Henry George and the Ethics of Economics
[Reprinted from the American Journal of Economics
and Sociology, Vol.45, No.1, January, 1986. At the time this essay
was published Jack Schwartzman, Ph.D., J.S.D., was professor of
English at Nassau Community College, Garden City,. N.Y., editor of
Fragmentsa literary quarterly, and a practicing attorney. The
essay was based on a paper presented to the World Congress of Social
Economies convened by the International Institute of Social Economics
at the California State University/Fresno, Fresno, Calif., August 19,
ABSTRACT. Henry George's Progress and
Poverty (1879) is a great ethical masterpiece. Its moral
tone distinguishes the book. More than an economics
text, it is a philosophic quest for justice, an
impassioned declaration of the rule of natural law.
Indignantly attacking the contention that economics has no place
for natural law or ethics George exclaims: "She
[economics] has been degraded and shackled; her truths
dislocated; her harmonies ignored." On the contrary, George
stresses, political economy (economics) is a science,
and like all sciences, is governed by natural law. Furthermore,
it is basically "moral." Science must, of necessity,
always lead to ethics. Natural law must, of necessity, always
lead to morality, or justice. "The law of
human progress what is it but the moral law?"
George asks. "Unless its foundation be laid in justice the
social structure cannot stand." The social ill that
perpetuates poverty and the manifold evils it causes is
private ownership of land and the private
privilege of collecting its rent. "The fundamental
law of nature, that the enjoyment by man shall be consequent
upon his exertion, is thus violated."
Justice wilt be achieved only when those who are not injured
feel as indignant as those who are. -- Solon
Justice in men's mouths is cringingly bumble when she first
begins a protest against a time-honored wrong.
the times are ripe for them, ideas grow, even though
insignificant in their first appearance. -- Henry George
I - George's Normative Approach
HENRY GEORGE'S WRITINGS do not deal only with what are properly
called economic issues; his works are steeped in ethical philosophy.
Especially is this normative approach evident in George's masterpiece,
Progress and Poverty. It is impossible for the reader to study
this classic, written in the colorful, emotional high Victorian style,
without being aware of the moral tone of the book. It is more than an
economic text; it is a philosophic quest for justice, an impassioned
declaration of the rule of natural law.
What is "natural law," as George perceives it, and which he
postulates as the reasoning base of his philosophy?' 'Whatever we
observe as an invariable relation of things," he defines, "of
which in the last analysis we can affirm only that 'it is always so,'
we call a Law of Nature." George continues:
Why is it that some things always coexist with other
things? and that some things always follow other things? The
Mohammedan will answer: 'It is the will of God.' The man of our
Western civilization will answer, 'It is the law of Nature.' The
phrase is different, but the answer one.
The law, for George, is not a metaphoric expression, nor a poetic
symbolism, nor a pragmatic instrumentalism, nor a legalistic synonym
for a man-made statute. It is the invariable, inviolable, immutable
Absoluteness, and it is eternal and universal. "The great fact
which Science in all her branches shows is the universality of law.
Wherever he can trace it,
the astronomer sees the working of
the same law."
The law is there. It is, it was, it will be-always the
changeless manifestation of the presence and the existence of God, who
works in His mysterious and "harmonious" ways His law (or
laws) of nature to establish. Whether we call it natural law, eternal
law, universal law-the law is there. A human being is always
subject to its governance, and must obey its dictates and its
(sometimes) "inscrutable" operations. Woe to him or to her
who dares to attempt to violate or to ignore its decrees. A
violent fall to earth, a retributive destruction by water, await the
Icarus who challenges the unchallengeable! "Far, far beyond our
ken the eternal laws must hold their sway."
Only by adhering to the precepts of natural law or natural laws
(George uses the singular and the plural interchangeably) can a person
It is manifest that the only way by which man may attain
higher things is by conforming his conduct to those commandments
which are as obvious in his relations with his fellows and with
external nature as though they were graved by the finger of
Omnipotence upon tablets of imperishable stone.
Each person possesses free will. "But human will," George
emphasizes, "can only affect external nature by taking advantage
of natural laws, which in the very name we give them carry the
implication of a higher and more constant will." He goes on: "The
waste of human powers and the prodigality of human suffering do not
Spring from natural laws, but from ignorance and selfishness of men in
refusing to conform to natural laws."
II - The Role of Justice in Society
NOT ONLY DOES NATURAL LAW govern the physical world, it prevails in
human relations as well, The natural law that rules the social world
is called the moral law or justice. Here are some of George's comments
on the subject:
Now, if we trace out the laws which govern human life in
society, we find that in the largest as in the smallest community,
they arc the same.
And we find that everywhere we can trace
it, the social law runs into and conforms with the moral law; that
in the life of a community, justice infallibly brings its reward and
injustice its punishment.
The laws of production and the laws of distribution
of nature. The
that the natural laws of
production are physical laws and the natural laws of distribution
arc moral laws.
The government of the universe is a moral
government, having its foundation in justice. Or to put this idea
into terms that fit it for the simplest comprehension, that the Lord
our God is a just God.
In synonymizing various concepts and in reducing them to the One,
George sounds a Platonic note:
Liberty! it is a word to conjure with, not to vex the
ear in empty boastings. For Liberty means Justice, and Justice is
the natural law-the law of health and symmetry and strength, of
fraternity and co-operation.
The law of human progress, what is it hut the moral law? Just as
social adjustments promote justice, just as they acknowledge the
equality of right between man and man, just as they insure to each
the perfect liberty which is hounded only by the equal liberty of
every other, must civilization advance. Just as they fail in this,
must advancing civilization come to a halt and recede.
Since it is necessary to adhere to the dictates of natural law, it
is, therefore, imperative to abide by the maxims of moral law which
(as indicated above) is natural law. "This is what I
contend for," George writes, "that our social institutions
be conformed to justice."
The rules for conforming one's acts to moral law are called ethics or
morality. All conduct that leads to justice is ethical. "Let us
turn to Nature," George urges, "and read the mandates of
justice in her law." He continues:
If, while there is yet time, we turn to Justice and obey
her, if we trust Liberty and follow her, the dangers that now
threaten her must disappear, and forces that now menace will turn to
Just as, if we would construct a successful machine we must conform
to physical laws,
so, if we would have a peaceful and
healthful social state, we must conform our institutions to the
great moral laws -- laws to which we are absolutely subject -- and
which are as much above nor control as are the laws of matter and
motion. And as, when we find that a machine will not work, we infer
some law of physics has been ignored or defied, so when
we find social disease and political evils may we infer that in the
organization of society moral law has been defied and the natural
rights of man have been ignored.
III - Natural Law and Natural Rights
WHAT ARE NATURAL RIGHTS?
Natural rights, according to George, are "claims" which
each human being possesses throughout his or her life. Nature demands
obedience to its moral law-but it also gives to each person promissory
notes payable on demand. These are known as "natural rights."
Every one is not only a debtor to Nature but a creditor as well.
Nature presents the individual with a gift which Nature itself (and
every one else) must recognize. Justice, therefore, rules in two ways:
"externally" (through natural laws) and "internally"
(through natural rights).
A noted Georgist philosopher, George Raymond Geiger, Summarizes Henry
George's thought on natural rights. "The essence of his
[George's] position lay in an ethical individualism. The ethical
status of individuals, the nature and scope of claims morally made in
behalf of individuals, were the great sanctions behind any theory of
rights." To Henry George natural rights are innate, inherent,
inbuilt relationships, eternal and divine-as much a part of the human
personality as the will, the mind, and the soul. Not for George the
positivist philosophy that natural rights are merely man-made,
transitory "conveniences." Attacking an allegation that "all
rights spring from the grant of sovereign political power,"
George emphasizes that
there are rights as between man and man which existed
before the formation of government, and which continue to exist in
spite of the abuse of government, that there is a higher law than
any human law -- to wit, the law of the Creator, impressed and
revealed through nature, which is before and above human laws, and
upon conformity to which all human laws must depend for their
validity. To deny this is to assert that there is no standard
whatever by which the rightfulness or wrongfulness of laws and
institutions can be measured.
To the traditional "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness"
concept of natural rights, George adds another dimension:
Any recognition of the equal right to life and liberty
which would deny the right to property -- the right of a man to his
labor and to the full fruits of his labor -- would be a mockery.
denial of a primary human right is the cause of poverty on the one
side and of overgrown fortunes on the other.
The equal right of all men to the use of land is as clear as their
equal right to breathe the air-it is a right proclaimed by the fact
of their existence. For we cannot suppose that some men have a right
to be in this world and others no right.
This is a right which is natural and inalienable; it is a right
that vests in every human being as he enters the world, and which
during his continuance in the world can be limited only by the equal
rights of others. There Is in nature no such thing as a fee simple
How do contemporary philosophers regard the theory of natural rights?
As one might expect, there is a division in their ranks and the issue
is quite a controversial one.
Mercier and Arendt, for example, hold a view almost identical with
George's. They say:
Rights are founded immediately on the moral law inasmuch
as this is the expression of the intrinsic exigencies of our nature,
and mediately on the Divine Will.
With Kant we believe that it
is the moral law which is the source of rights. The principles of
our reason are the expression of essential relations which exist
between things; our reason is
by the force
of objective evidence. Hence when it prescribes certain rules of
conduct in our dealings with other men, it does but formulate an
order of relations which are derived from our very nature.
A philosopher who is one of George's great expositors, George Geiger,
has presented a critique of George's natural rights theory.
Geiger does not share George's absolutist ideas. As an
instrumentalist, Geiger advocates the "as if" philosophy,
and tries to "translate" George's language into pragmatic
workability. This is what Geiger has to say:
George's interpretation of a "natural right to
property" ... was an ethical one. That is to say, while
George's approach was undoubtedly phrased in absolutist terms, still
the concept of "natural" was used by him critically; "natural,"
in a word, was that which ought to be law. For example,
George sought to make an important (ethical) qualification in the
classical statement of such a natural right to property, a
qualification founded upon a labor basis. That labor amendment
distinguished between property in land and property in the product
of labor, or capital, and attempted to demonstrate that there was a
moral sanction, e.g, for the socialization of rent.
In our time, however, some philosophers deny the existence of a
Creator, and some others hold that question to be unprovable. Partly
this arises from the newer findings of the physicists. But on those
findings the physical scientists are also divided. As Louis J. Halle
(who has investigated this question in a book that has become a
classic, Out of Chaos) points out, one of the physicists, Otto
(W)e should not ask what light really is.
Particles and waves are both constructs of the human mind, designed
to help us speak about the behavior of light in different
circumstances. With [Niels] Bohr we give up the naive concept of
reality, the idea that the world is made up of things, waiting for
us to discover their nature. The world is made up by us, nut of our
experiences and the concepts we create to link them togetber.
But this is not the last word on the subject, as Professor Halle
makes clear. He quotes one of the greatest of the mathematical
physicists, P. A. M. Dirac, as writing:
It seems to be one of the fundamental features of nature
that fundamental physical laws are described in terms of a
mathematical theory of great beauty and power, needing quite a high
standard of mathematics for one to understand it. You may wonder:
Why is nature constructed along these lines? One can only answer
that our present knowledge seems to show that nature is so
constructed. We simply have to accept it. One could perhaps describe
the situation by saying that God is a mathematician of a very high
order, and He used very advanced mathematics in constructing the
In the face of this challenge, Geiger resorts to a social utilitarian
justification of rights, as many professional philosophers do. For
example, J. Grooten and G. Jo. Steenbergen hold:
Right: The whole of the norms which regulate the
relations between men (actions and property). The right does not
only prescribe that which cannot he done (interdiction) hut also
what has to he done (order).
The goal of the right is to order
society in such a way that individual and society have the liberty
which is due to them. Yet this solution begs the question, as another
philosopher who is a noted expositor of George, Robert V. Andelson,
observes. Quoting a George scholar, Steven Cord, that "what is
best for society is that each man should receive the fruits of his
labor," Professor Andelson remarks:
While advocates of the utility theory might accept this
notion of what is best for society as a very general long-run
proposition, most would allow for so many exceptions in specific
cases as to render it useless as a regulating principle.
Furthermore, to say that in the long run justice promotes utility is
not the same as saying that utility ought to be the standard for
justice. In fact, the two theories cannot be reconciled, for each
asserts a different norm as ultimate. Yet to accept utility as
ultimate is to follow a will-o'-the-wisp, for it always presupposes
something else in terms of which it is defined.
Another philosopher who was an admirer of Henry George, Bertrand
Russell, was not dismayed by the exceptions. Discussing the problem in
connection with John Locke's political philosophy, Russell wrote, "For
Locke the matter is simple, since moral rules have been laid down by
God, and are to be found in the Bible, When this theological basis is
removed, the matter becomes more difficult." However, he goes on:
But so long as it is held that there is an ethical
distinction between right actions and wrong ones, we can say:
Natural law decides what actions would be ethically right, and what
wrong, in a community that had no government; and positive law ought
to be, as far as possible, guided and inspired by natural law.
order that a doctrine may be a suitable basis for law, it is not
necessary that it should he true in every case, but only that it
should he true in an overwhelming majority of cases.
utilitarian will have to examine the doctrine, considered as a basis
for laws, from the point of view of its practical effects.
Thus Russell provides us with the touchstone: human experience. More
than that, experience given perspective by people's rational
understanding of themselves and the world they live in: "To
formulate any satisfactory modern ethic of human relationships,"
he concluded at the end of a search that extended from the beginning
of historic times, "it will be essential to recognize the
necessary limitations of men's power over the non-human environment,
and the desirable limitations of their power over each other. "
In this view, Russell was at one with another philosopher who admired
George, John Dewey -- Dewey ranked George with Plato. Dewey wrote that
goods "are accepted as goods not because of theory but because
they are such in experience." And he went on to say that
the office of moral philosophy is criticism; and that
the performance of this office by discovery of existential
conditions and consequences involves a qualitative transformation, a
re-making in subsequent action which experimentally tests the
conclusions of theory.
Thus, a century after the publication of Progress and Poverty,
the moral order for which George pleaded has survived a revolution in
human knowledge and still stands, a goal for human achievement. As
Professor Halle stated at the end of his inquiry:
Although each of us can have unquestionable knowledge
only of his own existence and his own thinking, none has any basis
for a positive belief that, in fart, there is nothing outside
himself. On the contrary, each of us necessarily assumes that
existence of a wide realm of being to which he belongs. As we expand
our knowledge of this realm, we have ever increasing reason to see
it in terms of one sublime order that awaits full realization.
In George's time the understanding of natural law began changing to
an inexplicable but complex uniformity in the action of natural
phenomena under specified conditions. But not for George.
George's firm belief in the God-given origin of natural rights, and
of their permanence, remains unshaken. "The Almighty," he
writes, "who created the earth for man and man for earth, has
entailed it upon the generations of the children of men by a decree
written upon the constitution of all things -- a decree which no human
action can bar and no prescription determine."
Nevertheless, one is confronted with a paradox. Justice, as George
constantly states, rules the world with inexorable regularity. The
earth, therefore, should be a veritable Paradise. Yet, everywhere one
looks, one sees misery, poverty, depression, degradation, crime, and
war. How can such iniquity exist when moral law, which is ordained by
God, governs the world? How can there be progress and poverty at the
same time? What is the answer? Is there an answer?
IV - George's Solution to Poverty with Progress
GEORGE CLAIMS that he does have the answer to the problem of the
existing social contrast. Using Ricardo's Law of Rent to illustrate
his explanation, he proceeds:
The poverty which in the midst of abundance pinches and
embrutes men, and all the manifold evils which flow from it, spring
from a denial of justice. In permitting the monopolization of the
opportunities which nature freely offers to all, we have ignored the
fundamental law of justice -- for so far as we can see, when we view
things upon a large scale, justice seems to be the supreme law of
The widespread social evils which everywhere oppress men amid an
advancing civilization spring from a great primary wrong.
this fundamental injustice flow all injustices.
If one man can
command the land upon which others must labor, he can appropriate
the produce of their labor as the price of his permission to labor.
law of nature, that her enjoyment by man shall be
consequent upon his exertion, is thus violated. The one receives
without producing; the others produce without receiving. The one is
unjustly enriched; the others are robbed.
To George, injustice is the obvious cause of the existing social
ills. Yet, there are those who, refusing to accept poverty as the
effect of such injustice, quote from the Bible that "the poor
always ye have with you." Indignantly attacking this
contention, George cries out:
It is blasphemy that attributes to the inscrutable
decree of Providence the suffering and brutishness that come of
poverty. We degrade the Everlasting. We slander the Just One.
is not the Almighty, but we who are responsible for the vice and
misery that fester our civilization. The Creator showers upon us his
gifts -- more than enough for all. But like swine scrambling for
food, we tread them in the mire
while we tear and rend each
It is not God's commandment that brings about social misery, George
repeats. On the contrary. "The evils arising from the unjust and
unequal distribution of wealth are not imposed by natural laws; they
spring solely from social maladjustments which ignore natural laws."
Again, there are some people who, refusing to accept George's thesis,
find, in the precedent of history and in practical expediency,
justification for private ownership of land. George refutes their
claim. "It is the natural law which gives the product to the
producer. But this cannot be made to cover property in land. Hence the
persistent effort to find the origin of property in human law and its
base in expediency."
Expediency, however, George contends, has no place in any science,
which deals only with permanent values. "If I have spoken of
justice and expediency," he declares, "as if justice were
one thing and expediency another, it has been merely to meet the
objections of those who so talk. In justice is the highest and truest
To prove that injustice is responsible for social misfortune, George
uses the hammer of analogy to drive home his point:
To drop a man in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and
tell him he is at liberty to walk ashore, would not be more bitter
irony than to place a man where all the land is appropriated as the
property of other people and to tell him that he is a free man, at
liberty to work for himself and to enjoy his own earnings.
George finds no difference between slavery and the appropriation of
what he calls God's gift to all the people of the world: the earth
itself. "If chattel slavery is unjust," George exclaims, "then
private property in land is unjust," "To abolish
slavery," he states, "we must abolish private property in
land. Unless we come back to first principles, unless we recognize
natural perceptions of equity; unless we acknowledge the equal right
of all to land, our free institutions will be in vain."
There is, therefore, but one answer; one ethical solution to the
persistent problems of social iniquity. George repeats, again and
again: "We must abolish private property in land."
V - The Ethics of George's Solution
GEORGE IS VERY MUCH AWARE of the furor and the violence that greet
any one who dares to propose the taking away of such "sacred,"
man-made "rights" as the "property rights" of the
landholders. He is ready to accept their challenge, their anger, and
their attacks. He is prepared to weigh his "remedy" (as he
calls it) on the scales of justice. He is willing to have his proposal
evaluated ethically. This is his defiant utterance:
When it is proposed to abolish private property in land
the first question that will arise is justice.
of justice is yet fundamental to the human mind.
of popular discussions to take an ethical form has a cause.
alone is wise which is just; that alone is enduring which is right.
I bow to this arbitrament, and accept this test.
private property in land be just, then is the remedy I propose a
false one; if, on the contrary, private property in land be unjust,
then is this remedy the true one.
Having accepted "this test," George is now set to prove
that his remedy is just and "natural." "Nature,"
he proclaims, "acknowledges no ownership or control in man save
as the result of exertion.
All men to her stand upon an equal
footing and have equal rights. She recognizes no claim but that of
labor. Furthermore, he states:
To affirm that a man can rightfully claim exclusive
ownership in his own labor when embodied in material things, is to
deny that any one can rightfully claim exclusive ownership of land.
To affirm the rightfulness of property in land, is to affirm a claim
which has no warrant in nature, as against a claim founded in the
organization of man and the laws of the material universe.
To George, "all consideration of distribution involves the
ethical principle." In advocating the collection of economic
rent by the community, he adheres to this "ethical principle."
"Rent," he writes, "the creation of the whole
community, necessarily belongs to the whole community."
George paints a picture of the Utopia that will be established once
humanity accepts his proposal: "And in this measure of justice
would be no oppression, no injury to any class. Even landholders would
share in the general gain.
For in welcoming Justice, men welcome
the handmaid of Love. Peace and Plenty follow in her train, bringing
their good gifts not to some, but to all."
Meanwhile, until there is acceptance of the Georgist remedy, he must
ever be prepared to justify it ethically -- and be ready to fight for
it with all his might. "The laws of the universe," he
repeats, "are harmonious. And if the remedy to which we have been
led is the true one, it must be consistent with justice."
Also: "For every social wrong there must be a remedy. But the
remedy can be nothing less than the abolition of the wrong. Half-way
measures, mere ameliorations and secondary reforms, can at any time
accomplish little, and can in the long run avail nothing."
Therefore, the fight for justice must continue -- until victory is
VI - The 'New Barbarians'
IF HIS REMEDY is not accepted, George warns, the future will be grim
indeed. With the prophetic eloquence of Jeremiah, he points out the
consequences that will follow -- if justice is not done:
In our time, as in times before, creep on the insidious
forces that, producing inequality, destroy Liberty. On the horizon
the clouds begin to lower. Liberty calls to us again. We must follow
her further; we must trust her fully. Either we must wholly accept
her or she will not stay. It is not enough that men should vote; it
is not enough that they should be theoretically equal before the
law. They must have Liberty to avail themselves of the opportunities
and means of life; they must stand on equal terms with reference to
the bounty of nature. Either this, or Liberty withdraws her light!
Either this, or darkness comes on, and the very forces that progress
has evolved turn to powers that work destruction. This is the
universal law. This is the lesson of the centuries. Unless its
foundations be laid in justice the social structure cannot
An Orwellian Age of Barbarism will overwhelm the world if injustice
is allowed to continue. Heed the terrible prediction:
The evils arising from the unjust and unequal
distribution of wealth
will not cure themselves, but, on the
contrary, must, unless their cause is removed, grow greater, until
they sweep us back into barharism.
Whence shall come the new barbarians? Go through the squalid
quarters of great cities, and you may see, even now, their gathering
hordes! How shall learning perish? Men will cease to read, and books
will kindle fires and be turned into cartridges.
However, George states, there is still time. There is still time to
build a future that is glorious and magnificent. Since human reason is
creative, and since human will is free, everything is possible --
especially the acceptance of George's great remedy. With impassioned
optimism, he pleads his case:
But by sweeping away this injustice and asserting the
rights of all men to natural opportunities, we shall conform
ourselves to the law -- we shall remove the great cause of unnatural
inequality in the distribution of wealth and power; we shall abolish
poverty; tame the ruthless passions of greed; dry up the springs of
vice and misery; light in dark places the lamp of knowledge; give
new vigor to invention and a fresh impulse to discovery; substitute
political strength for political weakness; and make tyranny and
VII - For a Normative Economic Science
WHAT BEARING does George's ethical philosophy have on political
economy (economics)? How is the science of political economy in any
way related to the problem that George poses and to the remedy that he
advocates? George has an answer to this question as well. How else, he
asks, except through political economy, which is the science of the
production and distribution of wealth, may one approach the social
evils that exist-and seek a cure for them? Is this not the basic
purpose of political economy? If so, is not political economy
a branch of ethics? At least, it should be. But, alas, the way
it is taught hardly fills one with any kind of hope.
Political economy has been called the dismal science,
and as currently taught is hopeless and despairing. But this
is solely because she has been degraded and shackled; her truths
dislocated; her harmonies ignored; the word she would utter gagged
in her mouth, and her protest against wrong turned into an
indorsement of injustice. Freed as I have tried to free her-in her
own proper symmetry, political economy is radiant with hope.
Economics, George emphasizes, is not a subject that deals
only with graphs, charts, and figures. Nor is it
a set of dogmas.
It is a science which, in the
sequences of certain phenomena, seeks to trace mutual relations and
to identify cause and effect, just as the physical sciences seek to
The premises from which it makes its deductions are truths
which have the highest sanction; axioms which we all recognize; upon
which we safely base the reasoning and actions of everyday life, and
which may he reduced to the metaphysical expression of the physical
Should the discipline that calls itself economics remain "factual"
and "objective," or should it recognize the existence of
natural law as the basic law of political economy (and thus, to
repeat, enter the field of ethics)? "In considering the origin
and basis of property," George comments, we come ... to the
question, is it the law of nature or the laws of man that it is the
office of the science of political economy to discover?" To
George, there is but one answer: Political economy must seek and
discover the eternal laws of nature.
The natural laws which political economy discovers,
whether we call them laws of production or laws of distribution,
have the same proof, the same sanction and the same constancy as the
physical laws. Human laws change, but natural laws remain, the same
yesterday, today and tomorrow, world without end. It is this law
of nature that is the fundamental law of political economy-the
central law from which its deductions and explanations may with
certainty be drawn.
It holds the same place in the sphere of
political economy that the law of gravitation does in physics.
Not only must political economy enter the field of ethics, but it
must pursue its quest for justice until economics actually invades the
province of religion. Henry George is not only an economist; he is a
prophet, a poet, a mystic, and a philosopher. But, mostly, he is a
deeply religious man. In the last quotation of this paper, the words
of Henry George are profoundly significant:
Political economy and social science cannot teach any
lessons that are not embraced in the simple truths
beneath the warpings of selfishness and the distortions of
superstition seem to underlie every religion that has ever striven
to formulate the spiritual yearnings of man.
To summarize the moral and economic philosophy of Henry George:
Ethics is not merely a polite injunction of behavior, such as
etiquette; or a rigid commandment of obedience, such as a statute. It
is the Golden Rule itself! Without adherence to the eternal principles
of proper economic distribution; without conformity to the
time-honored precepts of justice and natural rights, the Georgist
philosophy becomes meaningless. "Single tax," "land
value taxation," "communal collection of rent" -- these
are merely methodological phrases; they are but the means to the end
itself; and that end is -- justice.
- Henry George, The Science
of Political Economy (New York: Robert Schalkenbach
Foundation, 1981), p.55.
- Ibid., p.57.
- Henry George, Progress and
Poverty (New York: Robert Schalkenbach Foundation, 1979),
- Ibid., p.564.
- Henry George, Social
Problems (New York: Robert Schalkenbach Foundation, 1981),
- Science of Political
- Progress and Poverty,
- Ibid., pp. 560-61.
- Science of Political
- Progress and Poverty,
- Ibid., p.526.
- Social Problems, p.86.
- Progress and Poverty,
- Ibid., p.552.
- Social Problems,
- George Raymond Geiger, The
Philosophy of Henry George (New York: The Macmillan Company,
- Social Problems, p.92.
- Progress and Poverty,
- Social Problems, p.96.
- Progress and Poverty,
- Ibid., pp. 338-39.
- Desire' Joseph Mercier and A.
Arendt, "Ethics," in T. L. parker and S. A. Parker,
trans., A Manual of Modern Scholastic Philosophy (London:
Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Ltd., 1933), 3d English
ed., Vol.2, p. 268.
- Geiger, p. 510.
- Otto Frisch, quoted in L. J.
Halle, Out of Chaos (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1977),
- P. A. M. Dirac, quoted in
- J. Grotten and G. Jo.
Steenbergen, eds., New Encyclopedia of Philosophy, trans.
by Edmond van den Boseche (New York: Philosophical Library, 1972),
- Robert V. Andelson and Mason
Gaffney, "Seligman and His Critique from Social Utility,"
in R. V. Andelson, ed., Critics of Henry George (Teaneck,
NJ.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1979), p.281.
- Bertrand Russell, A
History of Western Philosophy (New York: Simon and Schuster,
Inc., 1945), pp. 628-29.
- Ibid., p.729. 30. John
Dewey, Experience and Nature (1925), 2d ed. enlarged and
revised (New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1958), pp.432-33.
- Ibid., p.433.
(Russell, it will be recalled, replied, "The main difference
between Dr. Dewey and me is that he judges a belief by its
effects, whereas I judge it by its causes where a past occurrence
is concerned.") (A History of Western Philosophy, p.
826.) Russell, one of the great mathematicians of his time,
emphasized analysis; Dewey, one of the great educational
- Halle, p.646.
- Progress and Poverty,
- Ibid., p.545; pp.
- John 12:8; cf Matthew 26:11
and Mark 14:7.
- Progress and Poverty,
- Ibid., p.544.
- Science of Political
- Progress and Poverty,
- Social Problems, p.99.
- Progress and Poverty,
- Ibid., p.394.
- Ibid., p.333.
- Ibid., p.335.
- Ibid., pp.336-37.
- Science of Political
- Progress and Poverty,
- Ibid., p. 367.
- Ibid., p.329.
- Social Problems, p.81.
- Progress and Poverty,
- Ibid, p.544.
- Ibid., p.538.
- Ibid., p.545.
- Ibid., p.559.
- Ibid., pp.11-12.
- Science of Political
- Ibid., p.444.
- Ibid., pp. 87-88.
- Progress and Poverty,