Henry George's

Progress and Poverty

H.R. Lee

[Remarks delivered at a Centerary celebration of the publication of Progress and Poverty, Portsmouth, England. 1939. Reprinted from Land & Liberty. September 1939]

The crisis in which we find ourselves makes it more and not less important to recall the life and teaching of Henry George. "The concentration of Capital," said Henry George, "is the child of Land Monopoly," and war to-day has its major cause in the struggle for markets. Hence the Land Monopoly is, as it were, the grandparent of this crisis and all modern crises. Furthermore the issue of Danzig and the Polish Corridor is one of a scramble for land on an international scale. Whether these territories will in the near future be Polish or German, they will not in the present order of things be socially owned by the peoples of either Poland or Germany.

George gave an exhaustive and scientific analysis of the problem of poverty and supplied a concrete remedy. Robert Owen had demonstrated the paradox of the increase of want alongside an increase in material prosperity; but George showed how this came about and the way out. No one who has read Progress and Poverty can be the same person afterwards. Even if he forms different conclusions from those at which George arrives, the indelible stamp of having read that great work remains. It is the economic masterpiece of all times, and one of the greatest literary works of the world. It is a book written in a language that can be understood by all, and yet some new nugget of truth can be unearthed by the diligent seeker at each re-reading. The dangers in the world to-day re, on the one hand, an irresponsible individualism and, on the other, a soulless submission to the hive.