The Silence of The Historians

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FWG Foat, MA, DLit


There is a Secret of History. The mot de l’enigme is Land. The great historians of the rank, for instance, of Mommsen, say the word, but then pass on, as though in haste to leave a dangerous ground. Lesser historians shun the mention of it altogether, or mention it in faltering accents. Time, with its effacement of old meanings, helps this obscurantism and oblivion falls upon the theme.

What is the cause of this conspiracy of silence? The answer is again in one word, landlordism. Historians are proteges of those whose interest lies in keeping dark concerning land. Now a protege must not discuss what patrons do not wish to mention. But that would come to writing nothing of man’s greatest struggles, longest wars, and bitterest distress. “Well, then, let the historians write of wars, political struggles, and distress in social life. Let them write freely of the things that happened, and the suffering endured. But let them never mention land and the ownership of land as being the ultimate causes of these happenings. They can write out the story, showing their knowledge of the facts; and if they are pressed for explanations they can point to intermediate collateral causes: man’s natural pugnacity, notions of honour, foolish mistakes, wild aspirations towards political freedom, and the like. That will satisfy the few inquiring minds, and the rest will never question. Only no mention of the land and the landlords!”

The Corruption of Economics

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by Mason Gaffney, Professor of Economics, University of California, Riverside

The following is the introduction to Professor Gaffney’s paper Neo-classical Economics as a Strategem against Henry George, 5 July 1994.

The paper formed the basis of a book: The Corruption of Economics, Mason Gaffney and Fred Harrison, Shepheard-Walwyn (Publishers) Ltd, London, 1994.


Introduction: The Power of Neo-classical Economics

Neoclassical economics is the idiom of most economic discourse today. It is the paradigm that bends the twigs of young minds. Then it confines the fluorescence of older ones, like chicken-wire shaping a topiary. It took form about a hundred years ago, when Henry George and his reform proposals were a clear and present political danger and challenge to the landed and intellectual establishments of the world. Few people realize to what a degree the founders of Neoclassical economics changed the discipline for the express purpose of deflecting George, discomfiting his followers, and frustrating future students seeking to follow his arguments. The stratagem was semantic: to destroy the very words in which he expressed himself. Simon Patten expounded it succinctly. “Nothing pleases a … single taxer better than … to use the well-known economic theories … [therefore] economic doctrine must be recast” (Patten 1908, p.219; Collier, 1979, p.270).

Geonomics – A Summary

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by Karl Williams

200-WORD OVERVIEW

Geonomics (‘law of the Earth’) represents a completely different way of looking at The Earth. Starting from the self-evident (but ignored!) principle that The Earth (land and natural resources) should be the equal and common birthright of all humanity, a radically different set of economic and social principles emerge. However, the means to implement these principles is relatively simple – essentially, taxing land values rather than production.

That unemployment is inevitable in modern industrialised economies is not true. In economic terms, land has the unique qualities which gives landholders unique monopolist powers and the ability to make massive speculative profits while their land lies idle or under used while its value is rising.