(2012 December) Contents


Volume Fifteen, Number Five
December 14, 2012

1. Announcement: CGO Looking for Award Nominees
2. Movement Progress: A Call to Collaborative Action
3. Movement Progress: UK LVT Poll
4. Numbers: Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend
5. Letters: South Africa Tax Law
6. Interview: Fred Harrison on Occupy London Podcast
7. Book Review: The Traumatised Society
8. Likeable Link: LVT in the UK
9. Likeable Link: LVT in Ireland
10. You Can Do: Sustainable Economics Teleseminar
11. Requests: Geonomy Society Appeal for New Computer
12. RSF News: Annual Letter from the President and New Books
13. At the Margin: Quips and Quotes
14. Publication Affairs: About The Georgist News

2 thoughts on “(2012 December) Contents

  1. In the December, Georgist News, Jacob Shwartz-Lucas made a passionate appeal for Georgists to engage more actively with social media. Quite a few other Georgists have also been promoting various social technologies of late. I wish to respond to this trend.

    First, the enthusiasm for social media reflects a desire on the part of Georgists to find a technology that can do the heavy lifting for us. Neither the printing press, nor radio, nor television, nor any other medium of communication has added to human wisdom. Speed of communication? Yes. Wisdom? No. If Henry George’s philosophy is nothing more than a technical fix that requires little understanding, then perhaps social media will enable it to sweep aside competing ideas. But few people have been able, with many hours of conversation, to persuade their close friends or family members of the relevance of George’s ideas to contemporary problems. It thus seems unlikely that a far more superficial acquaintance with those ideas via social media will make a big difference. It is fine to make use of social media. But let us not exaggerate its importance.

    Second, Georgists are both stable and impulsive, and social media gives extra weight to the latter tendencies. On the one hand, our stability is represented by our unswerving devotion to a specific economic program. On the other hand, when it comes to promotional activities, we seem to be moved more by sudden impulses rather than by abiding principles. In the 1960s and again in the past five years, making movies or videos looked like the key to gaining attention. In the 1970s, the Henry George School tried to become a major academic institution and instead lost its credibility. In the 1980s, there were high hopes that CGO and Common Ground could make an impact on the world. In the 1990s, many Georgists followed changes in Russia and tried to intervene there. Also in the 1990s, the need to have a presence on the internet became of great concern among leading Georgists. Since 2008, the “money issue” has started to displace the “land issue” among many Georgists, and social media has been touted as the latest panacea in communication. All of this points to a collective short attention span that stands in the way of building a movement. What is missing is not another technique of communication, but the development of long-range strategic visions.

    Of course, if Georgist institutions each implemented a strategic plan, social media would almost certainly be useful in achieving it. The problem today is not with social media per se. But in the absence of institutional plans, there is a danger of giving undue importance to means rather than ends.

    None of the quixotic enthusiasms of Georgists was wrong in itself. They became problems only when people lost perspective and balance by giving too much attention to one model or technique or idea. There is no single method that is the right way forward. I make no plea for a particular strategy, only for long-range thinking, in which one action can build upon another in a somewhat systematic way. Strategies, not tactics, are the missing pieces in our efforts to change the world.

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