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The Case for Land Nationalisation (Classic Reprint)

The Case for Land Nationalisation (Classic Reprint)

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Excerpt from The Case for Land Nationalisation

There is, however, one aspect of the land question to which I wish to call special attention, because it involves matters of principle which should never be lost sight of when proposed reforms are being discussed in Parliament.

In his second chapter, entitled "A Cloud of Witnesses" Mr. Hyder has given us a more complete and valuable exposition of the opinions of our greatest lawyers, political writers, and advanced thinkers, as to the actual status and strict limitations of modern land-holders, than any previous writer. These authorities date from Sir Thomas Littleton in the reign of Richard III., through Sir Edward Coke, a contemporary of Shakespeare, Sir William Blackstone in his Commentaries on the Laws of England in the early Georgian era, and a long succession of other authorities down to the present day, including such men as Adam Smith, Paley, Coleridge, J. S. Mill, Ruskin, and Tolstoy, who all declare, in most positive and assured terms, that there is and can be, according to the law and constitution of England enforced by principles of natural justice and morality, no such thing as absolute property in land. And there is really no exception to this general statement - no one great thinker, or writer, or lawyer, or moralist, who can be quoted on the other side. They all maintain that no individual can absolutely own land, and, further, that all the gifts of kings or parliaments cannot alter this great principle of law and natural justice, notwithstanding the claims and usurpations of landlords or the deeds of lawyers which often imply the contrary.

Yet, strangely enough, our rulers in Parliament have allowed this wicked and illogical power of unrestricted ownership to be upheld by a body of lawyers and judges who, though they must be familiar with the opinions of the authorities referred to, continually reiterate the contrary. They tell us that there is not one yard of English soil which has not an absolute owner.

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