Michael Flürscheim 1889 in der New York Times

Die New York Times schrieb am  21. Juli 1889:




In Paris recently was held an international congress on the land question, and one of the influential persons present was Michael Flürscheim, who was been called the Henry George of Germany. Formerly Flürscheim was a manufacturer, but he has converted his business into a company so as to be relieved of the care of it, and is said to devote his time entirely to advocating land nationalization. He is the editor of a newspaper wich supports this theory and has written several books on the subject, including a story, „German One Hundred Years Hence,“ on the lines of Edward Bellamy’s „Looking Backward.“ His followers belong to the middle and intellectual classes.


Mr. Flürscheim some weeks ago submitted to an appealing interviewer and said: „Our movement is international. Germany, Austria, Holland, and Switzerland are united by societies. Our first society, with 200 members, was formed at Frankfort-on-the-Main last year.

Since that time I have lectured throughout Germany, Switzerland, and Holland, and the movement is growing rapidly. In Germany the land question is a far more complicated one than in England or America. In the North, and especially in Prussia, there are large propietors who do not let their land to farmers, but farm it themselves with stewards and laborers. In the South peasant proprietors own most of the land, and the morceliement is in many cases excessive. Only about a fifth of the land in Germany is worken by tenapts. Much of the land is mortgaged. We have an indebtedness of 40 per cent, on the land. The principal cause of this is the law of inheritance. One brother takes the and and the other members of the family receive mortgages on it, which they sell to some capitalist. Another cause is that people by land when they have not sufficient money to pay for it, and the least cause is agricultural depression.“


„Have you a tax on land?“ he was asked. „Yes, but it is not very considerable. It is regarded as a confiscation of ground rent. When a land tax was imposed in Prussia in 1864 the proprietors were compensated to the extent of twenty times the value. But this does not prevent them agitating to get rid of the tax.“


„What are your practical proposals for taking over the land?“ – „We want the State to begin first by estimating the value of all the land. We would then give the State the right or purchase at the actual assessed value by the issue of Government bonds. The first thing hat would happen would be the increase of land and the poductiveness of land. But the second and more important thing is that interest will go down. There would soon be no mortages, which is not interest at all, but disguised rent, would go down. There would soon be no mortages, no Government securities, no railroad or mining securities, for the State onc in possession of all rents, would soon have no more debts, would own all the railroads and all mines, just as the towns, by getting theire share of rents, would own their gas and wather works, tramways, and city railways. In less than twenty-five years the whole debt incurred by the State in purchasing the land would be paid back, and it would be the full owner of the ground rent. We differ, you see, from English and American land nationalizers. We compensate the owners. The question would never advance in Germany by any other method. We would not get the nobility to help us, nor the enlightened part of the nation. No workingmen belong to our societies. Our supporters are manufacturers, professors, writers, teachers, merchants, and business men. In this way we will get the support of the enlightened part of the people. That is how we will advance. If the land were taken possession of by revolution there would be reaction. Franc never went further than the enlightened part of the nation.The rabble went further, but it went back again.“


„I gather that your proposal would ultimately abolish all capital and interes as at present understood?“ remarked the reporter. „Quite so; and it is there that Mr. George and I differ. He attributes commercial depressions to speculative land values. But raw materials, which is what land supplies to industry, are never cheaper than in times of commercial depression. Fortunately Mr. George’s proposals will go a great deal further than he thinks.“


„Please develop your theory.“ – „The solution of the social question after the land belongs to the State will come about through the cheapening of capital. Being unable to invest capital in land, you will finally get no real interest for capital. Land only gives the accumulated power for security of investment. Let us take an illustration of how the system works now. The Rothschild family, for instance, are worth marks. Their incom is 200.000.000 marks. They cannot get this income unless somebody works for it. If they got it in goods we should have a social question of the Middle Ages, not a social question of to-day. That immense amount of goods would go to waste. But Rothschild doesn’t want the goods. He only buys goods worth twenty millions, but extracts the rest – one hundred and eighty millions – as a tribute from the working classes. The increasing gulf between production and consumption thus goes on. A European war might do some good for a few years, afterward „the Rothschilds“ would be richer and the workers worse off. But Rothschilds could not exist exept for private property of land. Land nationalization will do a way not only with rent, but interest as well. When the people consume just as much as they produce there will be no room for Rothschilds. The capitalists will have to eat their capital and will no longer be able to extort tribute wich they could not use for consumptive purposes. There will still be capital, but it will have to be converted into the real instruments of production, and then instead of interest the capitalists will only get a premium of risk. Rothschilds cannot exist on a premium of risk.“


Mr. Flürscheim admits that his scheme for the abolition of interest must be international in order to be successful.

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