The masthead for "The New Earth" -- by 1899 already in volume XI -- says "Devoted to the study and illustration of Social Problems on Moral and Religious Grounds."
Below that, each issue says,
TO EFFECT THIS,
In our address "To our readers " last month we advanced the proposition, which indeed is an almost self-evident truth, that the better side of human nature, the side of him which lifts man above mere animalism and materialism, which enables him to transcend mere self-seeking and to find his highest delight in ministering to the welfare of others, requires for its orderly growth and development, social and material conditions which shall parallel, correspond to or embody this better side of us. We maintained that it was as irrational on the part of sincere religious-minded people to expect the graces of the spirit to flourish in social conditions which bear no relation to these graces save that of inveterate antagonism to them as it would be on the part of a farmer to expect a crop of wheat from seed sown on the sand of a rainless desert. Social conditions are, of course, no more the cause of the higher life of man, than fertile ground is the cause of the crop. They are simply the soil in which the higher life can germinate and be nursed to maturity. The cause in the one case is within man himself, as in the other it is within the seed; in both cases it is the creative energy.
But man, both as an individual and as a race, is at first unconscious of this better nature of his, as well as of the kind of life of which it is capable, and through which it must eventually express itself. He becomes conscious of this part of himself by degrees, one step at a time. This process is called evolution. But all evolution necessitates a corresponding previous involution. No plant can grow, or be evolved, from a seed unless the germ of the plant first exist within the seed. So in the case of mankind, no advance in social development is possible unless the germ of better social conditions be within man himself.
Of this germ within it mankind becomes conscious slowly and as the years and ages roll by. It first takes the form of aspirations, and longings and hopes for gentler, humaner and juster relations between men, and of clearer and ever clearer perceptions in respect to the character of the Creator and His relations to His creatures. But these aspirations and perceptions must ever remain as dreams more than any thing else, and even then be confined to a few, until they become sensibly imaged or embodied in corresponding social conditions.
That society as at present organized bears true relation neither to our best aspirations nor to the conceptions of the character of the Creator entertained by every intelligent mind needs no showing. That our Creator and source of life should be a respecter of persons, that He should consider some of His creatures as more fitting objects of His regard than others, that He should provide for the eternal progress of some and leave that of others unprovided for, is a conception of Him utterly discarded by every man today whose mental growth has gone beyond that of the dark ages. But such gross conception of the Creator is just that of which organized society at this day is an embodiment. The kind of ownership of the natural opportunities with which we invest some among us is a representative picture of a conception of the Creator that makes Him a capricious, unjust monarch, granting privileges to a few favorites, and venting His spleen on all others. This is the only kind of conception of His character possible to the great mass of human beings as long as such conditions exist. Preach as we may, institute revivals of religion as we may, no other conception of the Creator can germinate, bear fruit and be a reality among us than this pagan and savage one.
To every honest holder of the more enlightened conceptions of the character of the Creator, then, the questions at once present themselves: What are the principles which society must recognize in order that social and material conditions may fittingly reflect these conceptions; and what can I do to bring about these conditions? True belief, especially on a subject of this kind, must lead to action. The self-satisfaction of entertaining more enlightened convictions than others, and being content with that, is the most hideous form of unbelief.
The answer to these questions is not hard to discover. Organized society, in order that it make any approach to the conditions required of it as a soil in which may flourish true ideas of spiritual life must recognize the equal right of all its members in the bounties of nature and the opportunities offered by the general advance of civilization. It must find means jealously to protect these rights amid all the changing and more and more complex conditions which every progressing body of people must experience.
We, now, unhesitatingly assert that only by building upon the Single Tax ideal can these rights be maintained. In no other way can any real equality of opportunity be assured to every one. When the rental value of land, and nothing but that, is taken through taxation and spent for public needs, opportunities for making a living become open to all more equally than would be possible under any artificially devised scheme of government control. The Single Tax would do the work automatically, and without the the friction and consequent waste of power involved in any direct control and allotment of opportunities by the government.
The Single Tax would, moreover, provide another requirement of orderly social conditions. It would make every man work out his own material salvation, and so embody to us the truth that every man must work out his own spiritual salvation. Under the Single Tax there would be no royal road to the acquisition of material wealth, even as there is no royal road to the acquisition of mental wealth or of spiritual riches.