Henry George versus Henry George


Words, words, words!

Zounds! I was never so bethump’d with words,
Since I first call’d my brother’s father, dad.
King John.


  1. Chapter I – The Case Stated
  2. Chapter II – The Direct Source of Wages.
  3. Chapter III – The Whale-Ship and the Cider-Barrel
  4. Chapter IV – The Malthusian Dragon and the New St. George
  5. Chapter V – Wages, Interest and Profits
  6. Chapter VI – Odds and Ends
  7. Chapter VII – Malthus again
  8. Chapter VIII – Reflections
  9. Chapter IX – Divers Instances
  10. Chapter X – Wealth, Poverty, Rent
  11. Chapter XI – Ownership
  12. Chapter XII – Juxtapositions
  13. Chapter XIII – Equality and Progress
  14. Chapter XIV – A Boomerang
    and a Resume


Excepting a few pages, the following chapters were written five years ago, in the conviction that the reception (which “The Washington Critic” truly says has “something phenomenal”) given to Mr. George’s book, “Progress and Poverty,” by the press, and the recognition accorded to him, (as a modern Moses, come to lead the people out of the Egypt of poverty,) by men whose position, rather than any special qualification, gave weight to their express or implied endorsement of his theories—that this reception and recognition had made a work, singularly crude and inadequate in itself, potent for immeasurable mischief. The fact that this conviction was not acquiesced in by others; the hope (against judgment) that it might not be well founded, partially reconciled the writer to the circumstances which prevented their publication. But, since later developments have more than confirmed the first impression, and since, if there ever were justification for their publication, it is certainly still valid, they are now offered to the public.

Appreciating the difficulty of reaching the average mind by arguments based upon the principles of a science so little studied, and less understood, as that of Political Economy, it was felt that the best way to dispose of Mr. George, was to let Mr. George dispose of himself. It required but a careful reading of his book to discover that this was not a difficult thing to do. For it abounds in contradictions, and no parts of it are in more pronounced antagonism than his fundamental principles. In treating his work, it is no part of the purpose to deny his “facts,” or refute his theories, for all that he does himself; and it is only necessary to bring remote utterances into relations of comparison, to show, that all he builds up at one time, he pulls down at another. And the clearest conclusion of all is, that the practical result—the inevitable consequence—of his leading propositions and favorite maxims, would be that very poverty he so vividly depicts, so pathetically deprecates and seeks to “abolish”: to abolish by methods which lead directly to violence and revolution; revolution without alteration of the nature of man, or the conditions of the struggle for existence, or abolition of that disparity of gifts and powers which set up and perpetuate inequality in all the affairs and conditions of life.

Equality is a dream that can never be realized. And it is as undesirable as it is impossible. All variety is but a kind of inequality. It is the ground of contrast, the prime condition of individuality. There must always be great and small, rich and poor, strong and weak.

To prevent the abuse of power, to bring all more and more under the dominion of love and justice, is the mission of the philanthropist and reformer.

“It is excellent
To have a giant’s strength; but it is tyrannous
To use it like a giant.