Citadel, Market and Altar

Spencer Heath

This book, written by 19th century inventor, horticulturist, economist, peace activist, entrepreneur, and lawyer Spencer Heath (grandfather of Art of Community author Spencer Heath MacCallum) is a sweeping account of human cultural evolution. Heath argues that society can be understood as having three components: citadel -- the ability to defend citizens and protect property, market -- the process of productive exchange and social cooperation, and altar -- the creative and spiritual expressions of art, religion, and culture. Each of these pieces builds on the others.

For Heath, the goal of human community is to allow all people to achieve happiness and connectedness with others through creative expression. We will only reach this goal (the 'Altar'), Heath argues, if we can ensure a proper sphere for citadel and market. Written in an idiosyncratic as unique as the author, it outlines a theory of community governance where entrepreneurs provide services traditionally provided by governments. He also offers interesting observations on Henry George, technology, entrepreneurship, land economics, taxation, history, art, and human creativity.

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For two months I have been enjoying Spencer’s book, and a sense of fellowship in a common cause, which on my part is rather undeserved. Undeserved, for I cannot command the breadth of well ordered experience and research that has gone into Citadel, Market and Altar. But fellowship after all, because we have come, through experience — not pure speculation — on some of the same ingredients of a durable civilization for the future.
— William Ernest Hocking, Alford Professor of Philosophy Emeritus, Harvard University
A book of the first importance — an outstanding contribution to a crucial problem of our time.
— Roscoe Pound, Dean Emeritus, Harvard University Law School


Spencer’s book is concerned with those forms of human organization “which unleash human creativity in its widest aspects.” It points out the operation in modern society of a universal law whereby free enterprise technology will ultimately provide public as well as private services at a profit, through free contractual engagements.
— Journal of the Royal Society of Arts, London
It is wonderful to see how Spencer’s analysis comes closer to a measure of our performance as a society than anything I have come in contact with so far.
— John J. Grebe, Director of Nuclear Research, Dow Chemical Company
Spencer’s analysis of social structure and functioning is rigorously logical, straightforward and concise.
— A. H. Hobbs, Professor of Sociology, Pennsylvania State University
It is impossible to express my delight in Citadel, Market and Altar. This is the book I have been wanting, waiting for, indeed weakly yelling in print for: an empirical, scientific approach to ‘social science.’ I am happier than larks ever were, now that it is written.
— Rose Wilder Lane, Author and Editor, National Economic Council's Review of Books