Robin Smith Institute: What would Henry George say to Occupy London?

Robin Smith robinsmith3 at
Sun Oct 30 21:58:13 GMT 2011

see also:
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Some think liberty's mission is accomplished when she has abolished
hereditary privileges and given the vote. They think she has no further
relation to the everyday affairs of life. They have not seen her real
grandeur. To them, her poets seem dreamers, her martyrs but fools. Yet it
is not for an abstraction that people have toiled and died. In every age
the witnesses of liberty have stood forth.

In the history of every nation we may read the same truth. It is the
universal law, the lesson of the centuries. Our primary social organization
is a denial of justice. Allowing one person to own the land --on which and
from which others must live --makes them slaves. The degree, or proportion,
of slavery increases as material progress goes on.

Civilization so based cannot continue. The eternal laws of the universe
forbid it. The ruins of dead empires so testify. Justice herself demands
that we right this wrong.

It is not the Almighty, but we who are responsible for the vice and misery
that fester amid our civilization. The Creator showers us with gifts --more
than enough for all. But like swine scrambling for food, we tread them in
the mire while we tear each other apart.

Can the gifts of the Creator be misappropriated with impunity? Can labor be
robbed of its earnings, while greed rolls in wealth? Is it right that many
should want, while a few are glutted? Turn to history! On every page we
read that such wrongs never go unpunished. The nemesis that follows
injustice never falters nor sleeps.

Look around today. Can this continue? The pillars of state tremble, and the
foundations of society shudder from forces pent-up beneath. Great new
powers, born of progress, have entered the world. They will compel us to a
higher plane, or else they will overwhelm us.

The world is pulsing with unrest. There is an irreconcilable conflict
between democratic ideas and the aristocratic organization of society. We
cannot permit people to vote, then force them to beg. We cannot go on
educating them, then refusing them the right to earn a living. We cannot go
on chattering about inalienable human rights, then deny the inalienable
right to the bounty of the Creator.

While there is still time, we may turn to justice. If we do, the dangers
that threaten us will disappear. With want destroyed and greed transformed,
equality will take the place of jealousy and fear. Think of the powers now
wasted, the fields of knowledge yet to be explored, the possibilities that
the wondrous inventions of this century only hint at. Who can presume the
heights to which our civilization may soar?

Henry George 1879.

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