Page:Instead of a Book, Tucker.djvu/347

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331
Land and rent.

ment as this. The community, or combination of individuals, has this strength. Its only superiority to the single individual, then, in relation to the land, consists in the right of the strongest,—a perfectly valid right, I admit, but one which, if exercised, leads to serious results. If the community proposes to exercise its right, of the strongest, why stop with the collection of economic rent? Why not make the individual its slave outright? Why not strip him of everything but the bare necessities of life? Why recognize him at all, in any way, except as a tool to be used in the interest of the community? In a word, why not do precisely what capitalism is doing now, or else what State Socialism proposes to do when it gets control of affairs? But if the community does not propose to go to this extreme; if it proposes to recognize the individual and treat with him,—then it must forego entirely its right of the strongest, and be ready to contract on a basis of equality of rights, by which the individual's title to the land he uses and to what he gets out of it shall be held valid as against the world. Then, if the individual consents to pool his rent with others, well and good; but, if not—why, then, he must be left alone. And it will not do for the community to turn upon him and demand the economic rent of his land as compensation for the "protection" which it affords him in thus letting him alone. As well might the burglar say to the householder: "Here, I can, if I choose, enter your house one of these fine nights and carry off your valuables; I therefore demand that. you immediately hand them over to me as compensation for the sacrifice which I make and the protection which I afford you in not doing so."

(7) Precisely as difficult as it would be to show that the man of superior skill (native, not acquired) who produces in the ratio of five hundred to another's three hundred is equitably entitled to this surplus exchange value. There is no more reason why we should pool the results of our lands than the results of our hands. And to compel such pooling is as meddlesome and tyrannical in one case as in the other. That school of Socialistic economists which carries Henry George's idea to its conclusions, confiscating not only rent but interest and profit and equalizing wages,—a school of which G. Bernard Shaw may be taken as a typical representative,—is more logical than the school to which Mr. George and Egoist belong, because it completes the application of the tyrannical principle.

(8) Here again we have the assumption of the community's superior title to the land.