Often the exigencies of modern life take their toll. Nowhere is this more evident than when trying to keep up with a daily blog when your time gets taken up elsewhere and you don't have the next installment of your planned series drafted. Since that is the case today, we will sneak in a brief snippet from the foreword to our annotated edition of William Thomas Thornton's A Plea for Peasant Proprietors. If you can't wait for the next unscheduled installment, you can go to the book's website and download the free .pdf or follow the links on the website to Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Anyway, here goes:
Ireland is in crisis. Its economy is on the verge of collapse. Short-term "solutions" are only buying time until the next disaster. Politicians, academics, and business leaders are floundering helplessly in the face of the failure of a global financial system that they never understood in the first place. Proposals to correct the problem are only making matters worse and increasing the magnitude of the inevitable breakdown. In this, Ireland is a bellwether of where the global economy is headed.
Growing agitation about the crisis is spreading throughout the world. People from across the political spectrum are complaining about the economy. From the "Tea Party" movement in the United States, to the recent "Occupy Wall Street" phenomenon, complaints are becoming louder, in some cases violent — but nobody is doing or suggesting anything more than proposals that have already failed miserably.
There is a solution — and one that applies not only to Ireland, but to the United States and the rest of the global economy. The solution is one developed more than a century and a half ago to address a catastrophe in comparison with which today's problems pale in significance. While it was ignored then, Thornton's solution and vision of a more just and humane future for all was relevant 150 years ago. Updated to the needs of a technologically advanced civilization, it is even more relevant today.
Following "Black '47," the worst year of the Great Famine in Ireland (1846-1852), William Thomas Thornton, a clerk in the London office of the East India Company, proposed a solution to the disaster that had struck Ireland. Thornton's remedy was revolutionary, though hardly new or unique: vest the common people of Ireland with direct ownership of the landed capital of Ireland. Thornton believed his solution would end the famine, eliminate widespread poverty, diminish the threat of violence and rebellion, and establish a native "middle class." He published his proposal in 1848 as A Plea for Peasant Proprietors.