Henry George in the British Isles

Henry George in the British Isles

Henry George in the British Isles

Henry George in the British Isles

Excerpt

ONLY THOSE ENGLISHMEN WITH LONG MEMORIES OR THE SMALL band still devoted to the single tax would greet the name of Henry George or his book, Progress and Poverty , with more than a blank stare.

Yet in the mid-1880's George and his doctrines swept excitedly through Great Britain. Even if his influence were limited to the 1880's when, on five separate visits, he carried his message from Plymouth to the Isle of Skye, George would deserve a place of honor in British political history. But more than that, from 1889 on, his land-tax proposals were an essential part of practical British politics, and became major planks in the Liberal and Labour parties' platforms. It was not until 1934, when Snowden's land tax was repealed, that George's doctrines ceased to trouble conservative landowners.

Henry George, not Karl Marx, was the true catalyst of Britain's insurgent proletariat. The Webbs handsomely acknowledged his influence. They credited the rise of the Socialist Party to supremacy in the Trades Union Congress of 1893 to "the wide circulation in Britain of Henry George Progress and Poverty ." The "optimistic and aggressive tone" of Progress and Poverty , according to the Webbs, and the popularization of George's theory of rent, "sounded the dominant note alike of the new unionism and of the British Socialist movement." The British working-class movement ceased to be quietistic and took on vigorous life with the coming of George and the recognition of him as someone with something vital to say.

Little in George's early career forecast his ultimate role in British thought. He was born in Philadelphia, September 2, 1839 . . .

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