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'A JOURNAL FOR FREE SPIRITS *
PUBLISHED OCCASIONALLY BY THE MACKA". SOCIETY BOX 131 ANSONIA STATION. NEW YORK NY 10023 (usa)
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1--1-15: FALL 193^ - SPRING 1 9 B 5 EDITED BY JIM KERNOCHAN 6. MARK A. SULLIVAN
DED X CA.T ION TO MILDRED JENSEN LOOMIS LOVER OF LAND & FREEDOM
THE EYE OF THE STORM!.................--------- 3
WE. THE LANDLORD... An Alternative to Land Abuse by Jeffery J. Smith - — 8 PLIGHT OF THE FARMERS by Tracy B. Harms -----------------11
Fred Harrison's THE POWER IN THE LAND Reviewed by Lansing Pollock - - - - 13 A NOTE ON RAGNAR REDBEARD by S. E. Parker ----------------14
Anti-Ideology Dept.: BODYBUILDING VS. MOVEMENT-BUILDING by Jim Kernochan 15
A GEO I ST MANIFESTO by Fred Foldvary -.......-.....- - - - - 19
BLASTS FROM THE PAST!: clarence Darrow ----------------- 27
John Beverley Robinson - From ECONOMICS OF LIBERTY --------- 27
Wil lard Grosvenor - WHAT IS RENT?..................31
AN ANARCHIST VIEW OF THE LAND PROBLEM by Mark A. Sullivan --------32
ONE CAUSE OF WAR, TAXES & "EMPLOYERS" by Shirley-Anne Hardy -------36
REVIEWS & COMMENTS: THE COMMUNITY LAND TRUST HANDBOOK ----------37
PIERRE-JOSEPH PROUDHON --------------- 39
RIDERS ON THE STORM!: Joe Peacott, Kerry Wendell Thornley, Hakim Bey - -- 40 FREENETWORK Search for Freepersons by Andre Spies - 43 STORM!SIGNALS ------------ back cover and scattered throughout
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FREE MARKET: That cond ition of society in which all economic transactions I result from voluntary choice without coercion.
LANDLORDISM: That form of privilege or interference with the Free Market in which one State-supported group "owns" the land and thereby Lakes tribute (rent) from those who live, work, or produce on the land.
From Hagbard Celine's Never Whistle While You're Hissing (as quoted in ILLUM1NATUS! by Robert Shea S. Robert Anton Wilson)
WELCOME. DEAR READER, to the latest, (very) long-awaited (double) issue of THE STORM! If true to its name, it will generate a storm of controversy with the free spirits it presents. So feel free to respond with a thunderbolt of your own.
LAND AND FREEDOM is the theme of this issue - exploring the relationship between landownership and the individual sovereignty anarchists value so highly. Land is space - location - whether in the country or in the city. It is essential to freedom - to living your life the way you want to. Because essential to freedom, land is also essential to power -to the domination of one person over another. Since land can be "held" or "owned" in varying qualities as well as quantities, those who hold more or better land have advantages over those who hold less or poorer land, or no land at all.
The connection between land and freedom was made by past libertarian radicals such as the Diggers, Tom Paine, Thomas Spence, and the young Herbert Spencer who opposed absolute property in land with his "Law of Equal Freedom". According to Paine:
... the earth, in its natural uncultivated state was, and ever would have continued to be, the common property of the human race. In that state every man [and woman, ed. note] would have been born to property. He would have been a joint life proprietor with the rest in the property of the soil...
But the earth in its natural state, is capable of supporting but a small number of inhabitants compared with what it is capable of in a cultivated state.... but it is nevertheless true, that it is the value of the improvement only, and not the earth itself, that is individual property. Every proprietor owes the community a ground-rent (for I know of no better term to express the idea) for the land which he holds... I from AGRARIAN JUSTICE)
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, the first person known to call himself "anarchist" declared "Property is robbery" AND "Property is liberty"! By which he meant that property defined and upheld by the law of the state, in land you do not use, is theft from those who DO use it but have to pay a price (rent or usury) for your permission to do so. But property based upon actual occupancy and use of the land is a defense of freedom AGAINST legal robbery and enslavement.
In the end, whoever controls land needed by others controls these others. The word "state" is but shorthand for "real (royal) estate". In his oft-quoted categories of "economic" versus "political" means of getting wealth. Franz Oppenheimer included land-rent as one of the "political means". Like Proudhon, he saw it as a form of domination rather than free exchange. "Free market libertarians" usually slight this point
- but it is a central one to Oppenheimer's analysis of/in THE STATE,
Oppenheimer and fellow libertarian socialists of the early 20th century
- such as Gustav Landauer and Silvio Gesell - took their analysis of "the land question" from the American writer Henry George (who acknowledged the French anarchist as well as the English radicals). In PROGRESS AND POVERTY (1879). George sought an explanation of the paradox of increasing poverty accompanying increasing wealth. His answer: property in land enables landowners to reap the benefits of social and technical improvements through ever-increasing land-rents. As population increases and presses upon a fixed space/resource base, the value of the base (the land) increases accordingly. Landowners become rich; land-users: poor.
George also assailed the robbery of labor by taxation as well as by monopoly. His solution to both was to abolish all taxes except for a "single tax upon land values." In George's view, the community would simply be collecting the value due to its presence and services. This would also discourage the hoarding of land, making land available for use at lower rents and prices. Many conflicts of "the individual" versus "society" would dissolve once each received the full value it created: to the individual all his/her labor creates, to the community the rent of its land. In other words, a permanent revolution would continually break down privileged classes by preventing the use of the "political means" (monopoly rent) to accumulate wealth and power.
Anarchists, however, oppose such reforms if they are imposed by the state rather than organized directly by the people involved. This is one reason why Benj. R. Tucker denounced George and his "single tax" proposal. (Another reason was George's position on the Haymarket case.) Tucker debated single-taxers in the pages of his journal LIBERTY. Many of his readers were sympathetic to the aims of the single-tax and thought it necessary to the "equal freedom" they all sought. For example, Fred Schulder, LIBERTY'S promotional agent, and Alexis Ferm of the Modern School, considered themselves "Single Tax Anarchists".1 Other anarchists who joined with Georgists included Tolstoyans such as Bolton Hall (and Tolstoy himself) among others, and William C Owen, a spokesman for the Mexican revolutionaries in their fight for "tierra y libertad" who later wrote for England"s Commonwealth Land Party in the 1920s.
But Tucker, while he boasted Max Stirner's THE EGO AND HIS OWN as his greatest translating/publishing effort, did not take up Stirner's call to expropriate landed property by a "union of egoists":
If we want no longer to leave the land to the landed proprietors, but to appropriate it to ourselves, we unite ourselves to this end, form a union, a soci6t6, that makes i tself proprietor; if we have good luck in this, then those persons cease to be landed proprietors.... That in which all want to have a share will be withdrawn from that individual who wants to have it for himself alone: it is made a common estate. As a common estate every one has his share in it, and this share is his property. Why, so in our old relations a house which belongs to five heirs is their
common estate; but the fifth part of the revenue is each one's property. [Author's emphasis.)2
Continuing this thought of Stirner's (and Giseli's), K. H. Z. Solneman of the Mackay-Gesellschaft in Germany has reintroduced rent-redistribution as part of an anarchist strategy in THE MANIFESTO OF PEACE AND FREEDOM.
He points out that land-rent need not and should not be given to the state (which he proposes to abolish), but can be collected and redistributed as shares by voluntary "autonomous protective and social communities". *** Similar ideas were held by the Georgist forerunners of today's "free market libertarians": Albert Jay Nock, Suzanne LaFollette, Frank Chodorov, Spencer Heath, among others. Except for the notion of a "proprietary community" financing its services out of rents instead of taxes, these ideas have been rejected or overlooked by most "libertarians".
Finally, the decentralist/greeri movement - due largely to the efforts of Ralph Borsodi and Mildred J. Loomis of the School of Living - has been advocating a similar model to equalize access to land - the community land trust - which is today being put into actual practice in both urban and rural environments in North America. Ecology groups (e.g., the North American Bioregional Congress, the Ecology Party of Great Britain, and Friends of the Earth in Scotland) have also picked up the cause - which is a "natural" for them. For in order to reconnect our spirits with the earth, we must rediscover the practical wisdom of pre-state societies: the earth is our common heritage and belongs in usufruct to the living.
IN THIS ISSUE we present various perspectives on our theme, with agreement and disagreement flowing through these pages. Having sketched out some "common ground", let me now play the critic.
Fred Foldvary's "Geoist Manifesto" is an excellent attempt to (re)synthe-size Georgist and libertarian principles. Fred even takes into account "the right to ignore the state", i.e.. the case for anarchism. But Fred sees this "right" being exercised AFTER the state has withered away -not before (nor the reason why). Anarchists are not content to wait for the state quietly fold up its tent and slip off into the night. If history shows us anything, it shows that the state NEVER allows secession and never voluntarily reduces its power. Power must be TAKEN from the state by thoughts, words, and deeds of disobedience, non-cooperation, and SELF-government. The state and the monopolies it creates have the tendency to co-opt reforms and gain new power thereby (e.g., public education. civil rights). So I find missing from Fred's Manifesto a realistic view of what the state IS - as opposed to an idealistic one of what it "ought" to be.
This shortcoming is. 1 think, related to the moralistic approach of Fred's Manifesto. Contrary to its assertions, natural law is NOT moral law. Even George, a staunch moralist, admitted that the wind fills the sails of the pirate as well as the peaceful sailor. Natural laws are simply the laws of consequences or necessity, to paraphrase Tucker. Natural laws are descriptive and cannot be broken - whereas moral laws are PREscriptive and... broken all the time! In fact, moral laws are broken BY USING natural laws, as the example of the pirate shows. Natural laws are formulations of patterns we see in the world around us. While moral laws are patterns we WISH to see in the world around us - in our own and/or other's behavior. Some wish moral laws so strongly, they seek to impose them upon others.
Yet. there is a "natural law" basis for for individual freedom: the "natural law" of an individual's need, desire, and WILL to be free. This will to freedom may be strong or weak in different persons, just like the wind that fills the pirate's sails. And even with a strong will, action must follow - for freedom IS action. Fred's "Universal Ethic" or "Natural Moral Law" will be realized when and
if sovereign individuals wish it, will it, and ACT it into existence - against the wishes, wills, and actions of those in positions of power.
Frc. 95. Violations of natural ljw> carry their own iinmcdinte punblunent.
Nature's laws work automatically, and, under certain conditions, are inescapable. Some of these natural laws affect driving so seriously that you cannot drive intelligently without knowing how they work.
If the geoist goals as expressed by Fred (Jeff Smith, and Lansing Pollock) are worth striving for, they are worth striving for by anti-authoritarian means such as voluntary cooperation and direct action, which empower one to achieve one's OWN ends (not the ends of those in power).
The anarchist contributors to this issue focus on the role that belief in the state plays in supporting land monopoly. In this light, land-rent is not caused by natural laws like gravity, but by statute laws and the respect given them. Statute laws are but the wishes of some imposed upon others without their free consent. In my own "Anarchist View of the Land Problem", I offer a geo-anarchist synthesis: Land-rent is due to natural differences in the land, making some locations more useful or desirable than others; AND due to statute laws making these locations the exclusive property of some to the exclusion, disadvantage, and exploitation of others. Land must first be made private property before rent can be demanded or "the law of rent" operate. In nomadic societies, sites do differ in usefulness - bu' I he group moves from site
to site to allow all to share equally in this use-value. Rent, in such a society, does not exist. Kent is but one possible relationship between human beings regaining the use of land - not the ONLY possible one.
"Truth" is not to be found in complete-in-themselves formulas. Knowledge, if considered final is indeed "finished" - i.e., dead. When it comes to "truth" - let the believer beware! This warning is brought out in Jim Kernochan's critique of ideology and intolerance within political movements. Jim exposes the dark side of reform movements which tend to be dominated by moralists seeking to impose their desires upon others. Moralists delude themselves by thinking that what they wish to impose is "the word of god", "Natural law" (which imposes itself), "the will of the people", or ANYTHING other than their own PERSONAL EGOISTIC DESIRES. This is not a criticism of selfishness but of self-deception - and of self-defeating idealism, not self-serving realism. Moralists are unconscious egoists and seek converts, i.e., willing slaves. Conscious egoists are amoralists and seek allies and partners to cooperate and exchange with. For as Stirner pointed out, the basis for any successful rising-up against economic, political, or spiritual domination is indeed the
egoistic union of our personal desires to be free!
Earthday - 1985 -
FOR EVERY ABSTRACTION THERE IS AN EQUAL AN-OPPOSITE DISTRACTION.
FURUM FUR EINE SELBSTORGANISATION DER GESELLSCHAFT. Gegen Monotonie und Monopolismus. FUr Anarchie Autonomie - Dezentralisierung. Kontactadresse: Sigfried Schwenke, SchOnstedstraBe 9, D 1000, Berlin 44. (Tel. 030/6811379)
THE NEXT ISSUE OF THE STORM! will focus on John Henry Mackay - as a writer of fiction and poetry, as well as individualist anarchist and sexual liberationist. It will include newly translated work by Mackay, new material about his "secret Life" and his friendship with Benj. R. Tucker, and other thought-provoking, entertaining, and outrageous items. We hope to have this issue, already in the works, out before the end of the year. But meanwhile...
THE ARROW - BULLETIN OF THE MACKAY SOCIETY is being sent with the current issue. Therein you'll find announced Hubert Kennedy's wonderful translation of Mackay"s novel THE HUSTLER. This classic of homosexual love in 1920s Berlin raises sensitive issues still debated today. Though light on anarchist speeches, the message is there: Love is a free relationship between two persons. It is no one else's business, least of all that of moralists and government officials. I highly recommend it to all regardless of their sexual preferences. For above all, it is a good story, and one that has already won critical acclaim from the likes of PUBLISHERS WEEKLY and the American Library Association, as well as the alternative press. Other exciting titles available from the Mackay Society are also described in THE ARROW - all available at 20* off to members of the Mackay Society. And if you haven't joined the Society, this is your invitation. Dues are a low $7 for two years, for which you get the 20% discount, THE ARROW, and THE STORM!
MANY THANKS to all those who helped in some way with the production of this issue: Jim Kernochan, Fred Foldvary, Peter L. Wilson - and whomever shows up for the exciting tasks of collating, stapling and mailing. Finally, thanks and more to Ricky Hill for putting up with... yours truly.
We, the Jandford,,
7\x\ T\hzmativz to Lar\aTl6usE> by Jeff cry I Smitft
Industrial society's treatment of the land (including water and air and flora and fauna) would be ecologically sound if the members of such society knew their connections to the land and to each other. Were we to feel that the land belonged to us, all of us, and we to it, our treatment of it would be gentle and respectful. The motive would be that behaving thus would be in our self-interest -keeping the earth healthy would keep us healthy.
Similarly, were we to feel a bond to everyone else and from everyone else, our treatment of each other would be more gentle and respectful, as it typically is within families and tribes. Moreover, treating ourselves gently engenders treating the earth the same, and vice versa.
The ecologist's task, then, is to facilitate one's identification with the largest group possible - all of us - and to expand that identity to include all living things. Life must become precious to each one of us.
As said, to live harmoniously in Nature, we must feel like we belong to Her. To feel that we belong to the land, it helps to feel that the land belongs to us as a species, that each of us has the right to take our living from it and to explore its vastness and variety. What we feel now is not that all of the land is open to all of us, but that various segments of the land are closed off to all but various individuals.
Because we lost touch with each other and the land, the right of private property grew from the right of a resident to privately occupy an area in peace, without being disturbed by other members of the society, to the privilege of an absentee owner to privately, that is surreptiously, remove the resources from an area, no matter the irreparable harm to neighbors or future generations. This owner may sell what s/he took out without recompense. Or s/he may pocket rent from others who need to use the land s/he owns.
Because the individuals of this culture lack the feeling of community (to be American means radically less than to be, say, Algonquin), we don't even feel our ownership of public lands. Those belong to the government, not us, not the people. The government is not us and certainly we are not it. Otherwise, why do we want ourselves off our backs? Why do we cheat ourselves our due each April when it comes time to keep our social contract intact? Also, some people who don't mess their own residences, do litter or abuse public property.
Thus, with both types of property - public and private - we have the tragedy of the commons. (Note that historically the commons was enclosed by private property, held in monopoly by nobility.) Logically, the cause cannot be either public or private ownership of land; it must be instead the absence of awareness, the lack of the feeing of total belonging - of all land to us, of all of us to the land, and of all of us to each other.
The most difficult of these identities is the last one, the fami 1y-of-humanity, all belonging to each other. The easiest is the first - all land belonging to all of us. And that is where we ecologists should start. From it, the other identities should fol-1 ow.
The tactic, in other words, is to make benign America's treatment of the earth by generalizing the possessiveness a citizen feels for one parcel of land to the whole country. If each one of us felt a proprietorship of all of it, we could avoid the tragedy of the commons which happens when individuals fee] that a parcel of land is owned by nobody, while it is needed by all.
The abolition of private property in the Soviet Union does not provide a counter nodel. The denial of privacy in a society such as Russia results not from communal rights being above individual rights - the two do not conflict - but from a totalitarian ruling elite denying nearly all rights. Soviets justify their repression in the name of the common good, but their words cannot hide the fact that the common good is rarely served.
The basic right of private property, actually the right to privacy, is not logically denied by the communal right to healthful land. The Ik, a mountain people of Africa, do not have private property in the sense of the irrational privilege to lay waste, but each tribal male does have a "di." Every man "has" a spot on the surrounding hillside where he can go and sit and contemplate in full view of anybody happening by, and expect to be ignored. (Women, however, are not allowed a di.) All members of the tribe know where each di is. It would be rude to disturb someone sitting at his di. And, unlike America, rudeness is sufficient inhibition to keep one from disturbing another.
How do we expand possessiveness (the territorial imperative?) to all land? We adopt the strategy proposed by Henry George: "Abolish all taxation save that upon land values." Tax only the rental value of locations and natural resources.
A tax on natural resources - such as the weJl-head tax on oil -already meets with acceptance from a majority. A tax on one's living site, however, is far more controversial. Yet the site or land value tax, unlike the income tax (a penalty for success), is justifiable by being a user fee - we all use land and in doing so, displace everybody else from the sites we use. A land value tax could compensate such displacement. q
If the tax is scaled to the rent or worth of the site or resource (i.e., to its comparative advantage over other sites or resources), then everybody would pay her-or-his fair share. (Those paying the most total tax would he the ones who enjoy a superior site and/or a greater income from marketing a resource. For their payment, these rentors with the most to loose would gain the most from governmental services, i.e., security for their greater investment.) Such an equitable charge, without exemption or loophole, would place the average citizen on par with the rich and powerful who would now he supporting, not exploiting, society. No one would feel taken advantage of by anyone else.
Neighbors could gather together to jointly assess the values of their residential locations. Everybody would know what everybody else is paying. This openness would generate closeness. Since the extreme socioeconomic classes won't be so distant, they will feel more intimate as they all participate together in sustaining their common society - a real community.
Any reform that would make our democracy more participatory, that would put people more in control of their government, would help engender the feeling of mutual proprietorship.
Were the name changed from "land value tax" to "rent," then the role of government becomes clearer. If the mutually supported government benefits everybody, and does so fairly, then rent (tax) payers would feel less like individual tenants and more like one collective landlord: a landlord of the people, by the people, and for the people. Government would become the collective landlord's agent, or in the language of Hanoverian England, the landowners' STEWARD. This view of the relationships between land, people, and government meshes perfectly with the primary service of government -defense of the people and their land from external attack. It is also imperative that government, as landlord's steward, protect land from internal ravaging.
In sum, because all the land would belong to all of us, we would treaj it carefully, as we do all our more prized possessions. Being our own landlord, we'd realize our equality. As equals, we'd see our connections to each other. Identifying with one another, we'd treat each other more gently. Our gentleness would infuse our entire relationship to the earth.
To bring about ecological solutions, conservationists are already engaged in political action. To these attempts we should add our call for a rent from each member of society to society as a whole. A single tax on the value of those parts of Nature used by humanity would provide a coherent philosophical basis for all other pleas to allocate funds fairly and ecologically. Widespread acceptance of this rent reform would then generate the worldview necessary for us to be in harmony with Nature.
JEFF SMITH is President of the San Diego chapter of Friends of the Earth, and Projects Co-ordinator of Basic Economic Ed ic tion. Inc., 2200 Morley Street, San Diego, CA 92111.
American farmers are becoming desperate. Take, for instance, Springfield Colorado farmer Jerry Wright, whose farm was seized when he was unable to make payments to the Federal Land Bank which held the mortgage on his farmland. On January 4th, 1983, the date the farm was to be auctioned at the Baca County courthouse, hundreds of his fellow farmers turned out in solidarity to prevent the sale, determined to keep the farm in the hands of the Wright family by boycotting the auction. Since the plan was publicized the local sheriff was ready, and when the farmers had gathered he unleashed his riot-geared goons to tear-gas them. Thus it was shown that under this best-of-a 11-possible-governments what the disaffected can expect is force of violence, and that the "right to peaceably assemble" is contingent on the ineffectuallty of the assembly.
The irony of the Springfield confrontation is that for all their concern and combative energy the farmers have no idea what the solution to their predicament might be. Nor do the many others who are concerned with the array of problems now facing the American farmer. But there are two things which all concerned tend to agree on. First, everybody knows that something is very, very wrong. Small farmers are going bankrupt continually. Subsidized price levels, designed to insure enough income to make farming profitable, are simultaneously above the market price and yet well below what the farmers need. The second point of agreement is that there is no clear, simple, painless, or typical solution available.
How is it that to grow food can no longer be afforded? The need to eat assures a continual demand for food. Why must growers create scarcity through non-production while there are people starving? Why should people be forced to pay large amounts for food while there is a surplus available? These questions are baffling. The "conventional wisdom" of economists fails to expose the root of the problem, being able at most to give symptomatic analysis of the effects of the farming crisis on the overall economy.
President Reagan, eager to be the champion of the farmer, has offered them a new deal. The U.S. Government will pay farmers to not grow crops by sending them some of the vast surplus which the U.S. has already bought as a result of the current price support policies. This innovative plan, both the government and farmers agree, will not be sufficient to relieve the economic misery.
The agricultural problem is one of insufficient revenues. As one small farm owner said on a Denver radio talk show, "the money we take in barely covers the interest on our land payments." Rather than looking at the so-called "problem" of low food prices which are the result of abundance, perhaps we should be placing more attention on the financial burdens which are making farming a money-losing venture. Two expenses are especially noteworthy: interest and land payments.
Standard economic analysis pays scant attention to the significance of these two factors because their existence is presupposed. There is, at most, a concern for lessening their impact, as during the recent period of skyrocketing interest rates. But the institutions of commercial banking and land sale are accepted without question, they are assumed as a natural part of the marketplace. But such assumptions are not well founded. No solution is being seen because the problem arises from these entrenched institutions. Underlying the problems of agriculture are che establishments of privilege whose gain comes not from production but from plunder.
Interest is plunder of the wealth of others through the usurious renting of the monopoly medium of exchange. Since money is so much more efficient than direct barter it is needed to carry on any complex enterprise, such as farming. But since there is only ONE option for money (Federal Reserve Notes as present) under the monopoly fiat of the State, every productive person who desires tools, equipment, or others means of production is forced to beg money from the privileged class, the bankers. Because they are agents of the State, protected by the power of the police, they exact an artificially high price for the product (money) that they provide. Without monopoly protection bankers would not be able to earn more than schoolteachers, which may be one reason there is no discussion of monetary monopoly by upwardly mobile economists.
The double injury suffered by farmers is to have to borrow money to buy land. Land title is a procedure of military extortion which traces through European feudalism back to the early Roman state, although every cultural tradition of class exploitation has included restriction of access to resources. Land title is a means by which persons without valid claim to land become rich by selling what isn't theirs. Remember, for instance, how the U.S.A. bought most of Nortli America from France, Spain, and Russia and then sold it off in smaller parcels. Remember also how most of those parcels were sold to land speculators in the eastern cities who then profited selling the land to settlers. What had any of these speculators (including the colonial governments) done whicn gave them claim to the land they sold? They did not create the land! By what fiction could they call it "theirs?" Land title is nothing other than paperwork which guarantees that soldiers will probably not be sent to drive you off a given piece of ground, an assurance which the original inhabitants of the continent learned not to trust.
In the short space of this article it is impossible, of course, to deal fully with either the crime of usury or the abomination of land title. Much more remains to be said on the value of free exchange of currency. Describing the issue of land control based on use rather than title is a task of specially difficulty because the present system of ownership is so engrained. The purpose here has been to draw attention to the injustice they allow using a relevant modern example, the financial crisis facing the independent farmers. The farmers, the establishment economists, and the government all agree that there is no easy way out. What they don't know is just how hard the only way out is likely to be. The only lasting and equitable solution entails the radical destruction of two very powerful institutions, and such changes will be very hard on those who have invested heavily in corruptions of the marketplace. It is only without monopoly th3t the market may be called £ ree.
ANARCHIST PROPAGANDA EBULLITION
The above message courtesy of:
Post Box 7033 Boulder 80306
A voice of dissent among subservient primates. North America
Fred Harrison's THE POWER TN THE LAND
Rev Lewed fc> y Lans i ng Po1 lock
In his masterpiece PROGRESS AND POVERTY (1379), Henry George presented a theory concerning the cause of industrial depressions. According to George, wealth is produced by three factors - land, labor, and capital - which receive, respectively, rent, wages and interest. George argued that the market in land behaves differently than other markets. Increased purchases of goods like furniture stimulated production as manufacturers seek greater profits. In contrast, since it is a finite resource, greater demand for land simply drives up the price without increasing the supply. Hence, speculators can withhold land from productive use, thereby increasing demand for available land. After prices increase, they can sell at a profit, reaping a windfall without adding to the wealth of the community. Furthermore, such speculation has pernicious consequences for it increases rents while decreasing wages and the return on capital. As profit margins fall, businesses fail and entrepreneurs have less incentive to start new enterprises. After sufficient damage has has been done to the economy, rent will also fall due to a decline in effective demand. This sets the stage for the cycle to begin again.
Due to a shortage of data, the empirical support that George could muster for his theory was largely impressionistic. In THE POWER IN THE LAND, Fred Harrison, a contemporary Georgist, attempts to provide the relevant empirical data. His effort is impressive. He shows that land speculation has preceded severe economic downturns in England and the United States. He also introduces supporting evidence from other countries including Australia, Japan, South Africa, and Sweden. Harrison's data has convinced this reviewer that land speculation has played a major role in causing economic hardship. What is missing is an analysis of the relevance of other factors such as inflation caused by government manipulation of the aoney supply. Both the monetarist and the Austrian explanations of the business cycle deserve more attention than they receive from Harrison.
The remedy for the evils of land speculation, according to George and Harrison, is a tax on the value of land. A site value tax would capture what economists call economic rent, leaving nothing for the speculator. A site value tax differs from what is commonly called a property tax. Property taxes are usually based on the assessed value of land and improvements. A site value tax is based on the market value of the land alone. Such a tax encourages the productive use of land (since the owner cannot escape taxation by keeping his land idle), while it does not discourage improvements which make land more productive. Thus, an owner can build a house or erect a factory on his land without being penalized for adding to the wealth of the community.
Harrison focuses on the economic arguments for the "single tax," and he gives less attention to the moral arguments. The moral case for George's remedy is based on three assumptions. First, the economic rent received by landlords is unearned. The factors that contribute to the value of a site (fertility of the soil, presence of natural resources, its central location, etc.) are not attributable to the efforts of the owner. Secondly, land and
natural resources are a common heritage, and thus those who acquire exclusive rights to use land should pay for those rights. This revenue should then be used for the benefit of all members of the community. Finally, the producers of wealth have the right to enjoy the fruits of their labor. This principle is not violated by the single tax since it appropriates economic rent which is unearned. In contrast, other taxes such as the income tax do violate this principle.
Harrison notes with irony how difficult it is to acquire information concerning the land market. This is surprising since markets function efficiently only when buyers and sellers have accurate information. Governments supply copious data on labor and capital markets. Similar information on land markets, however, is not available. National markets for trading stocks, bonds, and commodities have been developed. No comparable markets have developed for land. Is there a conspiracy behind this veil of secrecy? Many powerful individuals (e.g., Ronald Reagan) have made their fortunes by speculating in real estate. Perhaps they do not want the public to know what they are doing.
THE POWER IN THE LAND by Fred Harrison; 1983 Universe Books, New York; 318 pgs. , bib., index; available from Robert Schalkenbach Foundation, 5 East 44th St., New York. NY 10017; $12.00 (hardback only). LANSING POLLOCK is a professor of philosophy and author of THE FREEDOM PRINCIPLE (1981 Prometheus Books. 700 East Amherst St., Buffalo, NY 14215; 130 pages, hardback, $14.95).
* * * 14 * tc *
A NOTE OIM RAGNAR Rp][)BEARU by S. E. PARKER
In my article RAGNAR REDBEARD AND THE RIGHT OF MIGHT in STORM'. 13 (since reprinted as the Introduction to the new Loompanics edition of MIGHT IS RIGHT), I mentioned the probability that in real life Ragnar Redbeard may have been a New Zealander named Arthur Desmond. I hesitated about making, a positive identification because I had not come across any evidence sufficiently definite to convince me that Redbeard and Desmond were the same individual. However, since writing that article, further research has disclosed an item in THE AUSTRALIAN WORKER (May 11, 1927) which 1 consider clinches the matter. It is a brief reminiscence by Julian Stuart entitled DESMOND'S WAY and in it Stuart states that "One night (in 1894 - SEP) I ridiculed Desmond for writing MIGHT IS RIGHT, and begged him to keep on writing poetry instead." Stuart does not record Desmond's reply.
In another brief reminiscence (Ibid. April 14, 1927) Stuart remarks that in the same year of 1894 Desmond "was 'wanted' for sedition, treasonable utterances, and various things of like calibre." Forewarned that warrants had been issued for his arrest, he "faded over the horizon - he did not even wait for breakfast. Soon after I got a letter from New York saying he was taking another name - just for luck."
I am now also convinced that Redbeard/Desmond edited THE LION'S PAW - published in Chicago - under the name of Richard Thurland. Photocopies supplied to me by the Labadie Collection of the University of Michigan prominently feature writings by Ragnar Redbeard, and unsigned items exhibit all the signs of his distinctive style.
(The new Loomranics edition of MIGHT IS RIGHT is available from the Mackay Society for $7.95 - less 20* for members - plus 10* postage.)
Apolitical lackeys of the world unite! A neu member has joined your ranks. To the ire of some, and shock of others, this one-time gay and anarchist activist has shunned the "important" work of movement agitation to embrace the "superficial" world of disco dancing and bodybuilding. The reactions from activists have been similar to the contempt and condescension greeted to priests and nuns when they give up their religious vows. After all, how dare I neglect my life-long vocation devoted to social change simply to engage in decadent and self-indulging practices. Pumping iron may build muscles, they say, but it certainly doesn't stretch your social consciousness. Even ray co-editor of this lively little journal on one occasion joined the chorus of "oh nos" by bemoaning the fact that "Jira is no longer an anarchist."
Despite the silly suspicions of my political affiliations (or lack of them), Jim is still an anarchist. That is, if the term anarchy still means a society free of force and government. Rather, following several years of promoting various activist causes namely gay liberation and individualist anarchism -- I have been on a self-imposed two-year retirement from almost all political activity. Although my pious presence has become a rare sight at the latest marches and demonstrations, that absence doesn't negate the fact that 1 haven't had a lobotomy and thui can think political thoughts. And after much ponderance, shying away from the various revolutions has not only been very self-fulfilling, but also more in line with my own political beliefs.
15QDYBU CI .DI NO
F3U 1 LD 1 NO
Anti - I deo logy Dept.
This wasn't always true. There was a time when no demonstration was too small or unimportant for my enlightened face to appear. One could see my twinkle toes sashaying up and down the streets to fight racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism and every other ism the left could conjure up emotion against. I was the organizer of my college campus gay organization; the editor of the Gay Clone, its student newspaper; office manager for organizations demonstrating at the 1976 Democratic Convention; co-editor of The Storm!; cohorter on sundry other projects to promote good causes. Sprinkling some sexual liberation into the anarchist movement, as well as merging stateless alternatives into a gay activist vision is no easy task for aspiring comrades. Countless meetings, leafletings, debates, lectures, and conferences were the staple of a good revolutionary's diet, and I devoured those meals with gusto.
After a few years, however, my activist's nourishment was slowly replaced with a bad case of indigestion. While I never expected trophies for hard, non-paid political work, I nonetheless found myself no longer tickled by the fetishes for bitter movement infighting. Gratitude, along with fun and a good sense of humor, are evils that have long been exorcised by left-wing insurgents. If anyone thinks that the selective door policies at chic clubs like Studio 54 are elitist and demeaning, they haven't been subjected to the endless interrogations one endures in order to satisfy your never-happy left-wing comrades that you have the correct political credentials. Furthermore, after seeing enough friendships break up over petty differences in opinion, it finally dawned on me that purging heretics from our ranks is the favorite left-wing past-time, with human liberation coming in perhaps a close second.
To be specific, when the Man/Boy/Love issue started to burn up national newspapers, gay activists scurried to their meetings with so many sharpened daggers that the resulting body count made AIDS seem as harmless as athlete's foot. Long-time activists were branded as "rapists" --as well as the ever-popular "FBI provocateurs" -- and thrown out of meetings simply because they suggested that pederasts were entitled to free speech. Such holy wars are not the sole monopoly of the gay movement alone. For instance, one way to pepper up a boring anarchist convention is to bring up the "property rights" issue, and watch the individualists and communalists spring to each other's throats. Any honest disagreement with the left's laundry list of approved opinion means getting ostracized and being labelled an enemy.
My own final indignity came when friends threatened that unless I signed a loyalty oath condemning child molestation, they would never work with me . I thought this crew were a pretty ignorant bunch, considering that after years of being in my association, and hearing my endless discourses on children's rights, they needed a signature to be sure that I oppose raping little tots. Under a veiled concern about child abuse, this was one of many tactics employed by the power elite in the gay movement (and every social movement has its power elite) to subordinate its followers into conforming to their will and spouting a party line.
My movement service has been to build bonds of trust, and create an atmosphere in which one could live one's life free from governmental intrusion and social manipulation. It has been a struggle to be free from blind conformance to prevailing norms, and to build
a sensitivity and tolerance for differences in others. We are supposed to be building alternatives to the prevailing power structures which allow an elite few to dictate society's laws and behavior. Signing loyalty oaths, no matter how wonderful the cause may be, just perverts the type of revolution I am willing to organize.
In fairness to political activists, --gays and anarchists in particular -- many of them do respect the idea of a pluralistic society. I don't mean to make many of the people I am still fond of seem like dictators. At the same time, having very well thought out rhetoric on how the world ought to operate creates many unintentional damaging traits in otherwise tactful people. Most movement agitators spend so much time and energy striving for their goals, that they become rigid and dogmatic in thought and action. So much of their life is invested in making their beliefs a reality, that they become intimidated by any contrasting opinion and thus treat it as an evil. When I see the venom flow at left-wing debates, I cringe thinking of the bloodbaths that would follow their kind of revolutions. I am not suggesting that we should get dewy-eyed listening to nazis scream their hate. On the contrary, bigotry and authoritarianism should never be treated with kid gloves. However, as long as someone's heart is in the right place, I find it im-posible to automatically despise that person simply because he/she parts company with "politically correct" opinion.
Moreover, those so unenlightened as to not having an opinion, or not being politically involved, are treated with the same contempt, only flavored with an extra dose of condescension. The typical stereotype for such a non-political person is that he/she is shallow, stupid, self-centered, and a society-hating individualist. (That is a rather harsh opinion of people you want to recruit into your movement.) These days giving off an "attitude" has replaced the "me-generation" as the new buzz word used to condemn those that would rather socialize or build their bodies, instead of being soapbox orators and enlistment marshalls for the movement. In other words, my departure from political activity is supposedly due to the fact that I prefer swinging on vines alone in a jungle, ignoring the injustices of the world I have left behind. No mention is made of the fact that my social crowd has something to offer that is lacking in those hypocritical revolutionaries -- namely, hospitality.
Despite the stereotypes about socialites and body builders, if you want people to look at you as if you have snot hanging out of your nose -- getting some "attitude" -- just mentioned the name Ayn Rand in a circle of communist anarchists. If developing one's pecs makes one narcisistic and self-centered, the form is mild when compared to those that expect others to share the same vision of the world as their own. When you consider that the left's idea of a good time is marching down Fifth Avenue, chanting unity jingles like brainwashed maoists, is it any wonder "the masses" are dancing at clubs. While some of the people in ray gym may be snobbish (and some certainly are), they at least come in all shapes, colors, and political outlooks, and no one has ever been banished from our ranks because they think, or look, differently. Quite frankly, there is more freedom and democracy in the gyms and on the dance floors, that there are in the movements fighting for "liberation."
Besides the hypocrisy of accusing the apolitical public of the very same things that the left itself is guilty of, my suspicion is that beneath the accusations Is a puritanical distaste for fun.
The left is certain that the drugery of movement activity is far more important than complacently enjoying oneself in society. In fact, there are some that even consider those that have a little fun to be counterrevolutionary. What is missing in this pat analysis is that life is too short, and revolutions too co-opted and unsuccessful, for me to participate in the left's compulsion for martyrdom and stern living. The only reason to put your life on the line for the sake of a revolution, is for your own betterment and for a happier environment. Why else bother? When you consider that the government is the main source of people's misery, perhaps living a happy life is the most revolutionary act possible.
While the "hedonistic" lifestyle has been more self-fulfilling, my lack of political activity should not imply that I do not sympathize with the goals of various left-wing causes. Indeed, 1 do believe that the few freedoms we all now enjoy are due to the diligent work of the various social movements in the world. In addition, if the general population were more politically conscious, as well as more active against government oppression, maintaining individual sovereignty against all power structures would be easier. Social movements are, thus, necessary evils, that keep governmental force and public bigotry in check. I am still torn between my political mind which is always in motion, and the desire to maintain my sanity by staying out of political in-fighting. It has been a conflict that has been temporarily resolved by my taking a vacation from revolutionary action until I find a movement that practices human libertation.
In short, if the left-wing indeed wants increased activity in their ranks, they should be more open to the varieties of individuals in society, and accept that fact that many of those people may have different needs, visions, and ideologies. In addition to the fact that I am very sceptical of people who have all the answers to the way the world should be run, our society would be boring at best, and frightening at worst, if we all were of one mind. Like it or not, as long as the garbage gets picked up regularly some people are going to follow Murray Rothbard, while others will prefer Proud-hon, and most people are going to read Sidney Sheldon. And readers of pulp will never live in harmony with the readers of theory unless we reassess the way activists interact with one another. After all if we cannot treat the members in our movement with respect and tolerance, once the revolution takes place, how long will it be before we institute the guillotine?
LIBERTARIANS FOR GAY AND LESBIAN CONCERNS: PO Box 953, San Francisco, CA 94101. Sample newsletter on request.
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ft QEOIST MANIFESTO
"i'nere is no good, there is no bad
these be the whims of mortal will;
Wnat vrorks me weal tnat I call good, wnat liarms and hurts I hold as ill.
They change with space, they snift with race, and in tne veriest space of time,
Each vice has worn a virtue's crown,
all good been banned as sin or crime."
Thus spake tne poet Sir Richard Burton, and many today would agree witn the sentiment, including a number who are pro freedom. But if morality is totally arbitrary, aoes freedom in its political sense nave any meaning? For freedom is derived from morality, from a set of rules saying "This is prohibited; tnis is allowed," and freed an consists of two corollaries: you are "free" to do wnat is allowed (or not prohibited), and you are (or should be) "free" from being a victim of the prohibited acts. If there is no morality, and nothing is prohibited, then though one is free of restrictions, one has no freedom from tne unrestricted acts of others, such as murder, kidnapping, tresspass, theft, and destruction. Tnese acts destroy your property, life, and happiness as much as the restrictions that infringe on your life.
Society, whether a family, a free association, or a state, is always governed by a set of rules that prescribe our freedom, lhe question is, what shall these rules be? Is there a rational way to derive then, or can there be nothing but an arbitrary majority or the rule of the mightiest?
Until very recently in numan nistory, the social rules were based on tradition. Humans usually lived in tribes or groupings with a conroon ancestry, culture, and religion, and so the laws of tradition were accepted with little question. Then, several thousand years ago, tne development of agriculture killed the Garden of Eden, and large tribes, kingdoms, and empires arose which no longer were based on single cultures. The laws of the state were based on the cultural and personal standards and interests of its rulling class, the aristocracy, and tne otner classes, along with ethnic and religious minorities, became their subjects, servants, and slaves. Sometimes the underlings did not even nave this "privilege," out were killed outrignt. This is the state that we find ourselves in today. If morality is but personal preference, then the minorities nave no rational complaint.
THE UNIVERSAL ETHIC
If tnere is a rational ethic, tnen the minorities and individuals who have Deen imposed on do have a valid cause. But the need alone does not establisn the existence, r.hat would? First of all, we need to agree on just what it is we are looking for. What are the criteria that a non-arbitrary moral law would have to satisfy? As a premise, I propose the following seven criteria which arc both sufficient and necessary to estabish it. A non-arbitrary moral law must be:
1) Comprehensive, applicable to all human situations;
2) Universal, applying to all persons everywhere;
3) Objective, meaning that it is non-arbitrary and
irrieperrient of any particular culture or religion;
4) Absolute, meaning it is fixed and unchanging;
5) Rational, without internal contradictions and in agreement with the observed world;
6) Natural, derived from human nature arid the observed world. These 6 criteria imply a seventh, that tne law be
7) Unique, as the one and only non-arbitrary moral law.
If a set of rules fits these criteria, we can call those rules "natural moral law" (MIL), and this would be the rational ethic that would give freedom a non-arbitrary meaning and provide an objective basis for determine proper social policy.
Since criterion #6 requires tML to be derived from human nature, wt> need to agree on a set of premises about hunans. The following three are sufficient to establish MIL:
1) Humans are each unique and independent. Each human mirel functions unier its own direction and has unique tastes and wants.
2) Himans are morally equal. Tliis means basically that there is no objective reason for matting one group of humans the slaves of another particular group, or to give one set of hunans any arbitrary coercive privilege.
3) Humans are egoists in that they seek to satisfy tneir self-interest, to do what they dean best for themselves and what they hold dear. They seek to promote their well-being.
Someth i ric^ can only be good to someone or t>aici to someone or some k>ein«gs Personal - good and —e-vil are k>ased on the percept i on is of" the ind ividual i n-vo 1 ved, as opposed to any abstract notion.
The third step in laying the foundation for NML is to determine what good ana evil mean. Let us define "personal-good" as tnat which an individual deems to be beneficial or agreeable to him [or her]. "Personal-evil" is that wnich one deems to be narmlul or disagreeable to an individual. Personal-neutral means neither personal-good nor -evil. I use the prefix "personal" because good and evil depend on the context. Contrary to Plato's assertion, there is no etherlal, ideal Good etched in the sky. Something can only be good to someone or bad to someone or some beings. Personal-good and -evil are based on the perceptions of the individual involved, as opposed to any abstract notion.
rt'nat does it mean for something to be morally good, evil, or neutral? Morality refers to human action, so any sentiments of good, etc., that are reactions to numan acts or states of being are moral personal-goods, etc.
We can now derive f<ML from the criteria, premises, and definitions. If you disagree with these, then you may well not agree with tne conclusion, but these are presumably self-evident enough to most people that a wide agreement can be obtained for WU. for people willing to consider it.
r.e proceed by first applying the premises to the definitions of personal-good and evil. According to the third premise humans will seek personal-good and shun personal-evil. And what is it that is good or evil? The first pranise tells us that there is no standard or overall personal-good or -evil, for each numan has a unique set of Jesires, and so personal-good and -evil are uniquely aetermined by each hunan being for nim[ner)self.
For ex carpi e, one cannot say that drinking alcohol is something inherently good or bad, for each person has a different taste and different values, and it can only be personally good or evil on an individual basis.
Now let's a, ply tno second premise - human equality. It -jives the unique nunan ^ rci.ptions an equal moral standing. One person therefore has no .roral basis for dictating good or evil to another or imposing iiis view of good anj evil on anotner.
'i'nercfore, if an act affects only oneself, since only that individual can aeterimine what pleases or displeases him, no one else nas any moral autnority to say otherwise. Tnus we nave our first conclusion for tML: all acts that affect only oneself are morally neutral (by the standard of MIL), since there is no way to objectively determine otherwise. The political implication is that all acts without victims should not be crimes, i.e. there is no objective or rational basis for victimless crime laws.
Tnis leaves us with acts that affect others. Let's first consider acts that other individuals find to be personal-evil, and call tnese, broadly, "injuries". An injury is an act that leaves someone less well off than .ie was before. The tnird criterion requires IJ-1L to be objective, or independent of culture and ^rsonal moral views. Co let's divide "injuries" into two types, narms and offenses. An offense is an injury tnat is dependent on the personal ,i>oral views of the victim for its effect, wnereas a harm is independent of any such views, dnd thus independent of any cultural or religious standards. offenses are mental and unintended injuries, whereas narms are pnysical injuries, or else injuries intentionally comnitteti. An example of an offense is a Christian offended by people dancing and playing cards on ounday. His mental injury is due solely to riis personal views, since others (obviously the uancers) are not offenoed ana even enjoy the acts. But a punch in the nose has nothing to cio with your religion or political biases - it is an objective physical act.
. . . a I I acts without victims should mot fc> e crimes, i.e., there is no objective or rati c:>ri1 basis for victimless crime laws.
Because the third criteria requires NML to be objective, offenses must be excluded from the injuries that tML can prescribe as evil. Only narms may be included. So do all harms constitute evil by NHL? No, two other classes of injuries are also excluded.
Some injuries are committed without the intent to harm, but just as an incidental by-product of pursuing your interests. For example, you have a nice grocery store in the corner, and are making a good living, when another person sets up a grocery store accross the street, taking away half your business. Have you been injured? Definitely you are financially less well off, so you are financially injured. Is this a narm subject to (ML? The second premise gives our desires an equal moral standing, so in addition to the financial injury of the first grocer we have to consider the injury that would be done to the second by denying him permission to make a living on equal terms by setting up a grocery store too. Tfte premise of equality prevents us from giving the first grocer the privilege of establishing a monopoly. The injury he suffers, while real, is incidental, the effect of other people pursuing their interest. If all incidental injuries were prohibited, aLnost nothing would be allowed. Another example is when you leave a lover for another; the first is emotionally hurt, but this is an incidental injury. Negligence, however, is a different .natter. Leaving a skate on the sidewalk where a child can trip over it is not incidental, since in that case one is responsible for having created a dangerous situation.
ine other class of injury excluded from evil for NML is "hypothetical narm". If you walk around carrying a knife, there is a hypothetical danger tnat you miyht stab someone. But since no direct and actual harm is committed, it cannot be considered a moral wrong by t«L. As with incidental
injuries, roost acts could be prohibited if hypotlietical harm were used as an excuse, which would cause ti.c far greater Harm of restricting freedom, Tnere are borJerline cases, such as carrying a ticking bomb, wtuch can ue considered i " leor and present danger" rather tnan hypothetical, but the benefit of the doubt should be to not restrict.
as a consequence, fcml only prescribes those acts that are direct jrxl actual harms as evil, and none other.
Liborty is. - . the p>o 1 itica 1 i mp> 1 <5 — mentation off natura 1 morol J <iw, Lr Wh i the only laws, if any , aro
t hos'(> prohibl ting coercive harm t cd others.
t«ow let's examine acts tlvit are personally-good, those which oenetit others. Applying the premise of hunun uniqueness and lruividuallty, o oenetit is an act that leaves someoite better off by his or net values; i.e. by the recipient of tl»e act. Wo one has any moral authority to juage a benefit than tne recipient. So forcing otlicrs to do things "for their own good" is no benefit.
Does ht-lL compel us to benefit others, to do good? It so, tnen the failure to do good would be wrong. Hut in the above analysis, IJML tias only prescribed acts tliat narm others to be evil. Since the failure to do good is not in itself a harm, it does not tall in tne domain ot evil tor (ML. in tact, compelling people to do good would constitute the hatm of restricting their freedom of action and imposing an external will on them.
We can now summarize this derivation of NML into a concise set of rules, which I call "tne Universal Ethic" (U.L.). The Universal tthic is this formulation of ttlL:
1.) Harm is a direct, actual injury independent of personal ctnical views.
2.) A benefit is an act enhancing what the recipient deems to be nis well-being.
3.) All acts, an only those acts, that coeccively harm others are evil.
4.) Acts that benefit others are morally good, but not obligatory.
The good and evil prescribed here by tWL can be called W-iL-good and ItfAL-evil, to distinguish them from personal-good and personal-evil. ttflL basically begins with personal perceptions of good and evil, and then strips away thost personal-evils which are offenses, incidental injuries, and hypothetical harms; and strips away personal-goods other than those felt by the recipients, leaving those acts that conform to the premises and criteria. We thus reconcile Sir Richard Burton's recognition that gooa and evil depend on tlx; individual, with tne necessity for some«objective standard to judge acts by in order for freedom to mean anytning. The secret of natural law is that in essence the only moral rule we have is that tnere are no authoritative moral rules. But a recognition of human moral equality gives our personal-goods and -evils an equal standing which logically leads to the universal ethic of freedom. Sane people may not like to call it a "natural law", but call it what you will, the U.fc. gives us a rational approach to law and •ocial policy.
M1AT AKt NATURAL RIGHTS'
By "natural" I mean only that natural law is derived from human nature and its three premises. It is not "natural" in the same way that laws governing human biology are natural.
If there is a natural law, then there arc- natural rights. Natural rights arc the 11ip side of natural law. A natural right is the correlative
or reverse side ot a moral rule. For exannple, the right to own property means that it is WlL-wrong to destroy, steal, or tresspass on .mother's property. tlotural rights are a more abstract way of expressing natural morallty. Often debates over natural rights bog down oecause the underlying moral standard is left unclear. It is simpler to talk about rorality itself "1 nave u right to live" is vague. "It is morally wrong to murder" is clearer and easier to deal with.
Liberty or political U^om is the legal right to do whatever does not coercively ham others. Liberty is tnerefore. the political inplaiwntation of natural moral law, in which the only laws, if any, are those prohibiting coercive harm to others.
JOES IT FULFILL THE CRITERIA?
One final step .mist be taken before we can say, "Yes, we have derived natural moral law." Does tru? Universal Ethic oonform to the 7 criteria? if so, then it fulfills tne necessary and suf-ficient requirements for ttlL.
1) Tne U.L. is comprenensive - all human oorduct is included.
/) The U.L. is universal - all persona are included.
3) The U.E. is objective - independent from personal and cultural views
by deleting offenses from NML-evil.
4) The U.E. is absolute - the rules will not change as long as the premises on hunan nature remain true.
5) The U.C. is rational - consistent and non-oontradictory.
6) The U.L. is natural - derived from hunan nature.
7) The U.E. is unique, otherwise narms would be permitted, violating numan equality and independence, or else offenses would be prohibited, violating equality or objectivity. Designating other acts as good would violate equality and ODjectivity, and denying that benefits are good would contradict
the first premise.
Therefore, if the criteria, premises, and definitions are accepted, natural moral law as formulated by the Universal Ethic must be accepted as the moral foundation for liberty and law.3
Can all laws and social policy be derived tran the four rules of the Universal Ethic? Much law can be, incuding criminal law and the abolition of restrictions on peaceful private enterprise and activity. But there are same areas where additional definitions or assumptions are required before making any judgnents.
One instance is tne question of abortion. The U.E. tells us that it is morally wrong to murder a person, but it does not tell us what a person is. Before we answer the question, "Is abortion moral?," we need to determine what a person is - is an embryo a person? This requires a definition or assumption on what is a person and when one becomes a person.
Similarly, with regard to children's rights, the treatment of the "insane," and the application of the U.E. to animals, questions arise that need to be answered. The issue of who may properly own natural resources also raises questions, and requires us to investigate the economics of land in addition to its ethics.
. . . human beings have an equal r i <3 h t t,cD the benefits from natural r-esour-cos. . . . i f net. thru shared use then toy pay i ng economic or land rent to soc i e ty .
There are two possible approaches. One is the "pr 1vate-ownersnip" prcnuse, or what I call "pnvo" for short, also referred to as the "iiome-steading axiom": humans have tne equal rigint to claim unowned natural resources by mixing their labor with it to some degree; once so claimed, it belongs to the claimer and his heirs forever until aDandoneo - first cane, first served.
The second possibility is tne Oeorgist premise: numan Deings have an equal right to tne benefits from natural resources, sincc no numan made them and land is the basis for economic life. The first comer and his heirs could nave tne use of the land or natural resource, out tne oenefit oelongs to ail people equally, if not thru shared use tnen by paying economic or land rent to society.
The econatucs of land tells us that there is a significant distinction between human-made wealth and non-renewable natural resources, or land. me quantity of larxl is fixed, so its occupation can create a monopoly wnich forces the landless to pay tribute to the title holders. Given such facts and the social context, natural law then asks, which approach would lead to the least amount of coercive harm to the people involved?
It is clear that since the moral claim to one's labor and capital is absolute, wmle the moral claim to private land is at best quite weaK, the taxation of labor and capital should cease anu all taxes snifteu to land values. "Hie moral claim to land ownersnip is weak even under tne privo premise wnen we consider that most land in the world has oeen stolen; very little can be traced to an nonest occupancy of unowned land. Tne economic benefits of this tax shift are also beyond doubt: removing the penalty of taxing and restricting enterprise, eliminating land speculation and putting land to its best economic use would promote employment and prosperity.
. . . those who do riot- pay economic rent to the government cou 1 d s i mp 1 y not fc>e "entitled" to its seiv i cea . . .
Even so, most Georgists would agree that land value taxation (LVT) is not an end in itself but the means to the end of justice and liberty, i.e. to the implementation of natural law in economics. Many Georgists would also not apply it as a universal absolute, but temper its application to the social context, such as allowing elderly low-income dwellers to postpone the LVT, or allow farmers sane adjustment during bad years. Thus personal occupancy and use can be given some right of ownership when strict LVT would cause hardship. land value taxation is the simplest means to economic justice in today's industrialized world, but is not necessarily the only means. Shared use is another way, as practiced in carmunes and by many "primitive" cultures.
In most of today's world, the U.£. would best be implemented by the Georgist premise to correct the land inequities and theft of hunan effort. In Latin America, for example, the titles claimed oy the land oligarchies date from the theft of land by the Spaniards from the Indians, and a Georgist equalization would be required to restore justice.
Therefore the Georgist premise of land equality eliminates the harm of the monopolization of natural resources and is more consistent with the primary premise of human equality. Nevertheless, this same human equality raises a nagging question: if we are equal, then how can one group of people claim sovereignty over another? In particualar, why should a person or community have to pay land rent to any particular government? why should any one boundary line be imposed on everyone within it?
The Oeoryist answer could be that, ideally, the economic tent should be paid to the world <is a whole, so that boundary lines no longer matter. But the question of why one should support or belong to any particular govern-.nent, including a world government, remains, since does not moral equality gives eacn person equal sovereignty, or tire right to freedom from external control?
Georyism need not necessarily be confined to an absolute and universal implementation of land value tax by central governments. Albert Jay Mock gave us tne insight that access to land is shut off through legal preemption - by titles oacKed by tne po.^ - of tne state. A major part of the Georgist reform is accompiisnea dy eliminating the state's power to expropriate human effort by taxes on labor and capital and to enforce land titles. Perhaps if those wno do not pay economic rent to the government could simply not be "entitled" to its services and protection, land monopolies would then be cut off irom social support and find it nard to remain viable.
Wmle Henry George is the best known proponent of the second land premise, and wrote the most comprehensive account of it, he was preceded by otners, such as the Physiocrats and Thomas Paine, not to speak of the Biblical Israelites, whose land tenure prevented land monopolies and speculation. Therefore to call the philosophy "Georgist" is both too narrow and too wide. For George also advocated political policies apart from land, such as government ownership of the railroads. Would Georgism include the latter policies as well? A tetter term for the land equality ethic as well as "Georgist" economics seems desirable, however much we acknire George.
Land is earth, its surface and contents, and the earth in Greek is "ge" or "geo," as in geography and geology. By a wonderful coincidence, "geo" also forms the first three letters of Georgel An appropriate name for the land equality ethic and its economic basis would then be "geoism," and one who upholds it would be a geoist. Georgism would then be closely tied to Henry George's thought, while geoism would encompass the idea rather than being tied to one person. The relationship would be similar to that of Marxism vs. socialism, or Randism vs. objectivism.
Ceoists would agree on three basic concepts:
1) There is an important economic distinction between natural resources and
2) Humans are entitled to keep the wealth they produce.
3) Human beings are morally equal.
A consequence of moral equality would be an equal right to sovereignty and an equal claim to natural resources. Geoists might differ as to which of
these was supreme.
A GEOLIBERTARIAN EVOLUTION
Geoism offers an evolutionary route from today's statism to a libertarian society of free association. The first step would be to base the Constitution only on natural law rather than cultural views, special interests, and economic privilege. All barriers to free trade are abolished, as well as other restrictions on enterprise and personal life. All taxation of income and capital would be abolished, replaced by the collection of economic rent of land.
It would probably require 20-70 years to flush out the inequities and debts that have accumulated over the last 400 years, since the conquest of America by the Europeans, and especially the monstrous goverrment debt and liabilities such as social security which have snowballed over the last 50 years. It would also take tLne to convert money from the federal reserve monopoly to a free market, free of legal tender laws, and to free land tram the grasp of the huge title holders as the land value tax takes hold. The transition would have to be gradual in order to prevent undue penalties to
those who recently bougnt land, and avoid unfairly rewarding those who had sold it just prior to the cnange. As land rent revenues increase and gov-errraent costs drop, the revenue would be use to pay off the national debt and other liabilites.
Once tne poisons are flushed out of the system, and the land tax has undone the historical ownership inequities, the revenues in excess of minimal qoverrment functions would be returned to the individuals as a dividend. Tne larcl rent would be collected locally, and portions passed on to mgher levels of qoverrment. Tne highest level would oe concerned witn defense and foreign relations, and ensuring justice and uniform law. Tne provincial governments would De involved chiefly with criminal law and its enforcement, and with civil justice. The local governments would provide tne bread & butter services such as police, courts tor minor crimes and snail claims, and the collection of land rent. Public works and even some of the police work could oe done by private or voluntary organizations as society evolves away from government control as much as possible.
Any individual land holder- or- commu nlty could secede from the. . . qovern ment . . . .What Keeps corporati ens respons ive to the stocK holders is not the stocK owners* ability to vote for the directors, tout their ability to sell their- stocK and secede from the company.
The right to secede would became recognized. This would be inscribed in the Constitution so that the government would not be able to legally prevent it. Any individual land holder or camunity could secede from the jurisdiction of the local government, and therefore also from the state and federal governments. This would recognize the libertarian objection of being forced to be under the jurisdiction of a particular government, no matter how benign it claims to be. Spencer's "right to ignore the state" would be recognized. Those who henceforward refused to pay the land rent would be literally c-x-orrminicated, along with the residents on that land - in effect becoming independent of the state, and not entitled to its services, dividends, and protection. The basis for supporting or seceding from government would be larri.
This is not necessarily the same as anarchisn, though it would satisfy to a large degree the anarchist objection to compulsory subjection to a particular state. If a geoist minarchy were nonest, efficient, and true to natural law, then there would probably not De that much secession. Tne economic costs would be too hign. Those with tne most valuable land would need the most protection, as well as the most services, such as public works and ready access to markets. What keeps corporations responsive to trie stocK holders is not the stock owners' ability to vote for the directors, Dut their ability to sell their stock and secede from the company. Tnis similar ability would help keep governments responsive as well. If not, then it wuld deserve to be deserted.
Natural law begins and ends with the individual. Equality transforms individual values into a universal ethic which forbids only coercive nacn to others. Since narm is earn it ted by state-protected monopol istic priveleges, a geoist collection of land rent eliminates tne unequal ownership of natural resources. tut forcing people to affiliate with a particular joverrxnent violates equal sovereignty as well. Geoism by free association reconciles equality with liberty, and the coranunity with the individual.
!•' K KOI .l>V/\l« Y
I believe that on the doctrine of natural rights, Henry George hat logically and clearly built up the right of every human being to ownership in the earth. I believe just the same that under the great law of expediency, of what is good for the human race; assuming that man is what man is, that Nature is what Nature is—knowing no rights, but dealing with the fang and the claw and the tooth, killing the weak to the strong, the bird pouncing
upon the worm to live himself, and the strong man living upon the weak; even under this theory which I believe permeates all Nature, human, inanimate, animal, even under thia, I believe that the poor and the weak should some day be wise enough to combine against the powerful and the strong and take the rights they can get in no other way except by assert-ing and maintaining them I believe in this world a man, or any other has a natural
right to what he gets, and if he doesn't get it be has no natural right to it He may have an idealistic, theoretical, theosophical right to it.
C1arence Darrow (EVERYMAN - Sept/Oct.1913)
Economics of Liberty
John Beverley Robinson
JN a commercial society there are two general divisions of activity, production and exchange.
Corresponding to these there are two forms of privilege by which all Industry b controlled; land ownership, which controls production, and the money privilege, which controls exchange. Our business now is with the first of these, namely, the privilege of land ownership.
The word land, in its economic sense, is used in a far wider significance than in ita usual colloquial meaning. Land, in the economic sense, means all natural opportunities for labor to exert itself.
Labor, in order to produce, must have material whereupon to work, a place to stand while working, a place to lie while sleeping.
The farmer uses land directly; the cobbler and actor both directly and indirectly. Both cobbler and actor must have a place to live and a place to work, and for these they use land directly; the cobbler, in addition, must have
leather, which ultimately comes from the soil;
JOHN BEVERLEY ROBINSON was an early associate of Louis F. Post, the noted single-taxer, as a publisher of The Free Soiier in the early 1880s. He later went from a Tolstoyan to an individualist anarchist, often writing for Benj. R. Tucker's paper, Liberty. Along with Tucker, John Henry Mackay and others, he rejected "natural rights" as fictitious and embraced the egoism of Max Stirner and the mutualism of Proudhon, whose General Idea of the Revolution in the 19th Century he translated into English (1923 Freedom Press). ECONOMICS OF LIBERTY, inspired by Proudhon's ideas, was published in 1916 by Herman Kuehn in Minneapolis.
and both cobbler and actor muit have food, which also comes from the toil; and for these they are dependent upon the land indirectly.
Even water i» land, economically speaking. Opportunities to produce are presented by waterfalls for power and by rivers for irrigation, by lakes and oceans for fisheries, and by all navigable waters for transportation. Although the high seas are free to all, after they are once launched upon them, yet the sailor must have land whence to embark and whereon to disembark.
If the whole earth were owned by one man, it would mean that he would have absolute power, in law, to prevent all the rest from working or even existing upon it. He could put up his signs, "Trespassers not allowed," and there would be nothing for it but to emigrate to another planet.
Or if the earth were owned by a hundred million men, it would leave the remaining nine hundred million equally subject to the sovereign will of the land owners.
And that is precisely the state of affairs that prevails today. The population of the earth is estimated at something like fifteen hundred millions. Of these how many are land owners? We can only guess. One in ten? Surely not as many as that One in a hundred? Perhaps one in a hundred. That would b« fifteen millions who own the earth and bold the lives of the remaining fourteen hundred and eighty-fir4 minions in their hands.
For the owner of tha land controls everything and everybody upon it; and if these fifteen million land owners were to order the rest off their land, where could they go? To the high road perhaps, where they might walk until they starved, leaving the land owners the sole inhabitant*.
But the game of the land owner* is not to order people off the earth. Par from it I What they want ia that as many people as possible should live and labor upon the earth—their earth—on condition that they give the land owners a large part of their product, in the form of Rent
Rent is the part of the product taken by the land owners from the producers for permitting the producers to go to work.
But, you may say, I have no interest in land rent I am a clerk, working for $16.00 a week. I do not use land. What have I to do with the land question?
Your employer is perhaps a merchant, who payi 120,000 a year for his warehouse. If it is in New York City, at least $10,000 of that wifl be for ground rent He employs half a doien bookkeepers, and as many salesmen and porters, possibly twenty in all. If he paid no ground rent there would be $500 apiece available to raise the wages of all hands. Have you, indeed, no interest in rent?
And how much do you pay for board? And of her expenses, what part does your boarding-house keeper pay for ground rent? And the dealer from whom you buy your clothes— what ground rent does he pay? On every side you are bled by Rent.
And what does the land owner give in return? Remember, we are not speaking of buildings, but of the land only upon which the buildings stand.
The land owner gives nothing whatever, but permission to you to live and work on his land. He does not give his product in exchange for yours. He did not produce the land. He obtained a title at law to it; that is, a privilege to keep everybody off his land until they paid him his price. He is well called the lord of the land—the landlord I
Even if the merchant has bought his warehouse outright, so that he pays no rent directly, he still pays rent indirectly, through the purchase price paid to the previous owner.
Directly or indirectly everybody must pay rent to the owners of the soiL Either in the form of annual or monthly payments, or in the form of a price paid for purchase, everybody must pay for a place to live upon and a place to work upon.
But, you will say, men must be secure in the posseasion of the products of their labor; and how can they be secure unless they own their land?
There are two kinds of land ownership, proprietorship or property, by which the owner is absolute lord of the land, to use it or to hold it out of use, as it may please him; and possession,* by which he is secure in the tenure of land which he uses and occupies, but has no claim upon it at all if he ceases to use it He cannot hold it out of use, and prevent others from using it. For the secure possession of his crops or buildings or other products, he needs nothing but the possession of the land which he uses.
For instance, in the mining regions, vast areas of mining land are held out of use by the mining companies, which own all the land about How long, do you think, would these terrible strikes in Colorado and Michigan and West Virginia have lasted, if the miners had been free to go to work and open up new mines on the unused land? Not an hour! Not a minute I
AU that it necetsary to do away with Rent is to do away with absolute property in land; to make all land that is not in use free to anybody to enter upon it and use it.
Nor will any temporizing measure ahort of this suffice. Great as were the service* of Henry George in familiarizing people with the destructive nature of our present system of land tenure, his single tax scheme cannot be regarded as a remedy.
For the reason that, if rent must be paid, it is no particular relief to pay it to the government in the form of a tax, rather than to pay it to an individual in the form of rent
If the coal minera of West Virginia were free to go to work and open up new mines on any unused land, it would immediately relieve the situation; but if they first had to pay a government tax, almost equal to the rental value, they would be aa badly off at ever ; the land would be aa inaccessible aa ever.
No, the only real remedy ia a change of heart, through which land using will be recognized as proper and legitimate, but land holding will be regarded as robbery and piracy.
Economists distinguish two forms of rent, what is called economic rent and monopolistic rent
Economic rent is the difference in productiveness of different localities. Thus, of two mines, one of which was richer in ore than the other, the additional product of the richer mine would constitute the economic rent of it Monopoly rent is the price demanded by the owner of the soil, whether as a lump purchase price or as the usual periodical rental payments, regardless of its productiveness.*
It is monopoly rent that results in vacant land.
By making all unused and unoccupied land free for anybody to use, monopoly rent would disappear, and monopoly price, the speculative price at which vacant land is held, which is equivalent to rent, which is, in fact, monopoly rent capitalized, could no longer exist.
But economic rent — the advantage that might inhere in any particular piece of land, from greater fertility of soil or superiority in situation—this economic rent would still remain. With this difference, however, that the greater product would inure to the profit of the users of the land, not of some so-called land owner.
•See Appendix IL
The tendency of economic rent it alwaya to reduce itself to a minimum; because the inherent advantages of land are variable. That is, a disadvantage for one tort of ute it often an advantage for another.
On the shores of Lake Michigan are certain barren, sandy tracta, until recently regarded aa almost worthiest for any ute. It haa been found that they are peculiarly auited for growing peat; and now large quantities of peas art produced upon them, and the price of land there hat risen tenfold.
The difference in natural advantage* upon which economic rent is based, are like the differences in natural ability of the workers; they are differences in kind rather than in degree. The stupid, stolid worker msy be better fitted for certain kinds of work than one of more intelligent, nervous organization. The swamp may not grow wheat; but may be admirably suited to cranberries.
The differences In product caused by difference* in personal qualities and difference* in the qualities of the land both tend toward a minimum, and eventually toward extinction.
Proprietorship in land, upon which monopoly rent, and its equivalent, speculative price, art based. Is quite different It is wholly an artificial privilege, which all the powers of government, and of our privilege born law, are exerted to uphold.
The rent of monopoly, so far from being an addition to the product of the worker, is « deduction from it, entirely to the advantage of the landlord, and continually tending toward a maximum, as the land becomes more and more completely monopolized.
Both government and law exist, as any lawyer can tell you, to protect property, that is, proprietorship in land among other forms of property. Without force, that is, government, proprietorship in land would cease; and, on the other hand, without proprietorship there would be no function for force government, and it would lapse into a more perfect form of social organization.
A free association would uphold the producer in the possession of land for use; and all efforts to restore the land to the people must include, as a necessary condition, the extinction of the governmental form of organization and the erection of free society.
Economic rent is said to be inherent in the advantage obtained by the producer who occupies a superior site—superior in fertility, accessibility or otherwise.
It it admitted that the market price it fixed by the coat of production under the moat ad-verte circumttancet- Thut a farmer whose farm waa ten milet distant from the market would have to add the coat of transportation for ten miles to the price of his product One whose farm was only one mile distant would have a proportionally lest amount to pay for transportation; but he could obtain the same price at the more distant one. The additional amount above the cost thus obtained by the occupant of the nearer lite is held to be the economic rent
This is the celebrated Ricardian theory of rent; and, at first tight, it appears to be irrefutable.
I am strongly inclined to think that the theory it erroneous; that it is, in homely phrase, putting the cart before the horse.
It it commonly said that the most valuable land bringt the highest rent, that lest valuable land brings less rent, that the amount of rent that can be obtained is in direct proportion to the value of the land, and immediately results from it Ordinarily no one would dispute this proposition.
An opposite view, however, may be taken. Instead of saying that the most valuable land brings the most rent because it is the most valuable, we may turn it about and say that the most valuable land is the moat valuable becauae it bringa the most rent This seems to be the same thing: it it really quite different
In carrying on their various work* of production, men do not all want the tame piece of Land, nor even similar piecea. The farmer would have no use for a city lot for productive purposes at all. Under the pretent system he could indeed by hit power of monopolistic holding obtain a price from somebody who could use it; but, without this power, such a lot would be quite useless to him for productive purposes.
On the other hand, his farm of forty acres would be equally uaelesa to a professional man, say a physician. And neither the farm nor the lot would be of any use to a deep sea fisherman.
People require different quantities of land and different localities, according to the character of the industry in which they engage. For some mere desk room in an office is all that they need: for others, many acres are necessary. But the desk-room man can do nothing with the acres; while the acres man would be jutt as much at a loss to carry on his business with only desk room.
Now the monopoly of all land makes it possible for the holders of land to demand a certain average amount from all who work on the land, that is, from everybody, whether the par-titular land each one needs be much or little.
And this appears to be the reason why city land is commonly reckoned to be more valuable than land in the country. City workers do not need much land in their pursuits—would not be able to use it if they had it. But monopoly takes an average equal share from each, and the rent of a grocer store on a twenty-five by a hundred foot lot may equal or exceed that for a large farm.
So that land of small area, upon which many people can work, permits the exaction of a higher rent by monopoly, and is therefore accounted more valuable.
When the elevator, and its offspring, the tall office building, were invented, permitting workers to be piled up twenty stories high, instead of five as before, the amount of rent that could be extracted from each of them remained the same, but the amount that could be obtained per square foot of ground was proportionally increased, and the land became by just so much more valuable.
A mine is more valuable than the fields about it, because hundreds of workers can produce in a limited area. Prom each one rent is exacted, not directly, it is true, but by the reduction in wages that miners suffer.
In a state of freedom, when land ceased to be monopolized, all this would cease. The producer would use as much or as little land •a might be required by hit vocation; and land would no longer have any value, because no rent could be deducted from the product of the worker*.
It is necessary for the production of all the varied products of civilization, that there should be different kinds of land, tome arable, tome mineral, tome waterpowers, tome towns and village*. Por each variety of each different kind of product, minor differences in land are needed; and, in the end, by a continual process of adjustment, each piece of land would be used for the purpote for which it wat best fitted.
Differences in the natural qualitiea of land bear a close analogy to difference! in the natural ability of persona. So far from being a cause of inequality in income, such differences, whether in the land or the individual, are essential for equality. An equality not doled out as an equal wage by a quasi-military government, but a powerful tendency to substantial natural equality, as the sea tends to a level surface, in spite of the waves that continually vary temporarily its placidity.
Cl JUat Ci
The word "Kent" has, on occasion, been wrested from its relevant meaning in order to bolster up the interests and prejudices of those who seek, to benefit by giving the word a fanciful meaning. As with "house" rent. Rent of a house is repayment for a service. It is recognition of that service that impels the house-user to pay.
Rent of land rests entirely on a legal warrant for the collection of a license fee permitting the licensee to live on that particular part of the globe.
But for this legal warrant there would be no Rent for the use of 1 and.
Rent is that part of the product that by law is apportioned the holder of the legal claim to be the owner of the land on which production has obtained. Aside from such legal title there would not be any basis for the common belief that the title-holder "owns" the land. In order that one may acknowledge the "ownership" of land he must perforce admit that the sanction under which the title is held is valid. If the title of any land-ownership be traced to its origin it will be found to rest upon the superstition that the natural resources were "owned" by the king, and that it was the royal prerogative to parcel out the land to his grantees.
As men are becoming more intelligent a "belief" in ownership under royal (or other governmental) grants and subventions is lessening.
Rent, then, is that part of the product as is "due" to the respect in which we hold the king's grant. The payment of rent is Duty to the King.
In the absence of the legally-instituted relation of Landlord and Tenant there can be no Rent.
One hears talk about "economic" rent, and "potential" rent. These are mere figures of speech. They indicate disparities in the productivity and location of some sites as compared with others. Those presenting advantages, whether cultivated or not, whether in anywise used or not, are assumed to "produce" rent.
No such advantage deserves to be classed as Rent unless some one is empowered to collect tribute for its use.
It has long been a favorite pastime with arithmeticians to figure out the interest that would have been earned by putting out one dollar at six-per centum, compounded semi-annually one thousand years ago. It is good slate exercise, truly; but no interest at all has arisen unless it is paid to some one. Precisely the same is true of Rent. If it isn't paid it isn't rent.
Site advantages doubtless exist, but these would not result in rent in the absence of an illogical deference to the superstition at the back of a belief in land ownership.
That an occupier and user may be offered, and may accept, a premium for some particularly choice location, is true. But this premium will not be Rent. It is only classed AS rent by such as want a justification for the notion that landlordism benefits others than landlords.
From INSTEAD OF A MAGAZINE #20 (edited by Herman Kuehn in Minneapolis, 1915-16).
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The land problem is one of apparent scarcity: The supply of land appears to be insufficient to meet the demand. Many individuals who seek access to land - whether in rural or urban areas - find land values (rents and prices) too high. This apparent scarcity is an illusion - an illusion created and perpetuated by the state.
The state creates the illusion of 1 and - searcity by: (1) TAKING land away from some people (like Native Americans, small-scale farmers, and low-income inner-city dwellers); (2) creating and protecting TITLES TO ABSENTEE-OWNERSHIP over land, which it grants to non-using individuals and legal (i.e., fictitious) "persons" or corporate "entities"; and (3) levying compulsory tribute or TAXES upon the use of the land. All these methods tend to transfer control of land away from those without sufficient money (i.e., power) to hold on to it. To these, then, we may add (4) the monopolization of money, the means of credit and exchange: the current legal-tender/banking scam.
If you do not have enough money to buy land (for a house, business, etc.) you must either borrow some at exorbitant rates of interest, or pay for the mere USE Of land - i.e., RENT. Usually the poor, who cannot get credit approval from the banks or afford high interest rates, pay rent all their lives only to be thrown out of their homes at the whim of landlords and the so-called "market" -with the state, of course, upholding the landlords by force if necessary. The killing of Eleanor Bumpers clearly illustrates the function of "police protection" in a confrontation between landlord and tenant.
Titles to absentee-landownership allow for the non-using title-owner to collect monopoly rents from the non-owning users. (A building-owner who does not own the land must collect enough in building-rent to pay the land-rent - thus acting as a "middleman" in the process.) Absentee-owners can also speculate and hold their land out of use while they wait for someone to come along willing and able to pay a monopoly rent for use, or a monopoly price for title.
Taxation and monopoly interest rates penalize those who would put their land to more efficient use. Thus they prevent land from being used to accommodate larger numbers of people. This can be seen in cities with slums and acute housi ng shortages. In both urban and rural area poorer "marginal" land is thus forced out of use, raising monopoly rents and prices on other land, encouraging land speculation, raising the costs (thus prices) of commodities, and d i semployi ng workers and lowering wages. Rent, interest, and taxation are monopoly tributes paid by the user of land to non-users who have legal claims upon a percentage of the wealth produced by the user.
The title of the absentee-landowner is a LICENSE to collect tribute as a sub-monopoly granted by the supreme monopoly of tribute over the land, the government, or more exactly: the state. And the state is nothing but a group of people who have got away with CLAIMING a "right" or mandate from "the people" to exercise force over everyone within certain geographic boundaries. The sub-monopoly which the state grants to absentee-landowners (and similar privileges to others) is Drotected or paid for out of the taxes collected from land-users (i.e., workers or producers). Thus folks are paying the state to protect their own exploiters! Naturally, in the irony of the problem lies its ultimate solution.
One false solution - because only a half solution - to the land problem is proposed by many "free market" libertarians who advocate abolishing taxation while leaving monopoly titles to absentee--landownership intact. Some even suggest these titles should be made virtually absolute. They regard the state as interfering with land titles - not creating them. Of course, one may ask. how the state is to protect these titles, if taxation is abolished - or even greatly reduced? The great amount of taxes needed to fund "welfare" benefits are spent to protect absentee-landownership and other privileges. "Welfare" is but a way to take care of the dispossessed
- as compensation and to quell dissatisfaction which could otherwise lead to violence, expropriation, even revolution.
Other market libertarians do acknowledge the role played by the state, historically, in granting monopoly land titles to a favored few. Absolute absentee-landownership is only legitimate, to these libertarians, if based upon "first come, first served." The first person to use a piece of "virgin land" can claim a "natural right" to own it - used or unused - in perpetuity. Libertarians such as Murray Rothbard have called this the "homestead" principle. I call it the virgin theory of property. (it is similar to the treatment partriarchal societies have imposed upon women: a woman should preserve her virginity until the "right man comes along"; then she should "surrender" her virginity and belong monopolistica1ly in obedience to him until death do them part. The parallel can be extended with polygamy, where a man can accumulate "titles" to more than one woman, perhaps as many as his money will allow, owning them as s1 aves. )
The fallacy of the virgin theory of property is that it allows the homesteader to retain ownership even after he (or she) ceases to occupy and use it. It even proposes the "right" of a homesteader to abandon "his" land for a period of years and then return and remove from the land anyone else who may then happen to be occupying and using the land. But is it reasonable to expect people to honor such a "right" on the part of the previous user? Would not the neighbors rally to the defense of the current user? Or, if they did honor the claim of the previous user, keeping others off the land over the years, would they not demand something in exchange for this service
- a fee for protecting his claim to idle land against those who may desire or need to use it? And would not those who must bear the cost of being deprived the use of the idle land demand compensation for the sacrifice of part of their freedom? 33
These are some questions raised by GEOISM: the theory and practice of equal freedom to use the earth. Geoists propose that the rent or annual use-value of land be put into a common fund - to finance necessarily-public services and/or to redistribute in equal shares to all community members. All taxation would be abolished and communities would be defined by the free movement of individuals seeking to satisfy their desires with the least effort. Direct democracy within such voluntary communities would ensure that the land rent-fund not be wasted on boondoggles - which no one would support as they would diminish the amount of rent available for direct redistribution.
Since it can be expected that landrent will be voluntarily paid to the common treasury - in return for protection of title to the site - there is no need to resort to compulsory taxation. Those who don't wish to pay (even after, say, appealing to a randomly selected jury) will naturally have to provide their own protection of their land-claim as well as bear any ill-will of neighbors who DO pay to keep up the common-services.
Ostracism and boycott, voluntarily organized, is far superior to the violence of compulsory taxation which a monopoly of force as insidious as the absentee-landownership it supports. You are forced to pay taxes whether you have consented or not. Whether you have voted for public services or not. Whether the government represents your wishes or not. While ostracism and boycott exercise the freedom to associate or DIS-associate, taxation DENIES this freedom.
It is one thing to voluntarily contribute to a common fund to supply coaion services you desire, including the protection of the land and possessions you occupy and use. It is quite another to pay taxes to government because, if you don't, "it" will not only deny you services and protection, it will TAXE your land and possessions AND your freedom as well - which is what government DOES AND HAS ALWAYS DONE! Government does not give you the option of refusing its services - rather "it" threatens all manner ol Disservices. Government was well defined by Benj. R. Tucker as "the subjection of the non-invasive individual to an external will."
Since Taxes are now used to protect monopoly land titles, the abolition of taxation is the key to the abolition of land monopoly. Imagine the following scenario: due to overspending and massive tax-resistance, the state goes bankrupt and collapses. All special privileges are no longer respected - including monopoly land claims. Imagine the consequences. First, this leaves land "in the hands" of the actual occupant-users. Illusory DE JUKE property has dissolved, leaving DE FACTO property: everyone thus can claim ownership of the land she or he uses.
Those needing others to help them work the land, or those with apartment dwellings to offer, have to share the benefits of ownership or offer other benefits to keep "their tenants" from going to unoccupied sites free for the using (and with interest-free credit from the local "mutual bank" to purchase the capital needed to start from scratch). In the absence of building taxes and monopoly 1 nterest-rates , occupant-owners of "prime locations" are likely to put their sites to better use - providing housing and employment to others less well situated - in competition with other "prime locations.")
But land speculation - the buying of land to hold out of use for a later profit - would be a losing proposition: you would have to provide for your own protection, keeping others off the site at your own expense. (And given no building taxes, there is no reason to not put the site to its best present use.) Land ceases to be a "collector's item" and loses its speculative value. Untaxed buildings also cease to be collected, and sell or lease at competitive prices determined by production costs minus depreciation.
While title to absentee-ownership rested upon state domination, title to occupant-ownership now rests upon MUTUAL CONSENT for nutual benefit. Neighbors agree to look after your home while you're away on holiday - as you agree to look after theirs. Some who travel a lot form time-sharing networks and have rotational occupancy-and-use of their dwellings. Others wishing more formal protection join the local Occupancy 6 Use Defense League. The League insures occupant-property -- for an annual fee based upon an OWNER-assessed value. The profits of the association are distributed in equal shares to members at the end of the year. The League does not have a territorial monopoly, but rather competes with other associations in providing the best combination of low fees, good service, and high shares. While members get low annual rates, non-metabers can get temporary traveller's insurance for their occupant-property --for a higher rate based upon the amount of coverage they want and for how long. Long absences would cost more, discouraging leaving property unoccupied for long periods, and encouraging its transfer to others - at prices which, under these conditions, could not include monopoly rent or profit. Of course, a seller would benefit later on AS A BUYER from these low prices. The privilege of holding property in absentia for long periods is thus abolished: land and buildings now change hands on the basis of their use and occupancy value as determined by eager sellers and willing buyers. The test of a really free market is met: the cost of protecting property falls upon the proprietors themselves - not shifted via taxes upon others.
Common services such as roads and sewers are also provided -where they wanted enough to be paid for voluntarily, since taxation is abolished. But it is in the interests of occupant-owners to have these services provided: for their own ease and comfort, and to attract others to use their buildings, services, and products. Neighbors see themselves as cooperative occupant-owners of the streets, parks, and other services they support and share in common. Those who spoil the environment (the common property) or refuse to pay for common services WHICH THEY ALSO USE (thus at the expense of others) are dealt with as invasive individuals: by economic boycott and social ostracism on the part of those who feel imposed upon or taken advantage of. And those who do not wish the amenities of community life can find plenty of free land on the outskirts of town. And while some communities would offer more benefits (but costing more to live there), others would offer little or no benefits (to each one's own). In the absence of the state, then, various forms of mutualist GEO-ANARCHY could well arise both out of necessity and spontaneity: with common services supported by the site-users who receive them - and sites occupied by those willing to support the common services.
Unlike the state, geo-anarchy leaves land titles - "occupancy and use" - to be DEFINED BY THOSE CONCERNED. By direct action, not indirect legislation. Much like "age of consent," "occupancy and use" cannot be determined by law but only in actual practice. Differing as persons and circumstances differ. No pre-defined limit need be put upon the amount of land a person may occupy and use undisturbed by others.
For example: Is a family in a house on a twenty-acre estate "occupying and using" all twenty acres? "Let the free market decide.'", we can now boldly declare. Let those who want to "own" twenty acres pay themselves for its protection - to the local Occupancy 6 Use Defense League or, if they (quite likely) refuse, against them.1 The "war of each against all?" Not quite. Once their idle surplus acres are needed, goodwill offers will be made by those wishing to take up occupancy. If the offers are refused, direct action would be taken to occupy the land, perhaps supported by the local Occupancy 6 Use Defense League, economic boycott, and social ostracism. Without the state to come to their aid, most landholders would see the foolishness of trying to hold on to land they cannot or will not put to good use satisfying the needs of others. They would let the squatters have the land. The alternative is an ever-increasing "carrying cost" to protect their aonopoly: the Geoist dynamic - not imposed "from above" by the state
but generated by the needs and desires of people acting for theaselves at the grassroots level. After all, the grassroots are
IN THE LAND
ONE CAUSE OF' WAR, TAXES S< " EMPLOYERS"
One needs to grasp how the device of PUBLIC DEBT arose out of the transference of the cost of the militia from landed privilege (a rough ground rental payment), onto the people at large, in the form of TAXATION, to begin to glimpse the extent to which the devastations of modern warfare owe their origins to the people's continuing ignorance of the land question.... For in this way the increasing burden of the cost of wars has been, shifted onto the ordinary working masses who are least able to bear it - and have nothing to gain from fighting one another. In a yet more direct sense land monopoly is the handmaid of war. It was rife land speculation which caused the economic collapse of Germany that brought Hitler into power. Ponder that, democratic nations of today (so-called), and tremble!
Meanwhile, as land monopoly continues its centralized hold upon work-opportunity. the vocabulary of "employment" subtly Lakes over from that of "work", allowing as it does, in the term "omployKR", the idea of the benefactor, or "work-bestower", and also the useful translation of the workers into the more passive role of employEKS. Some Lhero are that escape to create "small is beautiful" oases in the landscape, but it is still always against a background that mitigates against small-ness. - From THE LAND QUESTION by SHIRLEY-ANNE HARDY
Available from author: The Rocks, Pitlochry, Perthshire. Scotland; or: Henry George School, 3410 19th St.. SanKranc i sco, CA 94110 '40 pgs.S?)
Kl'IV I I '!WS K, COMMI'lN'l'S * * *
I'ho Communi t.y i,£jrici Trust Handbook .
"Ceo ism" - the theory and practice of equal freedom to use the earth - is basically .1 vision: more an "ideality" than a "reality." The earth today as in Limes past belongs to those able to take and hold on to iL. The state itself is rooted in land conquest and ownership. Any strategy of land-restoration on a grand scale must include strategies to take power away from the state by such means as tax-resistance, radical decentralisation. and secession.
But such straLegy is long-term and still theoretical. What can be done NOW to take land away from the powers-that-be and the speculative market - to restore it for use, not for abuse or absentee-ownership? Some anarchists and otherwise homeless people are doing this by direct action: by SQUATTING abandoned land and buildings. By exercising DE FACTO occupancy-and-use ownership in opposition to DE JURE or legal ownership. In places like England and Denmark, perhaps due to ancient traditions of common ownership, squatting has been somewhat successful. There is the squatters village of Christiania in Copenhagen, for example, more than a dozen years in existence. In the United States, however, squatting is not as common or successful. Here, "the authorities" are much more willing to use police power to evict squatters - as they evict tenants who have fallen behind in their rent payments, and farmers who have fallen behind in their interest payments. Here, land belongs to money: i.e., taken from those without, and given to those with, money.
Yet there is in the US today a growing movement that IS taking land away from money and the speculative market using a legal tool called the COMMUNITY LAND TRUST (CLT). A CLT is an open association that gets land by gift and purchase, and holds it as a non-profit organization. The CLT retains ownership of the land - or more exactly, trusteeship, since the land is not to be sold again. Instead, the land is leased to those wishing to use (not abuse) it. The leases can be long-term, even for life, and set below "market (speculative) value" - thus providing security of tenure. Ownership of "improvements" upon the land such as buildings are vested in the lessee. The CLT usually reserves the option to buy improvements if the lessee wishes to sell - at prices that exclude any speculative increase in their site value. Absentee-subleasing for a profit can also be abolished within the terms of the lease. Cooperative leasing can be arranged where intensive land-use (e.g., a multi-story house) is wanted. As with single lessees, cooperative lessees become occupant-owners of the building, and occupant-users of the site.
The community land trust is an offspring of the Single Tax Enclaves of the early 20th century. These enclaves, in places like Fairhope in Alabama, Arden in Delaware, and Free Acres in New Jersey, were havens not only of single-taxers, but of other radical types including anarchists. Today's CLT movement was started by Ralph Borsodi, the ardent decentralist writer and doer. Influenced by the old Enclave movement, he launched his own "Flight from the City" during the Great Depression and Second World War. He established the School of Living and worked with Mildred J. Loomis in spreading the idea of land "trusterty. " By the Sixties, those influenced by Borsodi and Loomis (such as Robert Swann, now with the E.F. Schumacher Society) began to organize community land trusts in places like the rural South. Today there is a rapidly growing movement establishing CLTs in both urban and rural areas.
In lha usual way
lha CLC way
you pay RENT
„„, „,u. UPKEEP rani pay»PR0F|T
you at* EVICTED
you OWN A SHARE In your building
Illustration from The Community Land Iru^L Handbook, reproducing material designed to introduce tenants to the basic idea behind the CLT or CLC (Community Land Cooperative). The CLC transforms rent-paying tenants into cooperative owners without the exorbitant down-payment and interest fees usually tied to home-ownership.
Land trusts are set up for various purposes: sometimes to preserve open space and farmland; sometimes to prevent speculators from dispossessing low-income apartment tenants in "gentrifying" urban neighborhoods. Whatever the details, land trusts are used to combat the power of money over land, and to re-establish the ancient maxim that the earth belongs in usufruct to the living.
Compared to political action, such as lobbying for new laws, forming a land trust is a more satisfying way to change society from an anarchist viewpoint: we are not petitioning the state to kindly reform the system - we are transforming it by our own action. And by not turning to state authorities to ask for favors, we remain in a stronger position to oppose their many attacks upon our freedom. We must get our hands dirty to get anything done - but we can choose which dirt to work with: the dirt of the state or the dirt of the earth.
By living as cooperative owners without paying rent to absentee-landowners. we can organize our own social services, and challenge the tax-collecting state as well. By such propaganda of the deed, we may inspire others to question their belief in the state - the belief that one group of people can own the land and collect tribute from the rest that must live and work upon the land.
For those seriously interested in the "nuts L. bolts" of such a peaceful revolution, there is THE COMMUNITY LAND TRUST HANDBOOK published by Rodale Press and available from the Institute for Community Economics, 151 Montague City Road, Greenfield, Massachusetts 01301. It is a hardback with large pages containing many illustrations and "KVERYTHINC you need to know" about CLTs! It costs $14.95 ($17.9b Canadian) but is well
worth the price. The book is divided into throe main sections: "[.and Tenure Problems and I hi; Community land Trust", "Case Studies" (nine ol thorn;, and "A Practical Guide" (on how to sot one up). The Institute also publishes <> quarterly newsletter giving the latest developments
In the CliT world.
Some ol these new developments concern ways to create non-exploiLa-Live financing lor CLTs. Others concern the impact CLTs are starting to have on public policy. To the degree that the CLT movement is successful, it risks boing co-opted by the establishment it challenges. I only hope those within the CLT movement prevent this from happening and maintain their independence from government funding. Otherwise, the suceoss of the CLTs can always be credited to government aid, rather than to Lhe validity and viability of the CLT model itself. When one is up against problems caused by government (monopoly rents &. taxes), it is easy to excuse going Lo government to get something in return.
But on such reasoning is popular support for government founded!
Pierre -Joseph Proudhon (1809-1865) was in many ways a forerunner of today's community land trust movement, along with that for community economics in general (e.g., local currency, worker ownership). In the past few years several books on the French anarchist have been published. PIERRE-JOSEPH PROUDHON: HIS REVOLUTIONARY LIFE, MIND AND WORKS by Edward Hyams was published by Taplinger Publishing Company in New York. It is a 304-page hardback that lists for $17.95 but has already been remaindered at about half the price. Hyams, who died before completing the work, shows enthusiasm for Proudhon's ideas, and tries to relate them to current social issues. While this adds to the book, the reader may not always know when the author is paraphrasing Proudhon or going off on a tangent of his own. To Hyams' credit, he did not let his appreciation blind him to the Frenchman's faults, especially Proudhon's anti-feminism.
PROUDHONIST MATERIALISM & REVOLUTIONARY DOCTRINE by Stephen Condit was one of the last items put out by Cienfuegos Press, Over the Water, Sanday, Orkney KW17 2BL. It is 43 pages of small, tight print. This adds to the headache the reader may feel when trying to make sense of Condit trying to make sense of Proudhon! Condit has succeeded in making Proudhon more obscure than he really is. Too bad, because hidden within the author's labyrinthian critique are some striking attempts to make Proudhonian ideas applicable to the late 20th century.
PROUDHON & HIS BANK OF THE PEOPLE by Charles A. Dana is a classic that has been recently reissued by Charles H. Kerr Publishing Company, P.O. Box 914, Chicago, Illinois 60690. It is a small paperback of about 80 pages that sells for $4.95. This is a reprinting of the original edition published in 1896 by Benj. R. Tucker to discredit Dana "as a diabolical hypocrite" who turned reactionary after his radical youth when he had first written his praise of Proudhon. The book succeeds as an outline of Proudhon's ideas, and gives a brief account of his life. This new edition contains Tucker's original Preface and a brief but excellent Introduction by Paul Avrich, one of today's foremost historians of anarchism.
THE SOUL OF MAN UNDER SOCIALISM by Oscar Wilde has also been published by Kerr. It is a small 62 page paperback that sells for $3.50. This one is a fascimile of the 1911 Max Maisel edition. It also contains two portraits of dear Oscar. The Wilde ideas, combining communism with individualism, aristocratic aestheticism with revolutionary egalitarian-ism, still have the power to reveal the idiocy of accepted "wisdom."
I agree with you that anarchocapita)ism and individualism are not the same thing. My anarchism includes opposition to all power relationships, those of business as much as those of government. Anarchocapi ta1i sts seem to feel that removing the state is all that is needed to make people free, and see capitalism as a fair arrangement between equals. However, I oppose private ownership of land if not used and occupied hy the owner or voluntarily pooled with that of others for more advantageous use, and can't see how capitalism could really function without accumulation of land and/or capital. I also feel that capitalism breeds unfair wage differences, and unless capitalism's power is defied and broken, people can be made wageslaves, even without government. Hopefully, abolition of the state would automatically lead to the collapse of large-scale business, which probably can't survive without the support of the state. I would feel more secure, however, if people made the destruction of capitalist economic relations one of their goals.
1 feel that capitalism and individualist/mutualist economic ideas have nothing in common. Josiah Warren's ideas and experiments were a far cry from capitalism (or socialism). Abolition of the ■oney monopoly and land monopoly would hopefully lead to economic arrangements different from and better than anything so far experienced. I assume people would band together at least part of the time to facilitate production, but it would be important to me that relationships be egalitarian and remuneration similar, though, of course, people have the right to make their own arrangements, as long as I retain my options. But I don't think anarchy would long survive if authoritarian capitalist economic relations persisted.
Just as I view the money collected as taxes as stolen property which folks have the right to repossess, I consider the accumulated wealth of capitalists, monopoly or otherwise, to be stolen property, which workers have a right to.
Besides this, I don't consider the Libertarian Party anarchist in any sense of the word. They are statists who encourage voting and holding office, and are constantly betraying the few principles they used to have. Their anarchocapita1ism consists of opposing minimum wages, while defending private ownership of the means of production. They oppose trade restraints while defending the rights of runaway shops which deprive many workers of their jobs. While I also oppose minimum wage laws (and all laws) and trade restraints, I think workers should have control of their workplace, whoever "owns" it. The LP seems to have no sympathy for the poor and workers while leaping to the defense of business people. This is not to say that they have not taken principled and good positions on some things like abortion rights, immigration, and the draft; on these issues they are certainly on the side of freedom. But this does not an anarchist make.
Some of the people around the LP, or former LPers, like the Voluntaryists and Movement of the Libertarian Left seem to be genuine anarchists, and despite my differences with them on economics I consider them potential allies. But they also have rejected the political involvement of the LP.
Joe Peacott , Boston
...As for differentials in usefulness of land, etc that is something best left to the free market -AUTHORITARIAN system evaluating natural resources will result in worse inequalities through the corruption Besides, there is something to marginal utility as it relates to so-called God-given resources (such as the case where a poor farmer discovers oil under his comparatively barren soil, etc.). As long as the land is IN USE, it should be the lifelong property of the nonabsentee, laboring owner - and, besides, research and technology are finding more and more ways (including organic ones) to improve the fertility of soil, etc. Otherwise, there would be all manner of things to consider in appraisal - including weather conditions of a given geographical locale, so that a global system of controlling the population would be required under anything except "the anarchy of the marketplace." I am not interested in absolute nit-picking equality; I want to end systematic, racist inequality of enormous dimensions in the management of land and natural resources. So let the PURS break down if, as you suggest, it might. In another fifty years we'll just stir up another one - in the tradition of the Old Testament Jubilee, where every half century the tribes of Israel broke up their monopolies and redistributed their land.
Plainly and Sincerely,
Kerry Wendell Thornley
(Ed. note: PURS, or Permanent Universal Rent Strike, was the theme
, I think since any inevi tably of power.
of an article by Kerry in THE STORM! »7)
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I AM AN ANARCHIST! WHEREFORE I WILL NOT RULE, AND ALSO RULED I WILL NOT BE! -Mackay
* * *
I applaud your clear thinking on the subject of human rights. It may interest you to know that one can arrive at the same conclusion as you, but by a very different process of thinking (or imagining). This process is based in certain aspects of what is usually called esotericism, in particular elements of Advaita vedanta, sufism and Ismaili ("Assassin") metaphysics - but it has nothing to to do with "religion."
Axiom: The oneness of being. (The ontological structure of reality is non-dual.)
Corollary: Being-consciousness-bliss. (The "point" of being, or perhaps the "purpose of life," is the cultivation of the perfection of consciousness in bliss.)
The individual self is already, by its very nature and "from the beginning," totally free. Consciousness in and of itself is already rea1i zed.
But the self does not yet know its own freedom. It remains unheeded in a web of false selves - a sleepwalker who imagines himself to be a slave. The only purpose of the "path" is to turn false consciousness into realized consciousness - i.e., consciousness of the self's freedom. There is no "master" but the realized self. No law but the imperative of freedom.
There are no limitations to this freedom. Even if one gives up freedom, one does so freely (as in love, for example). Every individual self is a perfect manifestation of the oneness of being -so how can anyone define or delimit the self? The free self asks no one, no god or state or outside force, to confer or validate its "rights." According to the power of one's imagination and will, one creates these "rights" simply by living without false consciousness.
Much of human culture and society is a crystallization or coagulation of false consciousness, and since that is so one must struggle for freedom (for realized consciousness) against a tremendous and oppressive force. This struggle seems never-ending; ■oreoever, "realized consciousness" itself is perhaps an eternal quest, inevitably interrupted by death. Nevertheless, in THIS time and THIS place, one may BE free. Or two may be free. Or even more - perhaps whole groups, even whole societies. Certainly there is nothing else worth striving for.
That in a very small nutshell - is my perspective on "Rights." The end result, I think, is very close to your position -only I got there via the drowsy Orient, and you by 19th century mad bomb-throwers and pamphleteers. Anarachists. Autarchs. Devotees of chaos (Hun Tun, the god of crazy Chinese Taoist hobos.)
The Assassins conquered a mountain fortress called Alamut and turned it into a miniature garden-paradise where this brand of "mystical anarchism" was practised, and where the spirit of science and philosophy was kept alive against the Mongol tide, and Islamic bigotry. Those who did not agree with the Assassins were either bribed - or assassinated.
The modern world makes such tactics impractical (although certain catastrophic future developments, such as the Survivalists envision, might re-create a world where an Alamut could exist). Perhaps the only practical thing to do (in the way of ACTION) is to convince people they're free. By love, by beauty, by propaganda of the deed.
LETTER ANNOUNCING FREENETWORK SEARCH FOR FREEPERSONS
I am very keen to establish contact with other freepersons, with a view to exchanging ideas, cooperating on pleasurable/profitable activities, and establishing a FREENETWORK. By freeperson I mean someone who has discovered or decided that he or she is free. Some people naturally discover that they are free. Others are inspired by authors like: Ayn Rand ("Atlas Shrugged"), F.A. Hayek ("The Constitution of Liberty"), Nathaniel Branden ("The Psychology of Self-Esteem"), Robert Ringer ("Restoring The American Dream"), Peter Breggin ("The Psychology of Freedom"), Milton Friedman ("Free to Choose"), Rose Wilder Lane ("The Discovery of Freedom"), Harry Browne ("How I Found Freedom In An Unfree World"), Frank R. Wallace ("Neo-Tech"), Murray Rothbard ("For A New Liberty"), John Henry Mackay ("The Freedomseeker"), Sara Konkin III ("The New Libertarian Manifesto"), Erich Fromm ("The Fear of Freedom"), and Robert Heinlein ("Revolt In 2100"). In the words of Harry Browne:
"Whether or not you accept it, you are sovereign. You rule one life - and you rule it totally. You decide which information you will accept or reject. You decide what your next action will be. You decide what moral code you'll live by...Freedom is living your life as you want to live it. And you can do that by choosing to do so. You can be free... to be free you have only to make the decision to be free. Freedom is waiting for you - anytime you're ready for it." By FREENETWORK I mean some system that enables freepersons to contact one another. Basic principles of a freeperson: (1) I am free; (2) I am sovereign and responsible; (3) I run my own life; (4) I want others to enjoy the same freedom. If you are a freeperson (or would like to be one), and interested in the FREENETWORK, please let me know. If you know of anyone else who might be interested, please tell them about the FREENETWORK.
One of the aims of the FREENETWORK could be to address the question: What can be done to assist others to discover/decide that they are free? A second aim might be to address the question: What knowledge and skills can be communicated and learned, to enjoy your freedom more?
Contact: Andre Spies with your suggestions at:
Telex: 21710 Belgium.
FREENETWORK P.O. Box 149, 81930 Zaventem 1, Belg ium
NOTE: Since we received this letter, many have responded to Andre's invitation, and the FREENETWORK has been established. We hope to have a follow-up report in the next issue of THE STORM!
Be seeing you!
- Whatever he did and however he lived, he would know thit, u longu he did not interfere with anyone ebe, as long u he did not encroach upon the rights of anyone else, he would be able to live with himself and for himself. For him the laws of others had been replaced by one law only - the law of equal Freedom.
John Henry Mackay - THE FREEDOMSEEKER
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BEYOND PEARL HARBOR: Some Historical Consequences of the Pacific Crisis 1941, by James J. Martin. 122 pages. $10 to PLOWSHARE PRESS, R.R.I, Little Current, Ontario, POP 1K0 Canada.
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1 See Paul Avr ch. The Modern School fov ment: Anarchism and Education in the United States. 1980 Pr nc3t n Ur ^rsity Press, esp. page 262.
2 The Ego and His Own, by Max Stirner, 1963 Libertarian Book Club, New York, pages 249-250.
3 resources, including laid, are not produced by human effort* so their ownership remains unanswered.
4 Strictly, it Is Incorrect to call possession ownership. The word is used to convey the idea that security in possession may be attained without sbso-lute ownership.