For millions of years land was free. We were free. If you occupied a space, you owned it…or just occupied it, no tribute asked. Some people settled, some people roamed. The earth was ours, so were its natural resources.
Kings and queens, later states, as well as the church, began asking people for tribute/taxes on any and all land they deemed to be under their jurisdiction. Odd, in that land was really nobody’s, and everyone’s at one time. People that hunted, gathered, and/or farmed the land pretty much went wherever they pleased, or mutually agreed they were allowed to seek land or resources. This changed in many cultures at varying times in history. It no longer was a society of equals and freedom, but a society where an ownership class and/or State began asking people to pay tribute for using land or extracting resources. Why? What gave one person or state the right to become landlord of absentee land, or the land occupied and worked by someone else? Why was the ruling class allowed to steal land from everyone– carve land up by title, deed, divine right, birth-right, or the gun and sword?
The result of such “accumulation” by one or more persons meant the rest were no longer free– now they were servants, share croppers, indentured servants, wage earners, serfs or slaves to nobility, homesteaders, land barrons, hacendados, the state, and/or banks.
Claiming ownership of absentee or unworked land is a means to own people. A free person would not have to pay for something that at one time was free. The power and authority, often with the help of the state, to ask tribute from the occupiers is robbery.
Birth-right, status, and “luck” or being at the right place at the right time has carved up the once free earth. It has been plundered.
…the land monopoly, the evil effects of which are seen principally in exclusively agricultural countries, like Ireland. This monopoly consists in the enforcement by government of land titles which do not rest upon personal occupancy and cultivation. It was obvious to Warren and Proudhon that, as soon as individualists should no longer be protected by their fellows in anything but personal occupancy and cultivation of land, ground-rent would disappear, and so usury have one less leg to stand on. Their followers of today are disposed to modify this claim to the extent of admitting that the very small fraction of ground-rent which rests, not on monopoly, but on superiority of soil or site, will continue to exist for a time and perhaps forever, though tending constantly to a minimum under conditions of freedom. But the inequality of soils which gives rise to the economic rent of land, like the inequality of human skill which gives rise to the economic rent of ability, is not a cause for serious alarm even to the most thorough opponent of usury, as its nature is not that of a germ from which other and graver inequalities may spring, but rather that of a decaying branch which may finally wither and fall.
liberty is an absolute right, because it is to man what impenetrability is to matter, — a sine qua non of existence; equality is an absolute right, because without equality there is no society; security is an absolute right, because in the eyes of every man his own liberty and life are as precious as another’s. These three rights are absolute; that is, susceptible of neither increase nor diminution; because in society each associate receives as much as he gives, — liberty for liberty, equality for equality, security for security, body for body, soul for soul, in life and in death.
But property, in its derivative sense, and by the definitions of law, is a right outside of society; for it is clear that, if the wealth of each was social wealth, the conditions would be equal for all, and it would be a contradiction to say:Property is a man’s right to dispose at will of social property. Then if we are associated for the sake of liberty, equality, and security, we are not associated for the sake of property; then if property is a natural right, this natural right is not social, but anti-social. Property and society are utterly irreconcilable institutions. It is as impossible to associate two proprietors as to join two magnets by their opposite poles. Either society must perish, or it must destroy property…
Was I wrong in saying, at the beginning of this chapter, that the economists are the very worst authorities in matters of legislation and philosophy? It is the father of this class of men who clearly states the question, How can the supplies of Nature, the wealth created by Providence, become private property? and who replies by so gross an equivocation that we scarcely know which the author lacks, sense or honesty. What, I ask, has the fixed and solid nature of the earth to do with the right of appropriation? I can understand that a thing limited and stationary, like the land, offers greater chances for appropriation than the water or the sunshine; that it is easier to exercise the right of domain over the soil than over the atmosphere: but we are not dealing with the difficulty of the thing, and Say confounds the right with the possibility. We do not ask why the earth has been appropriated to a greater extent than the sea and the air; we want to know by what right man has appropriated wealth which he did not create, and which Nature gave to him gratuitously.