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Editorial Preface

THIS BOOK was printed privately by its author in 1949, under the name of the Valun Institute for Monetary Research, of New York City. The author died in 1954. When I acquired his papers from the widow of his friend and colleague, Major Ivan Firth, on the latterís death ten years later, the papers included a small inventory of a few hundred copies of this paperback booklet. Among the people to whom I gave copies was Harry Browne, who was later to write a series of best-selling, popular books on personal economic survival in troubled times. In one of these (You Can Profit from a Monetary Crisis, Macmillan, New York, 1974), he made this reference to The New Approach to Freedom: ďThe best explanation of the free market Iíve seen." The result was a flurry of orders that are still continuing at the rate of several per week. It was obvious that the supply would soon be exhausted. I decided to reprint the booklet, therefore, to keep it available, and this also seemed a good time to read through and organize Riegelís papersóa task I had procrastinated for ten years. Perhaps new material would come to light that should be printed with it. This led to an extraordinary discovery: the manuscript of a major book, Flight From Inflation, which Riegel had managed (painfully, as his correspondence revealed, because of the progressive effects of Parkinsonís disease) to complete before his death. The existence of such a manuscript had been totally unsuspected by me. There were also numerous essays, as well as a partial file of correspondence covering the last ten years of his active life. Reading these papers, both for the thinking they contained and for the occasional glimpses into the extraordinary personality of E. C. Riegel, especially his idealism and his uncompromising personal integrity, was a fascinating education. Bringing Riegel into print, therefore, in a way appropriate to the highly original views which he had to offer the world, now became a primary objective. With the very able help of friend and associate, George Morton, I edited Flight and prepared it for simultaneous publication with New Approach.

In preparing the present edition of The New Approach to Freedom, I made very little change in the main text beyond some judicious pruning. The Appendix material, however, which sets out Riegelís thoughts on the practical application of his monetary ideas, seemed wholly inadequate, particularly now in the light of the newly discovered Flight From Inflation. I have deleted it entirely, therefore, and in its place pieced together a new essay in Riegelís own words but drawn from various places in his unpublished writings. This essay, ď Design Requirements for a Personal Enterprise Monetary System,Ē describes only the main features that Riegel believed a natural monetary system would have to incorporate in order to be successful. The reader who is interested in the more practical aspects of Riegelís thought, therefore, as well as a further development of his underlying philosophy, is referred to Flight From Inflation. The presentation of the Valun Plan in the latter volume is more complete and differs in substance from that in the first (pamphlet) edition of The New Approach to Freedom. In addition to these changes, I have added eight short essays, previously unpublished, that I feel will add interest to this little volume.

In all of his writings, Riegel was interested in human freedom. In the present volume, that is the main thrust, and the understanding of money is presented as a vehicle to serve that end. In Flight From Inflation, on the other hand, understanding money and inflation is the main subject, and the implications for human freedom are secondary, even if very much present. Because of this difference in orientation, it did not seem appropriate to try to combine both in a single volume. Each has its separate integrity. The material in each is complementary to the other, and the degree of over-lap is not enough to detract from either. The reader who enjoys this volume, therefore, is invited to look into Riegel's major presentation of his monetary ideas in Flight From Inflation.

S.H.M.

San Pedro, California
July 21,1975

 


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