Friday 7 June 2013
"The contrasts to be observed between the effects of the depression in Africa and England were striking enough to arouse my curiosity. In Africa the collapse of export markets meant bankruptcy to many planters and some traders and had aroused discontent among native producers but no African was either destitute or even badly in want. The `unemployment problem` simply did not exist.
To find in England, where people were suppposed to be so much richer and wiser than `natives`, multitudes depending upon public assistance even for food, and begging for hard work as if it were a charity to be dispensed by the generous, was startling. It impressed me as unnatural although my English friends, to whom it was customary, did not regard it so. They were satisfied that all differences between England and Africa could be explained by industrialisation. But they could not tell me how.
I thought they condemned in advance any suggestion that a more primitive society might have some lesson to teach them. Was not the black man a poor brother in need of their help and guidance ? As I knew that the black man was just the same as other people and quite capable of providing for himself, I was less disposed to accept assurances which others seemed to pass without question."
Frank Dupuis - A Planter`s Story, in `Land and Liberty` magazine, 1957
Frank Dupuis spent nearly twenty years in Africa. He may originally have gone there on military service, but at some point he took up agricultural pursuits, returning to England in 1931.
He found the answers to his questions in W R Lester`s Unemployment and the Land and as a result became involved in a group called the United Commmittee for the Taxation of Land Values, contributing to their periodical Land and Liberty regularly.
For the moment we will simply note that the United Committee was a body that drew inspiration from the works of American philosopher Henry George and was not an organisation that can be easily classified as being either left or right wing. It still exists today, under the name the Henry George Foundation.
The quote above is interesting in many ways and I suspect different people will take different things from it. I am quite happy for that to be the case and have no intention of interposing my own thoughts and interpretations.