Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Renegade Economist- Fred Harrison and Land Tax ? Henry George Reborn

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The idea of land taxes being promoted by Harrison in this interview reminded me of Henry George and Marx's remark that land tax was capitalism's last ditch

Marx and George never met. Upon receiving three copies of Progress and Poverty from various friends, Marx "looked it through" and dismissed it contemptuously as "the capitalist's last ditch," (3) characterizing George in a letter to F. A. Sorge as "behind the times" theoretically, and marked by the "repulsive presumption and arrogance that invariably distinguish all such panacea-mongers." (4) George's estimate of Marx was equally uncomplimentary; he regarded him as "a most superficial thinker, entangled in an inexact and vicious terminology," and as "the prince of muddleheads." (6)

Despite Marx's low opinion of it, H. Hessel Tiltman observes that George's book "achieved the undoubted feat of making Karl Marx into a popular author, for chapters of Das Capital were published and read as sequels of Progress and Poverty. " (7)

During George's lifetime his views were publicly attacked in Marxist circles, not, ironically, by Marx himself, who, as we have seen, considered him "repulsive," but mainly by two men with whom he had maintained friendly connexions, Henry Mayers Hyndman and Laurence Gronlund. Hyndman, a founder of the British Social Democratic Federation and the first British popularizer of Marx's thought, was introduced to George in 1882 by John Stuart Mill's step-daughter, Helen Taylor. Shortly thereafter, George and his wife accepted Hyndman's invitation to be houseguests at his elegant London home. Although the invitation was extended, according to the host's own account, "because I hoped, quite mistakenly as it afterwards appeared, to convert him to the truth as it is in Socialist economics," (8) Hyndman entertained a genuine, if rather condescending, feeling of affection toward George long after it had become clear that their theoretical differences could not be reconciled. (9) These differences emerged with increasing sharpness in two published exchanges between them: the first, a dialogue, in 1885; the second, a full-scale debate, in 1887.