Skepticism Is A Good Thing
[Reprinted from the Henry George News,
Sometimes a non-Georgist will look a Georgist over quizzically and
muse, "you really think you have the answer, don't you? And
you're pushing it with a single-track mind, like a religious zealot.
Well, there's a lot more to the world than is implied in your naive
My non-Georgist friend, there is something to what you say -- but you
haven't said the last word, either.
Belief -- faith, if you please -- is part of the Georgist make-up.
Religious zeal, if you want to call it that, is there, too.
But the zeal and the faith have been earned -- by an arduous mental
analysis, objective and factual.
"I have in this inquiry," wrote Henry George at the end of
Progress and Poverty, "followed the course of my own thought.
When, in mind I set out on it I had no theory to support, no
conclusions to prove.
But out of this inquiry has come to me
something I did not think to find, and a faith that was dead revives.
This is also what happens to the typical student of George. He must
approach the subject with a free and open mind. He wrestles and
reasons, argues and struggles -- and when finally the whole picture
emerges, he is filled with the excitement of discovery, followed by
zeal in his new belief.
When a conclusion is so reached, and can be demonstrated objectively
its proponent is entitled to some zeal. As for the Georgist philosophy
not being the whole truth about everything -- what is? Is it not
something to have carved out of the confusing totality of life a
corner where certain matters are clearly explained? Must it be
discarded because all problems of the universe are not thereby solved?
Skepticism is a good beginning, and should be encouraged at the
out-set of any inquiry. But as the inquiry progresses, objective
analysis should yield some results that one can believe. The eternal
skeptic, like Peter Pan, never grows up. Presented with the most
indisputable evidence, he prefers not to give up his skeptical throne
-- like the farmer who, even after he saw the giraffe, insisted; "There
ain't no such animal." He is the victim of his own imperishable
On the other hand, the "true believer" is known to carry
his credulousness to the point of irrationality, and to abide by his
belief in the face of no matter what contradictions.
The Georgist will not fall into this trap if he is true to the
inquiry he himself has made. He need only look at the facts squarely,
ask questions about them, and reason the matter out.
Human beings need some kind of belief. Better to believe in something
that stands the test of facts and reason. This test is met . . . I
by the Georgist philosophy.