The Society do not propose to disturb the landowners in their past acquisitions. But they assert the right of the State to all such accessions of income in the future. Whatever value the land may have acquired at the time when the principle they contend for shall obtain the assent of Parliament, they do not propose to interfere with. If, rather than submit to be specially taxed on the future increase of his rent, a landowner prefers to relinquish his land to the State, the Society are willing that the State should pay for it at its selling value. By this provision, all his just claims will be fully satisfied, while the bargain will still be highly advantageous to the nation, since an individual never gives, in present money, for a remote profit, anything like what that profit is worth to the State, which is immortal. In this manner, that increase of wealth which now flows into the coffers of private persons from the mere progress of society, and not from their own merits or sacrifices, will be gradually, and in an increasing proportion, diverted from them to the nation as a whole, from whose collective exertions and sacrifices it really proceeds. The State will receive the entire rent of the lands voluntarily sold to it by their possessors, together with a tax on the future increase of rent on those properties whose owners have sufficient confidence in the justice and moderation of the State to prefer retaining them. These owners should be allowed at any future period to alter their minds, and give up their lands for the price first offered; or more, if they can show that they have made, during the intervening period, substantial improvements at their own cost. The option thus allowed would be a permanent security to the landowners against any unjust or excessive exercise of the right of taxation by the State.
It seems to me that all direct taxation must necessarily recognise some limit; that is, you must leave a certain amount of income untaxed, on the supposition that that income is required for necessaries. Now it is quite possible, when a liberal allowance is made for necessaries, that some part of it may be applied to indulgences instead of necessaries. I would not restrict the allowance to that which was just sufficient to prevent starvation. If, for instance, you began to impose the tax at 50 which you might suppose, on a liberal allowance, to be the sum required for necessaries, it is quite possible that a portion of that might be expended on indulgences, and not used for the purpose for which the exemption was intended, and in that case I think it is just that those indulgences should be taxed.
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The peculiarities, however, of the revolutionary form of Socialism will be most conveniently examined after the considerations common to both the forms have been duly weighed.