Can Our Republic Survive?
Edward C. Harwood
[Summarized in the Henry George News, October
"Individual citizens and small neighborhood groups who make
their desires known by letter or other communication will find eager
listeners among their politician friends and representatives,"
states Colonel F. C. Harwood in an unsigned article entitled, Can
Our Republic Survive? in the July-August Economic News Letter.
"Above all else," he states, "a professional politician
wants to know the answer to this question: In what direction should I
lead in order to obtain your vote. In effect he is saying, 'Remember,
I have no irreversible personal convictions, at least none that will
interfere with my doing your bidding; please tell me what you want so
that I may keep my job.' Also important for the independent minority
to remember is that this is the professional politician's viewpoint
not only in early November of even-numbered years but 365 days of
Before outlining specific Constitutional rights of all citizens the
author discussed "The Law of Human Progress," as Henry
George presented it in Book X of Progress and Poverty. He made
a plea for an informed and independent minority of voters, and pointed
out that even as small a number as the half million readers of the
Economic News, and their immediate families are numerous
enough to have decided every presidential election in recent decades.
Many thoughtful citizens have learned, for instance, that inflation
is a great destroyer of organized societies; and they know from
historical events, and from some which have occurred in their
lifetimes, that republics have been especially vulnerable to the
destructive influence of inflation (France is now struggling to
maintain the Fifth Republic, the fifth since ours was begun, and
Germany has its second republic since World War I).
But a question arises as to whether such an informed and independent
minority will take the trouble to make their views known individually
and personally. They would do well to reflect on the resolution and
devotion of that minority which persevered to make possible the
founding of this republic during the trying times of the American
One fact is clear, failure on the part of today's informed minority
to function as an independent balance of power will mark the betrayal
not only of the next generation of Americans but all that we know of
Western civilization, which purported to become one of the best hopes
Many American citizens seem to have forgotten or perhaps never have
realized that they were provided with
a society so organized by Constitution, statute and
custom that each adult member will be continually infuenced to
cooperate with others by serving their needs as they in turn are
under a like compulsion to serve his, thus indirectly serving their
own. The end desired is perfect cooperation, and the means clearly
implied in the Constitution is free competition. 'Free' implies not
the chaos of anarchy but operations under 'rules of the game'
intended to preserve the maximum number of alternative choices for
The actual functioning of a republic (sometimes misnamed a "democracy")
is described in these terms:
The basic fact, regardless of the appearance as reflected
in numerous splinter' political groups of professional politicians
in a republic, the 'ins' and the 'outs.' The Ins are those who
currently enjoy the lion's share of perquisites, power and pay; and
the Outs are those who have to 'make do' with what is left.
The basic and continuous struggle, the permanent major political
issue, is between the Outs who 'want in' and the Ins who are
determined to retain the spoils of office. . . . As for the citizens
of a republic, evidently most of them vote according to inherited or
early-acquired prejudices. Relatively few will trouble to inform
themselves on public questions.
How then can a republic survive? It can survive when a well
informed minority of the public holds the balance of elective power
between the Ins and the Outs and uses the balance of power
judiciously. Politicians survive in office not by great erudition or
firm convictions as to what is best for the republic, but by winning
elections; and elections are won by getting a few more of the
independent votes than those given to the opposition. Hence the
assiduous attention paid by all politicians to minority groups: to
the farmers benefiting from price supports who number fewer than one
in 60 of the voting population, to the foreign-background minorities
each of which is seemingly insignificant in voting power, and to
numerous other groups that may weigh in the balance of power. The
politician naturally thinks first and foremost of winning the
Some who accept the foregoing analysis may doubt that a republic can
survive. However, as pointed out earlier, today the relatively
well-informed and independent voters in this country constitute a
powerful minority able to wield the balance of power in most
Congressional election districts.
The half million readers of Economic News have been informed that the
Institute for Economic Research of Great Barrington, Massachusetts, an
independent scientific research and educational organization, provides
useful answers on many crucial, economic questions. Moreover, with the
help of a National Advisory Council they hope to foster the more
extensive research and education needed on other problems of society.
The Institute, under the leadership of Colonel Harwood, a trustee of
the Henry George School, believes these activities and the actions of
informed readers and their associates ultimately may provide the means
for safeguarding this republic and insuring its survival.
In an earlier article in this series, "The American Crises of
the 1960's," entitled "Should We Put Our Friends in
Socialist Straitjackets?" the author after providing a detailed
study of aid to Great Britain, West Germany, France and India~sums up
his conclusions as follows:
The general tendency of American foreign aid has been to
foster socialism. The economic results have not been those desired
by the American people. Some of the administrators probably are
dedicated Socialists, and many others are ignorant of the economic
results from such programs. Our friends may survive American aid;
but if they do, it will be because they somehow escape from the
Socialistic straitjackets into which we are trying to force them.
What is the answer? Discontinue most foreign aid, set matters right
in our own country as an example to the rest of the world, and
encourage those to learn who wish to do so.
No. VI in the series (September) is a discussion of the "affluent"
society, and comes "down to earth" with a number of
important recommendations for survival.