The Road to Freedom

And what lies Beyond
by Josiah & Ethel Wedgwood (1913)

It is the purpose of this book to show that modern civilisation is built upon slave labour; that land monopoly is the cause of this slave labour; that when the land is freed, slave labour must cease, and with it so-called civilisation; and that if the unreal civilisation be thus ended, the real will have a chance to begin, and true development take the place of spurious progress.


THERE come times to men and communities when they are impelled to look into themselves and examine the basis of their whole existence and the truth of their most unquestioned o axioms—when they are driven back and back behind the assorted maxims which have served them as a political or religious creed, to hunt out in its lurking-place that first principle to which they cannot but assent and by which all the rest stand or fall.

The men of action are driven to the examination empirically, by the logic of facts, because experience shows them that the approved methods are useless; and others by that mental honesty, which like a gadfly urges philosophers along the lonely path of reasoning.

Such a time came to religious thought towards the end of last century; it is being followed now by a similar crisis in our political and social thought. Reforms once cherished have so failed in practice to remedy even superficial evils; the methods of reform involve so much that is uncertain or contrary to a deeper sense of right; the aims of reformers are often so insufficient and questionable, that society is being forced at last to ask itself what it really believes and really wants. The inquiry is an unpleasant one; and many, when they are brought face to face with it, shrink back (like many religious free-thinkers) and prefer to wander in a limbo of hazy aspiration and vague sympathies. Those who go forward, bent on getting an answer to their own questioning, embark on a perilous voyage, for there are numberless possibilities of shipwreck, and no pilot save the internal one; but if they push on, undismayed by the bogeys of this world or any other, they reach at last—not absolute truth—but some firm land where their mind can be in unison with itself.

Independent thought has been made easier for the most timid of us by the great original thinkers of the last fifty years, who have shown the way and borne the brunt of the hostility that departure from tradition often arouses. Giants like Leo Tolstoy, Henry George, Pierre Kropotkin, and others whose names are little known, have made free thought on social matters possible to our generation. The only service that men of smaller stature can hope to render is to clear away still more of the mental and material rubbish that obstructs the road to a true civilisation.

We have tried to express in this book our personal answer to the question: “What’s wrong with the world?” Our thanks are due to all our argumentative friends, who by their disputations have helped us to form and to clarify our own opinions. We also offer our sincere thanks to the Editor of The Open Road, in which most of these chapters were first published.

The Authors.
11th November 1912.

I. Where The Road Leads
II On Free and Forced Exchange
III On Social Reform
IV The Strengthening of Government
V The Roots of Slavery
VI On Land and Capital
VII Various Theories about Land Reform
VIII Marginal Land and Economic Rent
IX The Single Tax as a Method of Destroying Land Monopoly
X The Next Revolution
XI The Steps of the Change
XII What it would Mean
Last Chapter What Lies Beyond
Further Reading 115

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