Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Land Theft

I read the Stromberg article everyone has been raving about: http://praxeology.net/SEK3-AQ-3.htm

It was fascinating and touched on a subject with which I have long been fascinated, the enclosures of the commons. My ancestors, and more recently (early 19th century) the ancestors of Mrs Vache Folle were screwed by the enclosures. Some of Mrs VF’s other ancestors were serfs, and the discussion of how peasants are exploited by revolutionaries was quite interesting.

I was taken by the notion that no large estate in land was ever founded on honest labor, that they all had their origins in force and fraud. Every gentleman supported by an estate had a murderous ancestor or other predecessor to thank. I suppose a rich merchant who bought an estate with his honestly gotten wealth might be absolved of the guilt of the seller.

Inasmuch as it seems almost impossible, in a truly free society, to accumulate a great estate, I do not reckon that there is much need for concern about the possibility that someone might own land which he does not presently use. One might peaceably let his land without creating much risk of concentrating wealth. One might also pursue preservationist impulses peaceably by acquiring rights in land and leaving it fallow and undeveloped.

Suppose that a family did, in fact, accumulate a great estate through hard work, pooling resources, good luck, or what have you. I am not sure that I should be concerned about this. In fact, I reckon that they might be just the right kind of people to constitute a gentry. A gentry built on peaceful accumulation might be a marvelous thing. Such gentlemen will doubtless be such a rarity that they will be unable to work much mischief

Then again, I am not versed in the arguments concerning land tenure.

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