Landlordism Causes Unemployment
- Landlordism Causes Unemployment
- Alternate Title:
- Landlordism Causes Unemployment
- Persuasive Maps: PJ Mode Collection
- Northrop, W.B. [William Bellinger]
- Posted Date:
- ID Number:
- File Name:
- 1900 - 1919
- Money & Finance
Politics & Government
- 9 x 14 card (centimeters, height x width)
- This polemic map shows the octopus of "Landlordism" strangling London. Each of the beast's tentacles surrounds an area of land said to be owned by the wealthy and powerful: Earl Cadogan, the Duke of Westminster, the Duke of Norfolk, Lord Northampton, the Duke of Bedford, Howard de Walden, Lord Portman and the "Ecclesiastical Commissioners." As Ashley Baynton-Williams points out (2015, 216), "there is one very obvious omission" - the massive estates of the royal family! The text at the side of the map says that Landlordism causes unemployment, paralyzes the building trade and "Pauperizes the Peasantry." The text south of the river describes "Octopium Landlordicuss (Common London Landlord)" as a "Fishy Creature" whose tentacles "grasp 5 square miles of London," an "Absorbent Parasite" that sucks 20 million pounds a year "from its Victims - giving Nothing in return." The author, William Bellinger Northrop, concluded that "The People must destroy It or be destroyed." See generally Jacobs 2017.
The map was likely produced in 1909, the year that the author published his socialist work making the same points with the same data, "Wealth and Want. A Study in Living Contrasts and Social Problems." (It is also the year shown by a postmark on the verso.) Northrop was an American free-lance journalist and photographer who spent many years in London. He was a frequent contributor to British magazines and the author of a collection of interviews and photographs, "With Pen and Camera, Interviews with Celebrities" (London, R.A. Everett & Co. 1904). His very different 1909 book (also illustrated with his photographs) attacked the inequalities of British wealth and concluded that "the breaking down of the land monopoly - both in city and in country - is vital to the welfare of the State." Northrop 1909, 302. His proposed solution - "The One Effective Remedy" - was the imposition of a 20 percent tax on the market value of all privately owned land. Ibid. 316.
Northrop's work reflected the views of the great British Liberal politician, David Lloyd George. Lloyd George had become interested in land reform as a young man, and first spoke out publicly against "the evil of aristocratic landlordism" in 1886, when he was a 23-year aspiring politician without office. Crosby 2014, 11. As Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1909, he presented to Parliament "a war Budget . . . for raising money to wage implacable warfare against poverty and squalidness" that included a 20 percent tax on the increased value of real property sold or inherited. Ibid. 90. As he took his land tax plan to the countryside in speeches, he was accused by The Times of "studious misrepresentations," "violent invective," "sophistry" and "pitiful clap-trap." Ibid. 91-92. Northrop, for his part, was called by one reviewer "eccentric in his urgency and naive in his implications that land-ownership is the source of every evil" (albeit nevertheless "obviously earnest and sincere."). Wolfe 1909, 476.
The octopus is a persistent trope in persuasive cartography. It first appeared in Frederick Rose's "Serio-Comic War Map For The Year 1877," ID #2272, about the Russo-Turkish War. "Once Fred W. Rose had created the 'Octopus' map of Europe, it proved difficult to rid propaganda maps of them." Barber 2010, 164. "The prevalence of the octopus motif in later maps suggests that the octopus also spoke to humanity's primeval fears, evoking a terrifying and mysterious creature from the depths (the dark outer places of the world) that convincingly conjured a sense of limitless evil." Baynton-Williams 2015, 180.
The collection includes numerous maps - from Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Latin America, the Netherlands and the U.S. - employing the octopus motif. (Search > “octopus”.) Many of these relate to imperialism and war, from 1877 to the Cold War. Others attack social and political targets, including a "reactionary" journalist, the Standard Oil monopoly, “Landlordism,” mail order houses, Jews and Mormons.
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- Private Collection of PJ Mode
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