The Land Question
[The Editor's Preface to the booklet, Land and
Real Tariff Reform,
published in London by The Clarion Press, 1909]
It is being increasingly recognised by serious students of social
politics that a right solution of the Land Question is absolutely
necessary before other social problems can be satisfactorily settled.
Hence the importance that is attached to the attempt, half-hearted
though it be, to face the question in the Finance Bill of 1909. This
importance is emphasised by the bitter opposition which its modest
proposals have evoked from the privileged classes and from their
spokesmen in press and parliament.
Bearing in mind the serious issues involved in the struggle of
enlightened democracy against entrenched privilege, those who join
battle on the fundamental question of the equal right of all men to
the use of the earth must be prepared, not merely to defend modest
proposals, but boldly to take the offensive with just claims, and also
to organise the power to enforce them. For "it's war we're in,
not politics," and surely, never was war more righteous.
In issuing this reference book therefore, I have endeavoured, first,
to state the cast, historically and ethically, for a gradual revision
of the national systems of land-holding and of taxation, and then to
marshal the forces that, united, must eventually succeed in
establishing the principle that the earth belongs: in equity to all,
and in restoring to the people their long-lost birthright.
From all who can in any way help in this work I shall be glad to
hear. I shall be grateful also, to all who will help to spread the
principles herein outlined, or who will increase the usefulness and
influence of future editions. Sympathisers with radical land reform
are urged to join such of the National Land Societies, or their local
branches, the methods of which most appeal to them.
Who are the outstanding, practical, out-and-out land reformers in
this country to-day? Would it not lie possible to form, from these
thoroughgoing individuals, an inner Cabinet which would discuss
essential points, decide on ways and means of action, and generally
help to keep the movement on correct and most effective lines? I
should welcome suggestions and offers of help.
In the next issue I hope to deal fully with the various objections
urged against radical Land and Taxation reform, and I earnestly invite
material and co-operation in the task.
Offers to spread the sale of this first issue will be gladly
received, and terms for quantities will be sent on application. I
heartily invite, for notice, copies of the entire literature of the
Land and Taxation reform movements, especially from all parts of the
English-speaking world. Facts, corrections and additions will be
welcomed as early as possible.
I trust the reception given to this first number may be sufficiently
encouraging to enable me to publish further issues. The subject dealt
with is so far-reaching and important as to justify, with adequate
support, a yearly issue, each separate volume dealing with fresh
arguments and new aspects of the problem.