Confiscation; an Outline

Author: William Greenwood


The Emancipation Proclamation has only 718 words.

Lincoln’s address at Gettysburg has only 266 Words.

The works of Thomas Paine were not only one of the important factors that brought success to the struggle for Independence, but they were also largely instrumental in the Declaration itself being made. And those works, what were they? - mere pamphlets.

Shakespeare, whose writings are said to be an education in themselves, can be had in a volume not twice the size of "Progress and Poverty."

Why, then, cannot a scheme of political economy, even when it is a radical departure from our present system, be sufficiently outlined for working purposes in a volume of this size, and also written so that it shall be intelligible to those to whom all such works should in a Republic be addressed; namely, the voter, who alone has the power to bring about the desired change?

The late Professor Tyndall was both an original investigator of natural phenomena and a teacher who could make his discoveries plain to the ordinary mind as he could to the scientist working in the same field as himself.

Discovering a truth in Nature or in political economies is work only half done if the discoverer wishes to make it known to those in whose interest he claims to be working.

Labor, iron labor, makes the scholar, says Emerson.

Labor, iron labor, gave Tyndall the faculty that, made him intelligible and interesting to the young, and the right to preside at a meeting of Humboldts.

But there is pride of intellect as well as pride of riches, and none shows this pride as do the writers on political economy who have made it the "dismal science," instead of having made it the A, B, C of our mental furniture, as it should be with the people of a republic.

Making a good use of our means in our home and business affairs is good economics.

Making a poor use of them is bad economics.

That is all there is to this word, whether it is our private affairs or those of the nation that are being considered.

If we live up to our laws, and yet want and privation exist while there is more than sufficient for all, then the fault must, be in those laws.

Making a scapegoat of the foreigner for those conditions because he will not buy our wheat, or use a metal that we have an overplus of, places us side by side with the witch-burner of old. We are just as ignorant in one way, as he was in another.

At his door who has been writing on this subject does the blame of this universal ignorance of it belong. He takes up this plain, simple subject, and becomes an intellectual aristocrat and a snob of exclusiveness from that time on, and, like the aristocrat of wealth, will have nothing further to do with the common people, cutting off all former connections by turning out a mass of intellectual mud that, only leisure and education can penetrate. And dear to him is the dignity of bulk, the dignity of paunch, using, as he does, twenty words where three would do better work. The living and the dead if his species are alike in this hunt for the "Absolutely Pure" to puff out their little dough.

Dissecting "Co-operation," the writer of Progress and Poverty must drag the poor remains through over 800 words - almost enough to bury the single tax theory itself. Co-operation means getting rid of the middleman. With organized labor it, means keeping out all whose admittance would cause a surplus of labor among those who have organized to prevent that as well as injustice by the employer. But what has become of that middleman and black-balled laborer? One is ruined and the other is a helpless chip that is drifting into - some State prison for forty years.

Co-operation is the savior of some, but the ruination of others, and her plea of justifiable homicide cannot be accepted while this earth has more than enough for her own.

Not a God-like wisdom, nor the assumption of it, is needed to either conceive a remedy for our present troubles, or to formulate laws for its application. Plain sense we most all have, let us use it, then, and we will have no further use for either the bookworm or the logic chopper.


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Chicago: William Greenwood, "Preface," Confiscation; an Outline, trans. Garnett, Constance Black, 1862-1946 in Confiscation; an Outline (London: Effingham Wilson, Royal Exchange, 1831), Original Sources, accessed June 4, 2023,

MLA: Greenwood, William. "Preface." Confiscation; an Outline, translted by Garnett, Constance Black, 1862-1946, in Confiscation; an Outline, London, Effingham Wilson, Royal Exchange, 1831, Original Sources. 4 Jun. 2023.

Harvard: Greenwood, W, 'Preface' in Confiscation; an Outline, trans. . cited in 1831, Confiscation; an Outline, Effingham Wilson, Royal Exchange, London. Original Sources, retrieved 4 June 2023, from