Progress With The Georgist Educational Effort: The Shortest
Short-cut of Them All
[Reprinted from Land and Freedom,
During the six months ending September 30 of this year the School has
sold 3,510 copies of Henry George's books. We are unable to break down
this figure into the various titles, but we know that about 95 per
cent of our purchases from the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation, the
publishers of these books, are for Progress and Poverty.
These copies of Progress and Poverty are bought by students,
either those taking the course in fundamental economics in our classes
or those who are studying in our Correspondence Course. Each book is
sold for the published price of one dollar.
Figures for the sale of books to book stores and libraries are not at
this moment available. But it is reasonable to presume that the
advertising given to the book by class leaders and extension
secretaries, to say nothing of the thousands of pieces of mail matter
being sent out by the School, must result in stimulating this
These figures are not published vaingloriously, for the School will
not be satisfied until the distribution of Progress and Poverty
reaches a much higher annual figure. We believe that by the end of the
School year next summer the annual sale of copies of Progress and
Poverty will reach a total of 10,000. We have higher hopes.
The School is not in the book selling business. Its problem is to
teach the philosophy of Henry George. But since its textbook is Progress
and Poverty, the sale of this book is something of an indication
of how fast the school method is developing. It must be remembered
that not every student buys the book. It is advertised in all of our
literature and in all of our classes that the textbook can be obtained
at local libraries. And every class contains couples who come together
and buy one book for the use of both.
It has been suggested that the School method is too slow. That we
should have an abridgement of Progress and Poverty, or some
other textbook which can be grasped much more easily than this
classic. Whatever textbook we use will have to be sold. The effort to
induce people to read such a textbook will not be any less than the
effort expended in inducing people to study Progress and Poverty.
Therefore, it does not seem logical to substitute for Progress and
Poverty some other book which may be or may not be satisfactory,
when it is realiized that there will be no saving in the cost or
effort of inducing people to investigate the subject matter. The only
reason for substituting another book for Progress and Poverty
as the textbook would be that this other book is better, that is, more
convincing, clearer, more interesting. That however will be decided
when and if the book is written and published. Until a better book
than Progress and Poverty appears there does not seem to be
any reason for even discussing a change.
The suggestion for a change of textbooks comes from those good people
who are somewhat impatient. They are looking for a short-cut. It
occurs to the writer that short cuts have been sought by Georgeists
for the past fifty years. Political activity, street corner speaking,
handing out pamphlets, organizing clubs the writer was himself engaged
in these activities for nearly a quarter of a century, and has always
found them wanting. The measure of success of any Georgeist activity
is the number of new converts that activity can claim. That should be
The School has proven that its method has been quicker, that it has
paid more dividends for the effort and expense involved, than any
other activity carried on by the Georgeists since the time of Henry
George. It is the shortest short-cut that has yet been devised.
If the reader of this article is an old timer, let him ask himself
what definite proof has he of the number of converts he has made
during the years that he has been talking Henry George. Also, let him
ask himself whether any effort he has expended compares with that of
the School, in which the teacher takes a group of people thoroughly
through "Progress and Poverty" in ten weeks. If every one of
this group is not a full fledged convert, in that he is able to argue
out every point in economics or social philosophy, is of minor
consideration. The fact is that he has become acquainted with Henry
George, that his mind is thinking along the lines of a free economy
rather than along the lines of monopoly.
The School method is the shortest short-cut of them all.