On The Land Question and Slavery

Leo Tolstoy

[Originally compiled in the early 1900s by Ethel Wedgwood and published by the Land Values Publication Department, London, 1909. The passages have been reordered and categorized by Edward J. Dodson, November 2003 and made available in this format]


Townsmen generally regard agriculture as one of the lowest occupations to which man can devote himself. Yet the enormous majority of the population of the whole world are engaged in agriculture, and on it the possibility of existence for all the rest of the human race depends. [ The Meaning of the Russian Revolution, ix.]


The devil of charity said he taught men that to steal by the ton and give by the ounce was to be a benefactor of society. [ The Fall and Rise of Hell, xi. (Paraphrase.)]


Tens of thousands of acres of forest-lands belonging to one proprietor -- while thousands of people close by have no fuel -- need protection by violence. [ The Slavery of Our Times, xiii]


"To beat down and cover up the truth that I have tried to-night to make clear to you," said Henry George, "selfishness will call on ignorance. But it has in it the germinative force of truth, and the times are ripe for it. …"

And I think that Henry George is right, that the removal of the sin of landed property is near, that the movement called forth by Henry George was the last birth-throe, and that the birth is on the point of taking place. [ A Great Iniquity, ix.]


Personally, I regard Henry George's scheme as the most just, beneficent, and, above all, practicable, of all the schemes I am acquainted with. It may be illustrated in miniature thus: let us suppose that in a certain locality all the land belongs to two landlords, -- one a very rich one living abroad, the other not a rich one, living at home and farming his land, -- and to one hundred peasants possessing a small portion of the land. Besides this, in the same locality, there live, as hired workmen and in lodgings, several scores of persons without land, artisans, tradesmen, officials. Let us suppose that all the inhabitants of this place, having come to the conclusion that all land is common property, have decided to dispose of the land in accordance with this conviction. -- How should they act?

To take away all the land from those who possess it, and to allow every one to use the land which may please him, would not be practicable. …For all to unite into one party, and to plough, mow and harvest all together and then divide, would not be convenient. …To divide the land … into allotments … would be very difficult. …

Therefore, the inhabitants of this locality decide, whilst leaving the land in the hands of those who possess it, to bind the landowners to pay into the common treasury a sum which represents the value of the income which the land at their disposal affords its possessors (according to any valuation not founded on the amount of labour put into the land, but upon its quality and position), and this sum they decide to divide equally between themselves. But as … all the inhabitants pay money for common needs, such as schools, churches, fire-engines, shepherds, road-repairs, etc. - - - the local inhabitants, instead of collecting money from the land income, distributing it between all, and then again collecting part of it for taxes, decide to collect and use all the income from land on common needs.

Having come to this arrangement (they) demand from the landlords the payment corresponding to the amount of land in their possession, and also from the peasants who possess small portions of land; whereas, from the few scores of individuals who do not possess any land nothing is demanded, they being allowed the free use of all that is instituted by means of the land revenue. -- Such an arrangement leads to this, that one of the landlords, who does not live on his land, and produces little from it, finds it, disadvantageous to continue to hold his land under such taxation and resigns it; whereas the other landlord, who is a good farmer, resigns only part of his land, and conserves such a portion of it as will enable him to produce more than is demanded of him for the land he is using. Those of the peasants who possess little land … take the land deserted by the landlords, so that, according to this solution, all the inhabitants of the locality obtain the possibility of living on the land and feeding from it, and all the land gets into, or remains in, the hands of those who like to work on it and are capable of producing much from it. Meanwhile, the local public institutions improve, as more money than before is received for public needs. And, above all, all this transformation in the possession of land is realised without any disputes, quarrels, shocks, or violence, but by the voluntary surrender of land by those who are not capable of cultivating it with advantage. Such is Henry George's scheme. …

This scheme is just and beneficial, and, above all, easily put into practice everywhere, in all communities, whatever may be their present instituted system of ownership of land. Therefore I personally regard this scheme as the best of all existing schemes. [ To the Working People, xiv.]

We can imagine that the land may be freed from the claims of private proprietors, by Henry George's plan, and that therefore the first cause driving people into slavery -- the lack of land - may be done away with. [The Slavery of Our Times, ix.] HENRY GEORGE / WISDOM OF

The most just and practicable scheme, in my opinion, is that of Henry George, known as the single-tax system. [To the Working People, xiii.]


I have been acquainted with Henry George since the appearance of his Social Problems. I read them, and was struck by the correctness of his main idea, and by the unique clearness and power of his argument, … and especially by the Christian spirit … which pervades the book. After reading it I turned to his previous work, Progress and Poverty, and with a heightened appreciation of its author's activity. You ask my opinion of Henry George's work, and of his single-tax system. My opinion is the following: --

Humanity advances continually towards the enlightenment of its consciousness, and to the institution of modes of life corresponding to this consciousness. …At the close of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth, a progressive enlightenment of consciousness occurred in Christianised humanity with respect to the working classes, who were previously in various phases of slavery; and a progressive realisation of new forms of life -- the abolition of slavery and the substitution of free-hired labour.

At the present day a progressive enlightenment of human consciousness is taking place with reference to the use of land, and soon, it seems to me, a progressive realisation of this must follow. And in this progressive enlightenment with reference to the use of land, and its realisation, which constitutes one of the chief problems of our time, the fore-man, the leader of the movement, was and is Henry George. In this lies his immense and predominant importance. He contributed by his excellent books both to the enlightenment of the consciousness of mankind and to the placing of it upon a practical footing.

But with the abolition of the revolting right of ownership in land, the same thing is being repeated which took place, as we can still remember, when slavery was abolished. The governments and ruling classes, knowing that the advantages and authority of their position amongst men are bound up in the land question, while pretending that they are preoccupied with the welfare of the people, organising working-men's banks, inspection of labour, income taxes, and even an eight hours' day, studiously ignore the land question, and even, with the aid of an obliging and easily corrupted science assert that the expropriation of land is useless, harmful, impossible.

The same thing is happening now as in the days of the slave trade. Mankind, at the beginning of the eighteenth and at the end of the nineteenth century, had long felt that slavery was an awful, soul-nauseating anachronism; but sham-religion and sham-science proved that there was nothing wrong in it; that it was indispensable, or, at least, that its abolition would be premature. To-day something similar is taking place with reference to property in land. In the same way sham-religion and sham-science are proving that there is nothing wrong in landed property, and that there is no need to abolish it. One might think it would be palpable to every educated man of our time that the exclusive control of land by people who do not work upon it, and who prevent hundreds and thousands of distressed families making use of it, is an action every whit as wicked and base as the possession of slaves; yet we see aristocrats, supposed to be educated and refined, English, Austrian, Prussian, Russian, who profit by this cruel and base right, and who are not only not ashamed, but proud of it.

Religion blesses such possession, and the science of political economy proves that it must exist for the greatest welfare of mankind. It is Henry George's merit that he not only exploded all the sophism whereby religion and science justify landed property, and pressed the question to the farthest proof, which forced all who had not stopped their ears to acknowledge the unlawfulness of ownerships in land, but also that he was the first to indicate a possibility of solution for the question. He was the first to give a simple, straightforward answer to the usual excuses made by the enemies of all progress, which affirm that the demands of progress are illusions, impracticable, inapplicable.

The method of Henry George destroys this excuse by so putting the question that by tomorrow committees might be appointed to examine and deliberate on his scheme and its transformation into law. …To humanity the indispensableness of this reform is demonstrated, and its feasibleness is proved (emendations, alterations in the single-tax system may be required, but the fundamental idea is a possibility); and therefore humanity cannot but do that which their reason demands. It is only necessary, in order that this idea may become public opinion, that it should be spread and explained precisely as you are doing, in which cause I sympathise with you with all my heart, and wish you success. [Letter to a German Reformer]


Characteristically was this the fate of the activity of the remarkable man who appeared towards the end of last century -- Henry George -- who devoted his great mental powers to the elucidation of the injustice and cruelty of landed property and to the indication of the means of correcting this evil by the help of the state (?) organisation now existing amongst all nations. He did this in his books, articles, and speeches with such extraordinary power and lucidity that no man without preconceived ideas could, after reading his books, fail to agree with his arguments, and to see that no reforms can improve the condition of the people until this fundamental injustice be destroyed, and that the means he proposes for its abolition are rational, just, and expedient.

The chief weapon against the teaching of Henry George was that which is always used against irrefutable and self-evident truths. This method, which is still being applied in relation to George, was that of hushing up. …

People do not argue with the teaching of George, they simply do not know it. …

If people refer to this teaching they do so either in attributing to it that which it does not say, or in re-asserting that which has been refuted by George, or else, above all, they reject it simply because it does not conform with those pedantic, arbitrary, superficial principles of so-called political economy which are recognised as indisputable truths.

Yet, notwithstanding this, the truth that cannot be an object of property has become so elucidated by the very life of contemporary kind, that in order to continue to retain a way of life in which private landed property is recognized, there is only one means -- not to think of it, to ignore the truth, and to occupy oneself with absorbing business. So, indeed, do the men time.

Political workers of Europe and America occupy themselves for the welfare of their nations in various matters: tariffs, colonies, income military and naval budgets, socialistic assemblies, unions, syndicates, the election of presidents, diplomatic connections -- by anything save the one thing without which there cannot be any improvement in the condition of the people -- the re-establishment of the infringed right of all to use the land. [ A Great Iniquity, iii., vi.]


The scheme of Henry George is as follows: -- The advantage and profit from the use of land is not everywhere the same, since the more fertile, convenient portions, adjoining populous districts, will always attract many who wish to possess them; and so much the more as these portions are better and more suitable, they ought to be appraised according to their advantages; the better, dearer; the worse, cheaper ; the worst, cheapest of all.

Whereas the land which attracts but few should not be appraised at all, but conceded without payment to those who are willing to cultivate it by their own manual labour. According to such a valuation, convenient plough land in the government of Toula, for example, would be valued at about five or six roubles the dessyatin [about two and three-quarter acres]; market garden land near villages at ten roubles; the same, but liable to spring floods, fifteen roubles, and so on. In towns the valuation would be from one hundred to five hundred roubles the dessyatin; and in Moscow and Petersburg, in go-ahead places, and about the harbours of navigable rivers, several thousands or tens of thousands of roubles the dessyatin.

When all the land in the country has been thus appraised, Henry George proposes to pass a law declaring that all the land, from such a year and date, shall belong no longer to any separate individual, but to the whole country, to the whole nation; and that thereafter every one who possesses land must gradually pay to the State, that is, to the whole nation, the price at which it has been appraised.

This payment must be expended on all the public needs of the State, so that it will take the place of every kind of monetary imposition, both local and national -- the custom house, etc.

According to this scheme it would follow that a landowner, who was at present in possession of two thousand dessyatins, would continue to own them, but would have to pay for them into the treasury, here in Toula, between twelve and fifteen thousand roubles a year, because hereabouts the best land for agricultural and building purposes would be included; and no large land-owner would be able to bear the strain of such a payment, and would be obliged to give up the land. Whereas our Toula peasant would have to pay about two roubles less for each dessyatin of the same ground than he does at present, would always have available land around him which he could hire for five or six roubles, and, in addition, would not only have no other taxes to pay, but would receive all Russian and foreign articles which he needs without imposts. In towns the owners of houses and manufactories can continue to possess their property, but will have to pay for the land they occupy, according to its valuation, into the common treasury.

The advantage of such a system will be --

1. That no one will be deprived of the possibility of using land.

2. That idle men, possessing land, and forcing others to work for them in return for the use of the land, will cease to exist.

3. That the land will be in the hands of those who work it and not of those who do not.

4. That the people, being able to work on the land, will cease to enslave themselves as labourers in mills and factories and as servants in towns; and will disperse themselves about the country.

5. That there will be no longer any overseers and tax collectors in factories, mills, stores, and custom houses, but only collectors of payment for the land, which it is impossible to steal, and from which taxes may be most easily collected.

6, and chiefly. That those who do not labour will be freed from the sin of profiting by the labours of others (in doing which they are often not to blame, being from childhood educated in idleness, and not knowing how to work); and from the still greater sin of every kind of falsehood and excuse to shift the blame from themselves; and that those who do labour will be delivered from the temptation and sin of envy, condemnation of others, and exasperation against those who do not work; and thus will disappear one of the causes of dissension between man and man. [ Letter to a Russian Peasant]


The only indubitable means of improving the position of the workers, which is at the same time in conformity with the will of God, consists in the liberation of the land from its usurpation by the landlords.

But it is not sufficient that you working men should know that it is necessary for your welfare to liberate the land. …Besides this you need to know beforehand how to administer the land when it is freed from the landlord's usurpation --how to distribute it among the workers. [ To the Working People, xiii.]


There are more than . . . a thousand millions of working men in the world. All the bread, all the goods of the whole world, all wherewith people live and are rich, all this is produced by the working man. But it is not he who profits by the things he produces, but the Government and the rich, -- whereas the working population lives in continual need, ignorance, and bondage, and in the contempt of those very people whom they clothe, feed, house, and serve. The land is taken from the labourer and regarded as the property of those who do not work it, so that in order to be fed by the land, the man who works it must do everything the owners demand. If the labourer leaves the land, enters service, or mills, or factories, he falls; into bondage to other wealthy people, for whom, during the whole of his life, he has to work ten, twelve, fourteen, or more hours a day, at alien, monotonous, tedious work, often pernicious to health and life. If he is able to settle on the land or to procure work, so as to feed himself without want, then he is not left alone, but taxes are demanded of him. …If he desires to use the land without payment … he is … compelled by force to work and pay just as before. So that the working men all over the world live not like men, but like beasts of burden, who are compelled all their life to do, not what is necessary to them, but to their oppressors, receiving in return only just so much food, clothing, and rest as enables them to go on working unceasingly. [ The Only Means, i.]


It will only be by compulsion that a workman, owning the means of production and not suffering want, can be induced to accept such stupefying and soul-destroying conditions of labour as those in which people now work. [ The Slavery of Our Times, vi.]


Wherever elected governments exist, in the countries that have most freedom, …the chief ills of the people are not remedied, …the land is in the hands of the rich. [ An Appeal to the Russian People]


At present, the condition of our Christian world is this ; -- one small portion of men possesses the greater part of the land and enormous wealth, which more and more concentrate themselves in the same hands, and are being used for the maintenance of the luxurious, effeminate, unnatural life of a smaller number of families. Another and greater portion of men, deprived of the right, and therefore of the possibility of freely using the land, -- encumbered by taxes raised on all necessary articles, and therefore crushed by unhealthy labour in factories belonging to the wealthy -- often having neither convenient habitations, nor healthy food, nor the leisure necessary for mental and spiritual life, -- live and die in dependence or in hatred towards those who, profiting by their labour, compel them to live thus. [ The One thing Needful, viii.]


The majority of well-to-do people to-day advise employers to look after the well-being of their workpeople, but do not admit the thought of any such alteration of the economic structure of life as would set the labourers quite free. [ The Slavery of Our Times, vii.]


WHEN the whole theory of life is false, all good turns to the devil's aid. [ The Fall and Rise of Hell, xi. (Paraphrase)]


In villages men live half-famished, in increasing toil and privations, -- slaves of the landowners.

In towns and factories working men live generation after generation, physically and morally depraved by dull, monotonous, unhealthy and unnatural labour, -- slaves of the capitalists.

Every year the condition of both classes becomes steadily worse. In the villages peasants are growing more and more destitute as greater numbers leave the country for the factories. In the towns, although the workmen do not get poorer, but, on the contrary, seem to become better off, yet they are growing more and more intemperate, more and more incapable of any other kind of labour than the one they are accustomed to, and are therefore; falling more and more into the power of the factory-owners.

Thus the power of the landowners and factory-owners, and of the wealthy classes generally, is becoming stronger and stronger, while the condition of the working men is becoming worse and worse.

How can we escape from these conditions? [ How Shall We Escape, ii.]


If a revolution is to be contrived, but the land is still to remain private property, then certainly it is not worth while contriving it. We have our brothers living abroad in Roumania, and it is said that there there is a constitution, there are parliaments, but the land is almost entirely in the hands of the landlords; -- then of what use to the people is this parliament?

In parliament, it is reported, all that takes place is the strife of one party against another, but the people are dreadfully enslaved, and subjugated to the landlords. The landlords have farms on their land, i.e. cottages. The land is generally let for half of the harvest to the peasants, and generally only for one year. If the peasant has well cultivated the land, then the second year the landlord sows it himself, and gives the peasant another allotment. These poor men live a few years with one landlord, and in the end remain his debtors. The Government deprives them of what remains for taxes. …So much for your parliament!

Land is the primary necessary which the people should endeavour to obtain. Mines and factories, it seems to me, will of themselves pass over to the workers. When the labourers shall obtain the land, they will work on it, and freely live upon their labour. Then many will refuse to work in factories and mines, therefore there will be less competition amongst the workers. Then wages will increase, and they will be able to organise their unions, co-operative funds, etc., and to compete with the masters. Then the latter will find no advantage in keeping factories, and they will enter into agreements with the workmen. Land is the chief object of contention. This should be explained to the workers. [ Letter to the Russia Peasant Stundist (Quoted in To the Working-People, iii.]


Were it not for the defence of landed property and its consequent rise in price, people would not be crowded into such narrow spaces, but would scatter over the free land of which there is still so much in the world. But, as it is, a continual struggle goes on for landed property; -- a struggle with the weapons Government furnishes by means of its laws of landed property. And in this struggle, it is not those who work on the land, but those who take part in governmental violence, who have the advantage. [ The Slavery of Our Times, xiii.]


What a lot of folk are flocking to the town nowadays; it's awful!" said the driver, turning round on the box, and pointing to a party of peasant workmen who were coming towards them, carrying saws, axes, sheep-skin coats, and bags strapped to their shoulders. - "More than in other years?" … -- ''By far. This year every place is crowded, so that it is just terrible. The employers just fling the workmen about like chaff. Not a job to be got." -- -- "Why is that? … Why don't they stay in the village?" -- "There's nothing for them to do in the village, -- no land to be had." … -- "Cannot land be rented?" … -- " How is one to rent it nowadays? The gentry, -- such as they were, -- have squandered all theirs. Business men have got it all into their own hands. One can't rent it from them. …We have a Frenchman ruling in our place; he bought the estate from our former landlord and won't let it, -- and there's an end of it." -- -- "Who is this Frenchman?" -- -- "Dufour is his name. …He makes wigs for the actors in the big theatre, so he's prospering. He bought it from our lady, the whole of the estate, and now he has us in his power; he just rides on us as he pleases. The Lord be thanked, he is a good man himself, only his wife, a Russian, is such a brute that -- God have mercy on us! She robs the people. It's awful!" [ Resurrection, II. xi.]


Landowners complain of the unprofitableness and expense of their estates whilst the price of land is continually rising. It cannot but rise since the population is increasing, and land is a question of life and death for this population. And therefore the people surrender everything they can, -- not only their labour, but even their lives, -- for the land which is being withheld from them. [ A Great Iniquity, ii.]


Everything seemed so clear to Nekhludoff now, that he could not stop wondering, how it was that everybody did not see it, and that he himself had for such a long while not seen what was so clearly evident. The people were dying out, and had got used to the dying-out process, and had formed habits of life adapted to this process; there was the great mortality among the children, the over-working of the women, the under-feeding, especially of the aged; and so gradually had the people come to this condition, that they did not realise the full horror of it, and did not complain. Therefore we consider their condition natural and proper. Now, it seemed as clear as daylight, that the chief cause of the people's great want was one that they themselves knew and always pointed out, i.e. that the land which alone could feed them had been taken from them by the landlords.

And how evident it was, that the children, and the aged died because they had no milk; and they had no milk, because there was no pasture-land, and no land to grow corn or make hay on. It was quite evident, that all the misery of the people, or at least by far the greater part of it, was caused by the fact that the land which should feed them was not in their hands, but in the hands of those who, profiting by their ownership of the land, live by the work of these people. The land needful to man was tilled by these people on the verge of starvation, so that … the owners of the land might buy themselves hats and canes and carriages and bronzes, etc. He understood this as clearly as he understood, that horses who have eaten all the grass in the enclosure where they are kept will have to grow thin and starve, unless they are put where they can get food off other land. This was terrible and must not go on.

Henry George's fundamental position recurred vividly to his mind, and he remembered how he had once been carried away by it, and he was surprised that he could have forgotten it. The earth cannot be anyone's property; it cannot be bought and sold, any more than water, air, or sunshine. All have an equal right to the advantages it gives to men. [Resurrection, II. vi.]


The conception of a labouring man includes the land on which he lives and the tools with which he works. …If the peasant has no land, horse, water or scythe; if the bootmaker is without a house, water or awl, then that means that some one has driven him from the ground, or taken it from him, and has cheated him out of [these things]. …

There may be men who are hunted from one place to another, and who, having been robbed, are compelled perforce to work for another man, …but this does not mean that such is the nature of production. It means only, that in such case the natural conditions of production are violated. …

And as the claim of property in the person of another cannot deprive a slave of his innate right to seek his own welfare, so, too, the claim to the exclusive possession of land and the tools of others cannot deprive the labourer of his inherent rights as a man to live on the land and to work with his own tools. …

However many siskins there may be, kept in pasteboard houses, with their wings cut, a zoologist cannot say that these, and a tiny pail of water running up rails, are a condition of the birds' lives. [ What Shall We Do?, xvii.]

That you, working men, are compelled to pass all your life in want and heavy work unnecessary to you, whereas other men, who do not work at all, profit by all you produce, -- that you are the slaves of these men, and that this should not be, -- this is evident to every one who possesses eyes and heart. [To the Working People, i.]


The peasants plough the fields of other men because they have not enough of their own land, and the landowner allows them to use his land only on condition that they work for him. …The foundry men or miners toil as they do, because neither the earth out of which the iron is dug, nor the foundry in which it is smelted, belongs to them. All these men spend their lives in exhausting labour (for other men) because the wealthy have usurped the land, collect taxes, and own the factories. [ The Root of the Evil, iii.]


The people are oppressed, robbed, poor, ignorant, dying of hunger. Why? Because the land is in the hands of the rich. The people are enslaved in mills and in factories, …and the price of their labour is diminished, while the price of things they need is increased. [ Letter to a Non-Commissioned Officer]


YOU say that you defend landed property for our advantage; but your defence has this effect that all the land either has passed or is passing into the control of rich companies, bankers, wealthy men who do not labour; while we, the immense majority of the people, are being deprived of land, and left in the power of those who do not labour. You, with your laws of landed property, do not defend landed property, but take it from those who work it. You say, you secure to each man the produce of his labour, but you do just the reverse: all those who produce articles of value are, thanks to your pseudo-protection, placed in such a position that they not only never receive the value of their labour, but are all their lives long in complete subjection to and in the power of non-workers. [ The Slavery of Our Times, xiii.]


THE laws which claim to protect property are laws protecting only property acquired by theft, which is in the hands of the wealthy; -- they not only do not protect the workman who has no property except his labour, but directly contribute to the exploitation of that labour. [ The Root of the Evil, iv.]


However difficult it was for the Tsar, when giving freedom to the peasants, to force those surrounding him to renounce the possession of serfs, it was possible because the landowners still kept the land. [ To the Working People, vii.]


Not only will the rulers and landowners prevent the abolition of landed property, but those who, while participating neither in Government nor in landlordism, nevertheless serve the rich, -- such Government officials, artists, scientists, and tradesmen, feeling instinctively that their advantageous position is connected with landed property, always defend it or else, whilst attacking everything less important, never touch the question of property in land. [ To the Working People, vii.]


Even in the time of serfdom the peasants used to say to their masters: "We are yours, but the land is ours," -- that is, they recognised, that however unlawful and cruel is the possession by one man of another, the right of possession of land by him who does not work it is still more unlawful and cruel. …

The time has come when the injustice, irrationality and cruelty of the possession of land by those who do not work upon it have grown as obvious as fifty years ago were the injustice, irrationality and cruelty of the possession of serfs. …All those who possess land, as well as those deprived of it, now clearly see … that if a peasant, who has been, and is, working all his life, has not sufficient bread, owing to his having no land to sow in, -- if children and old people have no milk because they have no pasture, -- if they have not their own piece of wood to repair their rotten hut and warm it, -- while, by their side, a non-working landlord, living in his enormous park, … spends and eats up in a week as much as would have maintained the neighbouring starving village for a whole year, -- that such an organisation of life should not be. …And as soon as men recognise the injustice, irrationalitv and cruelty of any of their institutions, that institution, one way or another, inevitably comes to an end. Thus ended serfdom, -- and thus property in land is bound to cease, and very soon. [ To the Working People, vi.]


WHY does the land belong, not to those who work it, but to those who do not work? ... The usual answer to the question: "Why do the non-workers possess the land of the workers?" is, that the land has been granted to them for their services, or bought with money they have earned. …

Yet the ownership of land … has not the least justification, because land, like water, air, or the rays of the sun, is an indispensable condition of every man's life, and therefore it cannot be the exclusive property of one.

If land, and not water, air, or solar rays, has become the object of property, it is not because land is not just as indispensable a condition of every man's existence, which cannot therefore be appropriated, but because it is not possible to deprive men of water, or the air, or the sun, whereas it is possible to deprive them of land.

Landed property was established by violence and in spite of all the attempts to transform it into a right, it has still remained nothing but the violence of the strong and armed against the feeble and defenceless. …

Right in land is equivalent to the right of robbers to a road they have taken possession of, and along which they allow no one to pass without a ransom. [ The Root of the Evil, vi.]


The evil and injustice of private property in land have been pointed out a thousand years ago by the prophets and sages of old. Later progressive thinkers of Europe have been oftener and oftener pointing it out. …In latter days … this injustice has become so obvious that not only the progressive, but even the most average people cannot help seeing and feeling it. But men, especially those who profit by the advantages of landed property -- the owners them selves, as well as those whose interests are connected with this institution -- are so accustomed to this order of things, they have for so long profited by it, have so much depended upon it, that often they themselves do not see its injustice, and they use all possible means to conceal from themselves and others the truth which is disclosing itself more and more clearly, and to crush, extinguish, and distort it, or, if these do not succeed, to hush it up. [ A Great Iniquity, iii., vi.]


History shows that property in land did not arise from any wish to make the cultivator's tenure more secure, but resulted from the seizure of communal lands by conquerors. …So that property in land was not established with the object of stimulating the agriculturists. Present-day facts show the fallacy of the assertion that landed property enables those who work the land to be sure that they will not be deprived of the land they cultivate. In reality, just the contrary has everywhere happened, and is happening. The right of landed property … has produced the result, that all, or most, i.e. the immense majority of the agriculturists, are now in the position of people who cultivate other people's land, from which they may be driven at the whim of men who do not cultivate it. So that the existing right of landed property certainly does not defend the rights of the agriculturist to enjoy the fruits of the labour he puts into the land; but, on the contrary, it is a way of depriving the agriculturists of the land on which they work, and handing it over to those who have not worked it; and therefore it is certainly not a means for the improvement of agriculture, but, on the contrary, a means of deteriorating it. [ The Slavery of Our Times, x]


Every thief knows that stealing is wrong … that it is immoral," said Rogozhinsky, with his … slightly contemptuous smile.

"No, he does not know it. They say to him: Don't steal! and he knows that the master of the factory steals his labour by keeping back his wages, -- that the Government, with its officials, robs him continually by taxation."

"Why, this is Anarchism," Rogozhinsky said. …

-- "I don't know what it is. I am only telling you the truth. …He knows that the Government is robbing him, knows that we landed proprietors have robbed him long since, -- robbed him of the land which should be the common property of all, -- and then, if he picks up dry wood to light his fire on that land stolen from him, we put him in jail, and try to persuade him that he is a thief. Of course he knows, that not he but those who robbed him of the land are thieves, and that to get any restitution of what he has been robbed of is his duty towards his family." --

-- "I don't understand, or if I do, I cannot agree with it. The land must be somebody's property," began Rogozhinsky, quietly, convinced that Nekhudoff was a Socialist, and that Socialism demands that all the land should be divided equally, that such a division would be very foolish, and that he could easily prove it to be so. "If you divided it equally to-day, it would to-morrow be again in the hands of the most industrious and clever." --

-- "Nobody is thinking of dividing the land equally. The land must not be anybody's property; must not be a thing to be bought and sold or rented." --

-- "The rights of property are inborn in man; without them the cultivation of land would present no interest. …Destroy the rights of property, and we relapse into barbarism. -- Rogozhinsky uttered this authoritatively, repeating his favourite argument in favour of private ownership of land, which is supposed to be irrefutable. …

"On the contrary, …only when the land is nobody's property will it cease to lie idle, as it does now while the landlords, like dogs in the manger, unable to put it to use, will not let those use it who are able." [ Resurrection, ii. xxxii.]


Set before the people ideals of equity, goodness and truth, more lofty and more just than those your opponents advocate. Place such an ideal before the people, not to save yourselves, but seriously and honestly setting yourselves to accomplish it, and you will not only save yourselves, but will save (your country) from those ills which already afflict or are now threatening her.

Nor need you invent this ideal; it is the old, old ideal … the ideal of the restoration to the whole people -- not to the peasants only, -- but to the whole people, -- of their natural and just right to the land. [ An Appeal to the Russian Government]


There used to be cannibalism and human sacrifices; there used to be religious prostitution and the murder of weak children and of girls; there used to be bloody revenge and the slaughter of whole populations, judicial tortures, quarterings, burnings at the stake, the lash; and there have been, within our memory, spitzruthens and slavery, which have also disappeared. But if we have outlived these dreadful customs and institutions, this does not prove that there do not exist institutions and customs amongst us which have become as abhorrent to enlightened reason and conscience as those which have in their time been abolished and have become for us only a dreadful remembrance. The way of human perfecting is endless, and at every moment of historical life there are superstitions, deceits, pernicious and evil institutions, already outlived by men and belonging to the past; there are others which appear to us in the far mists of the future; and there are some which we are now living through and whose over-living forms the object of our life. Such in our time is capital punishment and all punishment in general. Such … is the nearest and most obvious evil, private property in land.

But as people never suddenly freed themselves from all the injustices which had become customary, nor even did so immediately after the more sensitive individual had recognised their iniquity, but advanced only by leaps, halts, resumings, and again new leaps towards freedom, similar to the struggles of childbirth, so has it been of late with the abolition of slavery, and so is it now with private property in land. [ A Great Iniquity, iii., vi.]


The land question has at the present time reached such a state of ripeness as fifty years ago was reached by the question of serfdom. Exactly the same is being repeated. As at that time men searched for the means of remedying the general uneasiness and dissatisfaction which were felt in society, and applied all kinds of external governmental means, but nothing helped nor could help whilst there remained the ripening and unsolved question of personal slavery, so also now no external measures will help or can help until the ripe question of landed property be solved. As now measures are proposed for adding slices to the peasants' land, for the purchase of land by the aid of banks, etc., so then also palliative measures were proposed and enacted, material improvements, rules about three days' labour, and so forth. Even as now the owners of land talk about the injustice of putting a stop to their criminal ownership, so then people talked about the unlawfulness of depriving owners of their serfs. As then the Church justified the serf right, so now that which occupies the place of the Church -- Science -- justifies landed property. Just as then slave-owners, realising their sin, more or less endeavoured in various ways without undoing it to mitigate it, . . . so also now the more sensitive landowners, feeling their guilt, endeavour to redeem it by renting their land to the peasants on more lenient conditions, by selling it through the peasant banks, by arranging schools for the people, ridiculous houses of recreation, magic-lantern lectures, and theatres.

Exactly the same also is the indifferent attitude of the Government to the question And as then the question was solved, not by those who invented artful devices for the alleviation and improvement of the condition of peasant life, but by those who recognising the urgent necessity of the right solution, did not postpone it indefinitely, did not foresee special difficulties in it, but immediately, straight off, endeavoured to arrest the evil … the same now also with the land question.

The question will be solved, not by those who will endeavour to mitigate the evil or to invent alleviations for the people or to postpone the task of the future, but by those who will understand that, however one may mitigate a wrong, it remains a wrong, and that it is senseless to invent alleviations for a man we are torturing and that one cannot postpone when people are suffering, but should immediately take the best way of solving the difficulty and immediately apply it in practice. And the more should it be so that the method of solving the land problem has been elaborated by Henry George to such a degree of perfection that, under the existing State organisation and compulsory taxation, it is impossible to invent any other better, more just, practical, and peaceful solution. [A Great Iniquity, ix.]


For the welfare of the people we endeavour to abolish the censorship of books, arbitrary banishments, and to organise everywhere schools, common and agricultural, to increase the number of hospitals, to cancel passports and monopolies, to institute strict inspection in the factories, to reward maimed workers, to mark boundaries between properties, to contribute through banks to the purchase of land by peasants, and much else.

One need only enter into the unceasing sufferings of millions of the people; the dying out from want of the aged, women, and children, and of the workers from excessive work and insufficient food -- one need only enter into the servitude, the humiliations, all the useless expenditures of strength, into the deprivations, into all the horror of the needless calamities of the Russian rural population which all proceed from insufficiency of land -- in order that it should become quite clear that all such measures as the abolition of censorship, or arbitrary banishment, etc., which are being striven after by the pseudo-defenders of the people, even were they to be realised, would form only the most insignificant drop in the ocean of that want from which the people are suffering.

... Those concerned with the welfare of the people, while inventing alterations, trifling, unimportant, both in quality and quantity, leave a hundred millions of the people in unceasing slavery owing to the seizure of the land. [ A Great Iniquity, v.]


About thirty years ago, Henry George suggested, not only a reasonable, but a perfectly practicable scheme of emancipating the land from private ownership. But neither in America nor in England (in France it is not even spoken of) has this scheme been accepted. Various refutations of it have been attempted, but as they failed, the idea was simply boycotted. [ How Shall We Escape?, iii.]


(Nekhudoff makes over his property to the commune, and, first, explains to the peasants his views on landed properly.)

THE land, according to my idea, can neither be bought nor sold, because, if it could be, he who has got the money could buy it all, and exact anything he liked for the use of the land from those who have none. …I have come here, because I no longer wish to possess any land; and now we must consider the best way of dividing it." --

-- "Just give it to the peasants, that's all," said the cross, toothless old man. - - "I should be glad to give it them. …But to whom? and how? To which of the peasants? Why to your commune and not to the next ?" -- …All were silent. -- "Now, then, tell me how you would divide the land among the peasants, if you had to do it ?"-- … -- "We should divide it up equally, so much for every man," said the oven-builder. … -- "Of course, so much per man," said the good-natured, lame man. … -- "Then are the servants attached to the house also to have a share?" … -- "Oh no," said the ex-soldier. …But the tall, reasonable man would not agree with him. -- "If it is to be divided, all must share alike," he said. … -- "It can't be done. …If all are to share alike, then those who do not work themselves … will sell their shares to the rich. The rich will again get at the land. Those who live by working the land will multiply, and the land will again be scarce. Then the rich will again get those who need land into their power." -- -- "Just so," quickly said the ex-soldier. - "Forbid to sell the land; let only him who ploughs it have it," angrily interrupted the oven-builder.

Nekhludoff replied, that it was impossible to know, who was ploughing for himself and who for another.

The tall, reasonable man proposed … that they should all plough communally, and that those who ploughed should get the produce and those who did not should get nothing. …Nekhludoff said, that for such an arrangement it would be necessary that all should have ploughs, and that the horses should be all alike, … and that ploughs and horses, and all the implements would have to be communal property; and that, in order to get that, all the people would have to agree.

-- "Our people could not be made to agree in a lifetime," said the cross old man. …

"So that the thing is not so simple as it looks; … and this is a thing that not only we, but many, have been considering. There is an American, Henry George, -- this is what he has thought out, and I agree with him." -

-- "Why, you are the master, and you give it as you like; what's it to you? …" said the cross old man.

-- "You wait a bit, Uncle Simon; let him tell us about it," said the reasonable man. …This emboldened Nekhludoff, and he began to explain Henry George's single-tax system: --

-- " The earth is no man's; it is God's," he began.

-- "Just so; that it is!" several voices replied.

-- "The land is common to all. All have the same right to it; but there is good land and bad land, and every one would like to take the good land. How is one to do in order to get it justly divided? -- In this way: -- He that will use the good land, must pay those who have got no land the value of the land he uses, …And as it would be difficult to say, who should pay to whom, and money is needed for communal use, it should be arranged, that he who uses the good land should pay the amount of the value of his land to the commune for its needs. Then every one would share equally. If you want to use land, pay for it, -- more for the good, less for the bad land. If you do not wish to use land, don't pay anything; and those who use the land will pay the taxes and the communal expenses for you." -- --"Well, he had a head, this George," said the oven-builder, moving his brows. [ Resurrection, II. ix.]


While you still have the power, strike to destroy the ancient, crying, cruel injustice of private property in land; which is so vividly felt by the whole agricultural population, and from which they suffer so grievously, and you will have the support of all the best people. …You will have with you all true constitutionalists, who cannot but see, that, before calling on the people to choose representatives, the people must be freed from the land slavery in which it now lives. The Socialists, too, will have to admit that they are with you, for the ideal which they set before themselves, -- the nationalisation of the implements of labour, -- is attainable first of all by the nationalisation of the chief implement of labour, -- the land. The revolutionists, too, will be on your side, for the revolution which you will be accomplishing by freeing the land from private ownership, is one of the chief points in their programme. [ An Appeal to the Russian Government]


"Great social reforms," says Mazzini, "always have been and will be the result of great religious movements."

Such is the religious movement which is now pending for the Russian people, for all the Russian people, for the working classes deprived of land as well as, and especially for, the big, medium, and small landowners, and for all those hundreds of thousands of men who, although they do not directly possess land, yet occupy an advantageous position, thanks to the compulsory labour of the people who are deprived of land. [ A Great Iniquity, viii.]


It is not alone in Russia, but in France, England, Germany, and America as well, that we find the wealthy landed proprietor, who, in return for having allowed the men who live on his estate and who supply him with the products of the soil, extorts from these men, who are often poverty-stricken, all that he possibly can. Whenever these oppressed labourers make an attempt to gain something for themselves from the lands which the rich man calls his own, without first asking his consent, troops are called out, who torture and put to death those who have been bold enough to take such liberties. By methods like this are claims to the ownership of land made good. …One would think that if a man cared to seem Christian or Liberal, he would at least cease to plunder and torment his fellow-men with the aid of the Government, in order to vindicate his claims to the ownership of land. [ The Kingdom of God. Conclusion]


An enormous majority of men born on this planet, -- the world, -- find themselves immediately from the day of their birth deprived of the right to use the land on which they were born, -- not only to use that which is on the surface and inside the land, but even of the right to be upon it, unless by their labour they make payment for this right to those to whom the State power gives the privilege of possessing the land as property, defending such robbery as a sacred right. Thus deprived of the natural and legitimate right of using the land on which he was born, such a man searches for some other means of existence, and, in order, as far as possible, to improve the position of himself and his family, to have leisure to learn, think, rest, associate with others, he works, rendering the legalised tax to the robber for the right of living on the land and using it. [ The One Thing Needful, v.]


However strange it may be to see a workman who has abandoned life in the country amidst expanses of fields, meadows, woods, after a decade of years -- (sometimes after several generations) -- rejoicing when he gets from his master a little house in a locality with pestiferous air, possessing three yards of a garden in which he can plant a dozen cucumbers and a couple of sunflowers, his joy is comprehensible.

The possibility of living on the land and of feeding oneself from it has been, and will always remain, one of the chief conditions of happy and independent human life. [ To the Working People, v.]


If anything is indeed necessary to country labourers, it is by no means the raising of their wages, or the shortening of their hours of labour, or co-operative funds, etc.; but one thing only is necessary -- land, of which everywhere they have too little for the maintenance of their families.

That the land, -- the freeing of land, -- is the only means of improving their position and of liberating themselves from slavery, -- this all intelligent Russian working-men understand. [ To the Working People, ii., iii.]


The defence by violence of the rights of property immorally obtained, which is now customary, if it has not quite destroyed, has considerably weakened people's natural consciousness of justice in the matter of using articles; i.e. has weakened the natural and innate right of property, without which humanity could not exist. [ The Slavery of Our Times, xiii]


The fundamental evil from which the Russian people, as well as the peoples of Europe and America, are suffering, is the fact that the majority of the people are deprived of the indisputable natural right of every man to use a portion of the land on which he was born. …Until this atrocity … shall cease, no political reforms will give freedom and welfare to the people; … only the emancipation of the majority of the people from that land slavery in which they now are held can render political reforms -- not a plaything and a tool for personal aims in the hands of politicians -- but the real expression of the will of the people. [ A Great Iniquity. Introductory Chapter]


For the arrangement of a good life for the people they are concerned with the freedom of the Press, religious tolerance, liberty of union, tariffs, conditional punishment, the separation of the Church from the State, co-operative associations, future communalisation of the implements of work, and, above all, with representative government -- that same representative government which has long existed in European and American States, but whose existence has not in the slightest contributed, nor does now contribute, not only to the solution but even to the raising of that one land problem which solves all difficulties. If Russian political workers do speak about land abuse, which they for some reason call the agrarian question -- possibly thinking that this silly word will conceal the substance of the matter- - they speak of it, not in the sense that private landed property is an evil which should be abolished, but in the sense that it is necessary by some way or other, by various patchings and palliatives, to plaster up; hush up, and pass over this essential, ancient, and cruel, this obvious and crying injustice, which is awaiting its turn for abolition not only in Russia, but in the whole world.

In Russia, where a hundred million of the masses unceasingly suffer from the seizure of the land by private owners, and unceasingly cry out about it, the position of those people who are vainly searching everywhere but where it really is, for the means of improving the condition of the people, reminds one exactly of that which takes place on the stage, when all the spectators see perfectly well the man who has hidden himself, and the actors themselves ought to see him, but pretend they do not, intentionally distracting each other's attention and seeing everything except that which it is necessary for them to see, but which they do not wish to see.

People have driven a herd of cows, on the milk products of which they are fed, into an enclosure. The cows have eaten up and trampled the forage in the enclosure, they are hungry, they have chewed each other's tails, they low and moan, imploring to be released from the enclosure and set free in the pastures. But the very men who feed themselves on the milk of these cows have set around the enclosure plantations of mint, of plants for dyeing purposes, and of tobacco; they have cultivated flowers, laid out a racecourse, a park, and a lawn-tennis ground, and they do not let out the cows lest they spoil these arrangements. But the cows bellow, get thin, and the men begin to be afraid that the cows may cease to yield milk, and they invent various means of improving the condition of these cows. They erect sheds over them, they introduce wet brushes for rubbing the cows, they gild their horns, alter the hour of milking, concern themselves with the housing and treating of invalid and old cows, they invent new and improved methods of milking, they expect that some kind of wonderfully nutritious grass they have sown in the enclosure will grow up, they argue about these and many other varied matters, but they do not, cannot -- without disturbing all they have arranged around the enclosure -- do the only simple thing necessary for themselves as well as for the cows-to wit, the taking down of the fence and granting the cows their natural freedom of using in plenty the pastures surrounding them.

Acting thus, men act unreasonably, but there is an explanation of their action: they are sorry for the fate of all they have arranged around the enclosure. But what shall we call those people who have set nothing around the fence, but who, out of imitation of those who do not set free their cows, owing to what they had arranged around the enclosure, also keep their cows inside the fence, and assert that they do so for the welfare of the cows themselves? [A Great Iniquity, iv., v.]


REAL science lies in knowing what we should and what we should not believe, in knowing how the associated life of man should and should not be constituted; how to … use the land, how to cultivate it oneself without oppressing other people. …

Such true science is denied and refuted by all those scientific people who defend the existing order of society. …

For instance, …a sermon appears showing that land should not be an object of private possession, and that the institution of private property in land is a chief cause of the poverty of the masses. Apparently science, real science, should welcome such a sermon, and draw further deductions from this position. But the science of our times does nothing of the kind; on the contrary, political economy demonstrates the opposite position, namely, that landed property, like every other form of property, must be more and more concentrated in the hands of a small number of owners.

The great majority of men in our times lack good and sufficient food (as well as dwellings, clothes, and all the first necessaries of life). And this great majority of men is compelled, to the injury of its well-being, to labour continually beyond its strength. Both these evils can easily be removed by abolishing mutual strife, luxury, and the unrighteous distribution of wealth, -- in a word, by the abolition of a false and harmful order and the establishment of a reasonable, human manner of life. But science considers the existing order of things to be as immutable as the movements of the planets, and therefore assumes that the purpose of science is -- not to elucidate the falseness of this order and to arrange a new, reasonable way of life, -- but, under the existing order of things, to feed everybody and enable everybody to be as idle as the ruling classes, who live a depraved life, now are.

To invent means whereby people might, while continuing our false division of property and labour, be well nourished by means of chemically-prepared food, and might make the forces of nature work for them, is like inventing means to pump oxygen into the lungs of a man kept in a closed chamber, the air of which is bad,-when all that is needed is to cease to confine the man in the closed chamber. [ What is Art?, xx.]


TO THE FEDERATION OF SINGLE-TAX LEAGUES OF AUSTRALIA. September 2-15, 1908. A letter in reply to the birthday congratulations of the Single Taxers of Australia.

DEAR FRIENDS, -- Your address has deeply touched me.

To my regret, I have done too little for the cause so dear to you and me, which unites us. Of late I have been thinking more and more about it, and should I yet be afforded power for work, I will endeavour to express the teaching of Henry George -- who has, as yet, been far from appreciated according to his merits -- as clearly, as briefly, and as accessibly to the great mass of land workers as possible.

The injustice and evil of property in land has long ago been recognised. More than a hundred years ago the great French thinker, Jean Jacques Rousseau, had written: "The one who first fenced in a plot of land, and took upon himself to say, 'This land is mine,' and found people so simple-minded as to believe him, that man was the first founder of the social organisation which now exists. From how many crimes, wars, murders, calamities, cruelties would mankind have been delivered had some man then uprooted the fences and filled up the ditches, saying, 'Beware, do not believe that deceiver; you will perish, if you forget that the land cannot belong to any one, and that its fruits belong to all?'"

The injustice of the seizure of the land as property has long ago been recognised by thinking people, but only since the teaching of Henry George has it become clear by what means this injustice can be abolished.

In our time the realisation of this teaching has become specially necessary, not only in Russia -- where the land problem is, unfortunately, being solved in a way most contrary to justice to the people's consciousness, and to reason -- but also in all so-called civilised States. This problem, i.e. the abolition of property in land, at the present time everywhere demands its solution as insistingly as half a century ago the problem of slavery demanded its solution in Russia and America.

This problem insistingly demands its solution because the supposed right of landed property now lies at the foundation, not only of economic misery, but also of political disorder, and, above all, the depravation of the people.

The wealthy ruling classes, foreseeing the loss of the advantages of their position inevitable with the solution of the problem, are endeavouring by various false interpretations, justifications and palliatives, with all their power, to postpone as long as possible its solution.

But the time comes for everything, and as fifty years ago the time came for the abolition of man's supposed right of property over man, so the time has now come for the abolition of the supposed right of property in land, which affords the possibility of appropriating other people's labour. The time for this has come, and is now so near at hand that nothing can arrest the abolition of this dreadful means of oppressing the people.

Yet some effort, and this great emancipation of the nations shall be accomplished.

I therefore particularly sympathise with your cause, with the efforts you are exerting, and will be very glad if I shall be able to add my small efforts to yours.

In answer to a request for a special letter or message to add to this collection for English Single-Taxers. (Written in English.)


The fulfilment of Henry George's teaching, i.e. the emancipation of the land from the right of property or, speaking more accurately, the emancipation of men from enslavery through the right of property of some over the land, is in our time as urgently necessary, as was fifty years ago the emancipation of men in America and Russia from direct slavery.

Unfortunately, as direct slave-owners endeavoured with all their power to retain direct slavery, which was advantageous for them, so also at the present time the wealthy classes use all their power for the retention of indirect slavery based upon landed property.

In Russia, where people have never recognised landed property, this infamous action is particularly loathsome on the part of a stupid and coarse government which is endeavouring not only to retain the slaves in their servitude, hut also by depraving the people to intensify their slavery in the future. I regard as stupid the action of our present government, because if it had put into practice Henry George's principle that land cannot become exclusive property,-a principle always recognised and still recognised by the great mass of the Russian peasantry, -- this measure alone, more effectually than all the acts of violence and cruelty now being accomplished by the government, would have pacified the people, and rendered impossible the continuation of the revolution. Whereas the Russian government has had recourse to a measure precisely contrary to such an one by encouraging in every way the transference of the land from communal ownership to private individual ownership. In this I see the government's astounding stupidity. Whilst in those measures which the government applies for the repression of the disaffection amongst the people naturally flowing from their want in land, is manifested the government's astounding cruelty.

Therefore the activity of the Single-Tax League organised in England is especially gladdening.

Henry George is especially to be appreciated by those who profess Christianity in its true sense, for not only are the foundations of his teaching, but also his methods truly Christian. As Jesus in his utterance, "Ye have heard that it was said: Thou shalt not kill, …but I say unto you, Resist not evil," has pointed out that the commandment, "Thou shalt not kill," never, absolutely in no case, can be broken, that neither may the pretext of retribution or of defence serve as a reason for the violation of this commandment; exactly so does Henry George point out that the commandment, "Thou shalt not steal," can and should in no case be violated, and that, as the pretext of right of property of some on the land they have occupied or are cultivating, so also the pretext of depriving people of the produce of their labour in the guise of taxes for public needs may not be a reason for breaking the commandment, "Thou shalt not steal." As in the law of non-resistance to evil by violence, i.e. the prohibition of killing under any circumstances whatever, has been elucidated the injustice and harmfulness of the justification of violence under pretext of defence and common good, so also in Henry George's teaching on the equal rights of all to the land, has been elucidated the injustice and harmfulness of the justification of robbery and theft under the pretext of either the exclusive right of some people to the land, or the depriving of those who labour of the produce of their labour in order to use it for social needs.

In this lies the essence of George's teaching. However those, who need to do so, may endeavour to conceal this teaching, it is so clear and indisputable that it cannot but be recognised by mankind.

God help you. On your side are Justice, reason, love. On your side is God, and therefore you cannot but be successful.

After writing this I have read in The Open Road for March 1909, an excellent article, "The Single Tax," by the "Odd Man." I presume you have read it. If not, I would allow myself to advise you to include it in your book.*

*The main part of the article here mentioned is -- by kind permission of the Editor of The Qpen Road -- added as an Appendix. There is, unfortunately, not space to include it in full.-Editor


The slavery of our times is very clearly and definitely produced, not by some "iron," elemental law, but by human enactments -- about land -- about taxes -- and about property. [ The Slavery of Our Times, x.]


The agriculturist who has no land, or who has not enough, will always be obliged to go into perpetual, or temporary, slavery to the landowner in order to have the possibility of feeding himself from the land. Should he, in one way or another, obtain land enough to be able to feed himself from it by his own labour, such taxes, direct or indirect, are demanded from him, that in order to pay them he has again to go into slavery. [ The Slavery of Our Times, ix.]


As people formerly asked: Is it right that some people should belong to others, and that the former should have nothing of their own, but should give all the produce of their labour to their owners? so now we must ask ourselves: Is it right that people must not use land accounted the property of other people? [ The Slavery of Our Times, x.]

What are the forces that make some people the slaves of others? If we ask all the workers … what has made them choose the position in which they are living, they will all reply, that they have been brought to it, either because they had no land on which they could and wished to live and work, . . . or that taxes, direct and indirect, were demanded of them, which they could only pay by selling their labour, -- or that they remain at factory work ensnared by the more luxurious habits they have adopted. …The two first conditions, -- the lack of land and the taxes, -- drive men to compulsory; labour; while the third, -- his increased and unsatisfied needs -- decoy him to it, and keep him at it. [ The Slavery of Our Times, ix.]


The abolition of serfdom and of slavery was only the abolition of an obsolete form of slavery that had become unnecessary, and the restitution for it of a firmer form of slavery, and one that holds a greater number of people in bondage.

In Russia, serfdom was only abolished when all the land had been appropriated. When land was granted to the peasants, it was burdened with payments which took the place of the land-slavery. In Europe, taxes that kept the people in bondage began to be abolished only when the people had lost their land, were disaccustomed to agricultural work, and, having acquired town tastes, were quite dependent on the capitalists. Only then were the taxes on corn abolished in England. [ Slavery of Our Times, viii.]

IT would seem that deliverance from land slavery could be easily effected. The only thing required would be the recognition of a self-evident truth which men would never have doubted if they were not deceived, -- namely, that every man that is born has the same right to support himself from the land as he has to the air or the sunlight; -- and that therefore no man has the right to regard the land he does not cultivate as his own, or to prevent others from cultivating it.


I advise you working men, first, clearly to understand exactly what you require, and not to give yourselves the trouble of acquiring that which you do not at all need. You require only one thing: free land upon which you could live and from which you could feed. Secondly, I advise you clearly to understand by what means you may acquire the land you need. …

Thirdly, I advise you to consider beforehand how you wish to dispose of the land when it becomes free. In order correctly to consider this, you should not think that the land which the landlords will renounce will become your property; but you should understand, that in order that the use of the land should be just, and impartially distributed among all men, it is necessary not to recognise the rights of any one to landed property, be it only one square yard. Only by recognising the land as a common possession of all men, like the warmth of the sun, and the air, will you be able to distribute without offence and justly amongst all men the possession of the land. [ To the Working People, xv.]