MR. CHAMBERLAIN AND MR. HENRY GEORGE.
New Zealand Tablet, Rōrahi XII, Putanga 48, 20 Poutūterangi 1885, Page 7
MR. CHAMBERLAIN AND MR. HENRY GEORGE.
Mb. Henby Geobge, in the course of an interview with a representative of the Pall Mall Gazette, was asked-—
" How do you regard Mr. Chamberlain's latest speech ? Do you agree with the Time* that • it was apparently something of the same kind as Land Nationalisation that he advocated, with judicious vagueness?'" " It seems to me," he answered, " about as clear a declaration of true principles with regard to the land as a Liberal politician and Cabinet Minister could just now be expected to make, and will, I should say, much strengthen Mr. Chamberlain's position with the new forces which are soon to revolutionise English politics. Translated into plain English, I take it to be, the land belongs of natural right to the whole people, but that, as it would be impossible to equally divide land, it should be left in form to private owners, while the people takp the rent. When Mr. Chamberlain says that in the origin of things men were born with certain natwal rights he, of course implies that they are born to-day with the same rights. When he says that these rights have passed away, he of course does not mean that they have ceased to exist, but that they have been ignored. This speech is to me evidence of Mr. Chamberlain's political sagacity. He has stepped forward at the right time. Mr. Chamberlain seems
everywhere regarded as the man who is to lead the great Democratic party which is to spring into the political arena as soon as Mr. U-ladsone retires, and his strength seems to have been the belief that he was far more radical than he had yet seemed, and was only waiting opportunity. To delay moving forward now that the suffrage has been extended, and distribution is well nigh settled, would be I°. 108( 3 that confidence which is a political leader's greatest strength. What bas most impressed me during my recent trip is how much in advance of their leaders are the Radical rank and file. For the earnest, active men Mr. Chamberlain cannot go too fast or too far, and the more moderate who are disposed to wait for the word of command will be swept along by the current whenever that is given, what is called the Liberal organisation seems to me up to this time to have been largely a machine for repressing Radical sentiment." Mr. George elaborated his view on the question of compensation to landlords as follows—" The oaly ground in my opinion on which any claim to compensation could be based is that of ignorance and surprise. The man who purchased fifty years ago might urge that he had never heard of the right of the people to the land ; but how could a man who purchased yesterday ? Why. when you passed such a measure, unless you made it retro-active, you would find that all the land in the three kingdoms had been purchased yesterday. If any discrimination is to be made between those who buy and those who inherit land it should be in favour of the latter, since purchase is an act of deliberate volition, 1 but inheritance isnraot. But it is needless to talk of compensation. To my knowledge man after man who a year ago was in favour of compensation scouts it now. To be sure all English precedents are for the compensation of the ruling class. Scotch lairds were compensated when the privilege of hanging their fellow-countrymen was taken away from them. Irish lords were paid the capitalised market value of their rotten boroughs when the Irish Parliament was abolished, and underfed British workmen were taxed to make up to West Indian planters the value of their human chattels, while no sinecure could be abolished nor an hereditary pension be got rid of without compensation. But that day has passed. Not only is the * Schoolmaster Abroad,' but political power has passed out of the hands of the privileged classes, who have been so ready to compensate each other at the expense of the people." " You do not regard the capitalists as ' greater robbers ' than the landowners."
" A capitalist may or may not be a robber, As things go at present many of them are, for as society is at present base I it i 3 very much 'rob or be robbed.' Many things are commonly spoken of as capital which are not capital at all, but capital itself is an aid to labour, not an injury. It is not capital which forces down wages, but the monopoly of the land, which compels men who have been deprived of the natural means of employing themselves to compete with each other under the pressure of starvation." " What is your attitude in regaid to the nationalisation of capital ? " 11 In so far as by the nationalisation of capital is meant the undertaking by the State of businesses that are in their nature monopolies, such as the telegraph, railway, &c, and assuming functions that are in their nature co-operative, I am in favour of it as far as practicable. But to go further than this would be to strike at the springs of individual well-being and national wealth. Instead of repressing enterprise and discouraging thrift, our effort should be to encourage everyone to produce and accumulate all he can by removing all obstructions and sacredlyjguarding the rights of property."