common. All have equal rights to it. But there is better and worse land. And every one wants to get the best. What is to be done to make it equal? He who owns the good land should pay to those that own no land as much as his land is worth," Nekhludov answered himself. "But as it is hard to assign who is to pay to whom, and as it is necessary to collect money for the community's needs, it could be done that he who owns land is to pay to the community for any needs as much as his land be worth. Thus all will have the same. You want to own land? Pay for the better land more, for the worse less. Do you not want to own land? You pay nothing; and those that own land pay for you for the community's needs."

"That is correct," said the stove-maker, winking his eyebrows, "Whoever has better land pays more."

"A smart fellow was that George," said the representative old man with the curls.