tv Discussion on Henry George Labor and the Gilded Age CSPAN August 3, 2016 9:38pm-10:59pm EDT
. >> all men are created equal and government are instituted among men to secure these rights and government derive their just power from the consent of the governed. william jennings bryan is one of nebraska's most famous and prominent politicians. he's most famous for the fact that he was nominated three times by a major party, the democratic party but he lost the election all three times. >> they moved to lincoln in 1887, bryan was a lawyer in central illinois, he went into kansas to collect some debts and collection of law practice. he said he's going to stop to
visit an old law school of mind he saw weak democratic party so he saw some opportunities there. he started the construction of this will house in 1901. he and mary would drive way out of the country on a buggy. they fell in of of the house so they bought acres to build this house. construction were finished in 1903. it is 11,000 square feet. mrs. bryan's budget was $10,000.
it is a beautiful house. the main level of the home is used for entertaining and political events and receptions. they would host a number of world leaders -- world leaders would come here and all kinds of political leaders and the most prominent being woodrow wilson coming out here when he's trying to give bryan support in the 1912 convention. there were a lot of people international and national leaders would come and stop by to see bryan in this home. right now we are in the lower level is the main activity where the family took place. we are in the office area right now. that's where bryan and mary had their office and did their work and she was a very active partner in his career. very accomplished lady, valedictorian of her college dallas and got a law degree here at the university of nebraska.
studied german so she could read the european newspapers to see what they were staying about bryan. she was a very active in his political career. this desk is a replica of the desk that was in his study. you can see the two chairs, bryan used to sat in one chair and mary sat the other. reflected the team of his political career. there is as couple of telephones over there that i would point out, at the time there were two independent telephone company in lincoln. if you just subscribe to one, you could not talk to somebody that just subscribe to the other. they had to subscribe to both. here ace political newsletter they published close to 20 years which was similar to the
national review. had a huge circulation of the country and probably greater than any of those magazine that i mentioned. he got a chance to tell his political view in that circulation. he's famous for being one of the greatest of the country of the time. he's the most famous by far of the speech he gave in the 1896 democratic convention. famous across the gold speech which really turned that nomination over to him. [ inaudible ] >> we cannot have the nation to help us.
we. >> reporter: if they dare to come out in the open field and defend the gold standard, we'll fight them, having behind us the producing master of this nation and the world, supported by the commercial interests and laborerilabore laboring interest and the parlor everywhere. we'll answer demands for the gold standard by saying to them, you shall not press down from the crown of labor. you shall not crucify mankind up on a pot of gold. >> bryan had this huge voice that you can hear all over the hall. in those days of course, there were not microphones and loud speakers or etcetera, he was in a huge hall and most speakers could not be heard by a lot of people. bryan had this booming voice so they could hear him and he gave
this arousing speech of the final line. again, it was the main issue in that election was monetary policy and whether we stay on the gold standard or add silver to the money supply. and, after he made that speech, people got so excited, they carried him out on their shoulder and he was nominated as a nominee at the age of 36. the impact that bryan had is have few people realized the impact he had on policy in general. because when he came onto the scene, the democratic party was the more conservative party. bryan was very much a liberal in his politics and liberal in his politics and he turned the party
on his head and never gone back. he was the predecessor to franklin roosevelt and new deal and president johnson's great society and the wall street journal did a feature article comparing obama to bryan but of the redistribution fiphilosophyf government. our profile continues on thursday night with a look of leaders and social party candidates eugene debs. he ran for office in the 28 century. >> that's at 8:00 eastern time here on c-span 3. coming up next, author edward o' donnel talks about the economic in equality known as the gilded
age. a reformer took up the fight o against the separation of classes on behalf of the labor movement. the gotham center for new york city history hosted this hour and twenty minute event. >> thank you very much and thank you suzanne and thank you to the gotham center. i know some of you came out tonight, i know some of you are saying republican debate or henry george. hopefully, you will be glad that you did. it is great to come back to gotham center. i have done many talks and people i worked with. i finally get to talk about this henry george book. let me jump right in by showing you a photo and getting personally here. that's me when i started this book.
and you may can see that i don't look quite that young anymore. a little hairier and all. the funny thing is just after i decided to write this book when i was in graduate school. hey, the henry george tree in central park and i said no, i did not no that. about five days later, it is 840 acres, it is bigger than monaco. i reached down to tie my shoe and there i tied my shoes next to the henry's george tree. this was a cosmic science of some sort, i am on the right track and i better do it. and we actually happen to have a camera with us, too which was kind of funny. i have been working on this for so long and one of my daughters is now 25, she used to ask me when are you going to finish that or have you finished your book on "curious george." i will not tell you the details,
life is what happens when you make firm plans. my first book is now out as my fourth book and it is thrilling to have it out and it is also in a strange way is a better time for it to come out. i would not have planned it this way. it is a better time for it to come out because of the real vent relevant -- and of the problems that's dogging our society right now. history repeats itself. mark twain had it right. history does not repeat itself but it rhymes. there is an echo and there is a rhyme and a reflection of that earlier period. you can see this in literature. you can look at the titles of this book and of the title or subtit subtitle. asking this question about are
we in the second gilded age and what does it mean? it is a depressing thought to think that we are back in the guiilded age. another reason and another way i would like to talk about henry george of this figure of the 19 century and making connection in the presence is another of ways that he is the tomas piketty of the late 19 century. they sold 500,000 copies. i think they would have been psyched if they sold 50,000. he's essentially arguing the same point that henry george did which is extreme and enquality wealth can be -- there is a lot to worry about when it comes to in equality. it is not just some people having a lot of stuff and other
people have less stuff. it is very large implications for our society. lets begin and talk about who this henry george was. he was born in 1839 to a lower middle class family. his father was a manufacture, book sales man. a lot of people think because he wrote his famous book on "poverty" that he grown up in poverty. he experienced that in his middle years, final extreme. he left school at 7th grade and his parents got fed up with it. his father steered him in the trade where he would learn the craft of typesetting. george flourished as a typesetter but he was ambitious. in the mid 1850s, he headed out to california. he's an ambitious guy.
he had this idea he's destined for something great. once he got out of california, he tried things and failed and sleeping in barns and really experiencing poverty full on and often off and on and he would succeed something and fail. the good thing is the printing of trade, always guaranteed himself some kind of work. it got him in the door of journalism. he went from the typesetting room to do spot writing and editing and became a successful editor out there in california for a whole bunch of newspaper and started his own paper and so forth. his life was -- even though he got married and began to have children, he kept constantly doing well and writing on top of the world or he could sell his newspaper in order to do something else and then that would fall through. he had a lot of -- oh, there he is looking at his younger years
at age 25 when he's out there on the make in california. um, the one way i try to and i like to bring across this idea of him experiencing this kind of rise and fall is sort of embl emblemmatic of his boom. he writes his own diaries. he believes that if he works hard enough and tries hard enough and makes good decisions, he's guaranteed to succeed. he's always ch here he is almost of a new year's eve resolution of determination and feeling the bad situation a. they're failing because there were larger forces that work.
he ends this entry, saw his landlady and told her that he was not able to pay for land. henry george -- he's shaped by the troubling duality of the gilded age. it is a great metaphor. it suggests that on the one hand, things looking golden and it is a golden age and it is an amazing age of technology and wealth creation of innovation and booming cities and so forth. things looking great. butten, on the other hand like a piece of guild ilded age, if yo scratch off the gold, what's underneath there is a dark piece of iron. it is not exciting. that's the image of the gilded age that has this great pazzas.
beneath the surface is seriously bad. >> george will take that duty a dualty and captured. as he says it is the great problem of the age. we don't want to get ahead of ourselves. okay, lets begin with looking at this idea of progress. how optimistic and upbeat people were in the late 19th century of what was going on. here is president grover cleveland. and you can find peaches and presidential address had this kind of talk. the growth and expansion of our country, the wonderful thrift and enterprise of our people and the demonstrated superior of your free government. free government and free enterprise and everything is great. we are booming along. the panic of 1893 kicks in and the economy crashes and it is
not so good looking. cleveland's words are really reflective of how people spoke of all public events and presidential addresses and so forth of how great things were in that era. they are not making it up. jest just take a look at some of these numbers from the greatest period of american industrialization of his third of the 19 century of the guild l a gilded age. just take steel to exampfor exa it is like a boutique industry. really incredible out put. there is wealth creation here. the united states is going in the 1860s from a developing country, kind of like brazil is today to the world's most dominant economy. that's just in 40 years.
it is a pretty astonishing ride. >> that's a big national celebration, really in some ways equivalent to these people mi's minds of the landing on the moon. it was a huge break through at the time and so as the trans continental railroad. it is tremendous -- it essentially broadcast 19 century style by telegraphs across the country. people in the public areas in new york and boston and chicago and everywhere all erupted in tears when the continents expand.
the philadelphia centennial was a huge world fair. it drove millions and millions of people around the world. the showcase event is technology. the core less generator right there on the right of the most amazing machine generator on earth. kind of muscle flexing of america's technology and in j-- like today of the brooklyn's bridge. it takes us and a lot of nostalgia associated with the brooklyn bridge. when it was opened in 1883, it was the most advance piece of technology and certainly in the united states and in the world. it was a complex machine and it was the great example of what steel could do and so millions of people turned out unveiling of the brooklyn
bridge. everybody came. when people gave their speeches talking about this glorious event, they use the word "progress" over and over again. there is a lot to celebrate this in time period. if you went to the brooklyn bridge ceremonies, you would not have to walk far from the brooklyn bridge to find poverties. there is no question that there is poverty in this period. people who were optimistic of everything going great and we don't need to change anything had various responses to poverty. one was a fairly traditional one and you see my people on the right, that's an irish couple sitting and not bothered by their poverty. josephi josephine, her attitude is very
traditional. she thinks the problem with poverty is there is so much charity. she creates an organization of society. in truth is the charity o of -- there is way too many groceries need to be had. we need to cut this down so we can help the poor seeing virtue of hard work. a march whharsh view emerged an it is called social darwinism. this concept of essentially assigning a scientific and dividing plan of poverty. you hear these words coming out of the mouth of johnny rockefeller and carnegie.
no ambiguity there. it is the way of the world is for the poor and the drunkard. and thankfully when they die they don't have anymore babies. what publication did this come p from? this comes from a religiou religious -- this is mainstream talk by people trying to make sense of things. if you believe this, you do not have to worry about poverty. it is going to take care of itself and the poor you shall have with you, that kind of thing. on the one hand there is optimism and there is a period of tremendous anxiety. some people were optimistic and anxious at the same time. they were not sure which direction the country is heading in. what are people worried about. many people are worried about what appears to be a rise in poverty. just take a look at this image
here. when i show this image in public sometimes, i don't put any of the caption to it. i just say what do you see here and more importantly, what book would you associate withis with? >> somebody would say dickens and that's what the artist want you to think. the late 19 century, what is the core of the american identity? well, there are severe weathal to it. throughout american history we are worried and in the 20th century, we are worried about communism. it takes its place. in the 19 century, are we becoming european and laslides towards the european style and fixed classes and states supported churches and end less
war and social turmoil. this is an image that's really expressing that kind of anxiety. it is not in the socialist of advocate. it is in the nation weekly publication and the best selling one. so it shows wealthy family and a poor family raising questions of have's and have not's. and just to give you a sense of what people are saying. this is a quotation from one of the most important labor city leaders talking to the committee that traveled the country and trying to figure out what was going on. what led this clash of labor and capitol, why all these strikes and so forth. look at this city of this long road and it goes on. people are living in squaller. he does not say it here.
european squaller. the kind of squallers that we would think of when we think of dicke dickens. we are heading in that direction and we better do something about it. we'll no longer have a republic that we would recognize. walt wittman, the great voice of america's democracy and mostly, completely enthusiastic of america and the modern world and so forth. in 1879, he gave a speech in which he says just concentrate on what he says here. there he is. he don't want to be them and of the old world country. the united states growing vast crops and nom-- notwithstanding its surface successesuccesses. i have a lot of people giving voice to this kind of anxiety of
the way this country is going. wittman gets it in a couple of words. we seem to be losing our republic. our republic experience, that phrase was with us as a country and as a society in a political culture right up in the end of the 19 century. it was a phrase that everybody used. this idea that it was fragile and unfolding and we need to care pfor the bricpublic and ma adju adjustmen adjustments. it was born in the late 18 wilhelms century and it was good. >> of course, it was not really possible when one looks at the historical records. the rise of big business, business bigger than anybody could conceive. they could never conceive a large corporation like, you
know, carnegie steel or standard oil. there is no way they could imagine a single individual could have this much power unelected and undemocratic party in a democracy. and here is one of my favorites, i have many of these great cartoons. this is called "the bosses of the senate." lets all take a moment and think how fortunate we are to live in a society when big business has not any sway at all in congress. >> the trust and the corporation that you can see them depicted as moneybags and they are fierce looking people. they are coming in through the entrance of monopolists. so who has access is the corporation and who has no access? us. the people and the size
differential is important to. senators are little kids who are cowarding in front of the power and menace of this corporation. this again is not the nights of labor monthly. this is a mainstream middle class publication called pub magazine that's landing in middle class and upper class americans. this is a wide range anxiety of the nature of the problem in the gilded age. here is another one showing the sort of the unfair duo that's taking place. it is another magazine one. notice all the symbols, too. big business is depicted as medieval night. european and -- if you look
closely at the night. it says subsidized press. meaning they owned the media and the shield that they had is corruption of nature. and the working man, he's got a hammer in his hand that means strike, meaning the only weapon that we have. the only way labor can get any attention is to call a strike and most of them end up failing. notice the horse he's riding on is poverty. on the left side, you got big business and tycoon. that's vanderbilt and tighten on wall street and on the right hand side you see us, looking at a figure out of dickens' novel. there is a lot of anxiety here. it is not just poor working people making a dollar a day but the direction that the republicans is heading. >> increasing in equality is
also an important nematodes hth. it seems to be getting worse. and again, no one is making this up. the data shows that this is actually true of the 1% to use a phrase today owns 51% of all wealth and the lower 44% so less than half the country and a tremendous skewing of wealth of the united states. i rais it raises a question about sure, it is a free market but is this a sustainable trend? if you look at where we are today. how does it compare to today? in 2010 which is the latest data that i have of the 1% owned of 35% of all wealth. it is up from 20% in 1979. you have to put it in another way of the century from the late 19th century to the late 19
century, think of world war ii and the new deal of the post war period, we were never more equal and we were never more wealthy. it is an important thing to think about in that 0 ye30 year period. wh people are not imagining the europeanization of america. they are putting on the air of european aristocrats. the woman on the left is a wife of a powerful businessman. she's dressed up for a costume bal ball. many members of the european royalties. to say this is an unthinkable thing to do, mimicking european royalty and admiring away and tells you that something is shifted in the gilded age and
that the new -- this idea of republican simplicity. if you want to see in new york, the woman on the right is mrs. vanderbilt, she and her husband built a palace on fifth avenue and there are a whole bunch of palace on fifth avenue. that's how the rich expressed their wealth of what eventually in this period is called conspicuous consumption. if you go down to graham park, that's the super rich. think of how those houses are nice, they are very plain. maybe nice fence but. >> reporter: republican simplicity and you don't flaunt it. 50 years later, you flaunt it as much as possible and mrs. vanderbilt's ball will cost millions of dollars but today's money will be covered by the press and touching off a whole competition of who could throw
the biggest and expensive and outrageous display of conspicuous consumption and here, again, if i have shown you the image ton the right of the interior image, many of you would not thought of america of versailles of the finist things. that's fifth avenue in new york and that was the house warming party she threw in march of 1883. rising and labor capitol conflict. it is not imagination. it is actually happening on a scale never seen before in america's history. here is the famous hay market incident. take a look at some of these numbers. between 1881 and 1900 there were 76, 757 strikes. so this is a monumental growth in strikes.
some of these are the biggest strikes in america's history. strikes in which hundreds of people were killed in clashes of police and militias and so forth. its got people saying, you know, what's society do we associate of this kind of clashing violence? europe. it seems to be another source of evidence that we are losing our republicans soul, why is labor day founded here in new york city in 1882? it is founded by workers here in 1882, why do they do it? because they feel they are slipping. they are the heart and sole of the republic and workers and their wages is declining and the way they're positioning in society is slipping and so they call and lets have a day, they put -- make september 5th, 1882
and they staged a parade and about 5,000 people showed up and within five years it is happening across the country. that tells you a lot of this invention of the holiday that something is happening in this time period that people are calling attention to a social problem that needs addressing. >> all right, so henry george, how does he figure into all this? in the 1870s, haee's a newspape editor, he's taking on questions of land and reform and r regulating the railroad and big questions out there in california. the rise of workers and so forth. he's like a lot of people troubled by this duo quality of so much great stuff is happening with industrial capitalism but so many problems associated with it. is there a way where we can keep the good stuff and get rid of the other stuff and progress and poverty. can we keep the progress and not
have so much poverty and turmoil. of course, other people were proposing solutions. there were socialists and the birth of the socialist movement of this time period. george making conscious decision to position himself of not a socialist, there is laissez-faire, do nothing and let the poor rot and let us run our business of the way we want to. that's an extreme. and henry george also said socialism is an extreme that we need to avoid. he actually likes gradual socialism and fazing in over 100 years. henry george, he's got only of an 7th grade education, he reads economics and ricardo and adam myth and all the important political economists and determines they all got it wrong. he's going to sort this thing
out and come out with a diagnoses and a prescription. here is a couple of -- he's a wonderful writer and this be indicates to us why he becomes so popular. his book has parts that's complicated in this caeconomic but a lot is poetic and political and and he cites the bible all the time and great vivid examples. here is the problem. it is though as immense wedge. those who are below are crushed down. that's the problem. we have to figure out where this wedge is coming from and how we can redirect it. >> all right, a couple of -- i won't boar yre you. it will take us a couple of days to read through it. i will give you a couple of nuggets from it. this tendency and in equality
cannot go further. it is so easy to enter and hard to abandon. george cites history, he says what happens to rome? it was mighty and full of science and learning and incredible progress and rome just slit off the cliff and what happened? what happened was people began to monopolize land. he says we are on that path. it is not too late but we have to be careful, we cannot wait and we have to act immediately. just think about the relevance of this quotation to our time in some ways. the knowledge yet increases and inventions march is on and cities still expanding and civilization beginning to weigh in and we must build in more and more prisons and more and more
arm houses. we got all these good stuff happening but yet we are building more poor houses and jails. something is clearly not right. so he zidiagnoses the problem assaying what happens is the wealthy people in fortunate positions and lucky people and crafty people are gaining monopolization and creating a spiral of destructive quality where the rich will get richer and the poor getting poorer. the solution that he comes up with was not important as his diagnose. people love his diagnose, vivid and powerful and alarming to hear what he had to say about where we were going.
>> his notion that we need to establish of a single tax on land and that'll solve everything. but, the point i make before that is we have tole -- we needo make some small steps towards cushing certain aspects of the economy. some people they like what henry george had to say in a general way, they're not signing on the single tax but there is a lot of people who like if idea of single tax. one of the groups that we'll talk about in a moment who liked what he had to say is land less people and they pay huge amount of money in rents for these ten na tenants they live in.
all right, progress and poverty written by a guy with seventh grade education who self publishes to start. he could not get anybody to buy it. he's a printer and so he says okay, i am going to borrow money from friends and i am going to print an author's edition and sends it back to those publishers. he sends it to apple ton and making it expensive for us and lets do it and it is going to cause a stir. he moves to new york city. he knows of the chance of having an impact is much smaller and come to new york where things are happening. it is the gateway for american ideas going to europe. this is a chance of a global phenomenon. it works out perfectly. he gets to new york city when things begin to happen. he's not irish but his message has great resonance with irish
catholics of the largest ethnic group in america. this is a great way to get gigs and finding his audience. lets look at one of the many questions. when he writes his book, he's thinking i am going to wow everybody and it turns out his first real core group are american workers. one of main reasons is that he challenges fundamental and traditional understanding of poverty. poverty, traditional interpretation was inevitable and you cannot do anything about it. it is easy to say that. it is not very hard and not easy to hear that when you are the poor person. here is what one of the workers who became a big henry george
follower and influence and his eventually run for mayor of new york city. he describes it distinctively, reversing all that talk of inevitable being natural. >> and i love this last part, working men and women and learning all this commence to wrestle with their chains. this is why there is so much much -- the period is known by historians of the great uphea l upheaval. this is a huge spike in strike and in '86 and '87 that forms all across the country in protests to a big crack down on labor and labor activism in the wake of strikes and boycotts and
sort of the national atmosphere after the hay market bombing in chicago in may of 26, a hundred labor activists are arrested. it was easy to do that. they were accused of and convicted of conspiracy. if you call a strike or boycott of employer, you were guilty of conspireing of your fellow worker so you can be put away. this is one of the big strikes that takes place of streetcars. it is privately owned and they are given franchises and makein millions of dollars a year. i have a great graphic that shows the city council, it had 24 members in 1884. there is a front page article of new york times when a scandal broke out shows one of the
largest streetcar owners bribing nearly everyone of them. 1984 was a lot of money. their status says tomas clancy, third district, fled the country and in jail and out on bail. of this incredible list of people. so the anger of the streetcar company, they were terrible employers. there were three big strikes in the spring of '86 and a lot of boycotts and labor action that resulted in this big crack down on labor and a lot of workers arrested and a lot of union prosecuting. that sets of the stage for the labor response. labor divided in the guild ld a guild gilded age. it kind of withhold our support for our candidates. one of the reasons why they
resisted labor party is because they failed miserably. they were labor party before this. that's it. 500 votes. just a symbolic and waste of time and money and divided the labor movement. this is why we should not do this and stop trying to form a labor party. all the crack down and all the turmoil in the summer of '86. the united labor party is formed. we dpgot to get somebody that's got some credibilitity and henr george is perfect. he's also a member of the topography union. he's got this credibility that goes a long way.
the odds are to say the least pretty stacked against them. they got money and experience and the workers had none of those things. here is an optimistic view of things. grabbing the great and one of the common symbols of monopoly in the late 19 century showing george and grabbing the serpent and labeling monopoly and trust and graft and geor's ideally is going to do the serpent in that city, and that's city hall in the background. to do that, he that had to defeat two people. >> a great deal of credibility and relatively speaking. he can actually claim to be a friend of the working man. he actually was considered a pretty good employer in his iron
works. he had the ability to claim he's a prolabor candidate. then there is this guy that people started to learn about him theodore roosevelt, he left new york when his wife and mother died and tragically and did this ranching thing and just came back to the city and looking to get back to politics and the republican party grabbed him and made him their candidate. now, you remember the image of the night on the horse with the press. the press is 100% on the side as you can imagine. 100% against henry george. here you see i mage from puck. it is an interesting thing. notice this is not anti-labor. here you have the devil standing behind a worker and saying "don't be fooled." george got snake oil and he's got great ideas and in the background dumping it out there
and freeland and money. he's going to give these things away. the way that the power to be of the late 19 century tried to derail george and could not say workers are stupid because they need workers. workers you are being diluted and don't be fooled. there is a lot of these image imageri imageries. here is an image of the statue of liberty. it is a very new symbol. our statue of liberty, she could stand. around her is forces of communism and socialism and forces of, as you can see in the blow up there, forces of georgism. they are lumping him in there and tarring him of that idea that he's right up there with
the anarchists so a traummp her is barging in the house and taking food. the tramp's idea that henry george -- they're going to barge in and we'll have social and anarchy in society. here is another cartoon of abrams hewett. notice the title of he is book. it is how to prevent progress by henry george. characterizing george as an air headed dreamer or and more and more as the election approach, an agent of insurrection of
anarchy and if he is elected blood will flow in the streets of new york. this is really -- what candidates and abrams hewett were saying. george had a lot to contend with. they do what's never been done before. hewett does not campaign and he goes to five dinners and giving five little speeches. it is called the tale board campaign. it is never been done before and real mobilization because they got nothing to lose. they realize that if they can get people to vote, they might actually, if not win the election and make a difference. a low and be hold instead of 329 votes or 400 votes, george got
68,000 votes. it is a close finish and it is as three-way race so we'll never know if george had run straight up against hewett or how that may have turned out. there is a big question whether george lost the election because of hall or shananigans. the fact that we'll never know. we know that hall could have done it or had done it in the past so they were good at it. we just don't know if that in fact happened. but, it certainly makes a big impression. of all the labor party ka candidates across the country, george is the one the people are watching. it is the one that engels and carl marx are watching it writing letters back and forth. they don't agree with him but he's pushing forward against our
agenda of the overthrow of capitalism. here is a great cartoon in the wake of george's defeat that's impressive and he's looking mighty there and the quotation is saying we nearly won against a splinter opposition, they are going to be united against us and we better have a big hammer. there is real optimism and something is happening here. we can see a third party going national here in a couple of years and in europe of a true third party that's alternative to the mainstream party that's in the hands of big business. here is george on the eve o of -- of his concession speech, he's basically saying the future is ours. this bunker hill, the victory that resounded around the world.
thank god, we in this fight won a victory that makes the true republican of future certain of our time. >> there was a time where i wanted to name the book of the "true and public of the future." it is a recognition of what george's saying. it is every aleutian aolution a get back on track to adjust and technology and if we do it, we can have a republic that would endure in the future. you can see the attitude of the powers to be and the republican and democratic party were very terrified by this result. again, could not denounce workers for working for george of huge numbers. you see the same kind of patron neuroscien izing tone here. nice job and impressive and you need to get rid of that friend
of yours, anarchy. you need to come back to the mainstream. the mainstream party do make adjustments in the wake of the george's election. they begin to offer prolegislation and many other things that are aimed with bringing the working class working back in the democratic party and mostly into the democratic party. what's the legacy of henry george? everybody is thinking this is the first step and this is big thing and not just for us but also for george. george is going to be president of the united states in a couple of years. it seems that is the way in which the world is moving. the noeext year the party decid to contest and it falls apart. >> fights with socialists and the workers and so so forth. it is something i detail in the latter chapters of the book of
the labor movement so closely as he was in 1886 and in the years before that. a lot of it has to with that red scare tactics. he read the writing on the wall was clear that if you want to have any influence after hay market and the upheaval, you could not be associated with socialism and anarchism. it is tragedy because it ends his public. he continues to write books and his books are still in prints on this day. >> social movement, that's over of george's aspect. george's influence is remarkable. he fades in the scene but the number of people and i list this all in the back of the book of dozens and people who you know very well, lincoln stephens and
jacob reese and james adam. in their memoirs, an incredible number of people who found this book to be a great eye opener and set them in their path of the next generation that we call the progressive era. i should point out that the game monopoly comes from henry george. not him directly but one of h hissehis followers worked up the game to demonstrate how easy it is for r people to monopolize resources. a guy changed the name and sold
it to parker brothers. there is a new book that just came out that detailed the story. it all -- this game wa wawas -- henry george, why is he important then and now. for one, henry george explains in vivid, clear and understandable and many ways of his supporter of evidence of extreme in equality threatens democracy. equality and we always leery of equality of the ones that make us the most nervous. we like the idea but we don't
like some of the things that it tends to suggest. but, george says look, extreme in equality will destroy democracy. we need to find ways to limit extreme in equality in order to preserve our democracy. it is that simple and it is an irresistible lost. for congress it is a real significant problem. the second point of the common good. george essentially reminds us and we live in an age where iran is on the best seller list again and more and more americans calling themselves libertarians as i can remember. libertarianism and individualism is the american way and going way, way back.
individualism is central to our political culture and identity but so to is the common good and the idea is that we are all into this together and we need to adopt laws and enact policies and do things that attend to the common goods. you can be selfish about it as people did in the 1830s. in the 1830s, we began as a country to say, you know, public education is both a good thing to do for people that, you know providing people with rudimentary education and a smart thing to do because we'll have less murders and social turmoil and so forth. george is remining people in the gilded age that individualism is not the only idea. it is side by side and in conflict with and always there with individualism with common goods. we need to remember that. that's a powerful idea that needs to come back in our national conversations about
everything and about health care and education and the environment because we get caught up in these other ideas of ideology extremes and thirdly of the idea of the government. as soon as you try to take away the government from people, people get upset. they like to drive on roads and having stoplights that control traffic and public schools and police officers and so forth keeping public order. but, the fact is the idea that the government and not the free market is part of the solution is an idea that henry george plays a key role in convincing large number of americans that this is the case and laissez-faire made total sense in 1800. it made total sense in the land after farmers and small shops and if the founding fathers were
alive, they would agree. he would be amazed of etechnoloy and he will be in favor of some kind of radicalization. and that's really in some ways i think those three things are the key to understanding what matters in the late 19 century and why george matters now. thank you very much. [ applause ] we do have time for questions.
this evening is being filmed by c-span, if anybody has questions, come down to the walk way here, anybody has any questions, please jump right up. i would love to hear them. >> thank you, that was really good talk. >> thanks. >> what did henry george had to say of anything of immigration because immigration was a very big issue of his time as well. >> right, the parallels of the gilded age are not just about the economy and poverty and corporations, right? it is an era of tremendous wrangling of immigration and it is a big movement of votes. george is a little complicated when it comes to immigration. his early days as a reformer and as a writer in california, he wrote some blistering racist
things about the chinese immigration. not to let them off the hook but to say progressive, i cannot think of the store chistorians,l kazin, wrote about it. early on he was harsh about chinese immigration and not immigration in general. he gradually moved away from that by the time he wrote progress in poverty. immigration is a good thing but a reflection of a problem of monopoly and a problem of in equality and in some ways we need to address that and both here and abroad. he was a tolerant person as far as immigration goes. if he wrote anything critical about immigration was about the fact that people is being forced to migrate as it being a problem for the united states. >> yeah, there is a two-part question, could you explain
george's point of taxing land and essentially economic principles. >> second. the political order and political decay, he argues that american companies are so decentr decentr decentralized that it works against progress. structurally, our political system from decentralization from the wealthy of having a significant age of the way the constitution is designed, it makes reform a long standing reform is impossible. >> lets take the first question, i usually preface my conversation with people, by the way, i am an historian and not an economist. george himself never got too much of the details.
to him, it made perfect sense. basically, he said, land especially land, it drives at value not because in of itself but because socially it creates well. >> i was just down in wall street this morning, you know 45 or 55 broad street of empty hole on the ground and i said with the person i am walking with, how much the piece of land works. dirt wise, it is valuable in some places of north dakota but it creates well and worth a billion dollars. that wealth is generated by us and not by the person who owns the land who's lucky enough to acquire acquire it or scheme to get it. that value needs to be taxed for
the common goods. if a piece of property is worth $500, you can use it as though it is 500 properties but you owe at the end of the year. if you don't want to pay it, fine, walk away and that farm or workshop will be sold and again, he did not say, sell, hand it over to another person to work it and pay that fee. again, more of the broad ideas that he's talking about and the specifics of that reform that really mattered to most people. and so that's question one. number two, our political system, we have a wonderful political system but the question got to really important point that we do have a system very different from much of western europe and so one of the great internal question of american history is why don't we and why are we so different from other industrialized society.
they are powerful and win elections. why not in america? there is all kinds of examples given in our culture and history, one of them is it is impossible to form a third party and to do these things. we have the federal system and it is winner takes all. if you look at history of europe and other country where a labor party gets going, they win three seats. they have no power. suddenly, they are a coalition and that does not happen in the united states. and there are virtues to our system, too. states can work as laboratories and new ideas can be tried and go national. in term of a real long standing structural change. it makes it difficult. >> for christ's sake. >> sorry, i should be
alternating. >> i am addressing some of your discussions of long-term study of henry george which i did not think you address adequately. your pictures and history were lovely but you did not address the science of politically economy which is the best book on political economy anybody had written. it is analysis of land, labor and capitol and the returns to them of rent and wage and economic, rent and wages and interests are really ground breaking and have not been duplicated and it is that i think because it requires some studies that it is always relied
and everybody jumping on p poppulism and a reemphasis on that would be desirable. >> i take your point, i didn't talk much about his second book of the science political economy. actually, it is his third book. i do talk about in my book, he had the nightmare that all writers feared. he writes the book, longhand. moves to brooklyn and he cannot finds it when he get there is. he loses his whole manuscript. he had to take his pen out and rewrites from notes and memory of the entire book. in our day, we would worry about files disappearing in our hard drive or something. the reason i don't talk too much about that particular book is the focus of my work on henry
george of the period of 1887 of political science coming out in 1886 and begins to make, you know, apart of the important george cannon. it is not the one that creates his momentum and his national and international profile. and one thing we see with george's is he had a lot to say about different things. one of them was he says political economy lost its way. he's got a lot to say in that book and other writings. and skaccounts for the fact tha he criticizes the economy but he secretly hoping to be a professor and having that credibili credibility. he's never going to get it because he's so critical. when i look at the welfare of
the 20th century of justifications and citizenships for the masses and poverty for the individuals but the understanding of in equality and the it that henry george develops, i'm not sure how much that survived or at least from what i understand. so i'm curious about whether you -- how his ideas about inequality and its sources maybe influenced reformers in terms of trying to set up specific policies. >> yeah. >> and what maybe his attitudes towards the welfare state more generally might be. >> he said he was in favor of a small state. he spoke both ways. but i would say a couple things george did, not specifically but that broad ideas. one we talked about, is that the state needs to be an instrument of reform. you have to do that. the other is emphasizing -- he's not the only one, but he's the first one and the first one to do it on a big stage is to say
citizenship is not confined to election day. we always thought we're all equal, right? we're equal because each of us has one vote. and george says that's great. but the longer we develop as a notice there is an economic dimension to citizenship and without it your vote is useless, it is worthless. if you are starving and unable to feed your family, your vote is worthless. so that is a concept that i think really unflunss broadly, not specifically but broadly a lot of reformers in the progressive area. justy of it. i've got a rot of fbr quotes and when fdr comes out with the four freedoms articulating what are core freedoms in that period, one of them is freedom from want, and that was controversial. people said how socialist can you get?
but his point was -- he says exactly the same thing. people that don't have basic material needs met are the stuff of which dictatorship are made. he's saying that in the '40s. i would say two things, the state is an important instrument of reform. and that citizenship has an immaterial and modern nengs that you can't ignore. yes. >> regarding george's contemporary relevance, there is an argument out there that, in fact, there isn't much we can do in the current year about economic inequality due to globalization of trade. therefore, in fact, neither party really has a practical program that would reduce economic inwe quality. therefore, we should give up and focus on social inequality and try to build strong public institutions, schools, parks
things that everyone can share but not focus so much on inwe ulky. >> i think that's a really good point and i know what george would say, which is that my reform scheme, the single tax, will bring those two things -- you will get both. and this was -- with george, the last part of his book, he's very utopian. he' saying the true republic of the future and he says explicitly in his writing we're basically going to have a socialist society. we're not going to have where the masses rise up and seize everything in the name of the people, but we will -- we stechs us out. he says in the near future, we will have where everybody has full employment. there will be beautiful parks. there will be fabulous libraries. there will be forums for learning and it will be this ideal society. he thought you could have both,
a reduced -- not eliminated, a reduced and the social institutions that would benefit everybody. so he was a dreamer in that regard. >> and what do you think about that? >> i don't know. i have to say i think he's in some way that's a very utopian vision, but i do believe getting back to the points i put up there at the end, which is that we do need to keep as a society, as we have many times in the past, as the founding fathers did many times in the past have to think about the common good and think about what it is that we really care about, and do we -- what are the really fundamental problems there and who is really to blame? we're in a dem my gogic moment will all kinds of people, immigrants and people on welfare and such are being blamed when there are other people that could be pointed to. and it is social policy. we -- where do these statistics
come from? it is traceable to various moments in our political history starting in the 1970s. you can see what the tax rate was in 1955 when we were having enjoyed incredible prosperity and a very reduced level of inequality and you can see what it is in 1990, 2000. that's had a direct bearing on where we are and this political culture of demon nicing the government as though it is this horrible institution. paying taxes is painful, but it is the stuff, you know, the price we pay for life on this earth and in this society. so i don't know how we change that conversation. it seems almost impossible, but i think that kind of conversation is i wouldn't want to be too dramatic and say it is the difference between success and failure, but if we are going to pull ourselves in a more prosper yous and again yous and
successful track as a republic, then that's really what has to take place. it is not going to happen if we continue to argue about who is to blame and do nothing, essentially or do only the wrong things. so, yeah. >> my question is regards to what was henry george's view about imperilism and empire building? >> that's a good question. let me think on that one for a second. i mean, i think he -- he -- one of the places where he started to get attention is when he joined the irish nation movement. they are kol nonniced society. so in many ways he has harsh things to say about colonialism and imperilism because he sees it as this naked ill legitimate land source grabby the powerful. the haves and have-nots on a
global scale. but he historically he talk rather glowingly about the heyday of the roman republic. so i don't know. there probably is -- probably are passages in some of his writings. not so much problems in society. but i don't know. i think he -- let's put it this way. i think he saw a host of other problems like inequality, like the social turmoil, strikes and things of that nature as far more dangerous and imporl than imperilism. and i think part of that -- again, i'm thinking my way through this answer right in front of you. but i think part of it is his time period of the 1870s, 1880s, the united states is acquiring alas ska. it's getting into the
imperialist game. it is not until the spanish war we go all in in that regard. so that might account why he might have talked about it in more abstract terms but not u.s. terms. i'm going to alternate. yep? >> thank you so much. i see parallels between with a you've spoken about and our current time. and i happen to be wearing a bernie sanders t-shirt. >> bernie sanders is certainly in the news. >> yeah. what do you think about -- not the media, but the computer, the conversation that we're having, and his progress to the common people. >> in terms of bernie sanders' moment that's happening now? >> as the democratic candidate and the future president of the united states. >> we