I did not follow George's campaign attentively, and was neither astonished nor disappointed when it came to nothing. George's philosophy was the philosophy of human freedom. Like Mr. Jefferson, Condorcet, Rousseau, and the believers in progressive evolution, he believed that all mankind are indefinitely improvable, and that the freer they are, the more they will improve. He saw also that they can never become politically or socially free until they have become economically free, but if they gained economic freedom, the other freedoms would follow automatically; and he offered his fiscal method as the most natural, simple, and effective means of securing them in economic freedom. All this appeared to me sound enough, but the attempt to realise it through political action seemed the acme of absurdity. The only result one could expect was that the philosophy would be utterly lost sight of, and the method utterly discredited; and precisely this was the result.
Socialism and one or two other variants of collectivist Statism were making considerable political progress at the time. When I met some of their proponents, as I did now and then, I would put the one question to them that I always put to George's campaigners. Suppose by some miracle you have your system all installed, complete and perfect, it will still have to be administered,—very well, what kind of people can you get to administer it except the kind of people you've got? I never had an answer to that question. In a society of just men made perfect, George's system would be administered admirably and would work like clockwork. So would Socialism. So would any other form of collectivism. In such a society "the dictatorship of the proletariat" would be a splendid success for everybody all round. The trouble is, we have no such society,—far from it. Although I was,—and am,—a firm believer in George's philosophy and fiscal method, I decided that if progressive evolution was to make them practicable in fifty thousand years, it would have to step a great deal livelier than there was any sign of its doing.