Social Statistics- The Right to Land 1851

Chapter 9: The world is God's bequest to mankind. All men are joint heirs to it... Our civilisation is only partial... co-heirship of all men to the soil is consistent with the highest civilisation... and... equity sternly commands it to be done. Equity, therefore, does not permit property in land. For if one portion of the earth's surface may justly become the possession of an individual, and may be held by him for his sole use and benefit, as a thing to which he has an exclusive right, then other portions of the earth's surface may be so held; and eventually the whole of the earth's surface may be so held; and our planet may thus lapse altogether into private hands. Observe now the dilemma to which this leads. Supposing the entire habitable globe to be so inclosed it follows that if the landowners have a valid right to its surface, all who are not landowners have not right at all to its surface. Hence, such can exist on the earth by sufferance only. They are all trespassers. Save by the permission of the lords of the soil, they can have no room for the soles of their feet. Nay, should the others think fit to deny them a resting-place these landless men might equitably be expelled from the earth altogether. If, then, the assumption that land can be held as property, involves that the whole globe may become the private domain of a part of its inhabitants; and if, by consequence, the rest of its inhabitants can then exercise their faculties-can then exist even-only by consent of the landowners; it is manifest, that an exclusive possession of the soil necessitates an infringement of the law of equal freedom. For, men who cannot "live and move and have their being: without the leave of others cannot be equally free with those others. Herbert Spencer, (1820-1903)

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