Single Taxers and Socialists Should Unite

Selim Tideman

[Reprinted from Land and Freedom, January-February 1931]

Since the excitement of the election is now past, it should be possible and in order to discuss our proper relation to the Socialists on the merits of the case, without bias or prejudice.

As to the way matters stand in this country, should the Single Taxers and the Socialists join forces? Most assuredly they should, and for good reasons. The goal of both is the same, even if they don't know that much -as yet. But they will learn as they proceed and get into contact with reality.

The Socialists want to use Government power to establish and maintain co-operation in the production and distribution of wealth. The Single Taxer fights for individual freedom with equality of right in the land, and looks upon the requirements of co-operation as only incidental. Neither of them realizes that the Co-operative Commonwealth is an accomplished fact, brought about, not by any man's design or planning, but by natural evolution, and that all there is to do, and must be done, is to adjust the machinery of its organic parts so as to bring it into orderly functioning.

Look around and open your mind to what you see. Observe that an up-to-date Nation is now a vast co-operative estate on which every worker is producing wealth and service, directly and indirectly, for anybody, for everybody and for the estate as a whole, and taking his own requirement from the general supply, the free and open market, into which he delivers the product of his own labor, receiving and giving money, in one form or another, as receipt for what is given and taken.

When the land question becomes a fiscal question the money question becomes part of it. When land monopoly is disposed of, the money monopoly must go too, if individual freedom with perfect co-operation is to be attained. On this the Single Taxers and the Socialists will be in unison.

Public ownership of public utilities is now looming large on the horizon, prematurely it seems to me, but there it is. On that issue the Single Taxers and the Socialists will be found in the same camp.

Public utilities exist for public service. Just what constitutes public service in a co-operative commonwealth? When a man takes charge and direction of a group of other men's labor, or otherwise serves the public, does he not become a public servant, rightfully subject to such rules and regulations as public safety and welfare may require, especially for those that work under his direction? If an important industry in private hands refuses to function satisfactorily to the public, may not the commonwealth take it over to be directed by its responsible servants. Does not that seem the inevitable course of economic evolution? Talk about your " right to run the business to suit yourself ; " Who gave that right in a complex co-operating society? Liberty is fine in the academy and the wilderness, and was always the watchword of thieves and freebooters; but in the practical life of the people, rights and duties take precedence. Such is nature's Law.

The reason for the confusion of professional economists and the disagreement between Single Taxers and Socialists appears to be that the transformation of individualistic production into a co-operative organic system has come about by a process of natural evolution, unheralded, without human plan or purpose. Everybody played his part in it unconsciously, and nobody noticed the essential nature of what was taking place. But few seem yet aware of it until their attention is purposely directed to it. Its rapid and luxurious growth is still in the anarchistic stage, without intelligent and orderly direction to definite purpose. It is time it be studied, understood and put into such order as to serve the common welfare. Humanity's fate hangs thereon.

There are principles to be applied, sincere and earnest work to be done by both Single Taxers and Socialists. It will be time enough for them to split when the aims they have in common have been accomplished.