The Only Way to Beat Trumpism

by Jonathan Hall

The Trump resistance is not wrong to feel that this threat is the most dire since Nazis rolled across Europe. They see Trump taking us down the same supremacist path — and now, with climate destruction and thousands of nuclear weapons, the lesson cost would be so much greater. Why is Trumpism so dangerous? Because it is a war against truth itself. Every failed democracy first lost its way from the truth. Continue reading

A Story that Needs Telling

by Jonathan Hall

Like many Georgists, I know that the ‘lift off” is going to include a dramatic work that puts a face to the wrong that is resource privilege. But few have a skill set that includes both insight into economic life and compelling storytelling. Yet this is still a “must do” avenue for the movement. I saw something today that was dramatic and could help.

It was from a piece of fiction, but very real, almost even a cliché. There was a giant movie project that involved hundreds of lives, and it could not go forward because the son of the financier was jealous of the lead’s girlfriend.

Corny? Sure — but this is what rent does: it gives great power to people who haven’t earned it, and that power gets abused for the pettiest of reasons. Just about every class-conscious piece of fiction exposes the decadence of the privileged class as it rains collateral damage on the serfs that make it all work.

We have an almost comic example of this, writ large, running around the country pretending to be worthy of the White House. A man whose father left him $200 million in real estate — had he not, we’d never have heard of him. And his support seems to come from nothing other than a) he hates the “bad” people; b) he’s very, very rich. It’s a rent cult!

Here in Kern County, California, I’ve seen some of the nation’s most profound poverty, and the culture of “faith” dependency. I was stuck looking at the wrong end of the story. How hard people try to make their business work, but they just cannot stay ahead of the rent payments! Landed privilege forces people to bust, even when there is 50% plus commercial vacancy.

We need a Great American Story that ties these two ends together. This country is aching for a tale of decadence and revolution: something more organic, more human, than vampires of Jupiter Ascending, or the faceless aristocracy of Hunger Games.

Beware the “Not So” Georgists

by Jonathan Hall

A major thing that confuses people about Georgism is that it transcends the confused mind sets of “evil state” or “good state.” Either side of that great false dichotomy is fascinated with its own spurious assumptions — and thus they both do great damage to the simple concept of peace, but in different ways.

The right thinks that private property in land is the bastion of freedom which can only be threatened by the monstrous state. But they cannot face the hypocrisy that both the landlord and the state seize, exclude, legislate and confiscate. The only standing answer to this is the poor one supplied by the left. The right seeks to destroy the left, as an ugly man might try and destroy his ugly shadow. The left then rests its case, not on any principle at all, but merely a recognition that something is wrong — which can be fixed with some good old fashioned seizing, or “virtuous taxation.”

The left say they are “here to help” — which means they are here to take control of allocation decisions: a finger in every pie, a piece of every action.

When people from the right come into Georgism, they are immediately confronted with the landlord/state hypocrisy and if they think things through, they fold on their faulty assumptions about the state being the only evil — which brings them pretty close to the Georgist truth.

One of the great successes of the Koch family assault on libertarianism is the cultivation of paranoid cranks, helping them pretend that they are the guardians of liberty. The most powerful supremacist conversion is the one that takes the energy of alienation and self-loathing and turns it into dogmatic hate. The mob thus formed is impervious to influence or reason — ready to obey political monsters.

People from the left have no core belief to give up, so no great conversion can happen there. They tend to incorporate or adapt Georgism into the mishmash of beliefs they already hold. But Georgism doesn’t really adapt; it’s just a set of associated tautologies on the meaning of freedom, and an optional but effective solution to the act of forced exclusion. Tautologies don’t bend, don’t adapt. And so, while the adapting lefty might give a wave and toss a kiss at the concept of individual freedom, they just aren’t into that. Its not their motivating assumption. And what’s worse, the right has been throwing “individual freedom” at them for years. Having never bothered to unearth the base hypocrisy of the right, the left has instead learned to ignore or even revile the concept of individual liberty.

This creates a cottage industry of ways to assail the individual via the false gods. Priorities that abandon sense: “Social contract,” “Democracy,” “Christian Charity,” “decent society,” “human dignity,” blah blah blah. These are just dressings put on the fallacious appeal to authority, to cover their particular version of utilitarianism.

The ultimate goal of the left is not to cure social problems, but to hold force. In that way the right and the left are identical. Full circle back to thieves of different colors. The right are the thieves of pre-production (land), and the left are the thieves of post-production (wealth).

This means that left versions of Georgism can’t quite give up on the sticky fingers. All this land rent becomes the manna from heaven for the CD or the BIG. (Basic Income Guarantee, a slogan worthy of Madison Ave.) Then LVT becomes a means for redistribution instead of the direct and limited reaction to the exclusion. That’s not Georgism: it’s just a raid on the recovered externality.

People, in our search for better ways to use the earth, have recognized that some decisions on the use of the commons of freedom are best not made in common. And so exclusive use is granted in that end. But this simple pragmatic act has been conflated with property in created goods, and used to excuse and perpetrate all kinds of attacks on freedom. Georgism denies that the left and right are opposites, exposing their separate hypocrisies to reveal how they are the same.

In its purest form Georgism is used to undo aggression. This sets it fundamentally apart from the agendas of the right or the left. It sets a different course that contradicts both by making only appeals to peace and the justice of freedom and equality. Instead of aggression and counter-aggression, Georgism is the way of peace.