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The Great Multiplier


Through foresight, imagination, and individual initiative, man develops tools and facilities which expand his efforts and enable him to produce things which would not otherwise be possible. This is an outstanding difference between man and animal, just as it is an outstanding difference between civilization and barbarism.

Progress toward better living would never have been possible, except through the development of tools to extend the uses of human energy-tools that harness the forces of nature as a substitute for muscular effort…. The introduction of tools marked the beginning of man’s progress in three important directions: (1) More effective use of energy; (2) Specialization of effort; and (3) Advances in human co-operation and improvements in living conditions, through the peaceful exchange of goods and services.

At one time or another, every conceivable form of authority has been tried, but each has failed for the simple reasons that: (1) Only an individual human being can generate human energy; and (2) Only an individual human being can control the energy he generates. The lack of understanding of these simple, basic truths has, for over 6,000 years, stagnated human progress and kept the vast majority of people underfed, poorly clothed, embroiled in wars, and dying from famine and pestilence.

This is an excerpt from his best-selling book, The Mainspring of Human Progress, published by The Foundation for Economic Education, Irvington, New York, in 1953.

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    Mr. Weaver (1889-1949) was head of Customer Research for General Motors.