|Wealth and Want|
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Egypt was the mould of the Hebrew nation – the matrix, so to speak, in which a single family, or, at most, a small tribe grew to a people as numerous as the American people at the time of the Declaration of Independence. ...
It is not remarkable, therefore, that the ancient Hebrew institutions show in so many points the influence of Egyptian ideas and customs. What is remarkable is the dissimilarity. ...
For "institutions make men." And when amid a people used to institutions of one kind, we see suddenly arise institutions of an opposite kind, we know that behind them must be that active, that initiative force – the "men who in the beginnings make institutions."
This is what occurs in the Exodus. The striking differences between Egyptian and Hebrew polity are not of form, but of essence. The tendency of the one is to subordination and oppression; of the other to individual freedom. Strangest of recorded births! From out of the strongest and most splendid despotism of antiquity comes the freest republic. From between the paws of the rock-hewn Sphinx rises the genius of human liberty, and the trumpets of the Exodus throb with the defiant proclamation of the rights of humanity.
Consider what Egypt was. See the grandeur of her monuments; those very monuments – that after the lapse, not of centuries but of millenniums, seem to say to us, as the Egyptian priests said to the boastful Greeks: "Ye are children!" – testify to the enslavement of the people, and are the enduring witnesses of a social organisation that rested on the masses an immovable weight. That narrow Nile valley, the cradle of the arts and sciences, the scene, perhaps, of the greatest triumphs of the human mind, is also the scene of its most abject enslavement. In the long centuries of its splendour, its lord, secure in the possession of irresistible temporal power, and securer still in the awful sanctions of a mystical religion, was as a god on earth, to cover whose poor carcass with a tomb befitting his state hundreds of thousands toiled away their lives.
For the classes who came next to him were those who enjoyed all the sensuous delights of a most luxurious civilisation, and high intellectual pleasures which the mysteries of the temple hid from vulgar profanation. But for the millions who constituted the base of the social pyramid there was but the lash to stimulate their toil, and the worship of beasts to satisfy the yearnings of the soul. From time immemorial to the present day the lot of the Egyptian peasants has been to work and to starve so that those above them might live daintily. ...
The outlines that the record gives us of the character of Moses – the brief relations that wherever the Hebrew scriptures are read have hung the chambers of the imagination with vivid pictures – are in every way consistent with this idea. What we know of the life illustrates what we know of the work. What we know of the work illumines the life.
It was not an empire such as had reached full development in Egypt, or existed in rudimentary patriarchal form in the tribes around, that Moses aimed to found. Nor was it a republic where the freedom of the citizen rested on the servitude of the helot, and the individual was sacrificed to the state.
It was a commonwealth based upon the individual – a commonwealth whose ideal it was that every man should sit under his own vine and fig tree, with none to vex him or make him afraid. It was a commonwealth:
It is not the protection of property, but the protection of humanity, that is the aim of the Mosaic code. Its sanctions are not directed to securing the strong in heaping up wealth as much as to preventing the weak from being crowded to the wall. At every point it interposes its barriers to the selfish greed that, if left unchecked, will surely differentiate men into landlord and serf, capitalist and working person, millionaire and tramp, ruler and ruled.
Everywhere, in everything, the dominant idea is that of our homely phrase: "Live and let live!" ... read the whole speech
Henry George: The Land for the People (1889 speech)
... WHAT I ask you here tonight is as far as you can to join in this general movement and push on the cause. It is not a local matter, it is a worldwide matter. It is not a matter than interests merely the people of Ireland, the people of England and Scotland or of any other country in particular, but it is a matter that interests the whole world. What we are battling for is the freedom of mankind; what we are struggling for is for the abolition of that industrial slavery which as mud enslaves men as did chattel slavery. It will not take the sword to win it. There is a power far stronger than the sword and that is the power of public opinion. When the masses of men know what hurts them and how it can be cured when they know what to demand, and to make their demand heard and felt, they will have it and no power on earth can prevent them What enslaves men everywhere is ignorance and prejudice.
If we were to go to that island that we imagined, and if you were fools enough to admit that the land belonged to me, I would be your master, and you would be my slaves just as thoroughly, just as completely, as if I owned your bodies, for all I would have to do to send you out of existence would be to say to you "get off my property." That is the cause of the industrial slavery that exists all over the world, that is the cause of the low wages, that is the cause of the unemployed labor. Read the whole speech
Henry George: The Great Debate: Single Tax vs Social Democracy (1889)
The interests of the people are always in freedom. (Applause.) Let the people have their natural rights; let them stand on an equal plane with regard to the opportunities of nature, and then they will have a full, fair, and free field. (Cheers.) Then if one is more active, more industrious, more enterprising than another, then in God’s name let them go ahead.
The notion of reducing everyone to one level is a preposterous notion; it is the notion of ancient Egypt, not of the 19th century. This is the watchword: freedom, freedom, always freedom. To each the fullest opportunity to develop his own powers; to all that which belongs to all – that which God above has given to all equally – that which the community, as distinguished from the individual, produces. That is the doctrine of the Single Tax. (Great applause.) ... Read the entire article
Louis Post: Outlines of Louis F. Post's Lectures, with Illustrative Notes and Charts (1894) — Appendix: FAQ
Judge Samuel Seabury: An Address delivered upon the 100th anniversary of the birth of Henry George
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Wealth and Want
... because democracy alone hasn't yet led to a society in which all can prosper