Organic Societies

by Rich Nymoen

The 20th Century can be characterized as “The Age of Bureaucracy”—an era of increasing emphasis on size, hierarchy, regulations, incentives, and eligibility protocols. During the 20th Century we saw the rise of corporations in the business sector, the increasing scope of agencies in the government sector, and the grant-driven dynamic of the non-profit sector. And we’re still living with that legacy today. Continue reading

Ethics of Democracy

Adapted by Robert Clancy from the 1903 book Ethics of Democracy by Louis F. Post, ca. 1950

Democracy, from Greek Demos (people) and Krateo (rule), means Rule of the People. Not some of the people, but all the people. Ethics, we know, is the science of human duty. It is the science of right: moral science. Whether there are, or should be, ethics in democracy is with some, perhaps, only a point of view. Continue reading

Mass Democracy and its Discontents

by Fred Foldvary

In the 2016 US primary elections, many voters, unhappy with the social conditions, favored candidates who, with bombast, promise to bring back or push forward to greatness, equality, and prosperity. That so many are dissatisfied speaks badly for the current officials and policies, which had offered hope and change. While much attention is being focused on the candidates, the voting, and the political horse race, almost nobody is stepping back and taking a wide view of the whole corrupted and unfixable system of mass democracy. Continue reading

RSF Announces Volume I of The Annotated Works of Henry George

From its inception, the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation has been committed to keeping the works of Henry George in print. This new major venture, which will be published as a six-volume series by Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, seeks to go well beyond that goal, by offering George’s works in a new, scholarly edition which places those works in historical and intellectual context. Continue reading

Henry George and the Crisis of Inequality

by Edward T. O’Donnell, Columbia University Press, 2015. Review by Ed Dodson

Henry George’s life and work have interested a small number of academic historians in each generation since George died in 1897. The latest of these, Professor Edward O’Donnell, succeeds in bringing to life the temper of the times during which Henry George rose from obscurity to become a champion of what he embraced as the true principles of republican democracy. Continue reading

Beware the “Not So” Georgists

by Jonathan Hall

A major thing that confuses people about Georgism is that it transcends the confused mind sets of “evil state” or “good state.” Either side of that great false dichotomy is fascinated with its own spurious assumptions — and thus they both do great damage to the simple concept of peace, but in different ways.

The right thinks that private property in land is the bastion of freedom which can only be threatened by the monstrous state. But they cannot face the hypocrisy that both the landlord and the state seize, exclude, legislate and confiscate. The only standing answer to this is the poor one supplied by the left. The right seeks to destroy the left, as an ugly man might try and destroy his ugly shadow. The left then rests its case, not on any principle at all, but merely a recognition that something is wrong — which can be fixed with some good old fashioned seizing, or “virtuous taxation.”

The left say they are “here to help” — which means they are here to take control of allocation decisions: a finger in every pie, a piece of every action.

When people from the right come into Georgism, they are immediately confronted with the landlord/state hypocrisy and if they think things through, they fold on their faulty assumptions about the state being the only evil — which brings them pretty close to the Georgist truth.

One of the great successes of the Koch family assault on libertarianism is the cultivation of paranoid cranks, helping them pretend that they are the guardians of liberty. The most powerful supremacist conversion is the one that takes the energy of alienation and self-loathing and turns it into dogmatic hate. The mob thus formed is impervious to influence or reason — ready to obey political monsters.

People from the left have no core belief to give up, so no great conversion can happen there. They tend to incorporate or adapt Georgism into the mishmash of beliefs they already hold. But Georgism doesn’t really adapt; it’s just a set of associated tautologies on the meaning of freedom, and an optional but effective solution to the act of forced exclusion. Tautologies don’t bend, don’t adapt. And so, while the adapting lefty might give a wave and toss a kiss at the concept of individual freedom, they just aren’t into that. Its not their motivating assumption. And what’s worse, the right has been throwing “individual freedom” at them for years. Having never bothered to unearth the base hypocrisy of the right, the left has instead learned to ignore or even revile the concept of individual liberty.

This creates a cottage industry of ways to assail the individual via the false gods. Priorities that abandon sense: “Social contract,” “Democracy,” “Christian Charity,” “decent society,” “human dignity,” blah blah blah. These are just dressings put on the fallacious appeal to authority, to cover their particular version of utilitarianism.

The ultimate goal of the left is not to cure social problems, but to hold force. In that way the right and the left are identical. Full circle back to thieves of different colors. The right are the thieves of pre-production (land), and the left are the thieves of post-production (wealth).

This means that left versions of Georgism can’t quite give up on the sticky fingers. All this land rent becomes the manna from heaven for the CD or the BIG. (Basic Income Guarantee, a slogan worthy of Madison Ave.) Then LVT becomes a means for redistribution instead of the direct and limited reaction to the exclusion. That’s not Georgism: it’s just a raid on the recovered externality.

People, in our search for better ways to use the earth, have recognized that some decisions on the use of the commons of freedom are best not made in common. And so exclusive use is granted in that end. But this simple pragmatic act has been conflated with property in created goods, and used to excuse and perpetrate all kinds of attacks on freedom. Georgism denies that the left and right are opposites, exposing their separate hypocrisies to reveal how they are the same.

In its purest form Georgism is used to undo aggression. This sets it fundamentally apart from the agendas of the right or the left. It sets a different course that contradicts both by making only appeals to peace and the justice of freedom and equality. Instead of aggression and counter-aggression, Georgism is the way of peace.

Let’s Get Real about Money

by Lindy Davies

There has been a persistent chorus in Georgist circles about the vital importance of money in political economy and social reform. This concern isn’t new, of course — many traditions condemn usury and seek to reign in financial excess in various forms. Lately, also, it makes sense that these issues would be on our minds: we’ve just had a global economic crisis, during which a number of “too big to fail” banks had to be bailed out in order to avoid another great depression! Continue reading