Henry Hazlltt’s The Way to Will Power (1922) is darn near impossible to find, so we are grateful to Gil Guillory for giving us this PDF of the book. The scan is awful but that is not Gil’s fault. It is a mucky edition.
If I recall correctly, Hazlitt was later a bit embarrassed by this book, and it was never reprinted. I’m not sure he was right to embarrassed at all. I’ve not spent much time with it, but it seems like an effort to apply the Stoic system of ethics and virtue to modern life. Interestingly, he touches on Austrian themes, such as using the standard of preference to be what is actually demonstrated in action, as versus what is merely pondered and hoped for. Also he has a keen sense of understanding on the relationship between time and value. In fact, this book might have a subtitle along the lines of: “How to Lower Your Time Preference.” I don’t need to point out that it is super well written. So, have a look. I don’t think we will be printing this but it sure makes a nice online read.
Here are a few paragraphs that struck me, but the book is chock full of interesting things:
Moral courage is the rarest of all the rare things of this earth. The war has shown that millions have physical courage. Millions were willing to face rifle and cannon, bombardment, poison gas, liquid fire, and the bayonet; to trust themselves to flying machines thousands of feet in air, under the fire of anti-aircraft guns of enemy planes; to go into submarines, perhaps to meet a horrible death. But how many had the courage merely to make themselves unpopular? The bitter truth must be told: the many enlisted or submitted to the draft on both sides of the conflict not because they were convinced that they were helping to save the world, not because they had any real hatred for the enemy, not to uphold the right, but simply that they hadn’t the moral courage to face the stigma of “slacker” or “conscientious objector.” … Fear of death? No; the soldiers faced death bravely. But they feared unpopularity. the dreaded the suspicion of their fellows. What was needed in war is needed no less urgently in peace. How many persons in public or even in private life have the courage to say the thing that people do not like to hear?…
What can it profit a man to be able to think if he does not dare to? One must have the courage to go where the mind leads, no matter how startling the conclusion, how shattering, how much it may hurt oneself or a particular class, no matter how unfashionable or how obnoxious it may at first seem. This may require the courage to stand against the whole world. Great is the man who has that courage, for he indeed has achieved will-power.