The Power of Money
[An excerpt from "Freedom versus Organization,"
The Standard, published in Australia; date not provided]
AS regards the analysis of the power of money, I think that Henry
George was more nearly right than Marx.
All power to exploit
others depends upon the possession of some complete or partial,
permanent or temporary monopoly, but this monopoly may be of the most
diverse kinds. Land is the most obvious. If I own land in London or
New York, I can, owing to the law of trespass, invoke the whole of the
forces of the State to prevent others from making use of my land
without my consent. Those who wish to live or work on my land must
therefore pay me rent, and if my land is very advantageous they must
pay me much rent. The capitalist has to organize a business, the
professional man has to exercise his skill, but the landowner can levy
toll on their industry without doing anything at all.
Similarly, if I own coal or iron or any other mineral, I can make my
own terms with those who wish to mine it, so long as I leave them an
average rate of profit. Every improvement in industry, every increase
in the population of cities, automatically augments what the landowner
can exact in the form of rent. While others work, he remains idle; but
their work enables him to grow richer and richer.
The men who have most economic power in the modern world derive it
from land, minerals and credit, in combination. Great bankers control
iron ore, coal fields and railways; smaller capitalists are at their
mercy, almost as completely as proletarians. The conquest of economic
power demands as its first step the ousting of the monopolists. It
will then remain to be seen whether, in a world in which there is no
private monopoly, much harm is done by men who have achieved success
by skill without the aid of ultimate economic power. The harm that is
done by great industrialists is usually dependent upon their access to
some source of monopoly power. In labor disputes, the employer is the
immediate enemy, but is often no more than a private in the opposing
army. The real enemy is the monopolist.