Were We Alone?
Just after reading Poverty and Progress; were we alone? This great explanation that had revealed everything, was it just some literary oddity from the past that a few people stumble across now and again?
When the first of us read the book, there was a startled and agonised loneliness there. This book had spoken to us, from 1897, with the clearly stated truth, but who else would know? But we’re in the age of the Web, and soon enough we were obsessively immersed in a fascinating story which just keeps growing. Georgism had been there all along. Lots of people were active in the understanding and propagation, and a few bodies that have been there all through the age where the truth has been obscured by the dust scuffed up in the 20th century.
It can be hard to imagine that there was a time before the Web. If we’d have read Progress and Poverty 30 years ago, we’d have been totally alone. If we’d have gone to a library, we’d have found no books referring to him, and would probably have persisted no further.
We joyfully took to meandering around the Net reading stuff about Henry George and his work, following our nose.
On the book spine of Progress and Poverty it said Schalkenbach, a search led us to the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation, which was started with money from a Single Taxer, and . . .
was organized in 1925 as an operating foundation to promote public awareness of the social philosophy and economic reforms advocated by Henry George.
And they say:
RSF is not the only organization promoting and developing what some now call the Georgist paradigm.
Links to these other organizations are also found on this site, and we encourage you to visit them.
Indeed, they are not the only organisation. Soon we found The Henry George Foundation who tell us:
The Foundation was established in January 1929, to administer a Trust Fund for spreading a wider knowledge of the social and economic teaching of Henry George . . . the motive for establishing and maintaining the Foundation is the conviction that the principles expounded by Henry George offer the only true basis of Economic Freedom and Social Justice, and that their application will remove involuntary poverty, promote industrial and international peace, and make all other reforms easier of accomplishment, and generally contribute to the welfare of humanity.
And here you can download editions of Land & Liberty
And this site, Understanding Economics, providing Courses that Shed Light on Today's Baffling Economic Problems If you have read Progress and Poverty by now and want to find out more, this is the place to come. We intend to follow these courses and come back with deeper understanding for our second LP.
These were great starting points for our reading, full of really good resources, and led us to other places.
The link leads to many other links, obviously, some really interesting sites which we’ve visited. We’ll let you find your own way around that, we’re just signposting and talking about our main sources that we’ve come across.
It was a thrill early on to alight here:
This was the Ask Henry search engine, who said:
Welcome to the Ask Henry search engine. Henry specializes in topics such as politics, reform, social justice, tax issues and the environment. Henry tours the entire WWW and his index covers issues ranging from sprawl to vote fraud to property tax to poverty to human rights. Give him a try!
Something happened to this site, it seems to be no more.
The Council of Georgist Organisations sounded like something cohesive. They explain:
The Georgist movement is unlike other "advocacy groups" in many interesting ways. Adherents come from across the political spectrum. The Georgist philosophy can be viewed as a fundamental synthesis of the best of "left" and "right": a reconciliation of justice and efficiency in economic relations. Due to the far-reaching implications of this philosophy, activity is pursued on many fronts, including activism in support of local property tax reform, popular education, research, publishing, and community and global networking. Various organizations, groups and periodicals exist to promote Georgist philosophy and/or public re-venue based on land values.
They included an International Directory of Georgist Organisations
There’s the IU. The International Union for Land Value Taxation This is the international umbrella organisation for land tax reformers. It has members in 35 countries around the world - activists, politicians, professionals and academics, and some 70 national and local organisations. The IU has Special Consultative Status at the United Nations and we will be finding out much more of the story when we get on top of things better.
The IU was established in 1926. Now a global Non-Governmental Organisation is operates independently free of any government funding. This allows us to remain totally impartial and objective. The IU seeks to engage in activities which strategically support our objectives.
The International Union maintains that, to end the great inequities in the world and the trouble they cause, people need Economic Equal Rights of access to the values of Nature and Society.
And soon it was wonderful to find the School of Cooperative Individualism
One of their pages is A Biographical History of the Georgist Movement. Here, they exhaustively list whatever information they have for any Georgist there has ever been, and any anything to do with researching Georgism. It’s organised by country with links to articles and photographs. We’ve roamed around here, dipping into things. It’s definitely the ambition of Staneb to be honoured with a mention in this index one day.
The School of Cooperative Individualism say:
Welcome to the School of Cooperative Individualism. The School was established in January 1997 as a place where thoughtful persons would find meaningful -- and sometimes new -- insights into the long and tireless search for a socio-political philosphy that, if implemented, would nurture the development of just societies. They have an extensive list of links.
And they’re particularly interested in Thomas Paine, who we quoted earlier, a proto-single taxer. These pages are really making us study and make notes as we go along. We’re slowly studying it all, and we’re hugely distracted students, it’s difficult to find much time for anything, and when we get there, there’s so much to see and realise.
This is the Land is Free website, and there’s plenty of key articles here and here, and here they outline a plan to actually enact LVT, for which they acknowledge the Coalition for Economic Justice This led us to the focus of the CEJ, who say they were:
established November 2008 when 12 rather different organisations (see below) agreed to combine their efforts in striving to convince influential UK persons (journalists, academics, politicians, civil servants, and others) of the virtues of land-value taxation; meaning public collection of values created by nature and by the community.
So, we see this must be a centre of activity involving bodies which we'll mention elsewhere.
The CEJ Member Organisations are:
ALTER LibDem, Action Land Tax + Econ Reform
CCMJ Christian Council for Monetary Justice
HGF Henry George Foundation
IU The International Union for Land Value Tax
LIF Land is Free
LLC Labour Land Campaign
LVTC Land Value Taxation Campaign
PLRG Professional Land Reform Group
SES School of Economic Science
TAP Taxpayers Against Poverty
CEJ Observer Organisations
Green Party Green Party
SFRG Systemic Fiscal Reform Group
YPP Young People's Party
We really find a disparate galaxy of organisations around the world associating with Henry George’s insights. Some are members of either the CGO or the IU or of both. We come across all sorts of different things, all essentially agreeing.
Here’s another list of websites.
We found the Henry George School of Social Science in Chicago, the first of many we were to become aware of.
The Chicago school have been going since 1934, struggling to make education of the issues available to everyone. Over the decades, they held classes wherever they could, libraries, churches, people’s houses. They seem more settled now, and they’ve got a beautiful website, we like beautiful websites.
And they give links to ten other Henry George schools, including one in Nicaragua.
There surely had to be one in George’s home town, and indeed the Philadelphia Henry George School was established in 1935. From 1957, the school’s home has actually been the house Henry George was born in. And here is that house (photo taken from the Cooperative Individualism site.)
We don't know what happened to the link or the school, we replaced the link. We have recently heard that the Henry George Schools are not what they were, and that it's a long story.
A photograph from the age of colour photography!
This was during an IU/CGO joint conference in 1989. Supposedly, the conference took place in the house, and that was a joint conference. Just a handful of people keeping alive what they knew was the truth in a world which had turned away, teaching it where and as they could.
Henry George’s granddaughter, Agnes George de Mille is in the sunglasses and the white suit.
The speaker is George Collins, who was Director of the Philadelphia School from the 1960s through to the 80s, having previously taught there, before returning to the New York school.
George Collins really seems to be the stalwart of Georgism, in our limited flitting about the Net, we know that he was on the Board of the Robert Schalkenburg Society in 2005, at the age of 95. At this time he had been a Georgist for 80 years. Cay Hehner, who is, we think, his successor as Director of the New York school, speaks of himself and George Collins being the only Georgists around who have no cavils with Henry George. That’s a little concerning that there’s Georgists with cavils. We have no cavils with Henry George, we can’t see what these cavils would be.
In the photo is Jack Schwartzman, prolific author, author of Rebels of Individualism; Phil Finkelstein, Director of the Henry George School, and author of this article which we enjoyed, The next 100 years of Progress and Poverty
And behind them is Wylie Young, author of Antidote to Madness - What every high school student should know, but which very few of our best educated people either know or understand – we’re going to read that - and he was still writing pamphlets at the age of 94. From what we’ve read, there’s very, very good writing associated with Henry Georgists, as if in writing about the teacher people are infused with a little of his talent. His approach of rigorous enquiry and clear communication perhaps has an influence, and certainly people will be infused with the certain knowledge that they are writing the truth, which, of course, has to be inspiring.
Weirdly, one of the people in the photograph looks very much like someone the band knows, but there’s no way he could have been in Philadelphia in 1989, unless he was whisked there in a flying saucer without his knowledge; but this isn’t the site for that kind of stuff.
In the index of the School of Cooperative Individualism, we came across this photograph of George Collins with Henry George taken in 1971. George Collins wrote a very good piece about the life of Henry George which was the first of many we read. We drew on George's piece for our little piece about HG, this is it here.
Drawing by J. W. Bengough, from The Public, 1905