Selected Quotes
from the Writings of Francis Neilson

Compiled by Edward J. Dodson

[T to Z]


The evidence of a conspiracy against the poor is written clearly in English history. …But the greatest evidence of it is to be found in the period from 1760 on. It began with the change in the system of taxation and reached its culmination at the time of the enclosures by act of Parliament, when the countryside was depopulated, and the landless flocked into the towns. [ Man At The Crossroads, p.104]


We go too fast to see the world; we have no time for introspection. The result is, man has made a god of the machine which he is perfecting and, at the same time, hastening the day when it will turn upon him and rend him to pieces. [ Man at The Crossroads, p.187]

The progress of invention must be judged by the losses as well as the gains. Once man had time in his life to commune with his spirit, but now existence is too strenuous a matter for taking time for spiritual communion. ...Man works very hard in this labour-saving age. When the ticker dominated all, it became a shrine for the rich and poor. No altar ever drew so many communicants. [The Eleventh Commandment, p.122]


…I am never conscious of time as it passes, never keep my eye on the clock. Some other sense - a strange variant of visualization -- gives me a surety that the task will be done when it should be done. [ My Life in Two Worlds, pp. 180-181]


It is not the length of a study that establishes its greatness, nor is it altogether the amount of learning which goes into it that determines the utility of the effort. Dr. Toynbee's six volumes are at once a forbidding mountain of tremendous research for the contemplation of any reader. ["Toynbee's Study of History," Modern Man and the Liberal Arts, p.280]

... to be at ease in studying the volumes, it is necessary to be a classical scholar in the old sense of the term and also to be familiar with the tongues of several different peoples as they are spoken today. ["Toynbee's Study of History,"Modern Man and the Liberal Arts, p.282]

... Dr. Toynbee has not found the fundamental diference between primitive societies and civilizations. Yet, he comes to the conclusion that the geneses of all civilizations -- the unrelated and the related class alike -- may be described as Mankind on the move. This idea ... seems to be too simple an exlanation of the genesis of the state -- civlization. the Mankind that moved upon a primitive community had no agricultural inclinations. it was a group organized and armed to gain plunder and to reduce the defenseless tillers to a condition of slavery. ["Toynbee's Study of History,"Modern Man and the Liberal Arts, p.290]

When Toynbee has to deal with the relation between society and the individual, which of course is an exercise that should have been considered very early in the work, he has this to say:

This is, of course, one of the stock questions of sociology, and there are two stock answers to it.

There are peole now publishing ponderous tomes who seem to imagine that the group proceded the individual. History, however, must begin with man andhis needs: no man, no community; no community, no state; no state, no civilization. This seems to me the sequence which should be adopted by historians who inquire into the growths of civilizations. ["Toynbee's Study of History," Modern Man and the Liberal Arts, pp.302-303]


It is like the experience of a man's life: it is the sum of all his defeat, of all his triumph, and he can no more dispense with that at any time of his life, no matter how conditions change, than he can dispense with his own soul; for, indeed, it is a part of his soul. The vicissitudes through which he has passed have marked him indelibly, and shaped him as a man. So it is with the tradition of a country, … [ Man at The Crossroads, p.154]

We are scarcely affiliated in any way with the times of our fathers. Every tradition has been broken. Every bond, which united us to the men who threw off the shackles of George III and North, is severed. There are substantial reasons for this: one is that the stock which held to the tradition, and was all for tightening the bonds of our union, is in the minority. And the reasons why the northern stocks have suffered numerically is to be attributed to indiscriminate immigration. The result is that there have been raised, in the past fifty years, stocks which can never become American in the way that northern stocks became American and, therefore, these peoples are without a tradition of almost any kind, and fail utterly to appreciate the origin of the United States, and the causes which set the American Revolution in motion. [Man at The Crossroads, pp.173-174]


We owe to Sir George Otto Trevelyan, in his works on Fox, an intellectual debt for his exhilarating pages that describe not only the events in the political arena but the conditions under which rich and poor lived in those days. His portraits of the men who ruled England as well as those who opposed [them] are models of design, the strength of which time does not diminish. ["The Decay of Liberalism," Modern Man and the Liberal Arts, p.133]


The attempt to solve the problem of unemployed persons by the patriarchal State setting up as an employer, has led to another difficulty which is that of shortening the hours of labor, so that employers will be "forced" to hire more men. But neither State employment, nor shortening the hours of labor in private industry, will do more than relieve some of the unemployed to the disadvantage of others. [ Man At The Crossroads, p.117]

And with all the doles, all the charity, private and municipal, the demand for relief increases daily, and not one single suggestion comes from those in authority as to how the awful problem might be solved. Every expedient is to be tried: higher tariffs, lower tariffs, gold standard, off gold standard, less gold ratio to deposits, unfreezing bank assets, inflation, higher taxation, and the hundred and one "thimblerigging tricks of statesmen and financiers," but no fundamental change, nothing to alter the system, only such aids as will prop it up and save it from immediate collapse. [The Eleventh Commandment, p.21]

What then is to be done about the awful problem of the unemployed? Neither public nor private charity can be relied on. Falling incomes and rising taxes are an anomaly only politicans can ignore. Rising expenditure, including public and private charity, and falling revenue lead to bankrupty. In a world of superabundance millions go hungry. [The Eleventh Commandment, p.118]


The Union of Democratic Control had become an adjunct of the Labor party, and I feared that its usefulness as a movement for the revision of the treaties had been frittered away. [ My Life in Two Worlds, p.95]


Desire gives value, and when there is neither humanitarian, nor artificial impediment, every consumer, no matter at what he labors, wishes to buy in the best and in the cheapest market. [ Man at The Crossroads, p.141]


It may very well be that man was from the first fitted for agriculture, and that the primary industry should be his regular vocation. Perhaps one of the reasons for the present chaos is that man has departed from his original vocation and become, to a great extent, a maker of and a dweller in cities. At any rate, it must appear to the thoughtful that the further man has departed from agriculture, his natural vocation, and the further he has developed manufacturing, the greater has become his desire for luxury, and the business of making a living for the millions has become harder and harder. [ Man At The Crossroads, p.23]


The first man worked for wage. What was his wage? His produce. Produce is wage. [ Man At The Crossroads, p.94]


No better example of muddled notions can be found in the literature of Fabians, or those associated with them, than the work of Graham Wallas. In his book, The Life of Francis Place, he refers to Thomas Spence as "the Land Nationaliser." This is inexcusable in a man of Wallas' attainment and achievement. Spence was not a "land nationaliser" and, if Graham Wallas had taken the trouble to understand spence's lecture read at the Philosophical Society in Newcastle on November 8th, 1775, he would have found that Spence has good right to be claimed as a precursor of Henry George. In this lecture Spence says nothing whatever about nationalizing land, but he does clearly indicate that all that is necessary for the community's welfare is to take rent. ["A Revival of Political Radicalism," Modern Man and the Liberal Arts, pp.184-185]


It seems the more complicated the business of the State becomes, the more confused become the minds of the people who would reform it. And we have the preposterous situation in which men, who do not know what property is, would take it (because they consider the owners of great masses of it are "predatory" persons and did not accumulate it honestly) and divide it among the proletariat and the politicians. [ Man At The Crossroads, p.57]

In attempting to devise a scheme for a redistribution of wealth, they are assuredly and swiftly reducing the purchasing power of wealth, for a tax on wealth must be paid by the producers of it. Ultimately, it cannot be paid in any other way, or by any others persons. [Man at The Crossroads, p.254]


There can be no economic freedom so long as there is a system of taxation of wealth, for all taxes on wealth are paid ultimately by the consumers. There can be no economic freedom so long as restriction, discouragement, and regimentation are the orders of the day. [ Man at The Crossroads, p.178]

The government today is levying higher and higher taxes upon the producers of wealth, no matter who the person may be who owns it for the time being. [Man at The Crossroads, p.255]

It is perfectly clear that, if a man is to enjoy the work of his hands, no one, as landlord or other tax-collector, can stand between him and the produce of his labour. [The Eleventh Commandment, p.16]

The system of confiscation by increment is certainly distributing something, but the instrument of distribution is rapidly bringing an end to the system of well kept-up estates. ...High income taxes and high death duties have pretty nearly done their work. It is, therefore, reasonable to conclude that the people who run the state have not the faintest conception of the economic definiton of the term "property" or its function. [The Eleventh Commandment, p.171]


I think Professor Whitehead, in Science and the Modern World, was the first man of authority to point the inconsistencies of scientific thought in the western world. ["Science and the Liberal Arts," Modern Man and the Liberal Arts, p.26]


The Liberalism of Wooddrow Wilson, as laid down in The New Freedom, was the last to be preached by a politician, and many of his notions of what it was would not have been acceptable ot the Liberals of Gladstone's day. ["The Decay of Liberalism," Modern Man and the Liberal Arts, p.130]

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