Organization of Georgeists: Pro and Con

Gilbert M. Tucker

[Reprinted from Land and Freedom, September-October 1940]

Today we have hosts of groups and organizations working to advance our philosophy but we have no broad and comprehensive organization of Georgeists to unite our efforts. The need is imperative; independent groups are doing excellent work in specific fields but, without united support, they are at a great disadvantage and the growth of the movement is seriously retarded, and one can name hardly another comparable endeavor which lacks organized unity. Our present-day organizations fall into two categories; they are purely local or they confine their operations and wisely to specific fields. In the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation, we have an admirable publishing agency, and in the Henry George School of Social Science, we have the nucleus of systematic education, but we need a bigger and broader program. We must have a national, or better a continental organization, for our brethren in other American countries who are doing such excellent work should not be excluded.

The major features and objectives of such a body might well be as follows:

1. The preparation of a list, and as large a membership enrollment as is possible, of those already committed to our creed or to be won in the future. This is the first requisite if we are to know our strength and where it lies, and unite for a common purpose.

2. To avoid the criticism so often levelled against some of our existing organizations that they are too closely knit and arbitrary and give rise to factions it should be essentially democratic in form. Since true democracy is best achieved through representative action and "home rule," a national organization may well be decentralized, encouraging in every way the formation of local groups, to be represented in the governing board, although active executive management may well be left to a smaller group.

3. To make it broad and catholic, its declaration of principles should be general rather than specific. Qualifications for membership should be so liberal that no true Georgeist will be excluded.

4. It should aim at cooperation with and support of existing organizations, furthering the sale and circulation of literature, the extension of formal education, study and research, and all that goes with "publicity," both for the movement as a whole and for specific approved programs. A public relations counsel, publicity man, advertising expert call him what you will might be employed, when possible, to put our philosophy in a more favorable light with the public and to overcome prejudices based on false conceptions or built up by our own mistakes. This might be the means of opening to us more generously the pages of the press.

5. An important objective would be to secure more adequate financing of our work in all its aspects something comparable to the community chests of our cities. Acting as a general soliciting, receiving and disbursing agency, such an organization, on sound lines, would prove a bulwark of strength. This is an urgent need today, for very considerable funds are often lost because there is no strong and stable institution to which funds can be given or devised for the movement as a whole.

6. The great and ultimate aim would, of course, be the extension of our philosophy, bringing in new blood, keeping alive enthusiasm, and directing it into wise channels, and building for the final realization of our hopes. Every Georgeist knows full well the limitless, potential appeal of our creed, in its bearings on practically all the pressing problems of today. We have the answers to unemployment of both men and capital, to the labor question, to housing, and even to the international problems of war and peace. But how do we go about enlisting the aid of the great numbers eagerly seeking a solution to a problem in which their interest is intense and to which they give freely of both time and money? They ask for bread and we give them a stone ; they seek definite and specific remedies for evils of which they are bitterly conscious, and are given literature inconclusive pamphlet or a formidable book and there it rests. Or they are to study economics in the class-room. If they do sit at feet to learn wisdom, or if they give desultory reading our books, and begin to get a glimmer of light, we offer no program, except perhaps that they aid in putting others through the same mill.

This is no impatient plea for political action, or for ill-judged and half-considered political campaigns prematurely undertaken. But we must shape our policies and have a plan for the future, however long we may wait for its realization. Education is our first need but we must interpret that word in a sense broader than only class-room study, and there must be a vision of the road to which it leads, with a constructive program. Present activities must continue, and we would not suggest that those now giving themselves so generously to valuable undertakings, in which they faith and for which they are fitted, should scatter ammunition. Let each one do that task which appeals strongly to him, and for which he is best qualified, but opportunities are legion and many who have "seen the cat" are unable, for one reason or for many, to contribute much to these operations. It is these who must be enrolled, whose enthusiasm must be quickened and whose zeal must be fired, by opening new avenues of service to the cause of truth and justice.

Until we have such an organization, on broad and liberal grounds, we work under a heavy handicap. Only by united, concerted effort can we begin to make real and substantial progress and only through strong cooperation can the foundation be laid and preparations made for the day that must come.