Soddy, Frederick – Soddy's role as prophet - 08 The curse of Economic theory and fiscal practice
Type of Spiritual Experience
Frederick Soddy: The Scientist as Prophet – Professor Mansel Davies [May 1991]
Economic theory and fiscal practice
Coming to Soddy's third general concern, that is, the economic theory and financial norms of the western world, involves a further step into controversial issues. Nearly all his science colleagues thought he was wasting his time on these pursuits and most, but not all, economists thought likewise. It would seem that Soddy's distance from almost universally accepted accounts arose from his preparedness to query and to reject assumptions built into standard expositions. These, he made clear, were used to describe the capitalist-enterprise system: but that, he insisted, was only kept going by outrageous procedures and ever increasing anomalies long accepted as necessary parts of the system.
The reader may well respond to Soddy's concern about economic-monetary matters with a long yawn: economics is 'the dismal science'. Not so in Soddy's writings.
Howorth in her Life of Frederick Soddy lists thirty-four publications in this context. Apart from numerous lectures, addresses and newspaper articles, they include four small volumes. Many of these show a quality of writing which in itself gives them distinction. The style reminds one of Bertrand Russell, and, in content, of two other outstanding scientists who were Soddy's contemporaries: William Hampson (1854-1926), and Lewis Fry Richardson (1881-1953). These two men, each possessed of exceptional originality, made plain that their views on the responsibilities of scientists and on the disorientation in the nation's monetary-economic affairs closely paralleled Soddy's.
A description of the experience
From The Inversion of Science (1924):
Properly used the marvellous inventions and discoveries of the past two centuries should have inaugurated an Age of Plenty and abolished for ever the Age of Poverty... The dread powers of nature which science has in harness, are being used not to build up a civilization worthy of our intellectual and material greatness, but, with the enthusiasm reminiscent of a lunatic asylum, to destroy and wreck it.
No romancer has ever had the hardihood to portray the actual situation of the industrialized nations at the present time--knowing well how to produce everything needed for a full and abundant life but condemning an ever increasing proportion of their populations to .. misery.