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A Right Royal Roast
by [?]


Galveston, Tex., August 12, 1897. MR. W. C. BRANN:

In your editorial on the “Henry George Hoodoo,” which appears in the August number of the ICONOCLAST, the following passage occurs: “It seems to me that I have treated the Single Taxers as fairly as they could ask, and if I now proceed to state a few plain truths about them and their faith they will have no just cause to complain.” From the tone and tenor of these words it is fair to assume that in the editorial referred to you have discharged against the Single Taxers and their faith the heaviest broadsides of which your ordnance is capable. If, notwithstanding all the time you have wasted “crucifying the economic mooncalf” which has played such sad havoc with the wits of Single Taxers, it should turn out that the monstrous concept, far from being crucified, annihilated, or even “dying of its own accord,” only gathers strength, energy, and renewed activity from the healthful exercise with which you provide it, must it not seem the part of prudence for you, even if occasion of regret for us, that you should abandon the war and leave the calf to his fate? Your belated and apparently desperate resolve to “tell some plain truths” about us, Single Taxers, justifies the inquiry, what were you telling before? The fact that it seems to yourself that you have treated Single Taxers fairly is not absolutely irrefragible proof that they have been so treated at least it has not brought conviction of the fact to them. That the offer of your space to Mr. George was courteously declined affords no just ground for refusing it to those “whose matin hymn and vesper prayer reads, there is no God but George,” etc. I’ll warrant you that if you and the Single Taxers had access on equal terms to a journal which neither controlled, and whose space both were bound to respect, you would not have to go outside the limits of your own state to find a dozen foemen worthy of your steel, and I’d stake my life on it that you’d find not a few to unhorse you. This is not claiming that any one of them, or all of them together, can come anywhere near you in the artistic manipulation of words or the construction of ear-tickling phrases; but it is claiming, and that without any false pretense of modesty, that they have yet seen no reason to fear you in rigidly logical argument when the Single Tax is the question at issue. Their cause is so palpably just, its underlying principle so transparently simple and elementary, its practical application so direct, feasible and efficient that no mere wizardry of words, no thimble-riggery or language, can by any possibility obscure the principle–or confuse the advocates. Of course there are among Single Taxers, as among other enthusiasts, men who indiscreetly use abuse for argument, and of these you may have some reason to complain; but should not your great talents and the immense advantages which the undisputed control of your own journal give you, enable you to rise above their abuse, to ignore it completely, and to grapple with only those who present you with argument? I have no right to expect from you more consideration than has been meted out to better men; still, you can but refuse this rejoinder to your August editorial, which is respectfully offered for publication in your journal. If you are quite sure of your ground, you can only gain strength from exposing my weakness, but even if you are not sure of it, both the requirements of simple justice and the amende honorable to Single Taxers would still plead for the publication of this article.

You say that Mr. George has obtained no standing of consequence in either politics or economics “because his teachings are violative of the public concept of truth.” Do you really believe that the fact that he has obtained no standing of consequence in politics is in any way derogatory to his character or his teaching? Do you not know full well that a Bill Sykes, a Jonas Chuzzlewit, or a Mr. Montague Tigg would have a hundred chances to attain that distinction to-day to the one chance that Henry George, Vincent de Paul or even Jesus Christ would have? Don’t you know this well, and if you do, why do you use it as an argument against Henry George? As to his standing in economics, that, I submit, is a matter of opinion. You think he has no standing of consequence; I think his teaching is the most active ferment in the economic thought of to-day. We may be both mistaken, but whether we are or not cuts no figure in the truth or falsity of the Single Tax. But it is worth while to point out that the reason you have given for his lack of “standing” lends neither weight nor force to your argument. “Because,” you say, “his teachings are violative of the public concept of truth.” When did the public concept of truth become the standard by which to test it? The public concept of the best form of money is, and has been for thousands of years, gold and silver coins. I am much mistaken if that be your concept. By the way, why did you not say “violative of truth,” instead of “violative of the public concept,” etc.? I guess you had an inward consciousness that a thing is not true or false by public concept, but by being inherently so. What Henry George taught was inherently true or false before he ever taught it, and would be so still if he had been never born. The only difference would be that so many of us who now bask in the blessed light of inward, if not of outward, freedom would, in that event, be still barking with the great blind multitude over every false trail along which blinder teachers might be leading them and us.