1981 Preface



Dedication

   Take, since you bade it should bear,
  These, of the seed of your sowing—
  Blossom or berry or weed.

  Sweet though they be not, or fair,
  That the dew of your word kept growing;
  Sweet at least was the seed.

-- Swinburne to Mazzini


To
August Lewis of New York
and
Tom L. Johnson of Cleveland, Ohio,
who, of their own motion, and without suggestion or thought of mine, have helped me to the leisure needed to write it, I affectionately dedicate what in this sense is their work.


Introductory Epigraphs

But let none expect any great promotion of the sciences, especially in their effective part, unless natural philosophy be drawn out to particular sciences; and again unless these particular sciences be brought back again to natural philosophy. From this defect it is that astronomy, optics, music, many mechanical arts, and what seems stranger, even moral and civil philosophy and logic, rise but little above their foundations, and only skim over the varieties and surface of things, viz., because after these particular sciences are formed and divided off they are no longer nourished by natural philosophy, which might give them strength and increase; and therefore no wonder if the sciences thrive not when separated from their roots.

-- Bacon, Novum Organum

___


  For tho’ the Giant Ages heave the hill
  And break the shore, and evermore
  Make and break, and work their will;

  Tho’ world on world in myriad myriads roll
  Round us, each with different power
  And other forms of life than ours,
  What know we greater than the soul?

--Tennyson

Henry George
The Science of Political Economy

Preface to the 1981 Schalkenbach Edition

01

It was as an individualist that Henry George, though with but little schooling, caught the elegant truth contained in his magnum opus, Progress and Poverty. A staunch believer in liberty, with a vigorous and brilliant mind, he reached out and caught the theme of that book as though plucking a bolt from the blue. His was truly an individual effort. Long after the fundamental principles came to George, he was told that they had occurred to others in previous times and in other countries. That book is a work of art, excellent in its very shape and form, as in its content, and no book on economic philosophy has been more widely circulated.

02

By contrast, it was as an erudite citizen of the world that he wrote The Science of Political Economy. He was now widely read, a social philosopher of standing, comfortably at home with many of the thinkers who had come before, and blessed with the same astute mind. Yet he struggled with this book for seven years until his premature death prevented his completing it. Thus, among the bookk's many rich and lovely pages are a few where George's ideas seem still unhewn. The distractions of the various activities into which his fame forced him may help explain the difference. But it goes deeper than that.

03

The Science of Political Economy is a bigger task than the one he pursued in writing Progress and Poverty. George explains in his own preface how this book came about, and we know from his son's Prefatory Note how quickly the work brought him to a body of understanding which has since taken shape as a science of its own.

04

These pages literally teem with evidence that George was probing an area now known as General Semantics. He searches for meanings. He is aware that Adam Smith wrote, not just the Wealth of Nations, but a vigorous and imaginative "paper on the formation of languages." George wresteles with the meaning of "value" and "space" and "time."

05

Most importantly, he believes that money is a sibling of language, and that both of them are instruments of man's unique ability and willingness to exchange. The Science of Political Economy does not stop with the individual; it deals with his interaction with others. The individual is the unit of society, and "no opera was ever written by a committee." But that is not enough. No individual alone ever did or ever could devise the language by which the opera could take form. And no individual could comprise the assemblage within the four walls of a theater to bring it alive.

06

Nothing is more evident than that the more mature man wants to bring us together, and yet above all he wants us to keep our individuality intact.

07

Richard Noyes, editor
Salem Observer
February, 1981


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