Henry George and the Ethics of Economics

Jack Schwartzman

[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, 1983]

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. …But when 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."[1] 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.[2]

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."[3]

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."[4]

Only by adhering to the precepts of natural law or natural laws (George uses the singular and the plural interchangeably) can a person survive.

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.[5]

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."[6] 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."[7]

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.[8]

The laws of production and the laws of distribution … are laws of nature. The … distinction is … 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.[9]

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.[10]

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.[11]

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."[12]

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."[13] 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 clevation.[14]

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 that … 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.[15]

III - Natural Law and 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."[16] 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.[17]

To the traditional "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" concept of natural rights,[18] 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. …This denial of a primary human right is the cause of poverty on the one side and of overgrown fortunes on the other.[19]

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.[20]

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 in land.[21]

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 … determined … 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.[22]

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.[23]

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 Frisch, notes:

(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.[24]

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 universe.[25]

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.[26]

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.[27]

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. …(I)n 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. …A utilitarian will have to examine the doctrine, considered as a basis for laws, from the point of view of its practical effects. …[28]

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. "[29]

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."[30] 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.[31]

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.[32]

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."[33]

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 universe.

The widespread social evils which everywhere oppress men amid an advancing civilization spring from a great primary wrong. …From 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. The … 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.[34]

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."[35] 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. …It 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 other.[36]

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."[37]

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."[38]

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 expediency."[39]

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.[40]

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,"[41] "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."[42]

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. …The sentiment of justice is yet fundamental to the human mind. …This tendency of popular discussions to take an ethical form has a cause. …That alone is wise which is just; that alone is enduring which is right. …I bow to this arbitrament, and accept this test. …If 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.[43]

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.[44] 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.[45]

To George, "all consideration of distribution involves the ethical principle."[46] 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."[47]

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."[48]

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."[49] 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."[50]

Therefore, the fight for justice must continue -- until victory is won.

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 stand.[51]

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.[52]

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.[53]

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 anarchy impossible.[54]

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.[55]

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 do. …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 law. …[56]

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?"[57] 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.[58] 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.[59]

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 … which, 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.[60]

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.


  1. Henry George, The Science of Political Economy (New York: Robert Schalkenbach Foundation, 1981), p.55.
  2. Ibid., p.57.
  3. Henry George, Progress and Poverty (New York: Robert Schalkenbach Foundation, 1979), p.560.
  4. Ibid., p.564.
  5. Henry George, Social Problems (New York: Robert Schalkenbach Foundation, 1981), p.85.
  6. Science of Political Economy, p.444.
  7. Progress and Poverty, p. 559.
  8. Ibid., pp. 560-61.
  9. Science of Political Economy, pp.450-51.
  10. Progress and Poverty, p.546.
  11. Ibid., p.526.
  12. Social Problems, p.86.
  13. Progress and Poverty, p.419.
  14. Ibid., p.552.
  15. Social Problems, pp.92-93.
  16. George Raymond Geiger, The Philosophy of Henry George (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1933), p.509.
  17. Social Problems, p.92.
  18. Progress and Poverty, p.388.
  19. Social Problems, p.96.
  20. Progress and Poverty, p- 338.
  21. Ibid., pp. 338-39.
  22. 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.
  23. Geiger, p. 510.
  24. Otto Frisch, quoted in L. J. Halle, Out of Chaos (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1977), p.11.
  25. P. A. M. Dirac, quoted in Halle, pp.30-31.
  26. J. Grotten and G. Jo. Steenbergen, eds., New Encyclopedia of Philosophy, trans. by Edmond van den Boseche (New York: Philosophical Library, 1972), p.375.
  27. 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.
  28. Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy (New York: Simon and Schuster, Inc., 1945), pp. 628-29.
  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.
  30. 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 psychologists, experiment.
  31. Halle, p.646.
  32. Progress and Poverty, p.339.
  33. Ibid., p.545; pp. 340-42.
  34. John 12:8; cf Matthew 26:11 and Mark 14:7.
  35. Progress and Poverty, pp.549-SO.
  36. Ibid., p.544.
  37. Science of Political Economy, p.461.
  38. Progress and Poverty, p. 367.
  39. Social Problems, p.99.
  40. Progress and Poverty, p.347.
  41. Ibid., p.394.
  42. Ibid., p.333.
  43. Ibid., p.335.
  44. Ibid., pp.336-37.
  45. Science of Political Economy, p.452.
  46. Progress and Poverty, p. 366.
  47. Ibid., p. 367.
  48. Ibid., p.329.
  49. Social Problems, p.81.
  50. Progress and Poverty, p.548.
  51. Ibid, p.544.
  52. Ibid., p.538.
  53. Ibid., p.545.
  54. Ibid., p.559.
  55. Ibid., pp.11-12.
  56. Science of Political Economy, p.454.
  57. Ibid., p.444.
  58. Ibid., pp. 87-88.
  59. Progress and Poverty, p.526.